We understand that one of the things you think about as you near the beaches is traffic and navigating Panama City Beach. So, we would like to give you a few tips to help you avoid some of the more congested areas so that you can get to your hotel, motel or condo a little faster! One of the biggest timesavers is to first evaluate which part of the 19-mile strip you planning to stay.
If you are staying on or near the Thomas Drive area, or on the eastern side of Panama City Beach, you should enter from Hwy. 98 on the east side of the big Hathaway Bridge. This means driving through the city of Panama City. We notice that many drivers come in on Hwy 231 and stay straight ahead on Hwy 98, which runs directly through the main section of Panama City.
To save a few minutes (although we must admit even this route can get clogged at peak times), we suggest turning off Hwy 231 to the right onto 23rd Street.
Here’s how. Just as you are nearing the Panama City Mall you will see a big sign directing traffic to the Beaches area. Turn here. 23rd street will bring you right back into Hwy 98 just before you cross Hathaway Bridge. This saves time.
We suggest this route if you are headed to the Middle or West PCBeach areas. Follow Hwy 20 to Hwy 79 and then straight south into Panama City Beach Parkway (Hwy 98/30A). It is the first big intersection you come to, about 5 miles after crossing the big new bridge over the Intracoastal Waterway. From there you can turn right and go to the West end of the beaches, or left to the Middle beach area. Back Beach Road is a nice four-lane which will whisk you to an exit near the Front Beach area you desire.
Once You’re Here
Once you arrive in the area, there are 3 main east-west roads to help you move around the beach. They are FRONT, MIDDLE, and BACK BEACH roads. Check them out on your GPS.
One more thing to help avoid traffic jams. It is likely that your “check-in” or “check out” time will be similar to other visitors. Obviously, this can occasionally create traffic snarls on the main arteries, especially on holidays. When checking in, try to give your self some extra time and arrive in the area before the rush begins, and if checking out, try to wait an hour or two if possible before leaving the area.
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