Keep reading to learn The Best of Pensacola Beach! Whatever your dream beach vacation looks like, Pensacola has it. Want a relaxing, low-key getaway in a quaint beach bungalow? Want a sport fishing, parasailing or scuba diving adventure? Or how about luxurious spa treatments, fine dining and shopping? Or nature trails, dolphins and shorebirds? Whatever you want on your vacation, Pensacola has just what you’re looking for when it comes to the perfect place to vacation! The Pensacola Bay Area offers big family fun with attractions and activities of every kind, and I could go on and on with a list of activities. Let’s not forget the beaches. Swimming in gentle surf, building castles on the sand and fresh seafood lunch in a casual waterfront restaurant add up to quiet, connected time together with your family or partner. Add in a reasonable price tag, and everyone is happy. Come to the Pensacola Bay Area and discover why it’s called one of the top family-friendly destinations. Visit the area beaches in Pensacola and along the Emerald Coast or visit us on Pinterest Here.
Pensacola Weather – When to Visit
The best time to visit Pensacola is between mid-September and October when both spring breakers and family vacationers have departed the city, leaving the beaches, attractions and restaurants devoid of peak season crowds. The weather is still moderate this time of year, and the risk of hurricanes wanes, too. The late fall and winter months of November through February are considered low season, with dropping temperatures and room rates. Heavy crowds of students and families swarm the city and its beaches in peak season’s early spring and summer to take advantage of the prime beach weather.
Best Pensacola Area Beaches
Pensacola Beach occupies nearly eight miles of the 40-mile-long Santa Rosa barrier island. You can swim, fish, kayak and play at one of two area beach parks: Casino Beach and Quietwater Beach. Lively Casino Beach is considered the geographic center of the area, while Quietwater Beach is closer to the commercial center and features its own boardwalk and concert area. There is also plenty of access to quiet areas of the beach where you can avoid the crowds.
Gulf Islands National Seashore
The Gulf Islands National Seashore encompasses several beaches, picnic areas, campsites, historic areas and diverse wildlife from Florida’s border to the eastern tip of Santa Rosa Island. Eighty percent of the protected area actually lies under water. There are snowy-white beaches, sparkling blue waters, fertile coastal marshes, and dense maritime forests. Visitors can explore 19th century forts, enjoy shaded picnic areas, hike on winding nature trails, and camp in comfortable campgrounds.
Perdido Key Beach
Perdido Beach is a hidden retreat where you can fish, sunbathe, swim, surf or simply relax along the award-winning beaches in Pensacola, FL and protected dunes. Half of the island is occupied by Johnson Beach and Fort McRae. Ruins of Batteries 233, Center and Slemmer remain atop what is left of Fort McRae, built in 1836.
Big Lagoon State Park
705-acre Big Lagoon State Park is another sanctuary for hiking, boating, swimming, fishing and camping. A 40-foot observation tower at the East Beach area provides a panoramic view of Big Lagoon, the park and Gulf Islands National Seashore across the Intracoastal Waterway.
Fort Pickens offers a secluded, pristine beach as well as a little bit of history thanks to the fort, which was one of four local forts (including one underwater) built between the 1820s and the beginning of the Civil War to protect Pensacola Bay. The park also includes a museum, campgrounds, boardwalks and facilities.
Best Pensacola Restaurants
The Native Café $11 – 30
Native Café is a place to taste all the flavors that the Gulf Coast has to offer. It is known to the locals as being the best breakfast restaurant on Pensacola Beach. Tantalize your taste buds with their hearty homemade breakfast, sensational southern-style sandwiches, and Gulf seafood. You must try their signature dish, The Original Florida Fish Tacos, which has gained praise from local and distant communities as among the best anywhere. Telephone: 850-934-4848 Web: The Native Café.
The Grand Marlin Pensacola $31 – 60
The Grand Marlin offers a tranquil, relaxed atmosphere where patrons can enjoy the most memorable dining experience on the Gulf Coast. They have the area’s best selection of seafood, highlighted by daily specials from the kitchen of prize-winning Chef Gregg McCarthy. Printing its menu daily, The Grand Marlin ensures its choice of fish and shellfish will be the freshest on the Gulf Coast. And for those in the mood for something other than seafood, they offer steaks, poultry dishes and other fare to meet your every taste. They also have the area’s best-stocked, most tempting oyster bar where the finest oysters are shucked to order. It’s a perfect place for a quick lunch, to meet friends for their daily Happy Hour or to sample the specialty baked oysters. Telephone: 850-677-9153 Web: The Grand Marlin Pensacola.
Restaurant IRON $31 – 60
Restaurant IRON serves southern contemporary cuisine fueled by local vegetables and herbs from the creative minds of true Southerners. They bring together fresh local and regional specialties with the finest flavors and ingredients across the nation and beyond. Telephone: 850-476-7776 Web: Restaurant IRON.
Global Grill $31 – 60
Global Grill is an upscale tapas bar and restaurant in Downtown Pensacola. Executive Chef Frank and his wife, Jane, serve up the tapas style of dining. The Global Grill offers unique culinary creations combined with Mediterranean, European, Asian and American influences. The Global Grill takes pride in using the freshest local seasonal seafood and produce to create innovative and exciting tapas and main plates. Telephone: 850-469-9966 Web: Global Grill.
Jackson’s Steakhouse $31 – 60
Jackson’s Steakhouse is the cornerstone of Pensacola’s restaurant scene. They use only the freshest local and seasonal ingredients possible, and pair them with Midwestern wet-aged beef that has been selected by hand, and the best game meats available. The team at Jackson’s continually strives to provide an unparalleled food and wine experience for every guest, every night. Telephone: 850-469-9898 Web: Jackson’s Steakhouse.
Best Pensacola Bars & Nightlife
Casino Beach Bar & Grill
Casino Beach Bar and Grille is known for its beachfront dining featuring fresh island cocktails, quality coastal cuisine, and picturesque views. Go on over and check out their weekly drink specials, happy hour and special events featuring live music. Telephone: 850-426-4283 Web: Casino Beach Bar & Grill.
The Shaka Bar is tucked away behind Aloha Wine & Liquor on Pensacola Beach. This little Tiki Bar is home to fishermen, surfers and friends of the Aloha Family. There is a casual outside deck bar overlooking Little Sabine Bay that is open March thru October. The small bar upstairs is open year round. Telephone: 850-932-2411 Web: Shaka Bar
Peg Leg Pete’s Oyster Bar
Peg Leg Pete’s sells only oysters, shrimp and a few sandwiches. There is always a great selection on the jukebox or a talented musician on the stage in the dining room. Peg Leg Pete’s is one of the hot spots on Pensacola Beach. Locals loved the year round great prices. Tourists are treated as if they were a local. Peg Leg Pete’s represented Pensacola Beach hospitality at its best! Telephone: 850-932-4139 Web: Peg Leg Pete’s Oyster Bar.
Paradise Bar & Grill
Paradise Bar & Grill on Pensacola Beach invites you to “boat it, bike it or walk it” to the hottest spot on the island. On any given night you may be treated to national touring bands or one of the best local entertainers. Sip a cocktail and enjoy the view while the grill prepares one of its famous burgers, sandwiches or seafood dishes. Telephone: 850-916-5087 Web: Paradise Bar & Grill.
The Wine Bar & Bistro
They have the best by the glass wine list in the area, there are always 30 or more wines offered by the glass. Regular wine tasting every Friday beginning at 5:30; for only $5, sample six fantastic wines and then receive $5 off any bottle to go. This is a very cozy environment where you can relax, take your time and enjoy. Telephone: 850-916-1009 Web: Wine Bar & Bistro.