So last week we were in Pensacola, FL to put my sweet Grandpa to rest. It was such a hard trip but with the kids in tow we needed to make it somewhat fun for them while still honoring Great Grandpa. Throughout our whole trip we did little things to remember him…like ordering his favorite soup at his favorite restaurant, McGuire’s, and talking about him with the kids. Grandpa loved Pensacola and Gulf Breeze and I hope this little guide would serve him proud.
Heading to Florida is heading home for me as I was born in Pensacola…my parents are high school sweethearts from the city right across the bridge…in Gulf Breeze, which is actually where Pensacola Beach is. Makes no damn sense to me either.
As an Army brat, Pensacola served as our home base when we were living all over the world and is actually where I went to college at the University of West Florida. Suffice it to say, I know the city pretty well and think if anyone is looking for a beach vacation with an awesome downtown to enjoy, P’cola is the place to go!
WHERE TO STAY
Of course, staying at the beach is an excellent option but I ain’t gonna lie to you. You are going to pay more and if you are going during the spring/summer you are going to deal with some pretty hellacious traffic. So that being said, I like staying downtown.
For this visit we stayed at The Penscaola Grand Hotel and couldn’t have loved more. We paid right around $100/night for a two queen bed room, which included WiFi, a rooftop pool and a gym. They also offered room service and a couple of in house bars and restaurants. One of the things we loved most was that the hotel is built right on top of an old train stop so the decor is awesome! Original tile floors and beautiful, vintage decor throughout.
WHAT TO DO
If you are in Pensacola for the weekend, the Palafox Market is a great place to start your Saturday. The size of the market rivals some of the big East Coast markets and is full of all kind of goodies and live music.
If you’ve got kids with you or a kid at heart, the MESS Hall is an awesome interactive kids museum we just loved! And bonus for you Huntsville parents, members of the Space & Rocket Museum get in for free!
The Blue Wahoos are an awesome AA team and we loved catching a game at this new, state-of-the-art park! Heads up, these games sell out so if you plan on going you’d be wise to purchase tickets online to save yourself the queue and some peace of mind.
Pensacola Beach is of course a great place to go and you will be amazed at the beautiful white, sandy beaches. While us natives may complain about the traffic and tourists, I still feel that Pensacola is a bit of a well kept secret. When you visit the beach, you can visit the Gulf of Mexico side where you’ll catch some waves and where most of the sun bathing takes place. I like hanging out on the Sound side which is where the Boardwalk is and the water is a little bit more calm.
Can’t forget that Pensacola is home to the Blue Angels …the most amazing pilots putting on the most amazing air show! If you can schedule your visit around a time they are in town, you can’t beat the show they put on from the beach.
There are lots of cute shops and so many places to eat, so without further ado…
WHERE TO EAT
On the beach, my favorite place to eat is Flounder’s. Man, I love this place. It is right on the beach so you can literally eat on the beach or sit on the open patio when the weather is less than optimal. If you are sitting near or on the beach, there is a great playground for your kiddos to burn off some energy while your food is being cooked which is just so awesome. There is also usually some live music going on and more often than not, people playing beach volleyball and grabbing a drink at the bar. They also have a bomb Sunday brunch. My all time favorite thing to order is the Shrimp Boat with Key Lime Pie for dessert, which is seriously enough to feed the whole family!
Back over the bridge, you have Food Trucks galore right in the heart of downtown and you can’t go wrong with any of them. It’s a perfect evening when you hit up the trucks and then stop by the Pensacola Museum of Art or catch a Broadway show at the Saenger.
If you’re heading uptown my FAVORITE place to go is New Yorker Deli. It is unassuming and just delicious! My love for this place runs so deep that my husband almost proposed to me here back when we lived in Pensacola!
The pizza is amazing and fresh and rivals the many pies I have had in New York. Their deli fare is of course amazing and you will love the 3 Salad Plate where you can choose three of your favorite chicken salads. Gah! So good.
If you are looking to take a nice beach vacation, or explore a new downtown, I highly recommend heading down to Pensacola! Any questions, please email me!