This thriving community is a wonderful vacation spot. There are so many things to do in Pensacola, Florida. White sand beaches stretch for miles before clear blue waters. Unfortunately, because of changing tides it can be impossible to predict when the best time to visit is; however, July’s warmer waters tend to bring more jelly fish than the cool waters of June.
10. Gulf Islands
The Gulf Islands National Seashore has some of the most beautiful beaches across the country. The sand is a bright white and the water an unbelievable blue. This is a perfect place to spend a relaxing weekend or as a romantic getaway. Walking along the beach and picking up shells, and maybe a sand dollar if you are lucky, is a favorite pastime for visitors and locals alike. There is a small toll to cross the bridge onto this island. It’s common to see dolphins playing just off shore; the sunsets are spectacular.
9. Veterans Memorial Park
This park is a monument to the people who served and lost their lives during wartime to protect the United States. There are several statues throughout the park to commemorate those who served during all the different conflicts. The park has a small pond among all the statues. In 1987 a half size replica of the Vietnam War wall in D.C. that moves around to different areas across the country was placed at this park temporarily. The local Vietnam Veterans liked it so much they held fundraisers over the next five years to have a permanent one built and placed here.
8. Pensacola Beach Gulf Pier
This pier is among the longest on the Gulf of Mexico; it reaches almost 1,500 feet. The pier is one of the fun places to visit in Pensacola, Florida with friends and family. The pier is a favorite fishing spot for locals, and you do not need to bring your own equipment if you want to join in on the fun. A restaurant and a gift shop are located on the pier. With plenty of seating this is a spectacular place to view the colorful sunsets. There is a small fee to visit the pier, and it is open 24/7.
7. Uncle Sandy’s Macaw Bird Park
Uncle Sandy’s Macaw Bird Park is a fun place to visit for any bird or animal lover. The bird park is run by volunteers as a rescue home for birds that have overstayed their welcome as a pet. These long-lived birds come here to retire at Uncle Sandy’s Macaw Bird Park. They have a wide range of birds that you can feed and hold; including two large friendly emus. It’s not a huge place, but a nice escape from the crowded beaches to do something different. The kids love to come here and interact with the birds, but hang on to your hats and sunglasses, the birds like to collect them!
6. Fort Barrancas
Fort Barrancas is a historically significant place in Florida. It is the first U.S. Naval base. Built in 1821 the fort has had a large impact on U.S. Navy history. Wear your good walking shoes; there are lots of stairs and tunnels to explore at this fort. This is on the Naval Air Station, and a self-guided tour to learn the fort’s history is well worth your time. You can see the remains of another fort across the bay that was never rebuilt and restored as this one was. The location at the bay’s entrance is ideal, and has been used several times by the British and Spanish during the 1700’s.
5. Johnson Beach
Johnson Beach has a lot of history surrounding it, and there is a small memorial here for the man it was named after. It was named for Private Rosemond Johnson. He was killed in 1950 during the Korean conflict; he had carried two wounded men to safety and was killed on his way to go back for a third man. Like all beaches in this area the fine white sand and blue waters make for a relaxing getaway. This park is less crowded than others because there is a $15 fee per car, but the park pass lasts for seven days.
4. Santa Rosa Island
Santa Rosa Island is a 40 mile long barrier island located off the coast of Florida. The communities of Pensacola Beach, Navarre Beach, and Okaloosa Island are located on Santa Rosa Island. There are great restaurants and shopping nearby. The island is a relaxing place for the entire family. There are several piers with fishing and souvenir shops available; as well as a boardwalk area with lots of great shops and eateries. Beaches can become crowded during peak season, especially in front of larger hotels, but a short walk down the beach will typically bring you to a less crowded area.
3. Pensacola Lighthouse and Museum
The lighthouse was built in 1859; the keeper’s quarters were built 10 years later. Today, the museum and gift shop are located in the restored keeper’s quarters. You can walk 177 steps to the lighthouse’s observation deck for spectacular views across the bay and Pensacola skyline. The museum does a wonderful job of explaining the area’s history as the first settlement in the Americas in 1559, and the history of the lighthouse and its keepers. The lighthouse is located on an active Naval Base, so everyone visiting will need to show ID.
2. Pensacola Naval Air Station
This is the home base for the world famous U.S. Navy Blue Angels, the National Naval Aviation Museum, Fort Barrancas, and the Pensacola Lighthouse. This base was the first U.S. Naval Air Station to be commissioned by the U.S. Navy. Everyone visiting must have an ID to enter the base, and this can cause a small delay on busier days, but it is well worth it. There is so much to see and explore within the base. On certain days you can watch the Blue Angels practice sessions from here, and on Wednesdays the pilots will sign autographs after the practice session.
1. National Naval Aviation Museum
This is a must see while visiting the area. It’s the largest aviation museum across the United States. It contains more than 150 aircraft from Navy, Marine Corps, and the Coast Guard. Visitors are always extremely impressed with the depth of information and artifacts here. The museum is very well taken care of and the visits and tours are free. Aviation connoisseurs could spend multiple days here trying to take it all in. If all the planes and artifacts aren’t enough; they have an IMAX theater among the largest around the world, and show several different flight shows throughout the day.
If you decide to visit outside the summer months, and it’s too cold to get into the water; you can still enjoy the beach and other wonderful tourist attractions in Pensacola, Florida. The long and extensive history of the area is just waiting to be explored. Step away from the busy stressful days of life and relax on some of the nicest beaches around the United States.