I ran into this mix of peaceful intimacy and full-on partying throughout my stay in Pensacola. My husband and I came here for our niece’s wedding and quickly succumbed to its eclecticism. Nestled on the western edge of the Florida Panhandle, Pensacola has a small-town feel. This is “Deep South” Florida, not spring-break-college-destination Florida. It’s a slower-paced alternative to a typical Florida winter retreat, with the overt friendliness of folks who like to live it up and want to share the fun. (Day drinkers, here’s your haven — some happy hours start at 11 a.m. or even earlier). Cheese grits are always an option.
We’re right in the center of everything this beachside town has to offer, within walking distance of the best restaurants and activities. When you stay with us, you’re just minutes away from a fresh fish dinner, parasailing adventure, shopping or spa treatments. We want to help you ‘live like a local,’ with recommendations for whatever suits your vacation or business needs.
As a community located on a low-lying barrier island, Pensacola Beach is vulnerable to hurricanes. Landfalling storms have been known to drive storm surge over the island, damaging or destroying man made structures and causing beach erosion. In 1995, two hurricanes made landfall on the island. Hurricane Erin made landfall in August while Hurricane Opal blasted the island just two months later, leveling some dunes and destroying a number of homes.
The petite, charming Quina House, built in 1820 or earlier, is the oldest house in Pensacola that’s still in its original location, now the heart of the 16Historic District 16Historic District Google Map: 204 S. Alcaniz St. Website: https://pensacolahistoricpreservationsociety.com/quinahouse 850-432-3050 . “It has 1820s air conditioning,” says Ed Muller, docent for the house, “a front door, back door and 12-foot ceilings.” Muller is a treasure trove of history; he will tell you how the Spanish landed in what is now Pensacola Bay six years before they established St. Augustine, on Florida’s Atlantic coast, which lays claim to being the nation’s oldest — but not first — city. That colony was the first to survive beyond a few weeks — in fact, it lasted about two years. Soon after the colonists arrived, a hurricane sank most of their ships and wiped out their provisions, including livestock. (Muller says it’s his belief that most of the settlers died because they didn’t eat oysters.) Eventually even the survivors who had hung on to the shrinking settlement vacated. Over the centuries, the French and Spanish tussled over the region. You can pick up some of those influences in the cottages of this pleasant district. Muller lives two blocks from the Quina House; he moved to Pensacola from New Jersey and says he’ll never leave. “Everyone comes to visit me,” he says, “and I don’t have to go anywhere for vacation.”
After getting settled at your accommodation of choice, you'll likely want to venture out and explore. If you can't wait to check out the beaches, head to Gulf Islands National Seashore or Bayview Beach Park for a relaxing day by the water. Experience the area's live music and biking trails, and make time for local attractions like Portofino Boardwalk and Pensacola Beach Pier. For more things to see and do, consider visiting Fort Pickens or Santa Rosa Island.
The best-known Pensacola culture site in terms of archeology is the Bottle Creek site, a large site located 59 miles (95 km) west of Pensacola north of Mobile, Alabama. This site has at least 18 large earthwork mounds, five of which are arranged around a central plaza. Its main occupation was from 1250 AD to 1550. It was a ceremonial center for the Pensacola people and a gateway to their society. This site would have had easy access by a dugout canoe, the main mode of transportation used by the Pensacola.