Pensacola Things to Do
This coastal Florida city with an established naval base also thrives as a popular destination for vacationers to enjoy quality downtime at the beach as well as plenty of activities to do downtown. Here are some of the most popular things to do in Pensacola.
Embracing the Past
Founded by Spanish settlers in 1554, Pensacola is rich in a history that spans over four and a half centuries. The first lighthouse in Pensacola was built in 1824. By the 1850’s Congress approved plans for a taller and brighter lighthouse, and it was lit on New Year’s Day 1859. It stands today 159 feet tall. The entry fee to the lighthouse includes a climbing tour as well as admission to the keeper’s quarters (1869) and historical exhibits. You will note that this site is located at the Pensacola Naval Air Station and across the road from the Naval Naval Aviation Museum, so it makes for good planning to visit the two sites together. One of Pensacola’s top attractions, admission to the Naval Museum is free and worth a visit even if you don’t happen to be “into” aircraft or warfare.
Other historical sites abound in Pensacola. The Historic Pensacola Village organization offers guided tours of four beautifully preserved Pensacola houses, including the 1871 Dorr House which was owned by Clara Barkley Dorr (1825-1899), the daughter of a prominent shipping merchant and wife of one of the region’s leading timber barons. The T. T. Wentworth Florida State Museum also resides in the Historic Pensacola Village area. Fort Pickens, a historical military site named after Revolutionary War hero Andrew Pickens, is located within the Gulf Islands National Seashore. Many more memorials and historical sites are also present in Pensacola around town.
Exploring the Present
Along with historical landmarks, Pensacola is a vibrant town that provides just the right blend of in-town activities and natural beauty. The Naval Live Oaks Area of the Gulf Islands National Seashore is a small national park area, but important to US history. The US Navy used these oaks for such famous ships as the USS Constitution and the USS Constellation. Pensacola is in the heart of the Gulf Islands National Seashore, which borders the city with the barrier islands of Perdido Key (or Lost Island) to the west and Santa Rosa Island which is better known as Pensacola Beach to the east. The coastal scenery entails a chain of sugar sand beaches on the ocean-side as you drive toward Fort Pickens, along with the ever-popular Pensacola Beach Pier. In July, you might even catch the Blue Angels fly overhead on the beach. This Naval Air Force team performs flight shows around the world, including Pensacola Beach in July and in town during November. It is also possible to see the Blue Angels practice near their base point.
Editor’s Note: The information contained on this page was compiled using real traveler reviews about things to do in Pensacola.