When the ocean breeze is calling your name, few area getaways could beat Pensacola, Fla. As deep as the nearby ocean with culture, it boasts 450 years of rich history and all of the wet, wild, sun-soaked fun you could hope for. Known for its ecotourism adventures, a vibrant arts community, festivals and dining delights, it’s a guaranteed good time for any traveler. Print out this quick, easy guide and head out for a weekend full of Pensacola’s best attractions.
Pensacola is 287 miles south of Atlanta, conveniently located on I-10 about an hour from I-65. The trip coming from Atlanta should be around 4.5 hours. The Pensacola Airport is busy with multiple flights each day from most all the major airlines. Airlines represented at this airport are AirTran, American Airlines, Delta and US Airways. One travel tip is to check out the price to fly into Pensacola, and then rent a car to drive home. Depending on the time of the year, car rental services are overrun with cars coming into the area, so those willing to drive back get better deals. The most economical way to travel to Florida from Atlanta is to fly into your destination and drive a rental car back north.
Where To Say:
The Margaritaville Beach Hotel
65 Fort Pickens Road
Pensacola Beach, FL 32561
Price: from $159
With so many options including condos, historic bed and breakfasts, resorts and hotels, in Pensacola, a variety of accommodation options are available to suit every budget and desire. The Margaritaville Beach Hotel offers great rates, a unique experience and tons of fun. Inspired by the lyrics of a Jimmy Buffet song, this theme continues throughout the resort. Have lunch at the Frank and Loa Love Pensacola Café, and impress the waitress with your trivia knowledge. The café is named after a 1982 Jimmy Buffett song about a couple on their second honeymoon in Pensacola. End the day at the Tiki Bar singing your heart out the namesake song “Margaritaville.”
Pensacola Victorian Bed and Breakfast
203 W. Gregory Street
Pensacola, FL 32501
Price: from $85
Slip away from the city to a Victorian bed and breakfast not far from the white sandy beaches. Easygoing and elegant, this delightful B&B and the hospitable innkeepers Chuck and Barbee Major promise the perfect stay. Pick your suite from Victoria’s Room, Captain’s Room, Elizabeth’s Room or Suzanne’s Room. Unlike a typical B&B, this local wonder offers food all day at the Cottage Café.
Where To Eat:
McGuire’s Irish Pub
600 E. Gregory Street
Pensacola, FL 32502
Foodies delight in Pensacola southern cuisine, fresh seafood and burgers made famous by the Travel Channel and Food Network at McGuire’s. Inside 1 million $1 bills, signed by patrons, are attached all around the restaurant but mainly on the ceiling. This dining establishment is located in an old Pensacola 1927 firehouse. Be sure to ask for one of its own signature beers to wash down those delicious burgers.
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27 S. Palafox Place
Pensacola, FL 32561
Global Grill is presided over by Pensacola’s own local celebrity Chef Frank Taylor of James Beard fame. It offers a variety of tapas and specialty cocktail drinks in a place boasting decor as striking as the menu. This trendy downtown Pensacola restaurant features jazz music many nights to enjoy during your meal, so don’t miss out on the mouth-watering heirloom tomato salad, which is served in a mason jar, or the crawfish cheesecake.
Where to Play:
Naval Air Station Pensacola
Pensacola, FL 32561Facebook.com/US Navy Blue Angels
If you haven’t seen the Blue Angels perform, you should, and do it while you’re in town. Some would say this is a once-in-a-lifetime experience, but that is not usually so as it’s always worth a watch. See the Blue Angels perform aerial stunts at more than 500 miles per hour at the National Naval Aviation Museum. The seating allows for almost 1,000 viewers. Tip: Following Wednesday practices, you are allowed to meet the pilots, ask them questions and get autographs during a post-practice session. The team offers two shows each year in the area, in July and November, but from March through November, at 8:30 a.m. each Tuesday and Wednesday it practices over Naval Air Station Pensacola.
Quayside Art Gallery
17 E. Zaragossa
Pensacola, FL 32501
Pensacola boasts a thriving arts community including ballet, opera, symphony, theater and museums. Visitors may able to test their hands at glassblowing in local art workshops in the historic district of Pensacola. Constructed in 1873, the two-story building was once the headquarters and social center for the Germania Steam Fire Engine and Hose Company. The building where the gallery is located used to also house an antique steam firetruck pump called Marie Louise. Guided free tours are available to groups upon request.
Scuba Shack/Wet Dream Charters
711 S. Palafox St.
Pensacola, FL 32502
With an active scuba diving population for almost 50 years, the area is a best-kept secret for world-class diving. Divers may explore many wrecks, including the USS Massachusetts, one of the oldest existing battleships, which attracts a lot of sea life including grouper, the areas famous red snapper, and eels. Enjoy dive trips to sites throughout the area on a regular schedule as well as training for all levels and most ages. If you’re just seeking an adventure and don’t need lessons, rent from a complete line of equipment.
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Ava Roxanne Stritt is a travel writer and blogger from Atlanta with more than 20,000 Twitter followers. She is a luxury hospitality, spa and skincare industry consultant, as well as a writer, financial analyst, and a wife and mother. Her work can be found at Examiner.com.