Springfield is a town of about 10,000 residents in the Florida panhandle that sits just inland of some of the Gulf coast’s more well-known beach resort towns, like Panama City Beach and Callaway.
Many of the town’s residents are servicemen and women stationed at nearby Tyndall Air Force Base. In addition, the town’s largest employers have typically been in the shipbuilding and tourism industries.
Springfield is just a stone’s throw from some of the state’s most beautiful beaches. Though there aren’t many attractions within city limits, visitors won’t have trouble keeping busy, even if they plan on staying within just a few miles of town.
Below are 14 things to do in and around Springfield, Florida.
1. Gene’s Oyster Bar
Though it’s technically located in Panama City, Gene’s Oyster Bar is close enough to Springfield that it’s within walking distance from downtown. It’s one of the area’s most popular seafood restaurants, especially for those who prefer the laid-back scene.
In addition to its namesake oysters, Gene’s offers a variety of additional seafood and non-seafood fare, but most guests make it a point to try their oysters on the half shell, which are always fresh.
Gene’s is small and often fills-up quickly during peak times, especially during happy hour, so plan on arriving early if you’d like to beat the crowds.
2. Museum of Man in the Sea
The Museum of Man in the Sea is located on Panama City Beach Parkway. It was founded in the mid-‘70s by a group of ex-frogmen and marine biologists determined to preserve the interesting history of man’s interaction with the sea.
One of only a few museums of its kind in the region, visitors who decide to stop by will have access to a renovated submarine, a variety of historic underwater breathing apparatuses, and tons of cool exhibits that are big hits with the young and old alike.
Most guests spend between an hour and two on-site, and there’s a great introductory movie that gives visitors a fascinating historical overview of the things they’re about to see.
3. Russell-Fields City Pier
Panama City Beach’s Russell-Fields City Pier stretches nearly 1,500 feet out into the Gulf of Mexico, making it the longest of its kind on the Gulf Coast.
The pier is adjacent to one of the city’s most attractive public beaches and is popular with walkers, photographers, anglers, and those in search of iconic Florida sunsets.
Many guests enjoy watching the fishermen haul in their catches, and for those who’d like to try their luck, it’s possible to rent bait and tackle on-site.
From above, sea turtles, rays, and fish are commonly seen in the water, and it’s also an excellent place for a picnic.
4. Sea Dragon Pirate Cruise
For many centuries, the waters off Florida’s coast were crawling with pirates, buccaneers, and other maritime misfits and marauders. For those who’d like a taste of the state’s pirate past without risking an abduction or saber wound, a Sea Dragon Pirate Cruise would be a great fit.
The 85-foot pirate ship includes an energetic staff and a variety of kid’s activities such as water cannon skirmishes, singing, and wildlife viewing.
It’s common to see dolphins, sea turtles, and marine birds along the way. Though it’s a kid-first activity, most parents and older children wind-up having a blast too.
5. Coconut Creek Mini-Golf & Gran Maze
The Sunshine State is jam-packed with outdoor activities and attractions, and mini-golf is one of the most popular for those traveling with little ones in-tow.
Coconut Creek Mini-Golf & Gran Maze has two 18-hole golf courses that feature tropical themes, towering palms, and lots of tricky obstacles to make things both fun and challenging.
Waterfalls, bridges, and life-sized animals offer lots of interesting distractions. When the round is done, there’s a giant outdoor maze sporting a cool island motif that’s been known to keep families busy for longer than expected.
To avoid the crowds, consider visiting early in the day when they first open.
6. Escape the Room PCB
Escape rooms have become popular alternative entertainment options in recent years; for vacationers who’ve had their fill of sun and sand, they’re great places to spend a few afternoon or evening hours.
Guests need to rely on a variety of skills – like teamwork, problem-solving, and deciphering codes – to successfully escape captivity or solve a crime. Many first-time participants are surprised at just how tense and exhilarating their experience was.
Escape the Room PCB is a great venue for date nights, birthday and wedding parties, and corporate events; they offer a variety of themes and options to fit most interests.
7. Island Time Sailing
With so much amazing coastline and clear Gulf waters stretching to the horizon, the area around Springfield is perfect for exploration by sea.
Island Time is a beautiful catamaran that’s 50-feet long and 30-feet wide and can accommodate nearly 80 passengers at a time.
The vessel sales out of Panama City Beach and has been operating safely for nearly two decades.
