By  Mike Miller  Updated September 10, 2022

Pensacola, Florida Things To Do, Lodging, Dining, & Real Estate At End Of Article

Pensacola, Florida is in the far western panhandle on Pensacola Bay, an estuary behind the barrier islands along the Gulf of Mexico. 

Its western city limit is only a few miles from the Alabama state line along the Perdido River and Perdido Bay.

Downtown PensacolaDowntown Pensacola

Interstate 10 and US-90 are the main east-west highways into the city, and US-29 comes in from the north.

The population of Pensacola is 54,312.  It is one of several communities within the Pensacola Metropolitan Area which has a population of 509,905.


The name Pensacola came from the Spanish word for the Native American people they found in this area in the 1500's when Panfilo de Narvaez and Hernando de Soto were stomping around.

Pensacola, Florida celebrated its 450th birthday in 2009.

Pensacola Harbor Scene

Tristan de Luna y Arellano came to Pensacola in 1559 with 1400 people on 11 ships to settle the area. A giant hurricane came along shortly after they landed and killed hundreds of people.

The Spanish decided not to settle northwest Florida for a while and abandoned the area for more than 100 years.

During its turbulent history, Pensacola has been governed under five flags:  Spain, France, Great Britain, the United States, and the Confederate States of America.

Pensacola Historic VillagePensacola Historic Village

Spain ceded Florida to the British in 1763, but Britain gave it back after the Revolutionary War. Finally Spain sold Florida to the United States and Pensacola was in the United States as of 1821.

Seville Quarter, PensacolaSeville Quarter, Pensacola

Settlers began to arrive from other states in the 1820s not long after Florida became a territory.

The economy of the area was based on plantation agriculture using enslaved labor for years before the Civil War,

Lumber and naval stores became an important industry because of the millions of acres of nearby forests.


As Florida's oldest city, the State of Florida has designated many heritage sites in the area.

  • Alger-Sullivan Lumber Company Residential Historic District
  • Barkley House
  • Barrancas National Cemetery
  • Big Lagoon State Park
  • British Fort of Pensacola
  • Charles William Jones House
  • Crystal Ice Co. Building
  • Dorr House
  • Escambia County Courthouse
  • Fort Barrancas Historical District
  • Fort George Site
  • Fort McRee
  • Fort Pickens
  • Fort San Carlos de Barrancas
  • Greater Mount Lily Baptist Church
  • Gulf Islands National Seashore
  • Historic Pensacola Village
  • Julee Cottage Museum
  • L & N Marine Terminal Building
  • L & N Passenger Terminal
  • Lavalle House
  • National Museum of Naval Aviation
  • North Hill Preservation District
  • Old Christ Church
  • Pensacola Historic District
  • Pensacola Historical Museum
  • Pensacola Hospital
  • Pensacola Lighthouse and Keepers Quarters
  • Pensacola Naval Air Station Historic District
  • Pensacola Resource Learning Center and Library
  • Pensacola Scenic Bluffs Scenic Highway
  • Perdido Key Historic District
  • Perdido Key State Park
  • Plaza Ferdinand VII
  • Saenger Theatre
  • St. Joseph's Church Buildings
  • St. Michael's Creole Benevolent Association Meeting Hall
  • The Empire Building
  • Thiesen Building
  • USS Massachusetts


Pensacola is not only a historic town, it is a military town as well.

Its strategic location on the northern coast of the Gulf of Mexico has helped make it an important military city.

Naval Air Station Pensacola and other military operations in the area are a key component of the town's culture and economy.

Locals refer to Pensacola as "The Cradle of Naval Aviation", since Naval Air Station Pensacola was the first naval aviation training base set up by the Navy in 1914.

Thousands of naval aviators got their training at NAS Pensacola, and the Navy's aerobatic squadron known as the Blue Angels is based in Pensacola.

U. S. Navy Blue AngelsU. S. Navy Blue Angels


The National Museum of Naval Aviation, 1750 Radford Blvd, Pensacola, FL 32508, (850) 452-8450, is a great place to visit on the base, and is free to the public. The museum is home to hundreds of historic and modern aircraft.

National Museum of Naval Aviation

Other interesting places to visit include historic Fort Barrancas (3182 Taylor Rd, Pensacola, FL 32508) and Fort Pickens (1400 Fort Pickens Rd, Pensacola Beach, FL 32561) where poor old Geronimo was held as a prisoner many years ago.

In addition to the military presence, Pensacola Florida has many annual art and music festivals, historic tours and ancient restored neighborhoods from the earliest days of its settlement.

Pensacola New World InnPensacola New World Inn

The Fiesta of Five Flags is held the first two weeks of June, and is a ten day event.  Each year the celebrations in a bit different.

The Pensacola Seafood Festival and the Pensacola Crawfish Festival are held each year at Seville Square in the heart of downtown.

The Great Gulfcoast Arts Festival is also held each year in November and attracts more than 200 artists.

Historic Pensacola Village
205 E Zaragoza St, Pensacola, FL 32502 | (850) 595-5993

This area encompasses several blocks of carefully preserved and restored buildings from Florida's past. Walking tours through the village offer a fascinating look at life in Pensacola from the colonial period through the early 20th century.

Each historic home and museum tells a unique story, with knowledgeable guides bringing the past to life. It's a captivating experience for anyone interested in the rich tapestry of Pensacola's heritage.

Pensacola Children's Museum
115 E Zaragoza St, Pensacola, FL 32502 | (850) 595-1559

This interactive museum is designed with young explorers in mind, offering hands-on exhibits that educate and entertain. Children can learn about local history, from the Native Americans who first inhabited the area to the settlers who built the community we know today.

The museum's play areas encourage imaginative play, making it a perfect spot for families with young children looking for a fun and engaging day out.

Saenger Theatre
118 S Palafox Pl, Pensacola, FL 32502 | (850) 595-3880

This historic theater, with its stunning architecture and elegant interior, offers a diverse lineup of performances, from Broadway shows and concerts to ballets and operas. The Saenger Theatre provides a magical setting that adds to the enjoyment of each performance, making it a cultural highlight of downtown Pensacola.

Whether you're a theater aficionado or just looking for a memorable night out, a visit to the Saenger Theatre promises an unforgettable experience.

Pensacola Lighthouse & Maritime Museum
2081 Radford Blvd, Pensacola, FL 32508 | (850) 393-1561

Climb the 177 steps to the top of the lighthouse for breathtaking panoramic views of the Gulf Coast and the Naval Air Station. The museum, housed in the keeper's quarters, delves into the history of the lighthouse and the maritime heritage of the Gulf Coast.

For those brave enough, the nighttime ghost tours offer a chilling look into the lighthouse's haunted past. It's an adventure for the whole family, combining history, scenery, and a touch of the supernatural.

Pensacola and St. Augustine continually compete for the title of most ancient city in America.

Pensacola is actually a tad older, but St. Augustine touts itself as being the oldest "continuously occupied" city in America.

Pensacola Beach is a short hop across the waterway and has some of the finest white sand beaches in Florida.

There are many attractions and small towns within 100 miles of Pensacola that are fun to visit on a day trip.



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