If you’re looking for great vacation destinations, it’s hard to top Pensacola.
Not only is it filled with picturesque beaches and resorts, but it also has a rich local culture that can be seen in everything from its art galleries to its historic colonial houses.
Before you hop on a plane, however, you should plan out your vacation to Pensacola.
It has so many things to see and do that you’ll definitely need a schedule if you want to knock all of the best attractions off your bucket list.
Grab your swimsuit. Slather on the sunscreen. It’s time to look at the most awesome things to do in Pensacola, Florida.
Things To Do In Pensacola
1. Gulf Islands National Seashore
If you’re planning a trip to Florida, you’re probably dreaming of the beach.
Gulf Islands National Seashore will put white sand beneath your feet and a pink umbrella drink between your fingers.
Stretching for thousands of miles across the coast, the Gulf Islands National Seashore is famous for its pristine beaches.
The sand is a sparkling white quartz; the water comes in a dozen shades of turquoise.
Colorful fish dart in and out of coral. Puffy clouds drift across the sky.
As for activities, you’ll have your choice of things like swimming, surfing, snorkeling and suntanning.
You can spread out a towel and read a good book; you can strap on some scuba-diving gear and explore the remains of a sunken battleship.
You get to control your own experience at this tropical paradise.
If you’re looking for the best places to go in Pensacola, you won’t want to miss the Gulf Islands National Seashore.
It’s beautiful; it’s exotic; it’s filled with fun, free things to do.
What else can you ask for in a beach?
Address: 1801 Gulf Breeze Pkwy, Gulf Breeze, FL 32563, USA
2. Palafox Street
Palafox Street is sometimes called the “artery” of downtown Pensacola because it connects so many of the city’s shops, restaurants, galleries, markets and coffeehouses.
It’s one of those bustling tourist attractions where there’s always something new and exciting to try.
Are you hungry?
Try some fresh scones at a Palafox bakery, or enjoy soups and sandwiches at an outdoor cafe where you can sit under an umbrella and watch the shoppers stroll by.
Is your money burning a hole in your pocket?
Explore the high-end boutiques and jewelers of Palafox’s north end, or wait until the weekend for the Palafox Farmer’s Market to take over the street and fill it with food, arts, crafts and plants.
Palafox Street is one of the best places to visit when you’re in or near Pensacola.
Follow the smell of baked bread and fresh flowers until you’re in this amazing architectural artery!
3. Urban Swinery
If you like pork, you’ll die and go to heaven at the Urban Swinery.
The pig reigns supreme here, and it’s served in all kinds of chops, tenderloins, pot pies, barbecue platters and pulled pork sandwiches.
You’ll also dig the atmosphere of the Urban Swinery.
It’s a down-home restaurant in a red brick building where they cut, cure and smoke their meats by hand, so it has a very authentic vibe.
There are no white tablecloths to be seen; it’s all grit, bone and barbecue sauce.
If you’re looking for the best things to see in Pensacola, look no further than the Urban Swinery.
It might not have the majesty of a mountain, but when your stomach’s rumbling during your Florida vacation, it’s the tastiest place to refuel.
Address: 19 Palafox Pl, Pensacola, FL 32502, USA
4. Admiral Fetterman Field
Take yourself out to a ball game at Admiral Fetterman Field.
Facing the beautiful Pensacola Bay, it’s a multi-use complex that contains a stadium, amphitheater and waterfront park, so there’s always something fun going on!
Most people know the field because it’s the home of the Pensacola Blue Wahoos, the city’s beloved baseball team.
You can grab some popcorn, slip behind home plate and cheer for the Wahoos like a native resident.
You can also participate in events that are organized and hosted by the city of Pensacola.
For example, they have kids’ baseball clubs where the little ones can meet their favorite players or learn about the history of the game.
It isn’t a bad way to deepen their knowledge of this classic Florida past time.
You can also attend other events at Admiral Fetterman Field.
