A Travel Price Comparison for Florida Gainesville vs. Panama City for Families, Nightlife, Couples, and Food

Should you visit Gainesville or Panama City?

Which is cheaper to visit? Which is more expensive for vacation?

If you're trying to decide where to visit between Gainesville or Panama City, this travel comparison, which includes costs, can help. The overall cost of travel is usually a consideration when deciding where to go next, and the cost comparison down below can help you decide based on the average prices from other travelers along with your own travel budget.

Gainesville

Gainesville is a vibrant, high energy, and active city. And you can't forget about the shopping, museums, and nightlife.

Panama City

Panama City is a fun-filled, active, and cosmopolitan beach town. It's a gorgeous place to visit. It's also known for shopping, nightlife, and live music.

Gainesville and Panama City: Pros and Cons

Pros
  • Popular museums and historical sights
  • Active nightlife
  • Good for couples and romance
  • Good for backpackers and budget travelers
  • Very walkable
Things to Consider
  • Less family-friendly
Pros
  • Active nightlife
  • Good music scene
  • Nice resorts
  • Popular beach
  • Family-friendly
  • Good for couples and romance
Things to Consider
  • Less walkable


Is there more to do in Gainesville or Panama City?

Travelers will usually find more to do in Panama City. Although Gainesville and Panama City are popular destinations, Panama City has more sights and attractions for tourists. Panama City is very popular for its music, resorts, beaches, and impressive beauty, while Gainesville attracts visitors for its museums. Panama City is more touristy than Gainesville and is known for its watersports, sandy beaches, and year-round beach weather. It is also well known for Pier Park. Gainesville is famous for being the home of the University of Florida

How is Gainesville different from Panama City?

Which is Better for a Holiday?

Let's take a look at the differences and similarities between Panama City and Gainesville. Then, you can decide for yourself which place is better for your next trip.

Are the Museums and Historical Sights Better in Gainesville or Panama City?

Gainesville
Panama City

Gainesville is a great destination for its museums and landmarks. However, Panama City does not have museums and landmarks.

With a variety of museums, monuments, and historical sights, a trip to Gainesville can be an interesting and educational experience. There's a surprising number of museums around town such as the Florida Museum of Natural History, the Samuel P. Harn Museum of Art, and the Cade Museum for Creativity and Invention. Also fascinating is the Historic Haile Homestead, the Butterfly Rainforest, and the city's planetarium.

Panama City does not have museums and landmarks.


Is the Food Better in Gainesville or Panama City? Which Destination has the Best Restaurants?

Gainesville
Panama City

Both Gainesville and Panama City offer nice local cuisine and restaurants.

Gainesville offers number of good local restaurants to choose from. Casual eateries are popular around town, particularly with the student population. There are grills, diners, and bistros that serve local dishes at affordable prices.

Panama City has a delicious restaurant scene that relies on local flavors. There are many waterfront restaurants that serve freshly caught seafood. Head to town for a charming atmosphere or grab a bite at a casual eatery. Fried seafood is popular when eating out but you'll also find plenty of options for land-lovers. Most restaurants also have kid-friendly menus.

Is Gainesville or Panama City Better for Nightlife?

Gainesville
Panama City

Evening events are superb in both Gainesville and Panama City.

Gainesville has plenty to do after the sun goes down. The nightlife centers around the student population. The two main party areas are Midtown and Downtown. Midtown is between Northwest 17th Street and Northwest 18th Street and it's convenient for students who live on campus. The area has a great stretch of bars and clubs. The Downtown area has many of the city's top clubs, and it's popular with upperclassmen and students who live off campus.

Panama City has a lively atmosphere and nightlife is popular here. The nightlife is particular crazy during spring break, when the town fills with students. Head to the famous Club La Vela or Spinnaker for music and fun at night.

Is Gainesville or Panama City Better for Music?

Gainesville
Panama City

Panama City is a nice place to visit for live music. However, Gainesville is not a live music destination.

The music scene helps keep Panama City active and fun. A popular way to enjoy music in the area is to find a restaurant with a lounge where local musicians perform.

Gainesville is not a live music destination.


