Hotel at a Glance: Laketown Wharf
There’s somewhere to swim almost everywhere you look at Laketown Wharf. The resort has five outdoor pools, including a rooftop pool and one where you can soak up sunshine amid views of the Gulf of Mexico. Another pool occupies its own island in the middle of Laketown Wharf’s private lake. There’s even a separate pool for kids. When you’re not in the water, you can admire the waves from the lakefront boardwalk or search for seashells on the white-sand beach.
- Eat up: Grab a bite at the onsite Splash Pool Bar & Grill and follow it up with a refreshing cocktail.
- The guest rooms keep you connected with 32-inch flat-screen TVs and free WiFi.
- Nightly show: Head to the boardwalk to watch fountains of water spurt up from the lake in a colorful display of lights and music.
- Notable award: TripAdvisor 2015 Certificate of Excellence
Panama City Beach, Florida: Sugar-White Beaches and Scuba-Diving Spots
Panama City Beach’s slogan—“The World’s Most Beautiful Beaches”—may seem boastful. But TripAdvisor helped back up this claim in 2013, naming the local St. Andrews State Park as having 1 of the top 25 beaches in the United States. The park also has two fishing piers, a jetty, and a boat ramp, plus nature trails for bird watching. Elsewhere in town, you can arrange a scuba-diving trip to explore the area’s dozens of natural and artificial reefs.
There are numerous amusement parks along the 20-plus miles of shoreline. Many of the popular seafood restaurants and bars here overlook the Gulf of Mexico. For a change of pace, take the ferry to Shell Island, an uninhabited, 7-mile-long barrier island. On the ride over, you might see some of the bottlenose dolphins that frequent these warm waters. Once there, you can soak in the sun on the empty beaches and go snorkeling. It’s also worth it to visit the nature preserve at Conservation Park, which has 24 miles of trails. One 11-mile trek goes past wooden boardwalks and wetlands; keep your eyes peeled and you might see woodpeckers in the trees and alligators lurking beside cypresses.