Northwest Florida Day Trips to Remember

map of mexico beach florida and surrounding area

There’s Something for Everyone!

The white-sand coast of Mexico Beach, Florida, is the perfect destination for those seeking a relaxing, off-the-beaten-path beach destination where there are no huge crowds, traffic jams, or high-rise condos crowding the shore. In this quaint town on the northern edge of the Gulf of Mexico, visitors and locals alike enjoy the calm water, clean beaches, and family-owned shops and restaurants that make this place unique. But for those seeking other adventures and activities during their beach vacation, don’t count Mexico Beach out! The town makes the perfect home-base for all kinds of Northwest Florida day trips and activities, from shopping top brands to exploring the region’s diverse landscapes and wildlife.



wakulla springs park florida mexico beach day trip outdoors

Part of the allure of Northwest Florida is its untouched swamps and springs, caverns, and more. With plenty of State Parks and preserves within a short drive, Mexico Beach is an ideal basecamp for explorers of nature. These are just a few to consider:

For bird-watchers: Don’t miss St. Vincent National Wildlife Refuge and St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge. With 11 official stops on the Great Florida Birding Trail within an hour’s drive of Mexico Beach, the area is a bird-watcher’s paradise. Discover species such as great blue herons, snowy and piping plovers, bald eagles, cormorants, swallow-tailed kites, and many more. Read more about Bird-watching in Mexico Beach here.

For paddle enthusiasts: Northwest Florida day trips to clear natural springs and winding rivers are a must for lovers of stand-up paddleboarding, kayaking, and canoeing. Explore the Dead Lakes State Recreation Area just 23 miles from Mexico Beach, where you’ll paddle through prehistoric marshlands full of cypress trees and diverse wildlife. For those seeking beautiful natural springs, visit Econfina Creek, just 45 miles from Mexico Beach. This protected creek system offers crystal-clear swimming holes and a paddling experience that typically lasts three to four hours. Kayak and canoe rentals are available through Econfina Creek Canoe Livery, or you can bring your own vessel and life jacket.

For outdoor explorers: With dozens of state parks and forests, trail systems, and waterways to explore, the area surrounding Mexico Beach is truly a nature-lover’s dream. Nearby highlights to check out include the Florida Caverns State Park in Marianna, which is about 75 miles away. It is the only State Park in Florida to offer public cave tours and offers the opportunity to view limestone stalactites, stalagmites, and other unique underground structures. Other activities at the park include fishing, paddling, golf, and picnicking.



Family Fun

family riding in car with the top down having fun in mexico beach located in northwest florida

Mexico Beach is a playground all on its own, perfect for spending time with the family, riding bikes, fishing, and building sandcastles. But for those who want a little more during their visit, there are family-friendly attractions nearby that make great day trips!

Catch a flick: The Regal Regency Stadium 11 and the AMC Classic 10 in Panama City, and The Grand 16 at Pier Park in Panama City Beach all offer the latest and greatest movies for the perfect popcorn-filled afternoon with the family.

Race to the finish: Do you feel the need for speed? Race City in Panama City Beach is the go-to stop for go-karts, carnival rides, thrill rides, mini golf, bumper boats, an arcade, and more. The attraction includes four go-kart tracks for your family to choose from—everyone, start your engines! (Open seasonally)

Believe It or Not: The Ripley’s Believe It or Not! museum of oddities and adjoining WonderWorks museum offer hours of “edutainment” for all ages on Front Beach Road in Panama City Beach. Explore scientific discoveries, the Ripley’s Moving Theatre, indoor ropes course, laser tag, and much more.



panama city beach florida day trip from mexico beach

Prefer to take a swing during your beach vacation? Mexico Beach is a great hub for golfers who wish to experience the scenery of Northwest Florida on a variety of challenging and beautiful courses. Those nearby include:


  • Joseph Bay Golf Club, Port St. Joe (16 miles)
  • Nature Walk Golf Course, Lynn Haven (27 miles)
  • Hombre Golf Club, Panama City Beach (34 miles)
  • Bay Point Resort Golf Club, Panama City Beach (36 miles)
  • Holiday Golf Club, Panama City Beach (37 miles)



If you’re in the mood for a little retail therapy, the eclectic collection of locally owned shops in Mexico Beach and Port St. Joe are nearby to help; but for those seeking some serious big-brand shopping, there are plenty of options just a day trip away!

Pier Park and Pier Park North: Panama City Beach’s premier outdoor shopping and entertainment plaza has it all—shopping, dining, entertainment, and events all right across from the sparkling Gulf of Mexico. Anchor stores include J.C. Penney, Dillard’s, Target, Dick’s Sporting Goods, World Market, and more. Other favorite brands offered are Victoria’s Secret, American Eagle Outfitters, Nike, Old Navy, Torrid, Buckle, Bath & Body Works, Columbia, and more, as well as a collection of locally owned boutiques and specialty shops.

Silver Sands Premium Outlets: One of Florida’s largest outlet malls, Silver Sands is located in Miramar Beach, just about a one-and-a-half- to two-hour drive from Mexico Beach. Saks Off Fifth offers premium department-store brands at discounted prices, while high-fashion designer outlets include Coach, Michael Kors, Calvin Klein, Polo Ralph Lauren, Dooney & Bourke, Kate Spade New York, Vera Bradley, and many more. Outdoor and beachwear is available from Columbia, Nike, PacSun, and many more, while kids clothing and gifts are at the Disney Store, Carter’s, GapKids, Gymboree, and more. Dining options are also nearby, as well as Starbucks Coffee, so spending a day at Silver Sands is a shopper’s best bet!


Festivals & Events

Why not make Mexico Beach your headquarters for the next big event on the Gulf Coast? Enjoy peace and quiet in your home away from home and make a weekend or week out of it when you come to the beach for big-name events such as the Pepsi Gulf Coast Jam country music festival and more. Marina Civic Center in Panama City also offers concerts, plays, and kids’ programs that make great entertainment highlights during your Mexico Beach getaway!


Needless to say, there are a variety of Northwest Florida day trips available for all types of people and families visiting Mexico Beach. For even more ideas, download our FREE Day Trips Guide here.

If you’re ready to explore all the area has to offer, check out our Places to Stay page for information on condos, vacation homes, campgrounds, and more—we look forward to seeing you on the Unforgettable Coast!