Sometimes referred to as “the western gate to the Sunshine State,” Pensacola is the westernmost city on Florida’s Panhandle. In the past, the city was ruled by the British, the Spanish, the French, the Confederacy, and the United States. Due to its colonial history, Pensacola earned the nickname “The City of Five Flags” and offers rich cultural attractions. With sandy beaches, historic surroundings, and natural beauty, Pensacola has it all. After settling into your Pensacola vacation rental, venture out to try one of these top 10 activities.
1. Take a Tour
Venture out to see all the city has to offer with a guided tour. Book with Emerald Coast Tours to learn all about the culture as you explore historical downtown Pensacola from a Segway. If you’re up for something a little more mysterious, consider the agency’s Segway ghost tours. For something out of the ordinary, choose Go Retro for the Civil War Tour, Red Light District Tour, Ghosts and Graveyard Tour, or Tour of Pensacola’s Landmarks. Tours tend to sell out quickly, so book early to secure your seat on the retro bus.
2. Visit a Museum
Pensacola’s rich history leaves the city brimming with museums, and the National Naval Aviation Museum is one of the most popular attractions here. The museum is free, so you may want to plan on two days to take in everything. There’s a small fee for the Blue Angels simulator, but it’s well worth the price for the sensation of soaring with the flight demo squadron. The Pensacola Museum of Art is housed in the old city jail, while the Pensacola Lighthouse and Museum offers incredible city views from the top.
3. Try the Local Cuisine
When you’re ready for dinner, try out some of the local eateries to feed the family. For some of the best pizza on the beach, head to Papa’s Pizza. The Greek salads here are another great option. Stop by Dog House Deli for breakfast on your way to the beach, or drop in for a chili cheese dog at lunchtime. Be sure to try the banana pudding; it’s a local favorite. Peg Leg Pete’s has incredible seafood, or you can visit Maria’s Fresh Seafood Market for shrimp and red snapper to prepare dinner at your vacation rental.
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4. Go Shopping
Take a break from the sun or dodge the drops on a rainy day with a trip to the Cordova Mall, home to American Eagle, Sephora, Red Robin, and more. Palafox Market is open every Saturday, and it’s a great place to spend the morning. Pick up farm-fresh veggies, browse handmade jewelry, and indulge your sweet tooth with a few pastries. With 65,000 square feet of treasures, Miles Antique Mall serves as a great place to wile away a few hours. For stunning local art to commemorate your trip, stop by Blue Morning Gallery.
5. Enjoy Nature
Get out and explore all that Pensacola has to offer with a trip to Perdido Key State Park. Relax on the clean sand beaches, and enjoy the peace of this uncrowded paradise. A pavilion with picnic tables is the perfect place to enjoy lunch, so bring some sandwiches from your vacation rental. Spend an afternoon making some new feathered friends at Uncle Sandy’s Macaw Bird Park, a nonprofit sanctuary with lots of exotic birds. Admission includes a bucket of peanuts and some fruit to feed the birds.
6. Get out on the Water
For those adventurers in your group wanting to explore the Gulf Coast, consider a two-hour dolphin-watch cruise with Condor Sailing Adventures, or book a cruise before lunchtime to watch the Blue Angels practice during your sail. Explore the wreckage of the USS Oriskany when you go diving with Niuhi Dive Charters, or reel in some red snapper with Captain DP Charters. To head out on the water alone, paddle around in a rental from Perdido Key Kayak Rentals.
7. Play the Day Away
Delight the kids with fun and games during your Pensacola vacation. Escape Zone 60 is a popular family attraction. Choose from the Asylum room or the Bank Robbery room, and work with your group to escape before time runs out. Ride the go-karts at Fast Eddie’s Fun Center, then play a round of mini golf before spending some time at the indoor game room. Roll a few strikes at DeLuna Lanes Bowling Center, or take the little ones to Bounce House Pensacola to expel some energy.
8. Hit the Water Park
When you want to please the whole family with a fun-filled afternoon in the sun, look no further than Sam’s Fun City. This amusement and water park has water slides, bumper boats, mini golf, and more. Relax in the endless river, or take the little ones to one of the interactive play pools with mini slides. Laser tag and go-karts keep the older kids entertained. When it’s time to eat, grab some corn dogs in the park and save room for Dippin’ Dots ice cream.
9. See a Show
When you’re up for a performance, check out the schedule at the Saenger Theatre. This incredibly gorgeous venue often hosts concerts, comedians, and children’s shows. The Pensacola Little Theatre often runs enjoyable shows that are suitable for the whole family, while Rosie O’Grady’s Dueling Piano Show is a great place for the adults. The Pensacola Opera features impressive productions with top-rate performers.
10. Catch a Baseball Game
For the sports fans in your group, plan an evening at the ballpark. Score tickets to see the Pensacola Blue Wahoos play at Blue Wahoos Ballpark. This Minor League Baseball team’s impressive bayfront stadium seats more than 5,000 guests and earned the title of 2012 Ballpark of the Year. If you’re there on Friday night, stick around for the post-game fireworks display.
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