(This is an updated post and was original post was published on 02/27/19.)
My husband and I recently enjoyed a long weekend in Pensacola Beach, Florida. We went to this lovely city on the Gulf coast to visit our oldest daughter, Lauren. She moved to Pensacola last September to work as a florist in the wedding industry. She absolutely loves the city and its relaxed beachy vibe. We were extremely lucky to have her as our tour guide. Since we were only there for five days she helped make a few of these recommendations.
Visiting the beach during the spring is a totally different experience than visiting during the summer. The weather was absolutely fantastic with highs in the upper 70s and lows in the 60s. Pensacola is one of those cities that always has a breeze so the lows were definitely a bit chilly, especially in the shade. I really love visiting this time of year because the hotel rates are a little lower and the crowds are better on the beaches and at the restaurants.
Where to Stay–
This year we decided to opt for a condo and stayed at Portofino Island Resort. We chose a 2-bedroom with a kitchen. The rooms were really nice and we really enjoyed the resort and all of its amenities. There is also a bar and a restaurant located on-premises.
The Portofino is made up of five different towers nestled between the Gulf of Mexico and Pensacola Bay. Every room has beach views of the Gulf or the Sound, some even have both (ours did). We stayed in a 2-bedroom condo that had a fantastic balcony perfect for enjoying the views.
Last year we stayed at the Margaritaville Beach Hotel on this trip. It’s located right on the Gulf of Mexico beach in Gulf Breeze.
The Margaritaville is a full-service hotel with a nice restaurant overlooking the Gulf. We enjoyed breakfast on several days and a few cocktails in their bar in the evenings.
The Margaritaville also has a beach bar called The Landshark next door.
Where to Eat & Drink–
There are so many restaurants in Pensacola that there is no way to enjoy them all.
At the Beach-
A few restaurants at the beach that we enjoy are Casino Beach Bar & Grill, Peg Leg Pete’s, Crab’s, Hemingway’s Island Grill, and Paradise Bar & Grill (more so for the atmosphere and fun). A little more upscale dining at the beach, located on the Pensacola Boardwalk is Lucas’ and The Grand Marlin (right after you cross the second bridge). For drinks, everyone that goes to Pensacola has to have a Bushwacker at The Sandshaker–it’s an institution. Also, make sure to have a drink at The Hilton. They can make it all and they have great bartenders.
What to Do–
Of course, you have to visit the beach when in Pensacola. They boast the “World’s Whitest Beaches” and they are not lying. The beaches are white and the sand is soft like powdered sugar. They are absolutely beautiful.
If you are looking for an adventure you can explore Ft. Pickens. It’s a historic landmark built from 1829-1834 used during the Civil War. They have tours and reenactments daily.
(Wardrobe hint–don’t make the same mistake I made and wear a dress to Ft. Pickens on a windy day!)
Another fun adventure to tour is the Pensacola Lighthouse & Museum. It’s located on the opposite end of Pensacola from Ft. Pickens on the Naval Air Station near the National Naval Aviation Museum which is also a wonderful museum to visit and it’s completely free.
Pensacola also has a monthly Gallery Night in the downtown area. We were lucky enough to be there during one of the celebrations and really enjoyed it. The gallery night features lots of food trucks, live music, and street vendors down popular Palafox St. and the surrounding area.
I hope that a few of these recommendations come in handy if you visit Pensacola and I would love to hear your favorites.