During a recent trip we took from Dallas to cover attractions and parks in the Orlando, FL area, we decided to stop in gorgeous Pensacola, FL and see what many of our colleagues were raving about... and boy were they right. Not only is Pensacola beautiful but it is filled with good people, heritage, great festivals & parades, and a very impressive history, one that lends itself to fascinating historical and archaeological sites that allows anyone to easily absorb its colorful past. The more we saw and explored, the more we understood how proud Pensacola is of its rich heritage, historically significant events and landmarks. We were totally surprised to learn that Pensacola was founded in 1559 and was the first European settlement in the United States.
Whether you climb to the top of Pensacola Lighthouse, enjoy a great time having fun in the Discovery Gallery inside the T.T. Wentworth, Jr. Florida State Museum or visit Veterans Memorial Park to see the only permanent replica of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C., the quality and variety of Pensacola’s historical attractions delight more than just history buffs. Furnished period houses, several museums and one of Florida’s oldest churches at Historic Pensacola Village are located in downtown Pensacola near charming shops and eateries. And you can literally dig into Pensacola's past at summer archaeological digs by the University of West Florida.
From light simulators, special hands-on exhibits and more than 150 historic aircraft will amaze you at the National Naval Aviation Museum. In addition to being the “Cradle of Naval Aviation,” the Pensacola Bay Area is proud to call itself home to the renowned Blue Angels, officially known as the U.S. Navy Flight Demonstration Squadron.
Of course, after such a busy first day, we were able to relax, kick back and enjoy the hospitality of the Hilton Garden Inn Pensacola Airport just off Interstate 110. This hotel is one mile from Pensacola International Airport and offers such much... from free airport shuttle service, an on-site restaurant and an outdoor swimming pool to great rooms featuring a microwave, refrigerator, coffee maker and a great 37" flat-screen TV with mp3 docking station. We were able to enjoy their free 24-hour business center and their well-equipped gym. And the best part is that downtown Pensacola and the Cordova Mall are within 5 miles of the Hilton Garden Inn hotel.
But when it comes to beaches... we were struck by the natural beauty of their gorgeous, sandy white beaches, and warm sunshine. We were fortunate to visit Pensacola Beach, Golf Shores and Casino Beach and even had a couple of hours to snorkel and see sand dollars, starfish, crabs and fish. We also found out which would be ideal for your next visit to Pensacola that you can join a ranger-led nature tour at Gulf Islands National Seashore to explore life in the brackish marshes or hidden in the shade of tall pines and gnarled live oaks. You can hike or bike along the Edward Ball Nature Trail. Canoe, kayak or tube down spring-fed rivers in the “Canoe Capital of Florida,” and go bird watching during spring and fall migration. The Perdido Watershed is a picturesque area for canoing and kayaking. Here, visitors can spot wildlife and get close to dolphins in Perdido Bay or enjoy miles of interrupted natural beauty along the protected Perdido River.
From the country’s largest tract of protected shoreline to Florida’s only natural bluffs, there are so many reasons the Pensacola Bay Area is the perfect place to indulge your love of nature and the outdoors.
We highly recommend Pensacola for a great vacation! We are certainly coming back SOON!