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Explore Panama City History

Panama City is one of Florida’s most popular tourist spots thanks to its sunny beaches and countless seasonal events. What eludes most people, however, is the rich history of this city. The interesting background of the area lends itself to some incredible attractions, and at our luxury rental properties, you’re never far from the action.

History of Panama City Beach


The area of Panama City was founded by loyalists during the Revolutionary War. They utilized the land to grow indigo and to develop prosperous industries, like naval stores and lumbering. Later, during the Civil War, the fishing village of St. Andrew (which would later merge with another town to become today’s Panama City) housed fisheries and saltworks that were destroyed by the Union. It truly hit its stride in World War II, when the population boomed thanks to the increase in industrialism.

Before it became known as Panama City, this area went by several names: Floriopolis, Park Resort, and Harrison. The moniker we know today wasn’t put in place until 1906, and the city became officially incorporated in 1909.

George Mortimer West is credited with the name. He wanted to spur more real estate in the county, and people were interested in the area thanks to the Panama Canal. If a line was drawn from Chicago to Panama, this city was right on the pathway, hence the name Panama City. The city was also the US mainland’s closest port to the Panama Canal’s Caribbean entrance.

Historical Attractions

As you can imagine, a city with such rich history has a multitude of educational and fun attractions. You can find many family-friendly activities in Panama City Beach that celebrate its history.

The first place to check out is Historic St. Andrews. The community has a free guided walking tour that leads you throughout the town and lets you in on all the historical locations. You can also take a self-guided audio tour.

While here, you should also check out the Panama City Publishing Museum. The attraction was built by George Mortimer West himself and was home to the city’s first newspaper. You can observe original equipment, photos, newspapers, and more. Admission is free for the whole family. History enthusiasts will love this break from the many sun-soaked outside fun things to do in Panama City Beach Florida.

For a wider look at the area, visit the Bay County Historical Museum. Free of charge and open three days a week, this museum has been preserving and displaying historical documents and items for over 75 years. They also host a regular lecture series from September to May.

One more fun historical site is the Robert Lee McKenzie House. Robert Lee Mackenzie was Panama City’s first mayor and was a state representative. He’s most well-known for putting together the Gulf Coast Development Company, pushing the city to become the coastal center it is today.

Places to Stay

There’s so much to do and see in Panama City, and our rentals are conveniently located to put you right in the heart of things. We have vacation properties to fit any budget or party size, and you’ll never be far from your next activity.

Contact us today to secure your booking. We love to share our vacation rentals near Panama City Beach for you and your whole family. A beach vacation to Panama City Beach is better when you stay in one of our waterfront rentals.