05-21-2006, 04:15 PM
I'll read the article later and in a few days offer my thoughts!
05-22-2006, 01:51 PM
Please post the link to the story for all to read. Thanks :)
05-23-2006, 09:16 PM
work..Sorry for the delay!
05-24-2006, 07:11 AM
Panama City Beach, Fla. â€” What a difference 50 years makes. Let's just say, Panama City Beach, I knew you when.
Before the Wal-Mart Supercenter and the golf courses and the luxury resorts. Before the "Miracle Strip" amusement park came and went. Even before Capt. Anderson's Restaurant and Marina, where hungry diners have lined up for fresh-off-the-boat seafood for more than three decades.
Back in the late '50s and early '60s, our family spent a week at the beach on the silky white sands of the Florida Panhandle most every August.
We loaded the brown Plymouth Savoy and rolled out of northwest Georgia before daylight to make it to the beach before it got too hot, picnicking at a roadside table on the way. These were the days when air-conditioning in cars meant rolling down the windows.
We couldn't wait to check into the Green Star Motor Court â€” perfect for a working man's holiday with efficiencies that went for $95 a week, allowing us to save money by eating breakfast and some other meals in. The rumbling window-unit air-conditioners were a real treat, something we didn't have at home.
The place didn't have a pool. Who needs one when the Gulf of Mexico is across the street, Daddy insisted. The oceanfront mom and pop motels charged $125 a week â€” an extravagance Daddy could not, or chose not, to afford.
The Green Star was in the Long Beach area, the happening strand in those days with a pier, a merry-go-round, midway rides and arcade games at the Casino. At night, glowing in neon, it seemed to be the most magical place in the world. Watching the teenagers dance at the Hang Out, I dreamed of someday being that cool.
I never made it to the Hang Out as a teen, and it was demolished along with the Casino in 1975.
But I've returned to Panama City Beach many times with my own family, and most recently as a chaperone for seven teenagers on spring break. Through the years I've watched the changes with a great deal of nostalgia.
PCB's changing face
Today's PCB is far from that classic old beach town. The mom and pops are gone â€” or at least boarded and up for sale â€” replaced by high-rise condos that can make the most of land values. Cranes loom over Bay County beaches like great steel birds.
Ten new properties opened in 2005 with 13 more expected this year, bringing the number of rooms to 24,000 by year's end. By the end of 2007, room inventory is expected to hit 30,000. To maximize beach frontage, many of the new condominiums are constructing parking garages across the street with enclosed pedestrian bridges.
"This is a historic time for us," says Bob Warren, president and CEO of the Panama City Beach Convention & Visitors Bureau.
Even with all the new construction, PCB still offers a variety of accommodations, including campgrounds, RV parks, church retreats and beachside cottages. For those who prefer the sort of wildlife that doesn't hang out in clubs, there's the beautiful St. Andrews State Park, where families can swim and snorkle just off the beach or take a water shuttle to Shell Island.
And it's easier than ever to get here. Hathaway Bridge is undergoing an $86 million renovation scheduled for completion this summer. A new flyover will connect the bridge to major beaches, attractions and thoroughfares.
Increased air service, including daily nonstop Delta/ASA flights from Atlanta, and newly renovated four-lane highways provide speedier access.
Odd new attraction
Even for a town with a souvenir emporium with walk-through shark's mouth, the sight of a massive red-and-black classic ocean liner that looks like it somehow ran aground at the intersections of Front Beach Road, Thomas Drive and Middle Beach has got to have people dropping their jaws.
The three-story Queen Mary-esque ship is the home of Ripley's Believe It Or Not Odditorium and Ripley's 4-D Moving Theater, scheduled to open this summer. The odditorium is a showcase of fascinating finds from around the world: a shrunken head from Ecuador, a mummy discovered off the Florida coast and an 11-foot Eiffel Tower made entirely of matchsticks. The simulation ride mixes motion and action-packed screen images for what is billed as a "pulse-pounding" experience. No doubt.
New ways to play
Gulf World Marine Park has opened a new reptile exhibit in its Tropical Gardens, home to hundreds of tropical animals and plants. The park continues to offer dolphin shows in Dolphin Stadium, where the SplashMagic Laser Show is presented nightly. Interactive programs include Meet the Dolphins, Swim with a Dolphin and the six-hour Trainer for a Day.
Coconut Creek Family Park's newly refurbished, 18-hole miniature golf courses take families on an African safari through a jungle of exotic plants and animals, including lifelike statues. The park's Gran Maze, which is larger than a football field, is inspired by the South Pacific Islands.
ZooWorld Zoological & Botanical Park recently completed a 200-seat arena for its Bengal Tiger Show, which educates and promotes the preservation of Bengal and white tigers. The new "Going Wild!" show features up-close encounters with exotic birds.
Soon after the Nicklaus Course at Bay Point opened last fall, becoming the only course in northwest Florida designed by Jack Nicklaus, Travel + Leisure Golf named it "one of the most worthy redesigns and notable debuts in the state." The par 72 course replaces the Lagoon Legends course.
