Is Pensacola Beach worth visiting? You be the judge of that.
Located on Florida’s famed Emerald Coast, Pensacola Beach is a beautiful place with soft white sand beaches and blue-green waters of the Gulf of Mexico. But what about the actual experience of visiting there? Is it worth your time and money?
In this blog post, we’ll take a look at some of the pros and cons of visiting Pensacola Beach so that you can make an informed decision about whether or not to add it to your travel bucket list.
Is Pensacola Beach Worth Visiting?
Table of Contents
- The breathtaking Beaches!
- Pensacola Beach Boardwalk
- Dolphin Cruises
- James P Morgan Park & Botanical Gardens
- UFO’s Mini Golf, Ice Cream & Arcade
- Enjoy Waterfront Dining
- Gulf Islands National Seashore
- Palafox Street
- Fort Barrancas
- O’Zone Pizza Pub
- Pensacola Historic District
- Cons of Visiting Pensacola Beach
The breathtaking Beaches!
The obvious reason why thousands of people flock to Pensacola Beach every year, especially during summers is to enjoy their time on the unbelievably gorgeous white sand beaches.
Believe me when I say that Pensacola is home to some of the most breathtakingly beautiful beaches in the world.
The soft white sand that disappears into the crystal clear bluish-green waters of the Gulf and the swaying palm trees lining the beaches make you feel like you are in beach heaven.
Apart from the famed Pensacola Beach itself (named after the city of Pensacola), this charming coastal town has a beach for every kind of vibe.
Whether you’re looking for lively beaches with a family-friendly vibe and plenty of activities on the beach or looking for a laid-back beach vibe to just sit back and enjoy the scenery, Pensacola has a beach for you.
Some of the best beaches in Pensacola apart from the Pensacola Beach and boardwalk include the Gulf Islands National Seashore, Perdido Key Beach, Opal Beach, and Casino Beach.
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Pensacola Beach Boardwalk
If you looking to rejuvenate yourself after you’ve had your share of sun, sand and seaside bliss with some shopping, dining, entertainment or simply enjoy people-watching then head over to the Pensacola Beach Boardwalk.
This amazing boardwalk is where locals and tourists alike head to have some fun after a day on the beach.
Stretching for nearly a mile the boardwalk is a great place to sit back and relax on the benches watching a spectacular sunset, take a leisurely stroll, enjoy a picnic with your family on the grassy fields nearby or enjoy a romantic walk with your soulmate.
The boardwalk is home to plenty of shops, restaurants, cafes, bars, and boutique stores to shop for souvenirs there’s something for everyone to enjoy at the boardwalk.
One of the favorite things that we highly recommend you to do when visiting Pensacola is to take a Dolphin cruise.
There’s something very calming about cruising on the water and it becomes more magical when you get to explore marine life, especially the intelligent and friendly Dolphins greeting you and frequently jumping out of the water.
There are many cruise companies that offer Dolphin cruises but the one we highly recommend is Dolphin Excursions. They have a small fleet of boats, with only a limited number of people allowed on each boat to make sure it doesn’t get too crowded.
They also make sure that visitors are on the cruise spot Dolphins every time the boats leave in the waters.
What makes these cruises an unforgettable experience are the knowledgeable and passionate captains and guides that educate you on these intelligent creatures and make sure to answer every doubt you have.
James P Morgan Park & Botanical Gardens
James P Morgan park is a hidden gem in the heart of the city and provides a natural escape from the otherwise lively and urban life of the city.
This oasis of green set in a rather urban landscape transports you completely into a fairytale world with an array of rare plant species some of which are highly endangered.
Stroll along its winding paths, relax in the secluded nooks, take in the spectacular views of the skyline, and get lost in the mesmerizing beauty of the gardens.
UFO’s Mini Golf, Ice Cream & Arcade
If you’re looking for a fun family activity, UFO’s Mini Golf, Ice Cream & Arcade is the perfect place to visit, especially if you love playing Golf.
The UFO’s Mini Golf, Ice Cream & Arcade where you’ll enjoy the best of fun and food all in one place.
The facility offers 18 holes mini golf course designed to challenge folks of all ages and levels, with a range of obstacles that are sure to keep you on your toes.
Talking about food, this is the place in Pensacola Beach for ice cream lovers. The facility serves a wide selection of ice cream flavors that are so good that they will leave you craving for more.
And then there’s the amazing arcade, where kids can enjoy cool new favorite arcade games like Mario Kart and Dance Dance Revolution or adults can relive their childhood days by trying to beat their personal best at classic games like Pac-Man and Donkey Kong.
Whether you’re looking to beat your personal best on the mini golf course or compete against your friends in the arcade, UFO’s is sure to provide a fun-filled day for the whole family.
Enjoy Waterfront Dining
What better way to rejuvenate yourself than to enjoy outdoor dining with a spectacular view of the Gulf Coast?
Pensacola is home to some of the best beaches in the US with some of the best waterfront restaurants in Florida offering spectacular views of the Gulf.
Each restaurant is unique in its own way, from the diverse seafood cuisine on offer or the different perspectives of the shorelines they offer.
For a casual meal, try the picnic tables at The Crab Trap. Or for something a bit more upscale, dine al fresco at Hemingway’s Island Grill.
