Escape the amusement park crowds and head to Pensacola for your next relaxing beach getaway. Located on the Florida panhandle, this historic city offers plenty of activities for a weekend escape or a week-long family vacation. Visit the museums, explore the villages, take in a ball game, or spend the day outside hiking, biking, or lounging on the beach. Book a Pensacola vacation rental and choose from cozy cottages, Bayfront manors, spacious multi-level homes, and furnished condominiums in one of these 12 popular locations.

1. Downtown Pensacola, Florida

government building
Source: Flickr / Steven Martin

Treat your family to a fun and relaxing vacation in downtown Pensacola. Reserve your vacation rental in the historic district, placing you close to chic shops and trendy restaurants. You can spend an evening strolling around award-winning Palafox Street or stop in at one of the museums in the Pensacola Village. Take a nightly tour through the haunted graveyards, or walk through the ruins and various exhibits at the Colonial Archaeological Trail.

2. Pensacola Beach, Florida

children playing with the waves
Source: Flickr / Deavenport

Beachfront vacation rentals on Pensacola Beach provide the perfect place to park yourself during your early morning coffee time. Once you’re ready to begin the day, grab an inner tube and braves the waves, or go swimming, paddleboarding, or windsurfing. Fish off of the Pensacola Beach Pier, take a trolley through downtown, or bring your furry friend and let your dog explore the Pensacola Beach East, Dog Park.

3. Perdido Key Beach, Florida

beach umbrellas and beds
Source: Flickr / Ronnie

Perdido Key Beach is a long stretch of beach to the southeast of Pensacola. Spend a day with the family learning how to golf from a professional player, Nick Rousey, at the Lost Key Golf Club. If you’re in the mood to relax while enjoying the sun, you can rent a boat at the Freedom Boat Club and explore the Big Lagoon or Perdido Bay.

4. Warrington, Florida

little boy on the slide
Source: Flickr / chapstickaddict

Located to the west of Pensacola, Warrington is a residential area with a calm vibe. Vacation rentals on the water provide excellent views, and you can escape to the beach in a moment’s notice. Take the family on an exciting adventure through the Bayou Grande via kayak, then satisfy your appetite with oysters and fried seafood at Shrimp Basket.

5. Navarre Beach, Florida

long and concrete pier
Source: Flickr / Britt Reints

Have fun exploring the various activities when you schedule a vacation rental near Navarre Beach. The Navarre Pier offers an excellent place to grab a couple of poles and fish for your dinner. Show the kids how sea turtles live and what is being done to save them at the Navarre Beach Sea Turtle Conservation Center.

6. Okaloosa County, Florida

bird on the pier
Source: Flickr / TruffShuff

Peace and tranquility await you when you book a vacation rental in Okaloosa County. Hop on the ferry and catch a ride to Crab Island where you can sign up for a day tour and go sightseeing. Mix fun and education when you take the little ones to Gulfarium Marine Adventure Park for a day of hands-on activities and watching marine life as they perform and live in natural habitats.

7. Destin, Florida

beach waves near the pier
Ricardo’s Photography

Located in the Panhandle, Destin is one of the most popular beach resort areas near Pensacola. Put on your walking shoes and visit Henderson Beach State Park for a fun-filled day exploring the nature trail. As the sun starts to set, head to the Destin Harbor Boardwalk and grab a table with the view of the water at Jackacuda’s Seafood and Sushi for dinner.

8. Gulf Shores, Alabama

seaside architecture
Source: Flickr / Andrea Wright

Gulf Shores is a beautiful seaside city next to the Gulf. Here, the Gulf Shores Pier offers a quiet respite from the crowds. Drop by the Gulf Shores Welcome Center to get information on the city’s points of interest, then head to the Gulf State Park where you can go hiking and biking. Get up close and personal with more than 500 animals when you visit the Alabama Gulf Coast Zoo. Don’t forget to stop by one of the specialty shops and grab some gifts for your friends and family back home.

9. Dauphin Island, Alabama

motorboat on the river
Source: Flickr / Jumaï Hadrien

A quiet retreat from busy Pensacola, Dauphin Island is the perfect spot to rent a boat and explore the ocean. The calm waters deliver small waves that are ideal for skiing and tubing. Take a ferry from the Island to Fort Wayne where you can learn about the history of the region. If your family enjoys seeing marine life, Mark Dauphin Island Sea Lab as a must-stop on your itinerary. The Estuarium at the Sea Lab features a 7,000-gallon stingray touch pool, and in total, there are 31 aquariums with over 100 species to look at.

10. Fort Walton Beach, Florida

pathway at the park
Source: Flickr / neepster

Walk from your beach-front vacation rental to Beasley Park where you can spend the day by the ocean. There’s a snack bar to keep the kids happy all day, and you can stop in the showers to wash off the sand before getting back in your vehicle. A fun place for the entire family, Wild Willy’s Adventure Zone lets you play a round of mini-golf, enjoy a rope course, or purchase tickets for the 4D theater.