Florida is one of the largest, oldest states in America. Set against the state's historic backdrop, Pensacola carries both a rich military heritage and modern charm. With centuries-old parks, national monuments, and activities appealing to those who love the outdoors, there’s plenty of fun waiting for you in this city.
America’s second steel battleship, the USS Massachusetts (BB-2), managed to miss every major battle against Spanish forces in 1898. In the end, Massachusetts faced defeat not in battle, but rather at the hands of Diamond Reef. Massachusetts has spent over half a century catching rust thirty feet below the water, a depth that’s easy enough to dive. Every year, amateur and expert divers explore the haunting site.
The Pensacola Museum of Art is home to hundreds of pieces of artwork and an excellent rotating exhibit. Whenever you visit, there’ll be a whole suite of new art and attractions. However, the permanent exhibits are wonderful too. The museum prioritizes the art of the 20th and 21st centuries, showcasing the work of famous artists such as Pablo Picasso as well as less-known modernists. The range of art and the family-focused displays available during the summer make the Pensacola Museum of Art a great stop for families and art lovers.
The famous Vietnam Wall Memorial in DC draws thousands of visitors a year. In the decades following the war, recreated ‘mobile’ Vietnam walls traveled the United States. These miniature walls inspired the people of Florida to design their own replica. This painstakingly detailed recreation is smaller, but still includes over 58,000 names of fallen Americans from the Vietnam War.
If you like relaxed hiking and breathtaking views, Bay Bluffs Park is for you. Natural trails wind through the park, and a stair-based pathway runs through the heart of Bay Bluffs. The staired path is a bit of a workout, but the sight of the sun shining through the trees and the ocean in the distance is more than worth it.
Check out a segway tour to rest your tired legs after climbing the stairs at Bay Bluff Park. Emerald Coast Tours offers a two-hour segway tour of the downtown area. In the course of this tour, you’ll ride a segway to beautiful, iconic destinations around the city. A typical tour stops at the Plaza de Luna, the Historic Pensacola Village, and the Veterans Memorial.
Fort Pickens is the southernmost piece of the South to stay loyal to the Union throughout the Civil War. Now at the center of a national park, Fort Pickens includes nature walks, a beautiful stretch of Florida oceanfront, and more. Taking a tour of the old fort will probably be first on the itinerary, but you should snap some photos of the luscious scenery too. After all that, you can learn about the local wildlife at the Fort Pickens Discovery Center and go swimming at Langdon Beach.
The Dorr House is a gorgeous Victorian-era mansion in a historic district that now serves as a museum. While touring this immersive, carefully maintained museum, you’ll learn all about life during the 19th century. For visitors who love ghost stories, legend has it that the ghost of the former owner is still in her old home, and that her presence can be felt there to this day. People often say that they inexplicably smell roses, her favorite flower, or hear crying from the sick room.
Local artists have turned the Pensacola Graffiti Bridge into their favorite canvas and a beloved local landmark. Artists have painted practically every inch of the bridge; the artwork even spreads to the sidewalks and a nearby parking lot. If you want to grab a can of spray paint and join in, the locals will always welcome your contribution.
Seville Quarter, the heart of the local bar scene, consists of nine distinct bars, each with its unique style and atmosphere. Whether you enjoy piano bars or a beer on the terrace, Seville Quarter is the place for you. Taking a stop at each of the nine bars that make Seville Quarter their home is a great way to spend an evening. At least until you find your favorite, that is.
The National Naval Aviation Museum is a bit of a tongue twister, but it’s also a must-visit destination. It traces the century-long history of naval aircraft development, from the biplane to the monoplane and the jet fighter. The highlight of your visit to the museum will be its motion-based flight simulator that puts you in the cockpit of a jet. You'll experience the twists, turns, and dives of a fighter plane.