Pensacola Travel Guide

USA  #12 in Best Family Beach Vacations in the U.S.
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Courtesy of Benjamin Schaefer/Getty Images

Free Things To Do in Pensacola

If you have extra time, Historic Pensacola Village is worthwhile.
  • #1
    Things to do in Pensacola
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    #1 in Pensacola
    Beaches, Recreation, Free
    TYPE
    Half Day to Full Day
    TIME TO SPEND
    Beaches, Recreation, Free
    TYPE
    Half Day to Full Day
    TIME TO SPEND

    Pensacola Beach outlines the Santa Rosa barrier island and offers visitors two very different beach experiences. On the Gulf side, visitors are treated to unparalleled Gulf Coast views, as well as a powdery white shoreline and emerald waters. The soft sands that ribbon the Santa Rosa Sound side of the island are popular among families since they offer gentle waves and access to a boardwalk filled with fun shops and restaurants. 

    Keep in mind that although the entire island's beaches are known as Pensacola Beach, there are also names for the smaller strips of sand therein. For instance, Quietwater Beach is located on the sound side, stretching from the Portofino Boardwalk to the Pensacola Beach bridge tollbooth, and it's very family-friendly with its lifeguard protection and its "quiet waters." Casino Beach is located on the Gulf and has a host of amenities, including restrooms, changing rooms, lifeguards, a fishing pier and more. You'll find this beach just south of the intersection of Via de Luna and Fort Pickens Road. 

  • #2
    National Naval Aviation Museum
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    #2 in Pensacola
    Museums, Free
    TYPE
    2 hours to Half Day
    TIME TO SPEND
    Museums, Free
    TYPE
    2 hours to Half Day
    TIME TO SPEND

    The National Naval Aviation Museum is based on board the Naval Air Station (NAS) Pensacola. Founded in 1914, it's the oldest air station in the country and it's a rite of passage for all aviators and naval flight officers. Along with exhibiting more than 150 preserved aircraft, the museum also features exhibits showcasing the people and events that defined aviation history. NAS Pensacola is also home base for the Blue Angels, a demonstration squadron perhaps best known for its truly awe-inspiring aerobatic maneuvers. 

    Travelers describe their visit to the National Naval Aviation Museum as impressive, and highly recommend forking over a little more coin to watch the informative movies playing in the IMAX theater, which can vary throughout the year. Other travelers recommend inquiring if the Blue Angels are practicing since those practice sessions are free to watch. Practice usually takes place Tuesday and Wednesday mornings from March to November. Visitors also recommend taking the free guided tour of the museum, saying it provides a much richer experience than a self-guided spin through the museum. 

  • #3
    Historic Pensacola Village
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    #3 in Pensacola
    Historic Homes/Mansions, Sightseeing, Tours, Free
    TYPE
    Half Day to Full Day
    TIME TO SPEND
    Historic Homes/Mansions, Sightseeing, Tours, Free
    TYPE
    Half Day to Full Day
    TIME TO SPEND

    The Historic Pensacola Village is a more than 8-acre complex encompassing nearly 30 properties (11 of which are open to the public). This district, which appears on the National Register of Historic Places, includes properties like the Lavalle House, the Lear-Rocheblave House, the Dorr House and Old Christ Church, which visitors can experience with a costumed tour guide. It also contains must-sees, such as the Wentworth Museum and the Voices of Pensacola multicultural center. 

    Travelers almost can't believe how much they learned about the city's fascinating history after visiting the Historic Pensacola Village. Many highly recommend taking advantage of the guided tour, since they say it offers a richer experience and the opportunity to see additional historic homes. 

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