16 Best Things To Do In Pensacola, Florida
Craving for an escape to an irresistible tropical paradise? Want to get a taste of the charming Southern culture? Then, fill your vacation days exploring the phenomenal historic sites and soaking up the sugar-white beaches in Pensacola, Florida! Sitting on the Florida Panhandle, this wondrous city truly has all the ingredients of a fun and unforgettable vacation. From spectacular views and sugar-white beaches to shipwrecks and historic sites, there are plenty of awesome things to do in Pensacola, Florida.
Headed to this historic beach city, but don’t know what to do in Pensacola? Well, you’re in luck! To help you plan the perfect trip, we’ve highlighted the best things to do in Pensacola, Florida.
1. Visit the National Naval Aviation Museum
A great and fun way to kickoff a vacation in Pensacola is to visit the National Naval Aviation Museum. Established in 1914, it’s the country’s oldest air station and a rite of passage for naval flight officers and aviators. As you explore the museum, you’ll get a first-hand experience on what it feels like to be in a space entirely designed for the preservation of the heritage and history of Naval Aviation.
With more than 120 perfectly restored aircraft, the treasure trove showcases an array of impressive machines from the Marine Corp, Coast Guard and the Navy.
And, it’s exhibited throughout the 32,516-square-meter museum and outstanding 15-hectare outdoor ground. Furthermore, it is home to the Blue Angels – a one-of-a-kind demonstration squadron famed for its breathtaking aerobatic maneuvers. Trust me, it’s one of the best things to do in Pensacola for the entire family.
Book and save up to 70% today
2. Hit the Pensacola Lighthouse and Museum
Visit the city’s renowned Lighthouse and Museum, to savor views of Pensacola Beach that are unrivaled and unparalleled by any other lookout spot. Climb to the top of the lighthouse via the 177 steps, and see the remarkable vista of the Pensacola Pass – the point where the Gulf of Mexico meets Pensacola. Opened in 1859, the historic lighthouse has been part of the city’s skyline for more than a century, meaning it’s one of the can’t-miss things to do in Pensacola, FL.
Fishing is, without a doubt, one of the most beloved pastimes and things to do in Pensacola for locals and travelers. In Pensacola, you’ll have tons of opportunities to catch some nice fish. Popular catches in Pensacola include sheepshead, flounder, speckled trout, redfish, marlin, mahi-mahi, shark and mackerel, grouper and triggerfish. Moreover, you may catch a bucketful of amberjack, vermillion snapper and red snapper.
Of course, there are tours that let you fish in Pensacola. Hot Spots Charters, for one, offers charters with about 5 to 10 anglers with an average cost of $500 to $1,700, depending on the location and duration at the sea.
4. See Pensacola Museum of Art
Are you an art lover who’s looking for fabulous things to do in Pensacola? Wondering what to do in Pensacola when it rains? Why not include the Pensacola Museum of Art to your Pensacola travel itinerary? Housed inside the old and lovely Spanish-style 1906 city jail, the small museum flaunts an astounding collection of 20th century art, including works by Andy Warhol, Louis Comfort Tiffany, Salvador Dali and Pablo Picasso.
Inside the museum, you’ll uncover sculptures and works on paper and canvas. Additionally, it is home to some African tribal art as well as a decorative arts collection of European and American glassware.
For those who want to learn more about art, the museum hosts lectures, films and workshops for adults. Kids may also join the summer camps and educational programs at its Children’s Art Room, which also hosts birthday parties.
5. Unwind at Pensacola Beach
No list of the best things to do in Pensacola is complete without the inclusion of the mesmerizing Pensacola Beach. Offering a mixture of tranquil beach time and attractions, this cove caters to all types of travelers. If you’re in mood for some downtime, just head to the Gulf Side, and enjoy enthralling views of the Gulf Coast. To make things even better, it boasts emerald waters and powdery, sugar-white beaches.
Alternatively, you may go to the livelier and more energetic Santa Rosa Sound Side. Once there, you may explore a boardwalk packed with restaurants, bars and shops that invite a youthful and lively crowd.
6. Take a side trip to Perdido Key
A vacation in Pensacola opens a plethora of opportunities to visit other cool destinations nearby. And, one of the top destinations near Pensacola is Perdido Key. Located 15 miles west of the city’s downtown area, Perdido Key is an incredible beach spot and is a more serene alternative to Pensacola Beach. Like Pensacola, Perdido Key is home to a bunch of attractions, such as the Flora-Bama lounge, Fort Mcree ruins, Gulf Island National Seashore and Big Lagoon State Recreation Area. So, if you have an extra day or two on your vacation, make sure to include a Perdido Key layover to your list of things to do in Pensacola, FL.
7. Walk the Bayou Marcus Wetlands Boardwalk
Searching for more family-friendly things to do in Pensacola, Florida? Fond of animals? One of the top things to do in Pensacola with the family is to walk the mile-long Bayou Marcus Wetlands Boardwalk. A flourishing wetland ecosystem, the boardwalk is home to about 17 endangered animal species, such as the American alligator and gopher tortoise. And, don’t forget to keep an eye for snakes, otters, turtles, bobcats, beavers, rabbits, raccoon, gray foxes, Osceola turkeys and white-tailed deer.
Up for some exciting things to do in Pensacola, Florida? Guess what? There are Pensacola operators like Niuhi Dive Charters that offer dive tours for wrecks and reefs to all experience levels.
