Spanish sailor Don Tristan de Luna arrived in Pensacola on Aug. 15, 1559, establishing the first European settlement in the United States. One month later, a hurricane destroyed supplies, eventually causing the Spanish to flee the area. Thereafter, having been ruled by Spain, France, Britain, the Confederacy and the United States, Pensacola has earned the nickname “City of Five Flags.” Pensacola was the original capital of Florida, and it was here that Gen. Andrew Jackson changed flags with Spanish Governor Jose Callava, bringing West Florida under the control of the United States. Today Pensacola is known for it’s beautiful beaches, historic downtown and fresh local seafood.
Where to Go
Downtown Pensacola has many choices to offer if you are interested in history, art galleries, shopping, excellent dining and nightlife.
Seville Quarters is an area of restored 19th Century Buildings located in historic downtown Pensacola home of the original Rosie O'Grady's Goodtime Emporium. Founded 40 years ago, the popular entertainment complex houses 7 themed rooms all under one roof. Open Monday through Saturday at 11 am and Sundays at 5 pm. Features anything from toe tapping, hand clapping sing alongs at Rosie’s to Phinneas Phogs dance club atmosphere to Lil Marlene’s World War I Aviator Pub features karaoke and live music on the weekend. Definitely a fun place to check out.
The Historic Pensacola Village located in downtown Pensacola which consists of twenty properties in the Pensacola National Register Historic District. Historic Pensacola Village includes these self-guided museums: Museums of Commerce and Industry, Julee Panton Cottage, Manuel Barrios Cottage, and the McMillen House. Costumed guides take visitors through the Lavalle House, the Lear-Rocheblave House, the Dorr House and Old Christ Church. Living History programs are presented throughout the week at the Lavalle Kitchen House. Tickets are purchased in the Tivoli High House Shop. The museum’s operation is a direct support organization for the University of West Florida and is a great way to learn the town’s history
Experience hands-on history at the National Naval Aviation Museum located on board Pensacola Naval Air Station. See more than 4,000 artifacts and over 150 beautifully restored aircraft representing Navy, Marine Corps and Coast Guard aviation. The Blue Angels practice nearby and frequently visit the museum to answer questions and sign autographs. Call the museum for the schedule. Also, experience the thrill of flight in the interactive Top Gun Flight Simulators, catch all the drama and power of the amazing IMAX Theatre. Stop, relax and have a tasty lunch in the authentic Cubi Bar Café. Best of all entrance to the museum is free!
Downtown Pensacola also offers a wide variety of Art galleries, shops and boutiques. Stroll down Palafox Street to check them out.
What to Eat
The go to breakfast place since the 1940's is the Coffee Cup. A true American diner this old school gem serves up fresh baked biscuits topped with tomato gravy and scrumptious pecan waffles. Try the Nassau Grits...grits, bacon, ham, green peppers, tomatoes and Tabasco sauce., you won't be sorry. Did I mention fried chicken for lunch?? For a unique local eatery go to Captain Joey Patti's Seafood and Deli. This an old Florida seafood joint almost everything id fried but super fresh. Bring a cooler and take home some of the freshest fish from the Captain's Market next door and eat like the locals. Only open for lunch, closed Sunday and Monday. For a lively dinner choice try Hopjack’s Pizza Kitchen for a flat breads or create your own yummy pizza. They have massive toppings to choose from. They feature live bands on the weekend and shows are free. If you are looking for a quieter ambiance go to Global Grill for tapas. Selections include the lamb lollipops or tuna cubes. If you have set your sights on fine dining and a great steak then Jackson’s Steakhouse is an excellent choice for you.
Where to Stay
Lodging is available in several hotels or bed and breakfast establishments just walking distance to historic downtown Pensacola. A nice suggestion would be the Sole Inn a Bohemian style hotel within walking distance of Palafox Street and The Seville Quarters.
Where to Go
If staying out at the beach is what you had in mind you are in a great spot. Located on Santa Rosa Island one of Florida’s longest barrier islands with 20 miles of white sand and emerald clear waters. Pensacola Beach makes for one of Florida’s most gorgeous beaches. The sugary sand is 90% pure quartz and mesmerizing to gaze at next against the rolling turquoise waves of the Gulf of Mexico. What makes Pensacola beach so special is the fact that it bordered by two preserved seashores making up part of the Gulf Islands National Seashore, the nation’s longest stretch of protected seashore. This is an ideal spot for biking, snorkeling or kayaking. Pack a picnic, grab some beach chairs and some fishing poles and experience the old Florida feel of unspoiled beauty.
Near the public beach, the Pensacola Beach Pier is one of the longest piers overlooking the Gulf of Mexico stretching out to almost 1,500 feet. For $1.25 you can fish all day. You can also rent kayaks to cruise around on or fish from. If you want to charter a boat there are many professionals ready to assist you.
Where to Eat
PegLeg Pete's is a waterfront restaurant overlooking the marina where the seafood is hauled in on local boats. This local recommendation features fresh seafood and oysters. The appetizer menu features smoked yellowfin dip and several oyster bakes including oysters Rockefeller, casino and lafitte. Try the spinach artichoke dip it sis served warm and gooey. Try putting their signature Pirate Sauce located on every table on your oysters, yum, yum! Try the combo platter of gulf shrimp, oysters, bay scallops and group all for 19.95...get it grilled! Stop by the gift shop on the way out and grab some Pirate Sauce to take with you.
Flounder's Chowder House has been a Pensacola Beach for over 30 years serving up great seafood. Try their award winning Floyd Flounders Phenomenal Flounder Chowder winner of the Great Florida Chowder Cookoff as featured in Southern Living.
When you are tired of seafood and fried foods head over to Wild Roots! This only organic eatery on Pensacola Beach features soups, wraps and deserts. Try the organic brownie or a yummy energizing organic smoothie for breakfast. It is a perfect place to take something healthy back to your room after a long day of fun.
No trip to Pensacola would be complete without a visit to the Sandshaker Lounge, "Home of the original Bushwacker." This old Florida beach bar features 3 bars, live music every weekend and of course those yummy Bushwackers! A frosty Kahlua and rum based drink the institution has been serving up since 1975.
Where to Stay
The Hampton Inn is located right on the Gulf of Mexico with beautiful view of the beach and pier. It is within walking distance to Flounder's, Wild Roots and the Sandshaker! With private balconies, beach and umbrellas available and it's location this is THE hotel to stay at for affordability on Pensacola Beach. If you require more upscale accommodations stay at the Hilton next door or Jimmy Buffet's Margaritaville Hotel directly on the gulf near PegLeg Pete's.
Local Tip: Make to take a picnic to the protected seashore just a short drive down the island from the Hotels.
|Local Tip: Dunes and Sea Turtle Nests are protected. Watch for signs violating access to these delicate areas. |
Pensacola and Pensacola Beach are equally exciting, fun filled vacation spots in their own charm and beauty. The best part is that both are just over the bridge from each other...so you can do it all!
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