Pensacola offers 52 miles of sugar-white beaches, a 400-year history, year-round festivals, outdoor adventures, and a world class aviation museum, as well as outstanding accommodations, facilities, and professional service. Southern hospitality combined with an uncluttered coast provide you with an ideal setting.
Located in the westernmost corner of Florida’s Panhandle, Pensacola’s vibrant cultural events and potpourri of restaurants, shops, and nightclubs make for a memorable vacation.
Pensacola was the first city settled by Europeans in America, making for a history that dates back more than 400 years. The city has changed hands more than a dozen times in actions involving Spain, France, England, the Confederacy and the United States, giving Pensacola the nickname “City of Five Flags.”
Historic Pensacola Village
Numerous sites around Pensacola tell stories about the area’s engaging history. Historic Pensacola Village offers peeks into several restored homes in the city’s downtown historical district. Two forts – Fort Barrancas and Fort Pickens – were held by opposite forces during the Civil War.
Several museums, including the National Museum of Naval Aviation and T.T. Wentworth Jr. Florida State Museum, provide more educational outlets. The Wentworth museum features a special children’s area with hands-on activities and displays of particular interest to children.
Pensacola’s breathtaking beaches offer the perfect setting for a seaside vacation. Most are protected by federal and state programs that keep them pristine and easily accessible to the public. Spend a day at Pensacola Beach, Perdido Key Beach, or the Gulf Islands National Seashore to experience the Gulf Coast at its finest.
Pensacola’s outdoor activities abound. Fish off the 1.5-mile-long Pensacola Bay Fishing Bridge, which parallels the three-mile bridge that links the mainland to the town of Gulf Breeze; or the Bob Sikes Fishing Bridge, connecting Gulf Breeze and Pensacola Beach on Santa Rosa Island. Windsurf, snorkel, or scuba in the Gulf or Pensacola Bay. Canoe through the Blackwater River State Recreation Area or camp at dozens of sites throughout the region.
Experience wildlife up close at The ZOO near Gulf Breeze, which is home to more than 700 animals and an eye-catching botanical garden. Windows in the commissary let visitors watch foods being prepared for the animals. Elsewhere at The ZOO, a tall platform gives visitors a chance to hand-feed a giraffe. And for an up-close look, catch a ride on the Safari Line train for a fun-filled excursion through 30 acres of free-roaming animals in their natural habitat.
Dozens of golf courses dot the area. With Pensacola’s sunny weather, golfers can play year-round. Pensacola Greyhound Track packs a full slate of live greyhound racing and frequent simulcast horse racing. Bikers enjoy 25 miles of a nearly unbroken pavement that winds around Santa Rosa Sound from Navarre Beach to Pensacola Beach along Santa Rosa Island and through the town of Gulf Breeze.
Festivals, scheduled throughout the year, add to Pensacola’s cultural attractions. The Great Gulf Coast Arts Festival draws tens of thousands to historic Seville Square to view and purchase a range of art. The city’s downtown also offers the Pensacola Museum of Art, housed in the old city jail, and the Pensacola Cultural Center, which stages several theatrical performances each season. In addition, local and national musical groups and theater troupes perform at the beautifully restored Saenger Theatre.
Florida SpringFest, held in May, features nationally recognized musical groups during the well-attended, popular festival. Sam’s Fun City Amusement Park hosts events throughout the year and features re-creations of the Brooklyn Bridge, Statue of Liberty, a 45-foot tall Ferris wheel, carousel, several amusement rides, an arcade, miniature golf, and go-kart tracks. Sam’s Surf City Water Park is the newest addition.
Pensacola’s cultural experiences don’t stop with the eyes and ears. Taste the delectable choices for which Pensacola’s restaurants receive acclaim. Sample Southern barbecue, fresh seafood, Cajun specialties, or stick with traditional dishes such as succulent steaks or juicy burgers.
The variety of Pensacola’s nightlife guarantees that everyone can find his or her niche. The majority of bars, restaurants, and dance clubs populate the beaches and downtown areas, and attract fans of all ages. Live music prevails at many clubs, with jazz, country, Cajun, reggae, folk, and rock tunes featured, and the techno-beat of dance clubs draws college students and the military crowd.
National Museum of Naval Aviation
Known as the “Cradle of Naval Aviation,” thousands of military aviators and support personnel have at one time or another made Pensacola their home. Several bases throughout the area continue to train military personnel. The National Museum of Naval Aviation, one of the three largest aviation museums in the world, is located on Pensacola Naval Air Station. The museum provides a stunning display of aircrafts from the early days of naval flight to space travel. The museum also features an IMAX theater and fascinating exhibits on topics such as prisoners of war in Vietnam, a recreated World War II town, and a walk-through partial replica of a ship. The aviation museum’s Flight Adventure Deck offers youth groups interactive, Smithsonian-quality displays on topics ranging from gravity to aerodynamics.
U.S. Navy Blue Angels
Just around the corner, the U.S. Navy Blue Angels practice at their home base. The team performs throughout the country during its season but gives Pensacola visitors a chance to watch weekly practices. They also perform two shows in Pensacola – one in July and one in November.
Other military-related sites in Pensacola include a replica of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall and two well-preserved forts, Fort Pickens and Fort Barrancas.