Is Gainesville or Panama City Better for Resorts?

Gainesville
Panama City

Panama City is a nice place to visit for its resorts. However, Gainesville is not a resort destination.

Panama City has a handful of resorts to choose from. Most people stay in condos that are VRBO's or Airbnbs, but there are resorts in the area as well.

Gainesville is not a resort destination.

Is Gainesville or Panama City Better for Beaches?

Gainesville
Panama City

Panama City is notable for its beaches. However, Gainesville is not a beach destination.

You'll have a great beach vacation in Panama City. With miles of long white sandy beaches and crystal blue waters, this area's beaches offer a beautiful escape. Head to the area's state parks for the most natural experience. These include St. Andrews State Park and Camp Helen State Park. A day trip to Shell Island is also popular.

Gainesville is not a beach destination.

Is the Shopping Better in Gainesville or Panama City?

Gainesville
Panama City

Both Gainesville and Panama City are nice shopping destinations.

Gainesville is a great destination for shopping. You'll find all of the standard shopping options around town such as malls, shopping centers, and retail outlets. Two popular areas are the Neighborhoods at Butler and Celebration Pointe.

Shopping is a popular activity when visiting Panama City. There are a number of malls and shopping centers in the area.


Is Gainesville or Panama City Better for Families?

Gainesville
Panama City

Panama City is very popular for its family-friendly activities. Also, Gainesville is not as famous, but is still a good city to visit for its kid-friendly activities.

Panama City is an amazing family-friendly beach town to visit. This area has large sandy beaches, waterparks, amusement parks, and marine parks. Kids will enjoy playing around at WonderWorks, cooling off at Shipwreck Island Waterpark, and learning about marine life at Gulf World Marine Park. There are also many watersports and water activities that are fun for the whole family.

Gainesville is a family-friendly city. You'll find outdoor activities, nature parks, and a couple of museums that will appeal to all ages. Highlights for families include A. Quinn Jones Museum and Cultural Center, the Adventure Outpost, and Alfred A. Ring Park.

Is Gainesville or Panama City Better for Couples?

Gainesville
Panama City

Panama City is notable for romance. Also, Gainesville is not as famous, but is still a good city to visit for its romantic activities.

Panama City is a very popular place to visit for couples. The beautiful beaches and romantic restaurants make for a great romantic getaway. This is the perfect place to take sunset walks along the beach and sample freshly caught local seafood.

Gainesville makes for a fun place to visit for a couple. Couples can enjoy wine tasting and fine dining or enjoying the city's many outdoor activities. Go on a picnic or explore one of the museums in Downtown Gainesville.

Is Gainesville or Panama City Better for Students?

Gainesville
Panama City

Gainesville and Panama City are both superb destinations for students and younger travelers.

Gainesville is a great city to visit as a student. As the location of the University of Florida, you'll find many students around town. This keeps the energy high with plenty of evening activities and affordable entertainment options.

Students come from all over to stay in Panama City. It's not the spring break destination that it once was, but you'll still find students hanging out around the spring holidays.


Is Gainesville or Panama City Better for Public Transit? Which Is Easier to Get Around Without a Car?

Gainesville
Panama City

Gainesville is a nice place to visit for its public transit. However, Panama City is a beach town with minimal options for times when you don't have a car.

You'll find some public transit in Gainesville, but it may not be enough to take you everywhere. There's a decent bus system that's free to students and employees of the university.

Public transit is mostly limited in Panama City. Most people need a car in Panama City but there is a trolley service that connects major tourist areas.

Is Gainesville or Panama City a more walkable city?

Gainesville
Panama City

Gainesville is a nice place to visit for its high level of walkability. However, Panama City is a beach town with minimal options for its ease of walking around.

Gainesville is a somewhat walkable place. Biking is actually a popular way to get around town and some areas are pedestrian-friendly.

Panama City is not a very walkable city. There's often construction and the streets aren't designed for pedestrians.

For even more information, also check out Is Gainesville Worth Visiting? and Is Panama City Worth Visiting?.

Should I spend more time in Panama City or Gainesville?

How long in Gainesville or Panama City?

