The Best of Pensacola
Pensacola, FL became our home-away-from-home for almost two months as we were prepping our boat for blue water crossings. We stumbled upon this quaint town by chance, and quickly fell in love. Pensacola is rich in civil war history and known as “The Cradle of Naval Aviation" since it's such a large military town. Pensacola's lively downtown is full of art galleries, boutiques, hip bars and breweries and offers a variety of casual and fine dining experiences. We were seriously blown away by how active and fun this little town was!
Incase you ever find yourself visiting Pensacola, we put together a list of our top places to visit.
1. Dharma Blue
Sushi lovers unite! This upscale yet quaint sushi joint is located in the heart of historic downtown Pensacola in a remodeled colonial home. It offers a wide variety of seafood and sushi options and unique cocktails. Our favorite part was the outdoor seating. We highly recommend grabbing a cocktail and sushi roll under the white string lights while watching the foot traffic go by.
As always, I’m on the lookout for the best coffee joint in town and I found that to be Constant Coffee. If you’re looking for a quality pour over with a hipster vibe, Constant Coffee is your jam.
Offering great microbrews and an equally as awesome environment. The Pensacola Bay Brewery is also located in the heart of historic Pensacola. We spent plenty of time on their large outdoor patio admiring the picturesque 1832 Old Christ Church across the street. This brewery offers a relaxed, at home, front porch vibe. My favorite brew they had on tap at the time was the Vanilla Pumpkin Porter. Something to keep in mind if you visit is that they only accept cash!
On our last day in Pensacola this new brewery opened so we had to check it out and we were hard pressed to stay another week just so we could sample all six of their brews on tap! The environment in Perfect Plain is very open with an urban industrial vibe. I can see this becoming a very popular spot with the younger crowd. The night we visited there was a live mural paining taking place inside by Daniela de Castro Sucre and delicious food trucks parked just outside.
5. Taco Aguave
Tye and I literally ate here four times a week during our first month in Pensacola. They offer a great Taco Tuesday deal - half price tacos! I also grew very fond of their cucumber cilantro margaita…need I say more? Street presence, drinks and food - two thumbs up!
So stinking cute! This part of Pensacola quickly became part of my daily running route. The Pensacola Bay settlement was the first European settlement in the New World and the history is rich. Cobblestone streets and restored fort homes will take you back in time.
What a hidden gem. I stumbled upon this vegan cafe on the East Hill during our stay in an AirBNB. It’s a little off the beaten path but if you’re looking for a unique, healthy vegan menu, this place is great. I was also pleased to find they have tasty drip coffee! They have an awesome beer selection with a backyard patio and live music on certain evenings and they periodically offer cooking classes!
Powdered sugar sand, turquoise water and the casual sighting of a U.S. Marine, what more can you ask for? Pensacola Beach has everything you could ever want in a beach destination. We visited one afternoon and enjoyed cocktails at The Dock which is a popular open bar in the area. The Pensacola Pier is also a beautiful destination to visit but they do charge an admittance fee to walk out on the pier, so we opted to admire the architecture under the pier (we're on a budget). :)
9. Foo Foo Fest
Each November the city of Pensacola puts on the Foo Foo Festival which offers 12 days of unique artistic shows and events. Including Naval air shows, ballets, operas, culinary events, songwriter showcases, concerts and many more cultural events. This year’s big attraction was Pensacola’s Umbrella Sky! The Umbrella Sky Projects started in 2012 when Sextafeira Produções designed and installed the first Umbrella Sky Project in Agueda, Portugal. Thousands of suspended colorful umbrellas floated over the city’s streets to form an awe-inspiring art-installation. Since it’s debut, the Umbrella Sky Project has gained critical acclaim worldwide and Pensacola was lucky enough to be the second U.S. city to be decorated with the Umbrella Sky!
If you’re looking for a great running route (like I usually am), I suggest making your way through the old homes of the East Hill and looping through Bayview Park. You’ll be entertained by the winding trail that leads you through beautiful homes, tennis courts and dog parks right along the waterway.
Give me a mimosa and a bakery full of too-pretty-to-eat desserts and I’m one giddy girl. That’s what you’ll find at George’s. Along with a full menu that offers lots of avocado dishes (always a favorite) and healthy concoctions to offset all the bakery goods you’ll go home with. I’d definitely give the cucumber mimosa a try if you’re looking for something different!
Situated at the end of the downtown, Palafox Pier offers a beautiful view of Pensacola Bay and if you think sailboats are as romantic as we do, you'll love to gaze out at the towering masts while enjoying the sunset.
Conveniently located on Palafox Street in downtown Pensacoal, Foskos offers pretty decent coffee but even better crepes. From savory to sweet, they have it all, and they’re large portions! This spot is popular for the students in the area so don’t be surprised if it’s hard to find a spot!
14. Al Fresco
If you’re airstream obsessed, you’ll want to make sure you stop by Al Fresco in Pensacola. This fun urban dining spot offers five different restaurant options that are based out of remodeled airstreams. You can enjoy your food or cocktail under palm trees in the outdoor seating area right off downtown Pensacola!
We so regret not going here more often! I mean wine is always a good idea right? And if there was ever a happy hour to brag about, this is it. They offer half off wines from 11am-6pm everyday! Too good to be true, right? This place also offers a unique outdoor dining experience under a brick walkway.
16. The Blue Angels
Pensacola is home to the Blue Angels U.S. Navy Flight Demonstration Squadron. We spotted them weekly wether they were performing in an air show or flying high at practice and it NEVER got old. I can’t get over the fact that they fly at 700 mph only 18 inches apart in perfect unison while maneuvering a 40 lb. joystick. We were fortunate enough to see their final performance of the season while we were anchored out at Spanish Point, a perfect spot to watch the show!
17. Gallery Night
One Friday each month downtown Pensacola comes alive for Gallery Night! Palafox Street is shut down to traffic and the galleries, boutiques, restaurants and bars open their doors as craft vendors, live musicians, locals and visitors flood the streets. We were amazed at the crowds this festival draws each month! If you’re looking for local culture you’ll find it here!
18. Palafox Market
Again, so many fun vendors offering local food and art! You’ll find a larger selection of vendors at the Palafox Market, everything from homemade dog treats and locally grown produce, to popsicles and local photography. Tye and I fell in love with the Alligator chips and guacamole booth! Check them out!
These are just a few of our favorite things in Pensacola but it has SO much more to offer that we were unfortunately unable to experience. We've also heard great things about the National Naval Aviation Museum, Pensacola Lighthouse and Fort Barrancas, all of which made our honorable mention list.
We hope you enjoy Pensacola just as much as we did! Cheers!