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Abigail Abesamis

White sand beaches, calm Gulf waters and a laid-back lifestyle draw visitors to Florida’s Panhandle, and travelers arriving at Northwest Florida Beaches International Airport find themselves between two very different but complementary cities with almost the same name: Panama City and Panama City Beach. Panama City, an area in the midst of rebuilding following a devastating 2018 hurricane, was given its name in the early 1900s in the hopes of spurring real estate development and international trade given its proximity to the Panama Canal, which was being constructed then. Nods to the city’s past are still felt through preserved historic buildings, an active port area and a small-town feel with local boutiques and enduring eateries. But Panama City Beach’s tagline – World’s Most Beautiful Beaches – says it all. The spring break hotspot–turned–family-friendly destination continues to draw visitors year-round with its water sports and sunset views. PCB is home to spectacular state parks and a diverse mix of standout eateries, from beach bars to casual fine dining, highlighting locally caught seafood and old-fashioned Southern hospitality.