Nestled in the northern Gulf of Mexico, along a dazzling stretch of sugar-white beaches fringed by the emerald-green waters of the Gulf, lies arguably the coast’s most popular vacation destination: Panama City Beach. , in Florida.
Panama City Beach is more than just a spring break destination. In fact, it’s the perfect year-round destination, no matter your age. You’ll find that the city is an affordable beach destination that’s packed with amenities and attractions that will keep you coming back again and again – championship golf, award-winning restaurants, outdoor adventure, and more.
When we say it’s a year-round vacation destination, we’re not kidding. The town enjoys 320 days of sunshine a year, making it the perfect vacation spot no matter what time of year you visit.
Sure, being a beach town, Panama City Beach serves up some of the best seafood, but the dining goes way beyond oysters and crabs. In fact, the city is known for the many food festivals it hosts to celebrate the city’s cultural heritage and its wide range of culinary experiences.
When planning a trip to Panama City Beach, loop your itinerary around one of these fabulous food festivals to really experience the taste of the city.
1. Food Truck and Craft Beer Festival – first weekend in February
Food trucks have come a long way since they first rolled onto American streets in the 1930s selling hot dogs, hamburgers and sandwiches. Today’s food truck offers you the best national and international cuisine without you having to dress up.
One of the county’s top food truck festivals – the Food Truck of America and Craft Beer Festival – takes place at beautiful Aaron Bessant Park in Panama City Beach on the first Saturday and Sunday of February from noon to 5 p.m. days.
In 2022, the event celebrates its fourth anniversary with 30 food trucks serving up incredible dishes ranging from the quintessential food truck menu (like barbecue and tacos) to more international dishes (like the intense and spicy flavors of Korean cuisine). , pan-Asian cuisine and the warm, spicy and earthy flavors of Indian dishes). And of course, everything else – funnel cakes, juicy prime rib, even mac and cheese.
And then there’s the craft beer side of the weekend where the best brewers from the Gulf Coast and Southeast come together to share their latest brews.
Throughout the weekend, you’ll be treated to great music by local musicians at the park’s amphitheater. This is the perfect place to bring a blanket or lawn chair and listen to some music while enjoying the best food truck feast and craft beer.
There are a wide variety of ticket packages available for the event. One-day admission is $5 in advance or $10 at the door (plus admin fee). Two-day passes are also available.
I recommend you to consider VIP packages. There’s one for foodies, another for beer connoisseurs. Each package gets you a commemorative koozie and, depending on the package, three craft beers of your choice, free dessert, and best of all, early entry at 11 a.m. It’s a popular event
Visit the festival ticketing website for more details and to purchase yours.
2. UNwineD Festival — March 18-19
Raise a glass and discover award-winning wines from around the world at the annual UNwineD festival at Aaron Bessant Park.
The elegant garden party is sponsored by southern life magazine and features the finest craft beers, spirits, and wines as well as incredible culinary delights created by Northwest Florida’s award-winning chefs.
The festival begins at 6 p.m. with the kick-off on Friday evening. The exclusive, limited-ticket event (only 250 tickets are available) is a chance for you to mingle with old friends and meet new ones while enjoying food and drinks from top chefs, mixologists and regional tastemakers.
Doors open Saturday at 1 p.m. for the Grand Tasting. Wander through the stalls tasting the world’s finest wines, craft beers and spirits and sample incredible culinary creations from local chefs. There is also an art and vendor row with stalls from local shops and boutiques. southern life will have a tent set up showcasing home decorations, cookbooks and more.
Tickets are limited and go fast, so get yours as soon as you can. Kick-off tickets are $185 (plus fees), which will also get you access to Saturday’s event, along with a gift bag and commemorative tasting glass. Saturday admission is $85 (plus fees) and includes a commemorative tasting glass.
Although you must be 21 or older to attend, children 12 and under are permitted if accompanied by an adult at no charge.
3. Cajun Schooner Festival — April 18-24
There’s nothing but a toe-tapping good time at Schooner’s Cajun Festival. You will shout “aiyee!” with lots of live Cajun music and fun. The highlight of the festival is Cajun cuisine, dishes concocted with a blend of spices that warm your palate but taste so good.
The festival offers a crayfish eating contest. And the view from Schooner is unbeatable. It’s right on the snowy white beach and emerald waters of the Gulf of Mexico. Oh, and it’s not just a weekend, but a whole week.
Parking is located across from Schooner’s but is limited. Additional public parking is located 300 feet north of the site on Gulf Drive.
Food and fun aren’t just limited to Schooner’s Cajun Fest. Schooners offers a delicious daily menu with amazing seafood, and every evening there is a spectacular light show – sunset over the beach. The “last local beach club” celebrates the end of every glorious day on the Gulf Coast by firing its cannon at sunset.
4. Grand Lagoon Tacos & Tequila Fest – May 7
You can’t lose when Panama City Beach’s most creative taco chefs and tequila mixologists compete for the title of best taco / best tequila cocktail. They all gather at the Grand Lagoon on the first Saturday in May to compete for the title at the Tacos and Tequila Festival. Better yet, you’re the winner because you can taste their best.
The day is filled with live music and you can vote to determine the winner.
The festival runs from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. A $30 entry gets you all-you-can-eat tacos and tequilas. If you don’t want to taste the drinks, don’t worry. There is a $20 admission to sample the tacos only. But buy your tickets early. Admission is limited.
5. Panama City Beach Oktoberfest — October 14-16
Lederhosen are not required for Panama City Beach’s annual Oktoberfest, a celebration of local German heritage.
The event takes place under an authentically decorated Oktoberfest tent on the third weekend of October at Aaron Bessant Park. The festival features two beer gardens with live music throughout the day and lots of mouth-watering German brats, sausages by the meter or hot dogs (with or without sauerkraut) and other traditional dishes from the Oktoberfest. The giant pretzel with the beer infused cheese is highly recommended.
One of the beers featured at Oktoberfest is Erdinger Weissbrau, a 130-year-old wheat beer brewed exclusively in Erding, Germany.
Oktoberfest isn’t just for adults. If you have children or grandchildren, there are plenty of games for them. For adults, you are invited to test your strength in the mug holding contest.
Again, a variety of ticket packages are available. Your best value is the 3-day VIP package which gives you a half-liter mug, an official t-shirt and unlimited beer. Tickets can be purchased at the door or online.
6. Grand Lagoon Bloody Mary & Music Festival — November 4-5
A visit to Panama City Beach is not complete without a visit to the Grand Lagoon, the area that surrounds St. Andrew’s Bay. The area is described as “the epicenter of entertainment, adventure and dining” in the region. Every year, the area hosts the Bloody Mary & Music Festival.
The festival takes place at the Sheraton Panama City Beach Golf and Spa Resort on Jan Cooley Drive and celebrates cocktails with local bars and restaurants competing to whip up the Grand Lagoon’s best Bloody Mary. A secret jury will also crown the “Big Tomato”. The contest is described as a “friendly but fierce competition”.
The recipes run the gambit – Asian Mary’s with wasabi, ginger and soy. Bloody Cesar’s with clam juice. The list goes on and on, but, of course, each restaurant and bartender adds their own unique twist.