Both Gainesville and Panama City have a number of activities to choose from. With generally more activities and things to do, visitors tend to spend more time in Panama City than in Gainesville. Usually, 1-2 days is a good amount of time for Gainesville, and 3-7 days is enough time in Panama City.

Families should spend more time in Panama City than Gainesville. Because of the many family-friendly attractions and fun things to do for kids in Panama City, it's a great place to visit with the whole family.

Couples should spend more time in Panama City than Gainesville. You'll find plenty of romantic sights and fun activities in Panama City that are perfect for a weekend getaway or a longer couple's trip.

Backpackers and budget travelers should spend more time in Gainesville than Panama City if your budget allows for it. With a larger number of budget-friendly sights, good nightlife, and active things to do, anyone traveling on a budget would have a good time in Gainesville.


  • How many days in Gainesville or Panama City? Ideal Length of Stay
    Gainesville 1-2 
    Panama City 3-7

One day in Gainesville or Panama City?

Visitors enjoy the nightlife and food when visiting the vibrant city of Gainesville. One day should give you a good understanding of everything this city has to offer. The entire region has so many activities, and you'll want time to do everything.

Visitors enjoy the nightlife and live music when visiting the fun-filled beach town of Panama City. It's also a great beach destination, too. One day is usually not enough time for a trip here as there is plenty to do. The entire region has so many activities, and you'll want time to do everything.


A weekend in Gainesville or Panama City?

Visitors enjoy the food and shopping when visiting the vibrant destination of Gainesville. This city offers something for everyone. Plenty of people spend a weekend in the area when traveling. If you enjoy all that's offered here, then a weekend is just the right amount of time to spend here.

Visitors enjoy the live music and food when visiting the fun-filled destination of Panama City. It's a great spot for a beach vacation. This beach town offers something for everyone. Since there is so much to do in the area, a weekend is probably not enough for all of it.

Five days in Gainesville or Panama City?

The high energy city of Gainesville offers shopping and museums. Five days may feel like too much time unless you plan to do a lot of relaxing. The length of your trip often depends on your style of travel.

Visitors enjoy the food and shopping when visiting the active beach town of Panama City. You'll find plenty of activities on the beach. Many people spend five days here.If you enjoy all that's offered here, then five days is just the right amount of time to spend here. The length of your trip often depends on your style of travel.

A week in Gainesville or Panama City?

Many people enjoy the museums and nightlife when visiting Gainesville. Anyone can find something fun to do here. Most people find that one week is more than enough time to see everything.

Visitors enjoy the shopping and nightlife when visiting the destination of Panama City. Anyone can find something fun to do here. This is a popular place to visit for one week. Most people come for the beaches. In one week, you should have a good grasp of this beach town.


For some great organized tour ideas, see The Best 2-Week Tours in United States of America, The Best 3-Week Tours in United States of America, The Best Bicycle Tours in United States of America, and Tours for Outdoor and Nature Lovers in United States of America.


Which place is cheaper, Panama City or Gainesville?

These are the overall average travel costs for the two destinations.

The average daily cost (per person) in Gainesville is $221, while the average daily cost in Panama City is $224. These costs include accommodation (assuming double occupancy, so the traveler is sharing the room), food, transportation, and entertainment. While every person is different, these costs are an average of past travelers in each destination. What follows is a categorical breakdown of travel costs for Gainesville and Panama City in more detail.



Accommodation
  • Accommodation Hotel or hostel for one person
    Gainesville $119
    Panama City $128
  • Accommodation Typical double-occupancy room
    Gainesville $238
    Panama City $256
Compare Hotels in Gainesville and Panama City

Looking for a hotel in Gainesville or Panama City? Prices vary by location, date, season, and the level of luxury. See below for options and compare which is best for your budget and travel style.

Hotels in Gainesville


Hotels in Panama City


Kayak helps you find the best prices for hotels, flights, and rental cars for destinations around the world. Compare prices for multiple destinations when planning your next trip.


Our Analysis
We've analyzed the average and typical hotel prices based on guest reviews, star ratings, and hotel amenities here: Gainesville Hotel Prices and Panama City Hotel Prices.