Catch a concert; shake your fist at a political rally; get your face painted at a summer festival. Wander the grounds. Take in the ocean.
The sky is the limit at Admiral Fetterman Field, and it’s always a dazzling blue.
Address: 351 W Cedar St, Pensacola, FL 32502, USA
5. Seville Quarter
Seville Quarter is a house that never sleeps.
Located in downtown Pensacola, it’s a lively mix of bar, club and dance hall, and its eclectic energy makes it one of the premier nightlife destinations of the city.
Seven bars are housed in the building, and they all offer something different.
One room has a pool table. Another has a karaoke machine.
There are dance floors, dueling pianos, pub quizzes, jazz shows, guitar lessons and more restaurants that you can visit in a single trip.
Another great thing about Seville Quarter is that its exterior is just as exciting as its interior.
A courtyard is open for drinking and dancing, and an outdoor concert stage is always ready for live music.
Pensacola has lots of up-and-coming musicians, and they come to Seville Quarter to showcase their stuff!
Seville Quarter is one of the best places to visit when you’re in Pensacola.
It’s almost like stepping into a Mardi Gras village in the middle of Florida, but you can find all of your favorite night time adventures under a single roof.
It’s definitely one of the top attractions of Pensacola.
Address: 130 E Government St, Pensacola, FL 32502, USA
6. 5 Flags Speedway
If you’re feeling fast and furious, you’ll love the 5 Flags Speedway.
It was constructed with an abrasive, highly banked surface that makes it one of the fastest tracks in the entire state of Florida, and spectators come from all around the world to see drivers test their limits on its half-mile.
The official season of the speedway is from March to October, so you’ll want to plan your trip in this window to catch the biweekly races.
However, they also host the famous Snowball Derby in December if you’re looking for winter activities in Pensacola.
Snacks are sold at the concession stand.
A nearby campground is available if you’re traveling to Pensacola by RV.
Some hotels will even offer discounts if you’re coming to the area for special NASCAR events.
Park yourself at the 5 Flags Speedway if you want to enjoy high-octane entertainment in Florida.
The only thing louder than the engines is the roar of the crowd, so it’s a great Pensacola attraction if you’re looking for thrills!
Address: 7451 Pine Forest Rd, Pensacola, FL 32526, USA
7. Pensacola Historic District
Step back into another century with the Pensacola Historic District.
It’s filled with the kind of quaint, charming buildings that you wouldn’t expect to see outside of a colonial reenactment, but these churches and cottages are entirely real.
They’ve just been frozen in time.
The Tivoli High House is where you’ll get started.
It functions as an old-fashioned, two-story visitor’s center where you can buy tickets and get information on Pensacola.
Once you’re set, you can hit up attractions like Weaver’s Cottage, Old Christ Church and the Lavalle House.
You can also find the T.T. Wentworth Jr. Florida State Museum that was built in Alamo mission style.
No matter where you’re coming from, the Pensacola Historic District is one of the most fun things to do in Pensacola.
It will teach you a lot about the heritage of the city while allowing you to explore the real-life landmarks that put it on the map.
It’ll be the highlight of any Florida vacation!
8. Gulf Breeze Zoo
Located a few miles south of Pensacola, the Gulf Breeze Zoo is home to dozens of species and hundreds of animals.
From white rhinos to black spider monkeys, it boasts an impressive collection of rare and exotic creatures.
There are a few different ways to interact with the residents of the Gulf Breeze Zoo.
The simplest is to walk along the raised boardwalks that let you see right into the animal habitats, but if you’d prefer a more hands-on experience, you can also visit the interactive feeding areas.
If you’ve ever wanted to help a giraffe munch on some grass, this is your chance!
Other attractions of the Gulf Breeze Zoo include a petting zoo, a walk-through parakeet house and a locomotive train that will zip you across the grounds.
It’s a fun destination from the second that you walk through the gates until the moment that you leave.
