Backyard Road Trip: 3 Things to do in Panacea, Florida

Family at Gulf Specimen Marine Lab  in Panacea Florida.

All family travel does not require hotel stays, a packed luggage, or a full tank of gas. Some family road trips can be less than an hour away and right in your back yard.

On this Saturday morning, my family and I drove forty five minutes south of Tallahassee to a small city on the coast. Panacea is one of those tiny fishing villages with so much charm and so many hidden gems. Here are three of our favorite things to do in Panacea.

Gulf Specimen Marine Lab and Aquarium

We love finding places that are fun, educational, and that the whole family can enjoy. Recently Liam has had a fascination with marine life and I knew that the Gulf Specimen Marine Lab would be the prefect place.

The Gulf Specimen Marine Lab and Aquarium is located in Panacea, Florida which is about forty five minutes south of Tallahassee. The lab is a marine life education center and rehabilitation facility.

Kids and adults can enjoy the hands on displays where you can get elbow deep and face-to-face with the marine animals. I’ll admit, at first Liam was skeptical, and I, on the other hand dove right in. I grew up in the Key’s and this is totally my thing!

Holding a small crab.

Liam finally warmed up to the idea of holding a few of the shells and crabs, and I think the starfish were his favorites.

I also love a place that the whole family can enjoy together. Nolan is a year old an is getting much more curious. Most of the large tanks were at eye level, and have small viewing windows for those curious little eyes.

While you are there, make sure to ask what time the feedings are. We were lucky enough to be there when the sharks and stingrays were being fed. You are inches away from the tanks, there are fins thrashing, and the water is splashing!

General Information:

Hours*: Monday-Friday 9AM to 5PM    Saturday 10AM to 5PM       Sunday 10AM to 5PM

Admissions*: $9.95 for adults (12+ yrs) $8.95 for seniors (65+ yrs) $7.95 for children (3-11 yrs)

I suggest bringing your own drinks and snacks. Refreshments were limited to water fountains, but you are not out of luck, walk down the street to The Seineyard Restaurant at Rock Landing for an amazing family dining experience. It’s less than a 5 minute walk from the aquarium.

*Check their website before heading over as times and prices may have changed.

The Seineyard at Rock Landing

After going to the Gulf Specimen Marine Lab we worked up quite an appetite. We were told about The Seineyard at Rock Landing, a waterside restaurant, that was less then a five minute walk from the lab.

Sit under the massive tiki hut, order a cold drink, indulge in fresh-from-the-dock seafood, and watch the boats come in. I ordered the peel n’ eat shrimp and Paul ordered a grouper sandwich.

Take home some fresh seafood!

Come on, you’re on the coast, and in a fishing village! This is the perfect time to stock up on some seafood that is fresh caught in nearby waters.

We stopped in at Mineral Springs Seafood on our way out of town. They are one of our favorite fish markets with the freshest seafood, they are family run, and they always give the best suggestions!

On this trip we picked up some Grouper Cheeks on recommendation from one of the guys working there. Grouper cheeks are like golden little nuggets of the most delicious part of the fish. You. Must. Try. Them!!!

We love seafood for quick meals during the week. Seafood is typically quick cooking and super easy! Ask them to pack the seafood on ice to keep it cold on your drive back home. Don’t for get their fresh made Smoked Fish Dip, OMG soooooo good!

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