Close to five acres in size, S. Richard Seltzer Park—named after a former county commissioner and called Rick Seltzer Park for short—gives Panama City Beach visitors free public access to the celebrated sugar sands of the Emerald Coast’s Gulf shore.
Accessed via Thomas Drive and offering a free palm-edged parking lot, Rick Seltzer Park provides a nice little contrast to the usual condo- and high-rise-developed PCB beachfront, what with its 170 or so feet of preserved vegetated dunes marked with interpretive signage; it’s advertised as a spot for environmental education, and if nothing else does give you at least a tiny indication of what natural Emerald Coast seashore might look like. A wooden walkover leads you to the white sands of the beach, prime real estate for sunbathing, seashell scouting, and swimming. Come armed with swimsuits, beach towels, chairs, and a good beach read, and you’re all set for business.
Speaking of swimming, posted lifeguards make this a family-friendly beach. As with any other Emerald Coast strand, rough surf, riptides, jellyfish, and the like may occasionally preclude taking a dip; follow all advisories and obviously any direction from the Rick Seltzer Park guards.
The park’s open throughout the daylight hours and its sugar-sand stage makes a great perch for taking in one of those world-class Gulf of Mexico sunsets Panama City Beach is known for.
You’ll find a pavilion, picnic facilities, and park benches here, plus restrooms, comfort areas/showers, and water fountains. Everything’s generally quite well maintained and clean.
On weekends, holidays, and more than a few postcard-perfect summer afternoons, Rick Seltzer Park can get on the crowded side (and you may have to hunt for parking). But compared with PCB beaches closer to the more thronged resort and shopping hubs, it’s often less all-out jam-packed. Early in the day, under overcast skies, and at various other times when Lady Luck’s on your side, you may find this lovely pocket beach park downright tranquil.
A number of restaurants sit within easy strolling-distance reach of Rick Seltzer Park, so it’s easy enough to make a day of it and sample some local cuisine alongside the delicious sugar sands. Regardless of your plans, this is a great place to kick back and partake of some hard-core R&R—and sometimes a surprising amount of peace and quiet.
– The parking lot at Rick Seltzer Park is unpaved, and during rainy conditions, it can get a bit on the gloppy side. Make sure you’ve got the proper footwear for traversing it, and consider street parking if you’re particular about your car.