Pensacola, Florida is a busy seaport, situated on Pensacola Bay. A 95 kilometre (59 mile) beach oasis, with a variety of activities, it’s easy to find the best things to do, just for you. With this list, we’ll narrow it down a bit, to include all the activities that are great to explore when on a strict budget.
Here’s what Pensacola has on offer that is free and cheap - not to mention massive amounts of fun!
1. All aboard! Set sail towards the Naval Museum
Anchor’s aweigh as we head full steam onward, due course set towards the National Naval Aviation Museum! Here, visitors will be able to experience first-hand what it feels like when in a space designed entirely for the ‘preservation of the history and heritage of Naval Aviation’.
With over 150 immaculately restored aircraft, the museum features a variety of exciting machines from the Navy, the Coast Guard and Marine Corp, exhibited throughout 350,000 square feet (32,516.1 square metres) of museum, as well as an impressive 37 acres (15 hectares) of outdoor grounds.
Stop by the world’s largest naval aviation museum for a memorable day of edu-fun! The museum is open daily, between 9.00am and 5.00pm. And the best part of it all: admission is 100 percent, absolutely free!
Address: 1750 Radford Blvd, Pensacola, Florida
Website: Naval Museum
2. Palafox Market: Where open air meets baked goods, fine arts and so much more
A trip to Pensacola would be incomplete without a venture downtown on a Saturday morning (9.00am to 2.00pm) to Palafox Market. Do yourself a huge favour and make this particular experience a ‘must-do’, during your travels in P-cola. What began as a modest 5-month seasonal market, with 25 vendors, has grown exponentially to where it now open all year round, boasting over 85 weekly vendors.
With the market’s motto of: “Bringing you a variety of the best local goods”, expect to find all manners of wares and trinkets here - from fine art to fresh produce. Be it live plants, antiques or deliciously baked goods, Palafox Market is a plethora of treasures.
Address: Martin Luther King Park Palafox Street., Pensacola, Florida
Website: Palafox Market
3. Bands on the beach: Watch the waves while the music and the waves serenade you
Grab your lawn chairs and join us this evening at the Gulfside Pavilion for Bands on the Beach – tonite featuring Johnny Earthquake and the Moondogs from 7:00 pm - 9:00 pmPosted by Pensacola Beach, Florida on Tuesday, 5 July 2016
Located at the Gulf Pavilion, overlooking the Gulf of Mexico, you’ll be able to enjoy the soundscape of artists, performing at the weekly Bands on the Beach event, while seated on your deck chair, or beach blanket, on the white sands of Pensacola Beach.
Every Tuesday, between 7.00pm and 9.00pm, from the first Tuesday in April until the last Tuesday in October, Bands on the Beach showcases various artists in diverse musical genres and styles. This popular outdoor summer concert series is a great way to soak up some quality beach moments while feeling the sand between your beat-tapping toes.
Bands on the Beach
Address: Gulf Pavilion, Pensacola Beach, Pensacola, Florida
Facebook: Bands on the Beach
4. Bayview Park: Enjoy a picnic in the park
Time to break out the picnic basket, as we head on over to the next top pick: Bayview Park. Here you will be able to stretch out on the expansive lawn and enjoy a great time in the sunshine. When you feel the urge to stretch your legs, there are walking trails to get the blood flowing. This is a great place for dog owners, as there is an impressive dog park here, too. Spend some time letting your furry friend run around the park - while you get to barbecuing on the grills provided.
Bayview Park offers a great place for a family day of fun in the sun. There is also a boat launch spot, which only adds to the many features that this impressive park has on offer. Whether you find yourself enjoying the gazebo, the expanse of lawn, or minding your children as they play in the playground, you’re sure to have a great day when you spend it the Bayview way.
Address: 2001 E Lloyd St, Pensacola, FL 32503, USA
Facebook: Bayview Park
5. Pensacola Beach Eco-trail: Leave your footprints in the sand on the eco-trail
Take in the impressive views and explore the Pensacola Beach Eco-trail. This 8.5 miles (13.7 km) of natural surrounds, also known as ‘Footprints in the Sand Eco-trail’, is a great way to spend the day with the kids, or to get out and experience beach life. This fantastic eco-trail is great for learning all about the indigenous flora and fauna of the vicinity, not limited to but including turtles, tropical fish, dolphins, sharks, and birds.
Another great feature of this eco-trail is the fact that there are many regular spots where you’ll find QR codes (quick response codes) - which are designed to be scanned using your smartphone, to access more information about the area. If bird watching, walking trails, biking, hiking, running, swimming, snorkelling, and diving is what you would like to get into for your day - then Pensacola Beach Eco-trail is the one to try out, for sure.
Pensacola Beach Eco-trail
Address: Fort Pickens Rd, Pensacola Beach, FL 32562, United States
Facebook: Pensacola Beach Eco-trail
6. Historic Walking Tour: Discover the gems of yesteryear in the historic downtown district
Have you seen the Jacksonian Guard Colors Ceremony? Sponsored by Visit Pensacola and the UWF Historic Trust, the...Posted by Historic Pensacola on Friday, 16 June 2017
Experience downtown Pensacola, Florida, like you cannot anywhere else. The historic area of Pensacola is specifically designed to preserve and maintain the history of Pensacola, its inhabitants and ancestors. Make the most of exploring this special heritage conservation space by taking part in a Historic Walking Tour. The tours come in various packages:
There is the self-guided tour, where experienced guides will assist you in planning the best routes to take, to explore the historic district at your own leisure. There is also a guided tour, which lasts approximately 1-1.5 hours, and happens from Tuesday to Saturday, from 11.00am to 1.00pm. Themed tours are also available, Tuesday to Saturday, from 2.30pm. Visitors looking to experience this novelty tour are requested to meet at the Tivoli High House at 2.30pm sharp.
