Many families are drawn to the beach when warm weather calls. For that matter, the beach can be a great place to visit any time of the year. We have lived in Montgomery now for almost 2 years, and had yet to take a trip to the beach. Little did I know that the beautiful and scenic beaches of Pensacola with their sugar-white beaches and emerald green water sit just an easy 3 hour drive away from our front door. Now a favorite destination for my family, I know it will become one of yours as well when you learn that Pensacola has so much more to offer than just the beaches.
Destination’s Social Media: @visitpensacola || #experiencepcola
Choosing the right accommodations for your family means deciding on your budget and what you most want to do while you are in Pensacola. Want to be spend most of your time at the ocean? There are many amazing hotels right on the beach, just a few steps away from the water. More interested in spending your time in Downtown Historic Pensacola? There are hotels inland as well that put you right in the center of town.
My family and I stayed at the Hilton Pensacola Beach, and I can not speak more highly of them. Located directly on Via De Luna Drive, we woke to views of the sand and water and fell asleep to the sound of rolling waves outside our window.
Nick’s Boathouse, Hemingway’s Island Grill, and Jaco’s Bayfront Bar & Grille
At 1,471 feet, the pier is the perfect place to fish, stroll, or just sightsee. Everywhere you go along Pensacola, you will see groups of people fishing, and the pier is no different. You can catch many gulf species from the pier such as king and Spanish mackerel, cobia, pompano, mahi mahi, flounder, whiting, white and speckle trout.
Cruise the Waterways with Pensacola Bay Cruises
Known as the "easy way across the bay," Pensacola bay Cruises operates between Pensacola Beach, Downtown Pensacola and the Gulf Islands National Seashore. It features a scenic tour by water and offers views you won't get driving by car.
Explore Fort Pickens and the Gulf Islands National Seashore
On the western tip of Santa Rosa Island, this national park offers overnight camping, beautiful beaches, scenic trails, a massive pre-Civil War fortress and ranger-led programs. Fort Pickens is a massive brick fortress that once housed Union troops and the Apache leader Geronimo. Park rangers offer free tours daily. Pensacola Bay Cruises docks at Fort Pickens and admission is included.
Visit the Historic Pensacola Village
Downtown Pensacola – take a walk along America’s top 10 streets, Palafox St. Here you will find an array of shops including restaurants, bars, boutiques, and galleries.
Visit the T.T. Wentworth, Jr. Florida State Museum
Originally built in the early 1900s as City Hall. The Spanish Revival style building now stands as the T.T. Wentworth, Jr. Florida State Museum. Named after local historian and collector, T.T.
Wentworth, Jr., the Florida State Museum houses an eclectic collection of artifacts displaying Northwest Florida's rich heritage and will soon celebrate its 55th anniversary.
The Wentworth Museum offers three floors of exhibit space with permanent exhibits on the first floor and changing exhibits on the second floor. The third floor is now a large exhibit gallery for upcoming traveling exhibits.
Learn about the Pensacola Bay Area’s Spanish and French heritage. Visit furnished homes from the Colonial era to the Victorian age; step inside one of the oldest churches in Florida; and learn about the second oldest shipwreck in the country.
Pensacola Children's Museum
This hands-on exploration of Pensacola history is geared for children age 10 and younger. The first floor Discovery Gallery recreates colonial life in Pensacola. The second floor explores Pensacola’s military, maritime, industrial, multicultural, Native American and Civil War history.
Bubba’s Sweet Spot
Looking for a place the whole family can agree on? Stop by Bubba’s Sweet Spot and satisfy your sweet tooth. Local professional golfer Bubba Watson owns the store and the décor reigns true to the downtown flavor. This shop is covered from ceiling to floor with candy! The shop allows its guests the unique experience to see how some of their favorite treats are made, from chocolate covered treats to ice cream and even saltwater taffy!
Catch a Blue Wahoos Game
If you've been following me long, you know that baseball is one of my family's favorite pastimes. We were able to enjoy an amazing view overlooking Pensacola Bay while watching the in minor league Blue Wahoos play ball. The stadium features craft restaurants with delicious food, as well as concession stands where you can get your favorite ballpark goodies like hotdogs, popcorn, and more.
Cool Off at the Plaza De Luna Splash Pad
Located on South Palafox Street at the end of Palafox Pier. Visitors to Plaza de Luna are greeted by a life-size statue of Don Tristan de Luna, Pensacola's founder. Chill out on a blanket or bench while the kids cool off in the splash fountain. Plaza de Luna is a great place to take in the views of the beautiful Pensacola Bay. Opt for a stroll around Palafox Pier, if you're one to adventure you can arrange a sailing trip right of the dock. If you have fishing gear handy, it's a great place to fish and enjoy a cool breeze.
Big Lagoon State Park
Big Lagoon State Park sits upland on 655 acres and separates the mainland from Perdido Key and the Gulf of Mexico. Natural areas, ranging from saltwater marshes to pine flatwoods, attract a wide variety of birds while the beaches, shallow bays and nature trails offer splendid opportunities for wildlife study. Crabbing in the shallow waters, hiking, canoeing and kayaking have also become popular amongst visitors.
Experience the World’s Largest Naval Aviation Museum and the Pensacola Lighthouse
The National Naval Aviation Museum, hands-on experience for visitors, is not only one of the world’s largest air and space museums, but it’s extremely kid-friendly. The museum offers visitors the chance to see more than 4,000 artifacts and 150 vintage aircraft, flight simulators, special exhibits and indoor playground which includes a cockpit trainer for kids to climb into.
Climb all the 177 steps of the Pensacola Lighthouse to have a spectacular view of the Pensacola Pass, where the Pensacola Bay opens to the Gulf of Mexico. The 150-year-old lighthouse is one of the country’s tallest brick lighthouses and is said to be haunted.
Stroll Through Palafox Market
Walk under the canopy of crepe myrtle trees that align Martin Luther King, Jr. Plaza in Downtown Pensacola on any given Saturday morning and you’ll find dozens of lively farmers and arts and crafts vendors selling organic goods at the weekly Palafox Market.