Nowadays it would be easy to overlook the Pensacola area as a holiday destination due to its relatively low profile compared to other south Florida destinations, but this would be a mistake! The beautiful untouched, uncrowded white-sand beaches are a pure delight and downtown historic Pensacola which was first settled by the Spanish in 1559 simply oozes charm and character.
Stroll down Palafox Street, which was named one of the “10 Great Streets in America” for 2013 by the American Planning Association, where you will find a thriving nightlife, trendy boutiques, fine and laid-back dining options, live performance theatres and art galleries. Wander under the giant oaks of Seville Square, admire the antique houses built in the 1800s or unwind on a park bench overlooking Pensacola Bay. Downtown Pensacola offers visitors of all ages plenty to explore and enjoy. Pensacola also offers a lively scene for plenty of fun when the sun goes down. From waterfront watering holes and Irish pubs to sophisticated martini bars and historic venues, there are plenty of places to sip a cocktail and enjoy your holiday.
Just under an hours drive from Pensacola Beach is Perdido Key. Here you'll experience “off-the-beaten path” tranquility and 16 miles of pristine beaches, 60 percent of which are made up of the protected state and national parks including the Big Lagoon State Park. A bit quieter and a little less populated than the rest of the area, Perdido Key has received numerous awards and accolades for its local, beach-town feel and quirky bars like the Flora-Bama Lounge, which takes its name from its location on the Florida-Alabama border. The “Bama,” as locals call it, overlooks the beautiful Gulf of Mexico and attracts celebrity visitors such as Kid Rock, Kenny Chesney, Vince Vaughn and Jimmy Buffet.
Clear emerald-colored waters, balmy sea breezes and sensational sunsets are the trademarks of Pensacola Beach, one of the longest barrier islands in the world. Build a sandcastle in the sugar-white sands, splash around in the Gulf of Mexico, sail, kayak or paddle-board across the smooth Santa Rosa Sound, take in the pristine, natural beauty of the Gulf Islands National Seashore where you can take a step back in time at the pre-Civil War era Fort Pickens, or spend a day hunting for special treasures in the island’s many gift shops and boutiques. If you prefer to catch your own seafood for dinner, a fleet of fishing charters will provide the angler action you’re seeking or if you prefer to stay closer to land, the Casino Beach Fishing Pier may be just the spot for you. The pier’s bait and tackle shop can provide everything you need for a successful day of fishing and when you are ready to relax, the Casino Beach Bar and Grille located at the base of the pier, serves up delicious food, drinks and an assortment of seating options including hammocks, couches, rocking chairs and dining tables.
Top Attractions for this region include:
· Historic Pensacola Village
· Fort Pickens Pre-Civil War Fortress – Pensacola Beach/Gulf Islands National Seashore
· Blue Angels Practices and Air Shows
· National Naval Aviation Museum – Naval Air Station Pensacola
· Joe Patti’s Seafood Company
· Big Lagoon State Park – Perdido Key
· Fort Barrancas Pre-Civil War fortress – Naval Air Station Pensacola
· Pensacola Lighthouse & Museum – Naval Air Station Pensacola
· National Flight Academy – Naval Air Station Pensacola
· Blackwater Forrest State Park & Blackwater River
· Shipwreck Dive Trail
· 50+ Miles of White-Sand Beaches
· Gallery Nights in Downtown Pensacola (Monthly)
· Mardi Gras Parades (Jan/Feb.)
· Jazz Festival (April)
· Pensacola Crawfish Festival (May)
· Fiesta of Five Flags Street Parade (Jun.)
· Pensacola Beach Blue Angels Air Show (Jul.)
· Pensacola Seafood Festival (Sept.)
· Halloween Haunted Walking or Riding Tours Downtown (Oct.)
· Blue Angels Homecoming Air Show (Nov.)
· Great Gulfcoast Arts Festival (Nov.)
· Winter Holiday Street Parades and Boat Parade (Dec.)
· Winterfest Holiday Trolley Tours (Dec.)
· ZOO Lights (Dec.)
· New Year’s Eve Celebration and Pelican Drop (Dec.)