Florida Travel

Panama City Beach: Party’s over for wild spring breakers

New Panama City Beach ordinances ban alcohol on the beach, mandate that bars close at 2 a.m. and prohibit loitering in parking lots. St. Andrews State Park just outside Panama City Beach, is one of the spring break draws.
New Panama City Beach ordinances ban alcohol on the beach, mandate that bars close at 2 a.m. and prohibit loitering in parking lots. St. Andrews State Park just outside Panama City Beach, is one of the spring break draws. Detroit Free Press

Tourism officials in Panama City Beach are shutting the door on wild spring breakers.

Seeking to shed its reputation as a spring break mecca, the city in the Florida Panhandle recently passed ordinances that ban alcohol on the beach, mandate that bars close at 2 a.m. and prohibit loitering in parking lots.

The first test of whether the new laws will work to slash the normal volume of 250,000 spring breakers will come this week through the end of March, when colleges go on spring recess.

Lodgings that cater to spring break travelers have seen a downturn in reservations, said Dan Rowe, president and CEO of Visit Panama City Beach.

We are looking at how to inspire families to come back to Panama City Beach.

Dan Rowe, president and CEO of Visit Panama City Beach.

The city hopes to counter that by offering more family-friendly draws such as its first SpringJam country music show in April. It also launched a $1-million marketing effort aimed at families.

Panama City Beach has 27 miles of beach and two state parks.

“We are looking at how to inspire families to come back to Panama City Beach,” Rowe said.

Unlike in hotter parts of Florida, summer is the overall busiest tourist season in the resort city, but spring breakers in March have been part of the scene for 25 years.

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