7 Top-Rated Things To Do in Pensacola, FL

May 10th, 2023 by

Pensacola, Florida, is famous for its natural beauty, historic sites, and fun experiences. Residents and visitors of this unique destination can embark on a vast array of adventures, from fishing to world-class shopping. So, whether you plan to explore the beaches or take a break from sandy toes at a museum, you’ll make memories that last a lifetime with these seven top-rated things to do.

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Go to the Beach

Two children having fun playing in inflatable tubes on the beach in Pensacola, FL

Whether you live in Pensacola or you’re vacationing here, the first thing you need to do is check out the beach. This Panhandle city’s emerald waters and glittering sand beaches are some of the best in the world, and it’s one of the best budget-friendly things to do in the area. This little slice of heaven draws sun seekers from everywhere. So, satisfy your beach cravings at the Gulf Islands National Seashore.

This 160-mile-long shoreline is home to terrific lounging spots. Access this protected land locally from Pensacola Beach with its sugar-white sand or Perdido Key, a barrier island known for its striking dunes. You can go swimming, diving, or snorkeling or simply relax under the sun. The whole family will be mesmerized by its other natural wonders, from maritime forests to coastal marshes.

Visit the Pensacola Children’s Museum

You don’t have to be a kid to enjoy a trip to the Pensacola Children’s Museum, just young at heart. The staff invites everyone in the family to come downtown to learn and play. You’ll get the chance to explore the area’s 450 years of history with exhibits that give kids a glimpse into the past. You and your children will discover interactive spaces across two floors, including the Discovery Gallery. It’s a pint-sized version of the city with historic houses, a fort, a trading post, and a Spanish sailing ship.

This gem’s StoryTyme program is a must-attend event. Meet Grandma Jenkins and listen to her read one of her favorite stories. This free program takes place on select Fridays at 11 a.m. Your Children’s Museum ticket also gains the family access to Pensacola’s Museum of Art, Museum of History, and the Historic Pensacola Village for a whole week.

Explore the Pensacola Lighthouse and Maritime Museum

Beaches are just one local attraction in Pensacola. Another is the area’s fascinating history. Get to know more about the city’s past at the Lighthouse and Maritime Museum. The structure was built in 1859 on the Naval Air Station and still stands proudly today. Public access to the lighthouse and museum does require an advanced booking, so remember to plan ahead.

Climb 177 steps up to the top and discover beautiful views of the coast, then explore the keeper’s quarters to find out what life was like for the residents. The residence was built 10 years after the lighthouse and served as a place for the family to live while the keeper worked there. Learn more about the Coast Guard’s relationship with the lighthouse, hear the untold stories of female lightkeepers, and explore the evolution of illumination techniques at this fascinating museum.

Drop a Line and Angle for Fish

Pensacola is on the inner coastal waterway. That means the city offers loads of great fishing opportunities, as you’ll find at Pensacola Beach Gulf Pier. This 1,471-foot-long platform on Casino Beach is the ideal place to drop a line, and it’s a quick drive from most Pensacola neighborhoods in your new Hyundai.

The most popular season for fishing in Florida’s waterways is during the summer, so cast your rod and see if you can hook a bluefish, flounder, spotted seatrout, or tarpon. Then, if you need some shade, the Gulfside Pavilion beside the pier is the ideal place to cool off, and you’ll still have uninterrupted views of the water.

Try Out Jet Skis

In addition to sand, the surf is also a top-rated attraction in Pensacola, and there are many ways to enjoy the water,┬áincluding jet skiing. Gliding across the bay is a thrilling adventure you don’t want to miss. From the wind in your hair to the surrounding natural beauty, there’s nothing like this experience. Explore little islands, spot pods of dolphins, and soak up the sun.

We recommend you hone your skills at Perdido Key on Ole River, a calm body of water that’s ideal for beginners. Pensacola has plenty of jet ski options, and many businesses along Pensacola Beach offer jet ski rentals. Adrenaline junkies will love Perdido Key. It’s home to professional jet ski competitions. Participants race, jump, and flip their machines.

Discover Fort Pickens State Park

Both military and history buffs will enjoy a visit to this outstanding Florida state park. Pensacola Bay was one of the most important waterways on the Gulf Coast because it offered ships excellent anchorage and protection from European military vessels.

In 1825, President James Monroe decided to build Fort Pickens on Santa Rosa Island to protect the bay’s 13 miles of coastline and the newly established naval yard nearby. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers designed the military structure, which was completed in 1933, and officials named it after Brigadier General Andrew Pickens. The pentagonal fort was the largest brick structure on the Gulf and illustrated the country’s growing power.

Go Shopping

If nonstop sand and sun aren’t for you, take a break with an air-conditioned shopping spree. Retail therapy is one of the top-rated things to do in Pensacola, thanks to its eclectic mix of boutiques, designer outlets, malls, and specialty shops. So, whether you’re looking for a unique gift, summer accessories, or back-to-school supplies for the kids, you’ll find it all within the city limits.

We suggest starting at Cordova Mall. This 929,685-square-foot shopping center is the largest of its kind in the area. For more than 40 years, it’s provided a place for Pensacola residents and guests to pick up everything they desire, from clothing and shoes to jewelry and bath products. There are also plenty of restaurants inside, so you don’t have to leave to satisfy your appetite.

These seven top-rated things to do in Pensacola are only a glimpse of what the city has to offer you. Which activities do you enjoy the most in this beachside city? Drop us a line at Allen Turner Hyundai and let us know. We want to check out everything this Florida destination has to offer.


Image by Matt Deavenport is licensed with CC BY-ND 2.0

Posted in Local