At Frank Brown Park, which has undergone a $50,000 renovation and expansion, a state-of-the-art aquatic center opens this spring, with a 50-meter, Olympic-size outdoor pool; splash pool with play features; concessions, and classrooms.
On the horizon
Future development includes Pier Park, a 900,000-square-foot parcel running from Front Beach Road at the Pier to Panama City Beach Parkway. The family entertainment venue being developed by the Simon Property Group will include Back Porch Seafood House, Reggae J's Island Grill, Panera Bread, Starbucks, Old Navy, a Ron Jon Surf Shop and the 16-screen Southern Theaters. The planned opening of the first phase of the park is spring 2007.
While it's exciting to witness the 21st-century changes in PCB, it's hard not to get a bit wistful for bacon-and-scrambled-egg mornings at the Green Star Motor Court and neon-filled nights on the boardwalk in Long Beach.
IF YOU GO
â€¢ Driving: Take I-85 south to I-185 south, then take Exit 10 (U.S. 80) west toward Phenix City, Ala., then south on U.S. 280/431 until U.S. 431 splits off. Proceed south to Dothan, Ala., and follow signs to U.S. 231 south via the bypass. Continue south to U.S. 98 and follow signs to the beaches.
â€¢ Flying: Delta offers several direct nonstop flights daily, but expect to pay $320 round trip.
Where to stay
The options seem endless, with everything from campgrounds to RV parks to moderate hotels and luxury resorts and condominiums. These are some of our favorites:
â€¢ Edgewater Beach Resort features Gulf-view suites, golf villas, 12 pools, 36 holes of golf, a restaurant, pool bar, health club and spa. 1-800-874-8686, http://www.edgewaterbeachresort.com.
â€¢ Holiday Inn Sunspree Resort is a great choice for families. Its amenities include two restaurants, a fitness center, cascading waterfall pool and kiddie pool, secluded hot tub, indoor and outdoor game rooms and children's activities. 1-800-633-0266, http://www.hipcbeach.com.
â€¢ ResortQuest's Gulf-side resorts include Celeadon, Grandview and Treasure Island with Seychelles, Sunrise and Tidewater all opening this year. 1-888-248-5570, http://www.resortquestnwfl.com/pcbcvb.
â€¢ Boardwalk Beach Resort megacomplex opened last year with a variety of vacation accommodations, activities, fitness center, dining and a zero-entry pool overlooking the Gulf of Mexico. 1-800-224-4853, http://www.boardwalkbeachresort.com.
Where to dine
Again, there are numerous great places to eat fresh seafood or tuck into a juicy steak. The food isn't necessarily the draw, though, at some popular beach restaurant/bars. Our faves (mainly because they're on the water):
â€¢ Schooners is billed as "the last local beach club." Come barefoot and grab a table overlooking the beach. Hey, you can even take a dip while you wait for your shrimp or grouper. Casual doesn't begin to describe the laid-back ambience. 850-235-3555, http://www.schooners.com.
â€¢ Pineapple Willy's is a beach hotspot. Gotta love those Jack Daniels barbecue ribs. Try to get a table on the pier. 850-235-0928, http://www.pineapplewillys.com.
â€¢ Sharky's is another fun and funky open-air joint on the beach. There's even a kids' playground. Grab a fried shrimp basket and a margarita and you can't go wrong. 850-235-2420, http://www.sharkysbeach.com.
â€¢ Capt. Anderson's Restaurant & Waterfront Market. Overrrated? Maybe. Worth the wait? Maybe. But you've got to dine at least once at this landmark restaurant. Go for the Greek-inspired seafood dishes. 1-888-878-6750, http://www.captanderson.com.
â€¢ Panama City Beach Convention & Visitors Bureau: 1-800-722-3224, http://www.thebeachloversbeach.com.
05-24-2006, 07:26 AM
There is also a blog....
http://www.ajc.com/travel/content/custo ... index.html (http://www.ajc.com/travel/content/custom/blogs/travel/index.html)
05-24-2006, 09:22 AM
Thanks gagirl. The article is good, but that blog... Wow some people miss the point of a vacation on the beach. We love pcb and always will. I have been going since I was a child and now I take my kids and they love it. My 7 year olds summer is not complete without a trip to schooners and pineapple willys.
05-26-2006, 01:39 PM
Good article...sad how PCB is changing though...too many condo's are ruining the beachtown feel....
06-13-2006, 04:51 PM
Yes it is sad to see the beach change, but, its too late. It has changed. Still, It is STILL better than OTHER beaches and I try to be open minded and look at it as modernazation instead of change. Like, If it didn't change with the times, it would of just gone downhill.
With that said, the hardest part for me was seeing Miricle strip closed. My little boy only got to go there once in his lifetime, while I've been many many times. Plus, not seeing everyone WALKING up and down the strip is strange too. I guess everyone is on their computer in their room now? Who knows. ; )
06-18-2006, 02:59 AM
My first trip to PCB was in 1969. I've seen many changes threw the years, some good and some bad. Todays PCB hurts my sole. I don't need all the parks and attractions. I still just want to go to the BEACH. All I need is a nice mom & pop hotel by the beach and a few good dives for a drink or two and some good seafood. If anybody knows where that still exist, please let me know.
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