Local Transportation
  • Local Transportation Taxis, local buses, subway, etc.
    Gainesville $40
    Panama City $48

Is it cheaper to fly into Gainesville or Panama City?

Prices for flights to both Panama City and Gainesville change regularly based on dates and travel demand. We suggest you find the best prices for your next trip on Kayak, because you can compare the cost of flights across multiple airlines for your prefered dates.





Food
  • Food Meals for one day
    Gainesville $70
    Panama City $66
Typical Food Prices in Gainesville

Some typical examples of dining costs in Gainesville are as follows:


  • Diner Breakfast for Two
    $17
  • Lunch at Chop Stix (for 2)
    $24

Entertainment
  • Entertainment Entrance tickets, shows, etc.
    Gainesville $44
    Panama City $19
Typical Entertainment Prices in Gainesville

Some typical examples of activities, tours, and entrance ticket prices in Gainesville are as follows:


  • Manatee Tour for Two
    $98
  • Tour Guide Tip
    $5.00

Tours and Activities in Gainesville

Some specific costs of activities, tours, and entrance tickets for Gainesville are as follows:

  • Unique Scavenger Hunt Experience in Gainesville by Operation City Quest: $10
  • Butterfly Rainforest at Florida Museum of Natural History Ticket: $15
  • Private Snorkeling Tour in Florida Springs: $250

Tours and Activities in Panama City

Here are a few actual costs in Panama City for available activities, ticket prices, and tours:

  • Panama City Beach: SkyWheel Ticket with Sunset Option: $19
  • SkyWheel Panama City Beach Sunset Ticket: $23
  • Panama City Beach: SkyWheel Ticket and Mini Golf Combo: $26
  • Bike Rental with Smartphone Tour: $28
  • Self-Guided Bike Tour: Pedal At Your Pace: $28
  • Sunset Dolphin Cruise in St. Andrews Bay: $29
  • Dolphin Sightseeing Tour on The Footloose Catamaran from Panama City Beach: $35
  • Panama City Beach Dolphin Sightseeing Sail: $40
  • Sunset & Dolphin Catamaran Cruise with Island Time: $42
  • Panama City Beach: Sunset Catamaran Cruise: $45
  • Shell Island Snorkel and Dolphin Catamaran Cruise with Island Time : $52
  • Sunset Speedboat Tour with Dolphin Watching: $60

Alcohol
  • Alcohol Drinks for one day
    Gainesville $49
    Panama City $56


When comparing the travel costs between Gainesville and Panama City, we can see that Panama City is more expensive. However, the two cities are actually relatively comparable in price, as the difference is somewhat minimal. Generally, this means that you could travel with generally the same travel style and level of luxury in each place. Since both cities are in North America, it's no surprise that their costs are relatively close, as many destinations here have somewhat similar travel prices overall.

If you're trying to decide if either of these two destinations are within your price range, also see Is Gainesville Expensive? and Is Panama City Expensive?.


Which is Bigger, Gainesville or Panama City?

Gainesville has a larger population, and is about 3 times larger than the population of Panama City. When comparing the sizes of Gainesville and Panama City, keep in mind that a larger population does not always imply the destination has more attractions or better activities. So, always research the type of place that you want to visit along with the activities and attractions that interest you.


When is the best time to visit Gainesville or Panama City?

Both destinations experience a temperate climate with four distinct seasons. And since both cities are in the northern hemisphere, summer is in July and winter is in January.

Should I visit Gainesville or Panama City in the Summer?

The summer attracts plenty of travelers to both Gainesville and Panama City. The summer months attract visitors to Gainesville because of the family-friendly experiences. Also, the beaches, the music scene, and the family-friendly experiences are the main draw to Panama City this time of year.

In the summer, Gainesville is around the same temperature as Panama City. Typically, the summer temperatures in Gainesville in July average around 81°F (27°C), and Panama City averages at about 82°F (28°C).

Panama City receives a lot of rain in the summer. Gainesville gets a good bit of rain this time of year. In July, Gainesville usually receives around the same amount of rain as Panama City. Gainesville gets 6.8 inches (174 mm) of rain, while Panama City receives 7.3 inches (184 mm) of rain each month for the summer.


