Ocean Towers Beach Club Panama City Beach, Florida. I was coming to this resort after just leaving Clearwater Beach where I had stayed for 3 days. The trip was about a 6-hour drive. Going up I75 to I10W it was not a bad drive at all.
I had been to Panama City Beach not long ago, and I was happy to be headed back. Panama City Beach has a nice feel to it. It offers a blend of old-school beach cool, with some really nice resort locations. Given that this was a Bluegreen resort, I was certain this would be a great location, but I was excited to check it out for a few days. Ocean Towers Beach Club was going to be one that I really enjoyed keep reading to find out why.
Day One Arrival at Ocean Towers Beach Club
As I drove up to the resort, I had that same old-school cool feel that I like about Panama City Beach. This resort is well-maintained and you get that feel from the lobby to your room, and on.
The units feature private balconies overlooking the Gulf of Mexico. Here the rooms are large with one bedroom at 934 sq ft and two bedrooms are 1148 sq ft. Both have full kitchens and a number of standard amenities.
After getting settled in at the resort, I wanted to grab something to eat. I had not eaten, and I got up early to leave the last resort in the early morning just to beat any traffic. Sometimes it is worth a few hours of sleep to avoid that time in heavy traffic. My plan worked for the traffic, but I was hungry.
There is an original dinner nearby and I love a good dinner experience, so I was all in. It is called the All American Diner I do not know if I was hoping for breakfast or a good diner burger but I did know I was ready for a milkshake so maybe that meant I would get a burger.
One of my favorite things from dinner is the chili burger. I think it is something every diner is required to offer (at least it feels that way) but it works perfectly with a milkshake and that was my grand plan.
You could get close to a Panama City Beach feel at Clearwater beach where I just came from, but they do seem like two ends of a spectrum. One more over the top with more expensive options (Clearwater) and one that is more Earth and family-friendly on pricing and options in Panama City Beach.
There was some overlap for sure in many ways, but this area just seems even more relaxed and simple than Clearwater Beach. The local restaurants here are chains, or local joints like this one, not just bars or more expensive seafood establishments of various types.
Although Clearwater does have all the restaurants that Frenchy owns which do offer less costly items, many of the beach bar locations offer affordable eats too. Here though, being an older beach feel you seem to find less costly options for the budget minded.
I love both ends of things and for different reasons. I like Panama City Beach because it reminds me more of the places I went to in my childhood. Affordable fun beach towns like Atlantic Beach NC, or the Outer Banks of NC as an example. Ocean Towers Beach Club also has a beachfront location which is worth a ton to me, not only for the views but the convivence and comfort of staying right on the sand.
Then I enjoy the upper-end feel from time to time to spoil myself with options like spas and fine dining at the resort itself.
Headed back to the Ocean Towers Beach Club, I am reminded of how nice it is not to have all the upsell experiences at your resort. So, you do not feel the pressure to spend as much time and money on extras, and instead just enjoy the beach and town more.
Next, I was headed to the beach here which is very nice they even have a bunch of twin beach chairs set up in a long row just to make you even more comfortable relaxing at the beach.
After some time at the beach, I wanted to check out the mini-golf that is almost in the parking lot of the resort. Again, I love mini-golf since my childhood. You can catch me on any vacation where they have mini-golf playing at least once, if not more. This was a giant course or actually two courses together on the site, and it was well-designed and laid out.
After a few fun games and my previous hours at the beach, it was time for something for dinner. I chose the nearby Dee’s Hangout for dinner. It is close enough, but I took my car since I knew my parking spot at the resort was safe for my return.
The menu here was affordable. IE: A ½ pound burger for $9.99, or Seafood platters starting with 3 items at $23.99. Good prices for a resort or vacation town.
This restaurant had a Cajun appeal to it, so I got the house special Jambalaya with Chicken, Sausage & Shrimp. It was excellent.
Dee’s also has some great drink specials like $2 Rolling Rock and $5 margaritas, so some part of me wished I had walked. Here they offer some great lunch specials as well, and I might come back for that another day since the food was so good.
I headed back to the resort and my room. Now taking a moment to take the room in. While the resort was older, it has been updated and offered some of the same floors to ceiling windows that I liked at the last resort I had stayed at. This also meant killer beach views, since the resort sits right on the Gulf of Mexico.
I opened my door to the balcony and let in the cool early night air and the salt air from the Gulf. The resort overall is just comfortable. Nothing was done up to impress, just to truly enjoy if that makes sense. The onsite dining tables for example are nice top-end card tables, not expensive tables with linen cloths. The service desk here overlooks the pool and ocean. The entire experience is laid back, friendly, and nice.
Day Two waking up at Ocean Towers Beach Club
I woke early not long after sunrise because I had fallen asleep with the door to the balcony open, and the salt air in my lungs energized me. Well, that and the sun breaking through straight into the bedroom due to the lack of pulled curtains and the open door to the Gulf.
I was ready for breakfast and I kept it simple and just walked right across the street to the Waffle House. While not fine dining it was close and I liked the idea of walking to it for breakfast.