The Gulf of Mexico is loaded with wrecked ships and underwater treasures. As you explore its underwater, you’ll see a 900-feet-long American aircraft carrier, 19th century wooden schooner, merchant ship, the USS Oriskany and a tugboat. Aside from wreck ship diving, some Pensacola tour operators also offer night dives, coral reef diving and spear-fishing charters.
9. Visit St. Michael’s Cemetery
Surprised? Just because it’s a graveyard, it doesn’t mean it’s not worth a visit. After all, it’s listed on the National Register of Historic Places, and one of Florida’s oldest cemeteries. And, did I mention that it’s one of the unique fee things to do in Pensacola, FL?
Sitting on the edge of the city’s historic district, the cemetery is an open-air museum highlighting Pensacola’s diverse history. While exploring the cemetery, you’ll see just how old it is by just looking at the headstone designs and dates. Hopefully, the management will offer guided tours, to make it even more intriguing.
10. Pay homage to the war veterans
Speaking of free things to do in Pensacola, you might also want to check out the Veterans Memorial and Wall South. Here, you’ll get to pay homage and honor the Veterans in all of the country’s wars. On your visit to the memorial park, be sure to see its Wall South, which is a nice half-scale model of Washington DC’s Vietnam War Memorial.
11. Explore Fort Barrancas
A visit to this hilltop fortress is an absolute must for those on the lookout for historic attractions and things to do in Pensacola. Established in 1839, this fortress was listed in 1960 as a historic landmark. Located inside the Naval Air Station Pensacola, the hilltop fortress overlooks the pristine and gorgeous Pensacola Bay.
There are tours available daily at 2 PM at this fort. Additionally, there are scenic hiking trails following the historic routes used by soldiers in the yesteryear.
12. Explore Gulf Islands National Seashore
With its pristine shoreline and laid-back ambiance, it’s easy to why it’s labeled as one of the most underrated attractions in Pensacola. As a matter of fact, visiting it is among the top things to do in Pensacola, Florida for locals.
13. Tour the Historic Pensacola Village
Still can’t enough of the historic attractions and things to do in Pensacola, Florida? History buffs will totally get their fix in the Historic Pensacola Village. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, this 8-acre district features a bunch of beguiling properties, such as the Old Christ Church, Dorr House, the Lear-Rocheblave House and Lavalle House. To make things even better, it contains some must-see spots as well, such as the Voices of Pensacola multicultural center and Wentworth Museum.
For a richer and more insightful experience, go for a guided tour on the village. Even if you’re not a bona fide history connoisseur, you’ll be amazed how much you’ve learned about Pensacola’s history, after visiting this complex. Not to mention, guided tours offer the chance to see some additional sites and historic homes.
14. Enjoy a picnic at Bayview Park
Need a little break after days of non-stop sightseeing in Pensacola, Florida? Then, spend a few hours or a day enjoying the scenery of Bayview Park. With a visit to this park, you get relax on the expansive lawn and get a bit of Vitamin D. And, when you feel like stretching your legs, you may hit any of its walking trails, so you can get your blood flowing. In addition, it’s a great place to run around with your canine buddies.
15. Venture into Palafox Market
Do yourself a favor, and visit Palafox Market on your Pensacola vacation. A flourishing open-air market, Palafox is a year-round market with more than 80 vendors per week. From fresh produce to mouthwatering baked goodies, you’ll find a plethora of culinary treats at this market. Of course, it’s a great place for unique shopping finds like antiques and live plants.
16. Please your gusto at Joe Patti’s Seafood
Foodies will surely love to put JP to their list of things to do in Pensacola, Florida. Whether you’re stocking the ref in your beach house or preparing for a beach side picnic, you’ll find what you’re looking for at Joe Patti’s dockside market. But, make no mistake about it – there’s more to it than just a seafood market. While exploring the market, you’ll find a smorgasbord of tasty culinary goodies, including pate, caviar, locally-made artisanal products, prepared sandwiches and gelato. Even better, they have a sushi bar wherein your meal is wondrously prepared right in front of you.
You don’t have to spend a fortune to experience these cool things to do in Pensacola, Florida. Remember, there are many ways to save money when traveling. And, one of them is to book your accommodations in Pensacola with Trekeffect!
Not only do we offer affordable deals for hotels in Pensacola, but we also donate 10% of profits to UNICEF!
Book Your Trip: Logistical Tips & Tricks
Book your accommodations
Let's face it. Expedia, hotels.com (and all the other hotel booking engines) typically earn huge margins off of you. You might think you're getting a deal, but you're not getting a deal. Want the best deal when you book your hotels? Of course you do! With Trekeffect you can get FREE access to discounted hotel prices and save a bunch of money.
How does it work? Simple...
1. Sign up for Trekeffect [FREE]
2. Click the hotels tab in the navigation
3. Search for the city you are visiting
4. Book a hotel and save a ton of money
Shop for Travel Essentials
Book your flight
Find cheap flights using SkyScanner. This search engine is are our favorite, making sure you get the best deal for tickets all over the world. They are great at aggregating flights from multiple providers.
Don't forget travel insurance
Protects yourself against illness, injury, theft, and even cancellations with travel insurance. You're buying comprehensive protection in case anything goes wrong. We never recommend traveling without it. We’ve been using World Nomads, a great company, with great service and highly recommend them.
Looking for the best companies to save money with?
Check out our resource page for the absolute best companies to use when you travel! We list our favorite companies that save people the most money when they travel and we think it will help you too!
Disclosure: Some of the links above may be affiliate links, and at no additional cost to you, we earn a commission if you make a purchase. We only recommend products and companies we use and the income keeps the community supported.