Put a little extra gas in the car and stop by the Gulf Breeze Zoo during your Pensacola vacation.
It’s worth the slight trip outside of the city!
Address: 5701 Gulf Breeze Pkwy, Gulf Breeze, FL 32563, USA
9. Pensacola Beach
Though “Pensacola” and “Pensacola Beach” are often used as interchangeable terms, Pensacola Beach is actually an independent community.
It’s also a great place to visit if you’re looking for fun activities in Florida!
What can you do in Pensacola Beach?
It depends on the vacation that you want to have:
If you want the typical tourist experience, you can find all kinds of shops, malls, restaurants and nightclubs along the boardwalk.
If you’re into sightseeing, you might enjoy the nature trails or “novelty houses.”
The latter is a whole series of bizarre homes that are shaped like archaic domes and futuristic spaceships.
If you’re looking to get a little wet, try one of the many beaches that are stocked to the brim with things like snack bars and volleyball stations.
There’s no limit to Pensacola Beach attractions, so it’s just a matter of narrowing down your options during your limited time there. Good luck!
10. Bay Bluffs Park
Are you looking for romantic things to do in Pensacola?
Take a stroll down Bay Bluffs Park.
It’s a secret getaway where you can escape the lights and cars of the city and enjoy a beautiful, peaceful walk with your favorite person in the world.
You’ll need to be moderately fit to get the full experience of Bay Buffs Park.
The trail leads up and down a series of grassy hills and mangroves until you break through the trees and hit an open view of the beach, so you’ll need some stamina to walk the full mile.
The good news is that the trail offers a ridiculously romantic atmosphere while you’re making your way to the water.
The wooden staircases are cozy and charming, and the shaded tree canopies will hang over you and shield you from the outside world.
You and your lover will be in your own little universe.
Talk a walk to Bay Bluffs Park if you’re looking for anniversary or honeymoon destinations in Pensacola.
If you haven’t proposed yet, you might even find it a great place to get on one knee.
Address: 3400 Scenic Hwy, Pensacola, FL 32503, USA
11. Fort Barrancas
Originally constructed in the 17th century, Fort Barrancas has a bloody history filled with everything from sieges to wartime takeovers.
It’s been controlled by Spain, Britain and America at various points throughout history.
It’s even been completely demolished and rebuilt!
Today, Fort Barrancas stands as a testament to the power of the U.S. military.
The Naval Air Station of Pensacola was built around it, and it’s been declared a National Historic Landmark for its role in defending the Florida coast throughout the centuries.
Visitors to Fort Barrancas can take a tour throughout its stone walls and steep staircases.
It’s located in a prime observational spot on top of a large hill, and it connects to a sea-level battery artillery that has been carefully preserved throughout the years.
You’ll have to cross a drawbridge to both enter and exit the fort.
If you’re wondering what to do near and around this area of Florida, you should definitely stop by Fort Barrancas.
There’s a lot to learn from its fierce history even if you aren’t a military buff!
Address: 3182 Taylor Rd, Pensacola, FL 32508, USA
12. Sam’s Fun City
Maybe you want to drop the bottom out of your stomach with a frog hopper or tilt-a-whirl.
Maybe you want to rack up a pile of tickets with the booth and arcade games.
Maybe you just want to play some laser tag!
Whatever amusements you’re seeking, you can find them at Sam’s Fun City.
It’s an amazing complex filled with rides, games, water slides, bumper boats, go-karts and mini-golf courses, so it can provide all-day entertainment for the whole family.
If you want to test the limits of gravity, strap into the swings or balloon launchers.
If you need something more sedate for the kids, hit the indoor playground with its comfortable climbing structures.
Sam’s Fun City lives up to its name by being one of the most fun destinations in Pensacola.
It might even be one of the coolest places in all of Florida, especially if you’re a connoisseur of laser tag.
Slap on your wristband and get to playing!