I ordered pancakes, eggs, and a few sides. After a good breakfast, I decided to walk around the nearby strip mall and see what I could find.
Walking off breakfast, I found a few places I wanted to check out later today after some time at the beach. They were not open yet as it was still only 8 AM or so. This meant I was wandering back to go chill on the beach for a while.
For kids, there was a bowling alley, skate rink, and arcade kind of amazing combination in the nearby shopping center area. That would be a fun thing to do with a large family. You could all bowl or skate together and do that in the nighttime for entertainment after a day at the beach. All without breaking the bank.
Looking back at my childhood, I loved some of the free or less expensive things I did with my family as much as I did the big trip to Disney. Your children will probably feel the same way if you find a great vacation spot where you can spend good times with them.
One of the best things about this resort is the beachfront setting. Being right on the beach is something that is hard to put a price tag on. It is the view, convivence, and overall enjoyment factor that you must love. Here you can literally walk onto a white sand beach in moments. Leave your room and boom, be on the beach. This also means you can go back to your room easily as often as you like. It just makes the vacation much less of a hassle.
I spent the entire morning on the beach today. Lucky for me, I remembered to put on some sunblock after the first hour. If not, the strong Florida sun would have burnt me to a crisp. Instead, when I returned to my room to shower before heading back out to lunch, my skin just turned that cooked lobster color, but it did not sting badly, or start to instantly peel. Sunblock for the winning gang. SPF 30+ if you have not been out in the sun much yet this year.
For lunch, I just walked right across the street to Los Rancheros you can find their menu here. I had the lunch combination which included Burrito, chile relleno, and cheese quesadilla served with refried beans, and Mexican rice. I also enjoyed a horchata which kind of tasted like drinking a rice pudding, but in a good way. I also had sweet tea, which tasted like it was from the Carolinas (very sweet).
It was a great lunch and fast, with friendly service.
After lunch, I walked back over to Rocket Lanes and decided to bowl a few games. I had not played in a long time and I wanted to check the place out if I was going to be recommending it to you, dear reader.
This bowling alley is clean and has a nice staff. It has a very local feel and is very affordable. Early bird bowling is $3.50 a game and regular $4.50. This location also has a large roller-skating rink and you can skate all day for $11. Again, I have not been in a long time but those prices seem great to me. I did not skate, not out of fear of falling too much, but mostly because I thought doing that solo would just feel weird. There is not much in life I mind doing solo (unlike most folks) but skating is not on that list. Also, it was early and there were only 4 people skating at the time, so I felt I would stand out even more than normal.
If you bring the kids or want to feel like a kid, this is a fun local spot.
Day Three seeing more of Panama City Beach
Today I wanted to see more of this old-school beach town itself. I also felt still a little crispy and bright red from that full half day in the sun, and I did not want to overdo it again today.
Southern Living Magazine selected Panama City Beach as one of the most beautiful beaches. You can also read an entire article on the difference between Panama City and Panama City Beach here.
I started my day with a great breakfast at Another Broken Egg where everything was very near perfect for my breakfast. This morning I wanted an omelet and boy did I get one with their Floridian Omelet. It was great it has cream cheese on the inside and crab and fixings on the outside. Wow.
I also had to try them, so I ordered the bananas foster pancakes too. After all that food I was ready to be rolled out the door. My sense of fullness made me realize I needed to go somewhere I could walk it off.
I got in the car and headed to Pier Park which is much more than it sounds like. Here there are 124 stores all in an outdoor setting, not in a covered mall. One store here for guys (and select ladies) that I have not seen anywhere else is a Beef Jerky Outlet. Yes, you read that correctly, and the entire store of jerky. It was a meat eater, heaven lol.
I went to a number of stores, skipping the larger stores and sticking with the smaller stores that felt locally owned and managed. I was looking for things that I could not find near my home.
After a few hours of limiting my sun exposure to the time walking from one store to the next, I stopped for lunch and went to Margaritaville. It is hard to be at a beach and not have a Jimmy Buffett song or two come to mind. So, I thought I would have lunch and a drink here and go all in.
It felt like I had to order a cheeseburger in paradise, so I did then I also had a gold margarita and finished with their Key Lime Pie which is worth bragging about. There is a nice theater here for movies as well but there was nothing, I wanted to see bad enough to put my mini vacation on hold for a few hours.
Time to head back to the beach to enjoy the resort a little more since tomorrow morning I am headed back to Virginia.
Once I got back to the resort, I coated up with more sunscreen and headed toward the beach, this time even wearing a baseball cap to prevent any more scalp burning. You feel that in the shower for sure.
The afternoon on the beach was great, and the sunset was even more impressive. The sunsets on the Gulf of Mexico are great and almost a religious experience for many like me who love the water.
If you want an affordable, fun beach vacation with the family or just that special someone, this is a great resort and location. This is the kind of 3-star experience that is clean, safe, affordable and is on a 4-star beach location.
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