A variety of options are available, including wildlife viewing, sunsets, and private parties, and the boat’s amenities include abundant restrooms and a snack and drink bar.
For those traveling in small groups, it’s also a great way to meet like-minded travelers and locals.
8. Seacrest Wolf Preserve
Though most visitors associate wolves with the northern American states and Canada, there’s one place that visitors can get a good look at these majestic creatures when visiting the Florida panhandle.
Seacrest Wolf Preserve is the Southeast’s premier destination for wolf-lovers, and the facility features a variety of species, including gray and arctic wolves.
Guided tours last between 2 and 2 ½ hours and are surprisingly inexpensive, and children between six and eleven pay half the adult rate.
The facility is located in nearby Chipley and is home to other animals like skunks and foxes, but tours must be booked in advance and often fill-up, so make reservations in advance of your trip.
9. Science and Discovery Center of Northwest Florida
Located on Airport Road in Panama City, the Science and Discovery Center of Northwest Florida is the area’s premier destination for those with little ones in need of mental stimulation and physical activity.
The center’s interactive exhibits touch on history, science, aviation, and the natural world, and the facility includes both indoor and outdoor sections that often keep visitors busy for hours.
Weekly staff-led events are offered that include chances to feed and handle animals, and the center is a popular special event venue as well.
The outdoor area includes well-marked nature trails, covered picnic areas, a pioneer-era village, and a playground.
10. Zoo World Zoological Conservatory
Panama City Beach’s Zoo World Zoological Conservatory is unlike many of its traditional zoo counterparts in that it’s mostly dedicated to animal and habitat preservation around the world.
The conservatory’s animal residents include lots of big-game favorites, like lions, giraffes, and tigers. There’s also an impressive reptile collection and plenty of smaller, more cuddly critters, like lemurs and monkeys.
The staff offer a variety of regularly scheduled events and programs; though some of them are an additional charge, they’re big hits with little ones and are just as informative as they are entertaining.
There is also a petting zoo and gift shop on-site, and snacks and drinks are available.
11. Shipwreck Island Waterpark
Shipwreck Island Waterpark has been open for more than three decades and is the perfect recreation option for those who’ve tired of the intense sun and harsh salt water at the beach.
The waterpark features a half a million-gallon wave pool, tons of slides, and a lazy inner-tube floating area that stretches nearly 700 feet.
The park’s 20 acres are staffed by trained lifeguards, and for parents who’d rather watch from a safe distance without getting wet, there are plenty of covered seating options near the action. Not surprisingly, the waterpark can turn into a bit of a madhouse during peak times, so expect a crowd.
12. Apalachicola National Forest
At more than 600,000 acres, Apalachicola National Forest is one of the largest national forests in the state of Florida, and it’s a relatively easy drive east from Springfield.
The forest is the only one of its kind in the state’s panhandle region and offers visitors a variety of activity options, including hiking, mountain biking, camping, fishing, and bird-watching.
The forest is comprised of numerous distinct forested areas, and much of it is watery bogs, rivers, and ponds.
Camel Lake is one of the forest’s most popular camping areas; though the limited sites are rustic, they’re surrounded by incredible natural beauty.
13. Adventures at Sea
Adventures at Sea is a unique area business in Panama City Beach that offers guests a variety of exhilarating outdoor sporting options.
For those who’d rather relax and take in the view, they offer umbrella and lounge chair rentals. For the adrenaline junkies out there who crave more exciting options, they provide jet-ski rentals, sailboat rides, guided fishing excursions, and parasailing.
With so much to see and do, it’s a good idea to give their website a thorough look before making a decision. Previous guests have noted that in addition to their full list of options, the staff were friendly and helpful, and the prices were surprisingly reasonable.
14. Ripley’s Believe it or Not
For lovers of the macabre, eerie, and eclectic, there’s no better destination than Ripley’s Believe it or Not in Panama City Beach.
It’s a truly unique destination that specializes in jaw-dropping exhibits and bits of lore that you just won’t find elsewhere, and is the perfect indoor attraction for when the weather isn’t conducive to being outside.
Exhibits include artifacts, wax figures, shrunken heads, and tales of horror and intrigue that may not be suitable for the squeamish.
Ripley’s Believe it or Not operates similar sites in many cities, but even for guests who’ve visited before, it’s usually one of the most memorable experiences of their trip.