  • Summer Average Temperatures July
    Gainesville 81°F (27°C) 
    Panama City 82°F (28°C)

Should I visit Gainesville or Panama City in the Autumn?

The autumn brings many poeple to Gainesville as well as Panama City. The shopping scene are the main draw to Gainesville this time of year. Also, many travelers come to Panama City for the shopping scene, the music scene, and the natural beauty of the area.

In October, Gainesville is generally around the same temperature as Panama City. Daily temperatures in Gainesville average around 71°F (22°C), and Panama City fluctuates around 71°F (22°C).

Gainesville usually gets less rain in October than Panama City. Gainesville gets 2 inches (51 mm) of rain, while Panama City receives 3.4 inches (86 mm) of rain this time of the year. Also, June to November in Gainesville is the hurricane season.


  • Autumn Average Temperatures October
    Gainesville 71°F (22°C) 
    Panama City 71°F (22°C)

Should I visit Gainesville or Panama City in the Winter?

Both Panama City and Gainesville are popular destinations to visit in the winter with plenty of activities. Many travelers come to Gainesville for the museums, the shopping scene, and the cuisine. Also, many visitors come to Panama City in the winter for the shopping scene and the cuisine.

Gainesville is a little warmer than Panama City in the winter. The daily temperature in Gainesville averages around 54°F (12°C) in January, and Panama City fluctuates around 52°F (11°C).

In January, Gainesville usually receives less rain than Panama City. Gainesville gets 2.9 inches (75 mm) of rain, while Panama City receives 3.9 inches (99 mm) of rain each month for the winter.


  • Winter Average Temperatures January
    Gainesville 54°F (12°C) 
    Panama City 52°F (11°C)

Should I visit Gainesville or Panama City in the Spring?

Both Panama City and Gainesville during the spring are popular places to visit. Furthermore, most visitors come to Panama City for the beaches and the natural beauty during these months.

In the spring, Gainesville is around the same temperature as Panama City. Typically, the spring temperatures in Gainesville in April average around 69°F (20°C), and Panama City averages at about 68°F (20°C).

Gainesville usually gets less rain in April than Panama City. Gainesville gets 2 inches (50 mm) of rain, while Panama City receives 2.7 inches (69 mm) of rain this time of the year. Also, the hurricane season in Gainesville is June to November.


  • Spring Average Temperatures April
    Gainesville 69°F (20°C) 
    Panama City 68°F (20°C)

Typical Weather for Panama City and Gainesville

Gainesville Panama City
Temp (°C) Rain (mm) Temp (°C) Rain (mm)
Jan 54°F (12°C) 2.9 inches (75 mm) 52°F (11°C) 3.9 inches (99 mm)
Feb 57°F (14°C) 4.5 inches (115 mm) 55°F (13°C) 3.8 inches (96 mm)
Mar 63°F (17°C) 3.3 inches (83 mm) 61°F (16°C) 4.3 inches (108 mm)
Apr 69°F (20°C) 2 inches (50 mm) 68°F (20°C) 2.7 inches (69 mm)
May 75°F (24°C) 3.1 inches (79 mm) 74°F (24°C) 2.7 inches (68 mm)
Jun 80°F (26°C) 6.8 inches (174 mm) 80°F (27°C) 4.6 inches (116 mm)
Jul 81°F (27°C) 6.8 inches (174 mm) 82°F (28°C) 7.3 inches (184 mm)
Aug 81°F (27°C) 8.3 inches (211 mm) 82°F (28°C) 7.5 inches (191 mm)
Sep 78°F (26°C) 5.5 inches (139 mm) 79°F (26°C) 7.5 inches (192 mm)
Oct 71°F (22°C) 2 inches (51 mm) 71°F (22°C) 3.4 inches (86 mm)
Nov 63°F (17°C) 2.4 inches (61 mm) 63°F (17°C) 3.2 inches (81 mm)
Dec 56°F (14°C) 2.9 inches (74 mm) 56°F (13°C) 4.1 inches (104 mm)