Address: 6709 Pensacola Blvd, Pensacola, FL 32505, USA
13. Big Lagoon State Park
It stretches for more than 700 acres along the Florida coast, and it offers breathtaking views with an amazing amount of biodiversity.
Sunny beaches turn into spooky groves; saltwater marshes give way to pine flatwoods.
Your eyes will never run out of new things to see.
Your family will never run out of new things to do, either.
Big Lagoon State Park offers a wide range of outdoor activities for nature lovers, including swimming, hiking, camping, kayaking, fishing and picnicking.
You can enjoy a leisurely afternoon on a birdwatching trail; you can get your adrenaline pumping with jet-skiing excursions on the water.
The Big Lagoon State Park is easily one of the best things to do in Pensacola.
Not only is it filled with wonderful sights, but it will let you pick and choose the way that you spend your time outdoors.
It can be as relaxing or as exhilarating as you’d like.
In Pensacola, you get to decide!
Address: 12301 Gulf Beach Hwy, Pensacola, FL 32507, USA
14. O’Zone Pizza Pub
Located a little outside of downtown Pensacola, O’Zone Pizza Pub is one of the best-kept secrets of the locals.
As long as you don’t act like a tourist, however, you should be able to slip in and enjoy their mouthwatering menu!
Their specialty is homemade pizzas that they make from scratch.
From the self-explanatory “Carnivore” to the strange-but-tasty “Ponderosa Stomp” that combines cream cheese and jalapenos, you can find all kinds of delicious pies here.
They also serve a variety of craft beers to wash it all down.
Another unique feature of O’Zone Pizza Pub is its location.
Found in the basement of an abandoned hospital, it’s a restaurant where visitors can wander upstairs when they’re done eating and creep themselves out with silent, shadowy corridors filled with display cases of disturbing medical instruments.
If you’ll be near downtown Pensacola during your vacation, grab some dinner at O’Zone Pizza Pub.
Where else can you say that you enjoyed a deep-dish pizza while surrounded by ghosts?
Address: 1010 N 12th Ave #111, Pensacola, FL 32501, USA
15. Pensacola Museum of Art
As the only art museum in Pensacola, the Pensacola Museum of Art has a valuable function to the city.
The good news for tourists is that it’s also lots of fun!
The first thing that you’ll notice about the Pensacola Museum of Art is its architecture.
It’s housed in an old-school, Spanish-style jail that was converted to an art gallery in 1954.
The museum’s founders liked the fact that it was already waterproof and fireproof.
Once you’re inside, you’ll get to marvel at paintings and sculptures from around the world.
You can also sign up for lectures, workshops, classes and kids’ summer camps.
If you’re spending a weekend or two in Pensacola, it can keep the whole family busy.
The Pensacola Museum of Art is one of the must-see destinations of the city.
It offers both education and entertainment, and as the only art museum for miles, it’s something to be treasured.
Schedule a visit during your Pensacola vacation.
Address: 407 S Jefferson St, Pensacola, FL 32502, USA
16. Gulf Coast Air Tours
There are a few different ways to take an aerial tour in Pensacola, including helicopters and hot air balloons.
However, Gulf Coast Air Tours is the only company that has an FAA-certified captain piloting a Piper PA-32R, so it’s one of the most unique ways to see Florida from a thousand feet high!
There are two tours that you can reserve: the romantic “sunset champagne tour” or the adrenaline-soaked “shark patrol.”
In the first, you’ll sip champagne with your honey while you glide over the golden beaches of the bay.
In the second, you’ll get to see the snapping jaws of shark-infested waters while you and the kids shriek delightedly at every fin.
If you’re looking for cool places to visit in Pensacola, why not visit them all at once with Gulf Coast Air Tours?
Florida is always a sight to behold, but this is especially true when you’re viewing it from above.
17. Perdido Key
You don’t have to visit a place like Key West to enjoy rolling waves and stunning sand dunes.
