Pensacola and several surrounding areas were devastated by Hurricane Ivan. Pensacola was on the eastern side of the eyewall, which sent a large storm surge into Escambia Bay; this destroyed most of the I-10 Escambia Bay Bridge. The storm knocked 58 spans off the eastbound and westbound bridges and misaligned another 66 spans, forcing the bridge to close to traffic in both directions. The surge also destroyed the fishing bridge that spanned Pensacola Bay alongside the Phillip Beale Memorial Bridge, locally known as the Three Mile Bridge.
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Pensacola Beach outlines the Santa Rosa barrier island and offers visitors two very different beach experiences. On the Gulf side, visitors are treated to unparalleled Gulf Coast views, as well as a powdery white shoreline and emerald waters. The soft sands that ribbon the Santa Rosa Sound side of the island are popular among families since they offer gentle waves and access to a boardwalk filled with fun shops and restaurants.
“You turn the lights on, and they come every which way, like roaches,” says Renee Mack, speaking with crusty affection of her customers at 6Paradise Bar & Grill 6Paradise Bar and Grill Google Map: 21 Via De Luna Website: http://www.paradisebar-grill.com/ 850-916-5087 . “They come by boat, by foot, by golf cart, by Jet Ski.” Paradise is an authentic little hideaway on the bay side of Pensacola Beach, a restaurant, bar and vintage motel. You can swim up if you like. Bring a wet dog. Hang up your own hammock or lounge at one of the picnic tables under an umbrella. Paradise has an old-Florida feel. There’s no view of the high-rises, just a good look at that gentle bay surf. Evenings, locals gather to hear a live band and dance in the sand of the private beach. Mack moved to Pensacola in 1984 from New Orleans and brought some Big Easy traditions with her, such as a penchant for the blues and oyster po’ boys, featured on the menu. Her biggest seller is Renee’s Shrimp Salad, from her grandmother’s recipe, made with fresh, wild-caught Gulf shrimp. It’s kicky Cajun flavor comes from fresh herbs. The special sauce in her bushwackers? “We put in a lot of liquor — a lot of rum. And real soft-serve ice cream — none of that powdered stuff.” Mack, as you might gather, likes to keep things simple. Bad weather gets a shrug. “We roll,” she says. “We don’t close down.”
10Waterboyz 10Waterboyz Google Map: 380 N. 9th Ave. Website: https://www.visitpensacola.com/listing/waterboyz-skate-park/1607/ 850-433-2929 isn’t just a surf shop; it’s a community hub. When owner Sean Fell moved from selling surfboards out of his garage to a retail space, he knew he needed something special to compete against the Internet. Along with the surfboards, rash-guard shirts, sunscreen, hats, sandals and any surfing supplies a beach-bound body could desire, he added an indoor skate park. Then the recession hit, followed by the BP oil spill, and as business began to slide, Fell came up with another idea: a cafe “to go along with our scene,” he says. “We base it off food that we ate on surf trips to Central America and Hawaii — fresh and healthy, no fries.” Among Cafe Single Fin’s offerings are Sunzal chicken tacos, named for the famed El Salvador wave, and the Pavones acai bowl, after the Costa Rican surf spot.
The region's warm climate and desirable setting isn't the only reason people choose to live in Pensacola. The military has a relatively small, though very significant, presence here. The Naval Air Station Pensacola was the first of its kind commissioned by the U.S. Navy, and its job prospects draw military families. Residents also find employment in the health care, manufacturing and, of course, tourism sectors.
Keep in mind that although the entire island's beaches are known as Pensacola Beach, there are also names for the smaller strips of sand therein. For instance, Quietwater Beach is located on the sound side, stretching from the Portofino Boardwalk to the Pensacola Beach bridge tollbooth, and it's very family-friendly with its lifeguard protection and its "quiet waters." Casino Beach is located on the Gulf and has a host of amenities, including restrooms, changing rooms, lifeguards, a fishing pier and more. You'll find this beach just south of the intersection of Via de Luna and Fort Pickens Road.
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Pensacola (/ˌpɛnsəˈkoʊlə/) is the westernmost city in the Florida Panhandle, approximately 13 miles (21 km) from the border with Alabama, and the county seat of Escambia County, in the U.S. state of Florida. As of the 2010 census, the city had a total population of 51,923, down from 56,255 at the 2000 census. Pensacola is the principal city of the Pensacola metropolitan area, which had an estimated 461,227 residents in 2012.