Thanks to COVID, our travel patterns in 2020 & 2021 were much different from what we expected. Most importantly, we started to change our mind about vacation rentals, which included taking two trips to the mountains and splitting an Airbnb cabin with Norm and Samantha, our “safe COVID travel buddies” (who have since just become our “travel buddies” regardless of the world’s COVID status).
When we started looking at trips for 2021, things were changing. We were all partially or fully vaccinated, pre-Delta and Omicron. Remember, that’s when we thought things would start to get back to normal. We felt comfortable about being in crowds and eating in restaurants. Our friends visit Panama City Beach often and we’d never been. After convincing them that we really wanted to go there (“You know, there are people there who’ve never given a crap about COVID safety. And we thought you don’t really like the beach?!?!?!”), we started looking for beach house rentals.
There are endless choices of rental properties in and around Panama City Beach. We opted for a location that was further away from the masses. That way, we could make a trip to the Winn Dixie and cook at home if things changed between when we booked and our trip and we didn’t want to sit in a crowded restaurant after all. (A.K.A. “Always have a Plan B”)
Our beach cottage was located on SR-30 (Front Beach Road) in the Sunnyside area of Panama City Beach. This is the far western part of the area. It’s a 15-minute drive to the Pier Park shopping complex and 30-minutes to get to Schooners at the far eastern side of PCB. While there are only a few restaurants located in this part of town, you are also far away from the traffic, crowds and noise of the main beach complex.
We were also closer to Thomas’ Donut and Snack Shop, which was a bonus.
Our two-bedroom cottage was part of a larger complex of connected units, most of which are available for rental on Airbnb, VRBO and Vacasa. There is parking for 2 cars in front of the unit.
Upon entering, you’re in the living room area, with a comfy couch and some not as comfortable chairs.
There was a TV with a cable connection and a DVD player with a random collection of movies. It took some looking but I found the HDMI port to plug in our Firestick.
Past the TV area was a dining table with the kitchen at the back of the unit. To the right was a washroom, which was a thoughtful addition.
The kitchen was basic but had everything you’d need for a vacation rental. As we’ve come to expect, there was a collection of random pots, pans, bowls and utensils.
We put the kitchen to use as we had a productive day of deep sea fishing and made some fish tacos for dinner.
The two bedrooms, with separate bathrooms, were located upstairs. They were almost identical, except for different pictures.
Sharon and I had the room at the front of the unit, which has a deck overlooking the parking and road (and the beach in the distance past the buildings on the other side of the street).
The bathroom was basic and functional.
Out the back of the unit was a small seating area. There was a grill if you wanted to do more of your own cooking.
The outdoor shower was also a great way to wash off after returning from the beach.
There was also a storage closet with beach items.
We loved the rolling cart the owner provided, which held 4 beach chairs. This was particularly helpful because the beach access was only a three-minute walk from the front door.
This part of Panama City Beach is much quieter than what you’ll get if you stay at one of the large hotels or condos in the heart of town.
We spent one afternoon of our trip at the beach—swimming in the water, sitting in our chairs and enjoying the weather. If we needed it, we could walk back to our place and pick up anything we forgot. Sharon and I had a great time, and we’re not really “beach people.”
We hate going to this type of beach when, if you want a good spot, beach chair or cabana, you have to pay extra for it, and everyone’s crammed together.
Renting a beach house in Panama City Beach was not on my 2021 bingo card. But neither was renting cabins in Helen, GA and Pigeon Forge, TN on my 2020 travel list. Over the last two years, we’ve confirmed that it’s fun to travel, but it’s even better if you can travel with friends (or meet friends/family during your travels.)
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