You can visit a different key that’s a lot closer to Pensacola: Perdido Key.
Perdido means “lost” in Spanish, and it’s an apt description for the “lost island” of Perdido Key.
While some parts have been commercialized for tourists, there’s still plenty of untouched coastline for people who want to enjoy fresh air, clean water and curious critters.
The wildlife aspect is a particular draw for animal lovers who enjoy shorebirds and sea turtles.
Perdido Key is one of their annual nesting spots, so you can get near them in their natural habitat at no cost or inconvenience!
Whether you’re a fan of ocean views or endangered species, there’s a lot to love about Perdido Key.
Plan a visit if you’re wondering what to do on a quiet or romantic getaway in Florida.
18. Pensacola Lighthouse and Museum
Have you been skipping leg day?
If so, you might not want to climb the 177 steps of the Pensacola Lighthouse and Museum.
If you don’t mind working up a sweat, however, the view from the very top of the lighthouse has to be seen to be believed.
It overlooks the entirety of Pensacola Bay, so you’ll see the glittering waves stretching all of the way past the coast until it disappears into the horizon.
Once you’ve snapped some photos, you can tromp back down and visit the museum and gift shop.
A fun fact about the lighthouse tower is that it was originally part of a ship.
It was one of the many “lightships” that used to travel around the islands of Pensacola, and it was only taken off and transported to solid ground in the early 1800s.
If you’re looking for points of interest in Florida, it’s hard to beat a moving lighthouse.
Stop by the Pensacola Lighthouse and Museum to take in both the views and the history of a unique landmark.
Address: 2081 Radford Blvd, Pensacola, FL 32508, USA
19. Pensacola MESS Hall
If you don’t mind getting paint on your shoes, there’s a lot of fun to be had at the Pensacola MESS Hall.
It’s a hands-on museum for kids where they can explore various facets of math, science and engineering, but they won’t even realize that they’re learning important lessons when the activities are so entertaining.
For example, chromatography is the art of separating mixtures based on their scientific properties, but your kids will just be excited at playing with ink.
Zoetropes are all about how light passes through the eye, but your kids will just “ooh” and “ahh” at the building kit that they can use to create their own motion device.
If you’re wondering what to do in Pensacola with kids, put the Pensacola MESS Hall on your list.
It might be aimed at little minds and little hands, but parents can enjoy its squishy science as well!
Address: 116 N Tarragona St, Pensacola, FL 32502, USA
20. Great Florida Birding Trail
Home to everything from the red woodpecker to the swallow-tailed kite, the Great Florida Birding Trail is one of the largest birdwatching trails in the United States.
Despite its name, it isn’t a single pathway; it’s actually a series of roads, trails, habitats and nature reserves that stretches for more than 2,000 miles across the Gulf Coast.
You don’t have to be an ornithologist to enjoy the Great Florida Birding Trail.
For starters, it attracts all kinds of non-avian wildlife, so you can observe deer, foxes, bobcats, snakes, otters and alligators in the wild.
You can even watch the annual migration of the monarch butterflies of Florida!
There are other attractions to enjoy along the way, too.
There are lighthouses and military forts; there are observation towers and picnicking spots.
The beauty of Pensacola is on full display here.
You can explore the trail at your leisure and check out whatever points of interest that you’d like.
Check out the Great Florida Birding Trail if you’re looking for fun things to do in Pensacola.
There’s a reason why the city has a reputation for its sights, and you won’t want to miss a firsthand look at them.
They’re some of the best in all of Florida.
21. Fort Pickens
Pensacola has been nicknamed “The City of Five Flags” because it’s been controlled by five different governments since its original founding in 1559.
Walking through the city, you’ll quickly realize that it’s full of lighthouses, shipyards, military forts and naval bases that have played a role in its unique and unforgettable heritage.
Fort Pickens isn’t the only military establishment in Pensacola, but it’s one of the coolest.