Another great feature to these Historic Tours is the Living History Program. This is a program where actors portray day-to-day living as it was, hundreds of years ago. A daily schedule is maintained Tuesday to Saturday and it is a great way to get a pseudo first-hand experience of how it was done, way back then.
Historic Walking Tour
Address: 330 S Jefferson St, Pensacola, FL 32502
Website: Historic Walking Tour
7. Blue Angels Air Show: Fly into great moments with Pensacola's finest
Pensacola is the home of the Blue Angels, also known as the U.S. Navy Flight Demonstration Squadron. For a perfectly symmetrical showcase of stellar airplane acrobatics and aeronautical prowess, the Blue Angels give a show-stopping performance. Colorful streamers, twists, turns and flips through the air are all part and parcel of the air show extravaganza that the Blue Angels have become synonymous with.
Important notes for all wanting to check out the Blue Angels in action are the following:
- People with sensitive hearing should bring along some form of hearing protection.
- Visitors older than 16 years old will need to produce a form of identification when attempting to access the museum flight line to view Blue Angel practice.
- Do not bring backpacks, daypacks, luggage, or similar items. They will NOT be allowed on the flight line during Blue Angel practice air shows.
Blue Angels Air Show
Address: 1750 Radford Blvd., NAS Pensacola, FL 32508
Website: Blue Angels Air Show
8. Gallery Night: Enjoy a night out dancing in the streets
Step out into the streets of Pensacola for a wonderful night of dancing in the streets with the Gallery Nights events. According to the website of the founders of Gallery Nights, their mission is to be: ‘an engaging cultural event that takes the “Arts to the Streets”, where visitors can connect with the unique Culture of Pensacola.’
This is a perfect mission statement, as it encapsulates what Gallery Nights are all about. Get to tapping those feet and shaking those hips, while hob knobbing with many like-minded revellers, as you dance the night away, street style.
Check out the Gallery Nights website or Facebook page to save the dates for the next Gallery Nights event. All events commence at 4.00pm until 8.00pm, for the milder kid-friendly performances, whereas the after-party continues from 8.00pm until midnight for the die-hard party goers.
Address: 43 S Palafox St, Pensacola, FL 32502
Website: Gallery Nights
9. Pensacola Lighthouse and Museum: A landmark to explore
Explore the famous Lighthouse and Museum of Pensacola, and experience vistas of Pensacola Beach unparalleled and unrivalled by any other vantage point. Climb the 177 steps to the top of the lighthouse and check out the impressive view of the Pensacola Pass (the point where Pensacola meets the Gulf of Mexico). Built in 1859, the lighthouse has been part of the Pensacola skyline for hundreds of years.
A visit to the lighthouse also means a visit to the newly restored keeper’s quarters, built in 1869, which is now known as the Richard C Callaway Museum. This is a great place to get in some edu-fun activities, on your day.
Admission is 7 USD for adults and 4 USD for kids, seniors and military. Operating hours are daily between 10.00am to 5.30pm.
Lighthouse and Museum of Pensacola
Address: 2081 Radford Blvd, Pensacola, FL 32508, USA
Website: Lighthouse and Museum of Pensacola
10. Fort Barrancas: Explore the hilltop fortress of days of old
Take some time out to explore the National Historic Landmark of Fort Barrancas. Built in 1839, this fortress was established as a historic landmark in 1960. This hilltop fort overlooks pristine Pensacola Bay and it is located within the Naval Air Station Pensacola, as the actual Navy base was built around the fort.
Operating hours are Thursday to Monday and it offers great hiking trails, that follow historic routes that were utilised by soldiers back in the day. Get yourself over to Fort Barrancas and enjoy educating yourself on events of yesteryear, while taking in the exquisite surrounds.
Address: 1801 Gulf Breeze Parkway, Gulf Breeze, FL 32563
Website: Fort Barrancas
11. Free to visit Destination Archaeology Resource Center
The Destination Archaeology Resource Center in Pensacola is small but packed full of interesting things. Be sure to take along the kids if they are into Dinos. The place is devoted to archaeological find and digs. Exhibits are interesting and well displayed. Some of them include old ships that sank in the area.
Hands-on activities include processing bags of artifacts in the lab, that were found at local sites. Situated next door to the Fish House, with easy parking in reach of the beach, be prepared for an absorbing visit. From there, the Historic Pensacola Village is just across the street.
Destination Archaeology Resource Center
Address: 207 E Main St, Pensacola, FL 32502-6034
12. Browse or buy local art at the Artworks Studio & Gallery
Browse the array of local art at the Artworks Studio & Gallery. There’s jewelry, pottery, canvas works and more on display. The quaint little shop has much to offer, even if you’re on a budget. Meet some artists and admire their work. It’s an ideal place to find some souvenirs and mementos of your vacation. You can even sign up for a painting class if you like the idea of learning. Take a break out of the hot sun, or spend an enjoyable time on a rainy day. If you take the art class, it’s more affordable than many beach activities.
Artworks Studio & Gallery
Address: 3700 Perdido Key Dr, Pensacola, FL 32507-7471
Website: Artworks Studio & Gallery
All in all Pensacola has what it takes
Never one to miss a beat, always jam-packed with fun times and laughter, this lovely lady, Pensacola, is a welcoming and gracious host. Expect to enjoy your vacation along the western expanse of the Florida panhandle, namely, Pensacola, as this is one coastline town that knows just how to treat its guests, giving them a good ol’ southern welcome, always. It’s easy to live your best life, when down south in Pensacola.
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