Travel journal: Panama City Beach, Florida + a DIY keepsake

Today’s my birthday, and in today’s post I’m reflecting back on a quick fun, trip we took last week to celebrate. Growing up in the midwest, I never thought I would be able to take a weekend road trip down to Florida (this trip was actually my first time there in 20 years). And I especially never thought I could drive a few hours around my birthday and go swimming at the beach. It happened, and it was amazing!


We got up early on Tuesday and were on the road by 9. It took a little more than 3.5 hours but when we got close to the beach, the sky was super blue, there were palm trees lining the road and when Damien rolled the window down, I could smell the sea air! But I think my favorite moment was right after we checked into the Days Inn Beachfront, when we went to our room and saw the view, looking straight out at the Gulf, I felt so at peace. This place was a great deal for an amazing location, steps away from the sand.

Beach view

This was my first time at the Gulf of Mexico, though I’d been to the Atlantic Ocean and Florida once before. It was gorgeous and I felt so wonderful in the warm sunny weather, listening to the sound of waves. Stepping out the door and onto the beach made me feel at ease and so happy.



The trip came up quickly and I didn’t have a bathing suit, so I got a cute black one piece from Target, along with a nice, sheer coverup.

The first day there, we arrived in the early afternoon and spent some time in the sun, wading and picking up seashells and coral on the beach. After a while we took a break for a snack, wandering the beach until we settled on the Shrimp Basket, where I enjoyed a cup of gumbo and this blue, tasty mermaid water drink.


After this, we headed back to the hotel to do a little swimming. It was so awesome to be able to be outside in a pool this time of year! The pool was nice, with waterfalls, and an awesome view of the gulf.


When we were done swimming, we headed out to the pier to watch the sunset. It was a gorgeous evening, and we talked to some other travelers about how amazing the gulf and how the vastness of the ocean put things in perspective. We met a man who was 55 and visiting the ocean for the first time in his life, and he seemed so excited to be there. It’s always nice hearing people’s stories, especially when travelling.


When it got dark out, we went back to our room and got ready, then headed across the street for a small dinner of pizza and some drinks, at a fun hole in the wall called Salty Goat Saloon.



The next day we opted for a “digital detox,” and went without our phones for most of it, just enjoying the beach and relaxing together outside. We did some more swimming and dug around for seashells (they play a part in the quick and easy DIY souvenir tutorial I will share at the end of this post).

Later on, we got dinner at local restaurant Harpoon Harry‘s, which was very delicious. I got a heart shaped puff-pastry filled with lobsters and veggies (Valentine’s Day special, and I had my phone at this point, to take a photo of my food, but put it away after that), and we shared a 42 ounce Bahama Mama, plus a delicious key lime pie tower for dessert. Then we went fishing later. We didn’t catch anything, but it was relaxing being out on the pier at night as the fog settled along the shore.



On our last day and morning, we sat on the beach for a little while, and then stopped at a local coffee shop, The Pour, before heading home. I got a delicious matcha and egg and avocado sandwich.


Overall, our trip was super fun! We made some great memories and packed a lot of relaxation into just under 48 hours, and at the last minute wanted to take something back to commemorate the weekend.

We’d collected a lot of shells over the weekend, and before leaving scooped a cup of sand, and I put the sand and shells in a jar we had at home to make this cute decoration. Something I would recommend if you want to make a sand and shell tumbler jar would be to get about two cups of sand (we only got one). But you can basically add as much as you want and use any jar you have layering around, or pick one up at a thrift or craft store.

4 thoughts on “Travel journal: Panama City Beach, Florida + a DIY keepsake

  1. Happy Birthday, Stephanie!

    What a great way to spend your day! Your little getaway sounded perfect! Thanks for sharing-I think I could imagine being there (and enjoying the time just as you did!).

    (Back in MI😳)

  2. Looks like the perfect weekend getaway. I love that picture of you two! And what a cute idea for a souvenir. I’m going to have to make one of those jars after my next ocean visit.

    1. Thanks!! It’s super easy to make, I’d take a large container or bag next time to collect more shells though, and a larger container for sand.

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