Best Places to Visit in Pensacola
Pensacola is a relatively small city with a solid reputation as one of Florida’s top tourist destinations for those looking for fun activities for the whole family. The area is home to numerous Pensacola Bay watersports opportunities, water parks, fascinating museums and, of course, many beautiful beaches. More adult-themed events in Pensacola include shopping, dining, live theater, popular symphony orchestras, ballet, and even opera.
When it comes to pop culture, inspiration, and even food, Pensacola is more connected to the Deep South than the rest of Florida. Pensacola sits on the Panhandle and is actually much closer to Birmingham and Atlanta than Miami. It’s also in a different time zone than most of the rest of the state, so be sure to set your watch to central time.
Pensacola also has a rich history and there are five different flags available. When the Spaniards landed in the Americas in 1559, they established the first European settlements in the Americas. The French arrived in 1719. Then the British arrived in 1763 and were driven out by the returning Spaniards after the American War of Independence. Pensacola became part of the United States in 1821 and was reincorporated into the Union after the American Civil War.
For the title of Pensacola, Florida’s oldest city, St. He enters into a friendly war with Augustine. Pensacola was founded by Don Pedro Menendez in 1565. It claims to have been settled by Don Tristan De Luna six years before he founded Augustine, but there has been some controversy over whether Pensacola was “sustained” after its founding.
Plan your vacation with our list of the Best Places to Visit in Pensacola and make your trip enjoyable.
10 Best Places to Visit in Pensacola
Let’s explore the top 10 Most Beautiful and Best Places to Visit in Pensacola:
1. Fort Pickens
Pensacola’s Barrier Island is a treasure trove of history. Completed in 1834, Fort Pickens played an important role in the defense of the shipyard in Pensacola Bay. Over the years, the fort has been redesigned for other military missions, but today the massive gunfire has been silenced.
The journey from downtown Pensacola to Fort Pickens takes about 40 minutes and passes two scenic bridges and countless gorgeous beaches. On the site, you will find an open area with walking trails among the castle ruins. Quiet place and very few people are busy.
One of the best views is from the top of the wall on the right, just look for the ball. The way up is not very clear. You have to go under the arch and find the stairs behind it.
Other areas around the fort worth a quick look are the Fisherman’s Wharf and the Fort Pickens Discovery Center.
2. Pensacola Beach
Cross over two bridges from downtown and you’ll come to the Pensacola Beach community. If you’re looking for sun, surf and sand, this is the place to go. One of the best places to absorb all three is Casino Beach. Easy parking and vibrant scenery draw day-trippers and locals alike to this gorgeous stretch of sand. Other beaches in the national park may be nicer, but Casino Beach has everything they don’t have, including restaurants, beach chair rentals, and retail stores.
Set up your beach gear, settle in and enjoy the refreshing waters of the Gulf of Mexico. The water here is shallow and offshore, perfect for aquatic or those who are not confident in their swimming abilities.
Wear a hat and sandals to get away from the beach and walk to the end of the pier to see the beach up and down.
3. Gulf Islands National Seashore
Imagine beautiful, empty beaches stretching 160 miles from the Florida Panhandle to Alabama and Mississippi. Imagine the chirping of seabirds, the soothing sound of turquoise waters washing against the fine white sand, and the tropical breeze caressing your face. Imagine a place where all the worries and stresses of the outside world disappear and you can once again enjoy the simple pleasures of life.
Well, it can all be experienced at the Gulf Islands National Seashore, just minutes from downtown Pensacola. Along this peaceful and joyful strip are trails and uncrowded campsites, canoe spots (and rentals), historic castles, and wildlife in abundance. Once here, it will be hard to leave.
Official website: www.nps.gov/guis/index.htm
4. Pensacola Village
Along with the University of West Florida, Pensacola has done an excellent job of researching and restoring the city’s history. The best example is the delightful Pensacola Historic Village (also known as the Seville Historic District), which consists of 28 beautifully restored buildings, four museums, and the opportunity to follow the pace of the pioneers.
The Pensacola History Museum (formerly the T.T. Wentworth Jr. Museum) takes you through the people and country that made Pensacola what it is today. The Children’s Museum brings to life the history of young groups in an interactive way. You can wander the streets of the 1890s and take the trolleybus at the Trade Museum.
The Industrial Museum shows the city’s transformation from a small wilderness outpost to a manufacturing and transportation hub. Also worth a visit are the Pensacola Sound and Old Church of Christ, listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Best of all, you have tickets to all these attractions and can return for free at any time within 7 days. Guided tours are also available.