Whether you’re looking for the perfect date night with your partner, a casual dining experience with your friends, or a fun night out with your family, there’s a waterfront beach that is sure to cater to your taste. Bon appetit!
Gulf Islands National Seashore
If you are looking for some respite from the hustle and bustle of the lively beaches and city life of Pensacola and enjoy some tranquil time soaking in the serenity and stargazing at night then head to the Gulf Islands National Seashore.
Once you step on its soft white sand beaches and take a glimpse of its glittering blue waters under the sun you are transported to a different realm.
Stretching for miles along the Pensacola sugary soft coastline, the seashore is a paradise for birdwatchers, nature lovers, and outdoor enthusiasts.
The seashore exudes a beauty where times feels to stand still and all you can hear is the music of waves crashing on the shore and the cool breeze of the Gulf flowing off your skin.
The area is home to an abundance of wildlife, including several endangered species. In addition, the seashore contains a wealth of history and culture, with many notable sites dating back to the Civil War.
So, whether you’re looking to relax in the midst of spectacular natural beauty, explore wildlife or learn about local history, make sure to add the Gulf Island National Seashore to your list.
Palafox street is the main drag in Pensacola Beach where tourists and locals alike come to get their share of retail therapy.
The street is lined with several shops, restaurants, bars, franchise outlets, pubs, and unique boutique stores where you can enjoy some delicious food, people-watch, or shop for souvenirs.
Palafox Street was named after Bernardo de Gálvez y Madrid, Count of Gálvez, a Spanish military leader who played a pivotal role in the American Revolutionary War.
Walking down Palafox Street, you can almost feel the weight of history. But it’s not all heavy. There are plenty of beach vibes here too with an excellent art scene.
When people think of Florida, they often envision busy beaches and crowded amusement parks. However, there is much more to Pensacola Beach than meets the eye and Fort Barrancas is the best example of that.
If you are looking to immerse yourself in local history then this historic fort offers a glimpse into Florida’s rich past and transports you into the past everyday lives of the people on the fort.
The Fort features several tunnels and underground chambers that you can explore and you can also enjoy the surrounding views of the Gulf from the fort or just relax in the peaceful atmosphere of the grounds.
O’Zone Pizza Pub
O’Zone Pizza Pub is a great place to enjoy a slice or two while taking in the sights and sounds of Pensacola Beach and is a best-kept secret by the locals.
The pizza here is some of the best you will ever taste – thin and crispy with just the right amount of sauce and cheese. And the toppings are always fresh and delicious.
What makes it such a great place is the lively and fun atmosphere of the pub. the staff is always passionate, cheerful, and fun to talk to and you’ll always find some great people to strike up some interesting conversations and form new friendships.
Pensacola Historic District
The Pensacola Historic District located on the west end of Pensacola Beach is one of the main attractions which features a unique blend of history, arts, culture, and modernity.
The area is home to several historical monuments including Fort Barrancas which we talked about earlier, and also the Pensacola Lighthouse and Museum.
Other important historical monuments include the Fort Pickens National Monument, T.T. Wentworth Junior Museum, and Tivoli High house, a historic home that was once part of the Underwater Archaeology Preserve.
Grab a bite at one of the many restaurants, cafes, or bars in the district, or shop for some souvenirs at one of the many shops that line the street in the area.
The Pensacola Historic district also hosts several annual events, including the Pensacola Seafood Festival and the Great Gulf Coast Arts Festival which you can enjoy if you are lucky enough to be visiting at the right time of the year.
Cons of Visiting Pensacola Beach
Pensacola Beach is a popular destination for travelers looking to experience sun-kissed sand, emerald waters and other Gulf Coast delights.
But despite the idyllic setting and seemingly endless list of activities, there are some cons to be aware of before you book your trip.
Let’s take a look at a few of them.
Crowds during peak season
The biggest con when visiting Pensacola Beach is the crowds. During peak season, the beach is packed with locals and tourists alike.
This can make it hard to find an area to park or even an open spot on the beach itself. If you don’t like crowds, then this may not be the best place for you.
The summer months tend to be especially crowded so plan accordingly if that’s when you want to visit.
Another thing to note when planning your trip to Pensacola Beach is that the weather can change quickly and drastically during certain times of the year.
In particular, hurricane season (June through September) can cause large storms and severe weather conditions that can ruin your plans in an instant.
Be sure to check the local forecast before going out on any day trips or excursions during these months as conditions could become dangerous in a short period of time.
High Accommodation Costs
Finally, costs are another con when considering a trip to Pensacola Beach.
Many visitors don’t realize just how expensive it can be once they arrive due to all the extra expenses that can add up quickly such as parking fees, meals, souvenirs and more.
To keep costs down, consider booking your stay at one of the family-friendly resorts located nearby which usually offer discounts for extended stays or multiple rooms booked together as well as amenities like pools and game rooms which will help keep everyone entertained without breaking the bank.
Limited Public Transportation
Lastly, public transportation options in Pensacola Beach are limited compared to other cities/towns in Florida.
If you don’t have access to a car while visiting here then getting around can be difficult unless someone else is willing to give you rides or rent out their car/scooter/bike etc., which may not always be feasible depending on your situation!