Address: 120 Church Street, Pensacola, Florida
Official website: www.historicPensacola.org
5. Palafox Street and Palafox Market
Palafox Street is one of the best pedestrian areas in Pensacola. Wide sidewalks cover many areas with various shops and restaurants in front. Shady tables lined up on the sidewalk are a great place to grab a quick or long lunch with friends and catch up on the latest news.
Although Palafox Street is a little further out, the main tourist attraction is south of Garden Street to Main Street, with the largest concentration of retail businesses.
Every Saturday, whatever the weather, Palafox Market is lively from 9am to 2pm in Martin Luther Square. This free attraction is packed with local vendors selling the goods they make. Highlights include fresh produce, bakery, meats, specialty cheeses and, of course, desserts. Other items on sale include handmade soaps, unique artwork, antiques and scented cut flowers.
6. Dining in Pensacola
Pensacola’s proximity to the lush waters of the Gulf of Mexico ensures that fresh seafood is on the menu at most local restaurants. One of the best places to enjoy this treat is the Great Marlin in Pensacola Beach. The stunning view of the water makes dining here a pleasure. Reserve a table in the covered outdoor dining area to enjoy the cool ocean breeze and catch up on the news with your friends.
For a fun dining experience, head to Halibut Chowder. When you see that huge rusty ship in the future, you will know that you have found this place. Here you can enjoy your meals on the beach, on the terrace, in a covered outdoor area or indoors with air conditioning. The huge fried plate can make your diet after your visit.
Head to Palafox Street for a selection of restaurants featuring everything from Thai cuisine to pizza to traditional North American fare.
7. Perdido Key
About a 30-minute drive southwest of downtown Pensacola, Perdido Key is another great vacation and beach destination near town. Here, white, soft sand stretches for miles east and west.
One of the best beach areas is Johnson Beach National Seashore. Rarely crowded, downright gorgeous, and one of the best beaches in the Pensacola area.
Perdido Key is also home to Perdido Key State Park. The park was severely damaged by Hurricane Sally in 2020 and is still recovering. If you continue west on Hwy 292, you’ll eventually reach Alabama.
Most accommodation on Perdido Key is in the form of high-rise apartments or large multi-story homes.
8. North Hill Neighborhood
Perched high above downtown Pensacola is a pleasant, tree-lined neighborhood known as North Hill. If you’re an architecture lover, you’ll be pleased to know that the area is full of beautifully restored houses from the late 19th century. Park your car in one of the side streets, wander the cobblestone roads, or sign up for a tour nearby.
Some of the more impressive homes are the W.F. Creary House, J.S. McGauhy House (aka Hopkins House) and Andrew F. Warren House. The St. Cyprus Episcopal Church, built in the 1930s, is also worth seeing.
9. Saenger Theatre
Spend an evening at the Roaring Twenties and watch a singing, musical, orchestral, talk, or theatrical performance that locals call the “Woman of Palafox Street.” Built in 1925 amid pre-Depression abundance and excess, the Saenger Theater is home to many of the world’s biggest stars.
Fifty years later, after years of being used as a movie theater and in disrepair, Saenger went bankrupt. It has since been extensively renovated, expanded, and reopened with the same fabulous vibe it had in the past.
Today, it hosts world-famous artists again. You can see them in one of America’s cultural gems, just outside the door, in some great shops on Palafox Street.
Address: 118 South Para Fox Plaza, Pensacola, Florida
Official website: www.pensacolasenger.com
10. Pensacola History Museum
One of the most beautiful buildings you’ll come across while wandering around Old Pensacola is the old City Hall, built in 1907. Today it houses the Pensacola History Museum and is well worth a visit. Inside, you’ll find a regularly changing list of exhibits and two permanent collections detailing the city’s history.
The Cities of Five Flags exhibit is a fascinating sight in Pensacola. More than just city memorabilia, the exhibition traces the evolution of the city through the use of archaeological finds and interactive displays. The second permanent exhibition is Trader Jon’s. This heartfelt recreation of Pensacola’s top attractions and a detailed summary of its eclectic life is a must-see.
Address: 330 South Jefferson Avenue, Pensacola, Florida
Official website: https://historicpensacola.org/plan-your-visit/museums-properties/pensacola-museum-of-history/
Hope you like our choice of the best places to visit in Pensacola. If you think there are some more beautiful places to visit in Pensacola, we should cover them. Write us below in the comment box.