Its ghostly corridors were abandoned many years ago, but they’re still standing today, and visitors can walk among them to feel the full weight of history.
They haven’t been ruined with anything like modern electric lights, so they’re especially spooky at night.
The bright state of Florida isn’t exactly known for its eerieness, but this fort can manage it.
You can also learn a lot at Fort Pickens.
There are tour guides to explain the significance of the rusty guns and cannons, and an on-site museum and gift shop will let you take home souvenirs of your trip.
Visit Fort Pickens if you’re looking for culturally significant things to do in Pensacola.
It’s a city with lots of history, so you should take advantage of the learning opportunity while you’re there.
Address: 1400 Fort Pickens Rd, Pensacola Beach, FL 32561, USA
22. Condor Sailing Adventures
There’s no shortage of cruises and boat tours in Florida, but Condor Sailing Adventures is something special.
It loads passengers on a rare type of trimaran that doesn’t rock or lean, so it’s great for people with motion sicknesses who want to enjoy the water without the accompanying nausea.
It’s also a small, six-person boat, so it’s never crowded, and it has permission to sail in an area of Pensacola Bay where motorized vessels aren’t allowed.
All of this means that a trip with Condor Sailing Adventures is a trip unlike any other in Pensacola.
You’ll get to drift through quiet, tranquil waves on a comfortable boat.
You can sit on the edge and dangle your feet in the water as the sun goes down.
You might even see some of the bottlenose dolphins of Florida; since they’re in a protected area of the bay, they don’t fear humans and will come right up to the boat.
Condor Sailing Adventures isn’t one of the crazy tourist attractions of Pensacola, but if you’re looking for relaxing, romantic vacation spots, it doesn’t get any better than a gentle sail among the dolphins.
Book a tour for your Pensacola vacation and enjoy every minute of it.
Address: 997 S Palafox St, Pensacola, FL 32502, USA
23. Pensacola Graffiti Bridge
The Pensacola Graffiti Bridge is one of the most beloved landmarks in the city.
It’s also one of the most creative.
Every square inch is covered in color, and the artwork changes on a day-to-day basis.
You never know when you’re going to see jokes, cartoons, memorials, celebrity caricatures or invitations to prom.
No one is sure how the Pensacola Graffiti Bridge got its start, but it’s generally accepted that people started painting it in the ’50s or ’60s.
It used to be an act of vandalism, but now it’s a rite of passage for artists in the Pensacola community.
People have gotten married with the bridge as a backdrop.
The police always look the other way.
It’s a genuine hallmark of the city’s art scene.
If you’re looking for Pensacola attractions to liven up a dull or dreary day, put a splash of color in your vacation with the Pensacola Graffiti Bridge.
Not only is it one of the most dynamic sights in the city, but it’s also one of the best free things to do.
Address: N 17th Ave, Pensacola, FL 32502, USA
24. Plaza de Luna
If you’re looking for free things to do in Pensacola, you won’t want to miss Plaza de Luna.
It will offer wet, wild fun for the whole family, and best of all, it won’t cost you a dime.
The main attraction of Plaza de Luna is its water fountain.
You can jump right in and splash to your heart’s content; the water runs all day during the months of March – October.
There are also places where you can sit, walk, wade and even fish.
If you want the full nature experience in Pensacola, this is a place to get it.
Another nice thing about Plaza de Luna is that it connects to multiple nature trails, so if you want to wash off the dust of a weekend hike, it can serve as a fun and functional purpose when combined with other Pensacola attractions.
Drop by Plaza de Luna if you’re wondering about free things to do around Pensacola.
You don’t have to break the bank to enjoy a vacation in Florida, especially if you visit budget-friendly places like this.
Address: 900 S Palafox St, Pensacola, FL 32502, USA
25. USS Massachusetts (BB-2)
Hailed by historians as “the worst battleship ever built,” the USS Massachusetts lived a short, inglorious life before being sunk into the waters of Pensacola Bay.
Rather than let it go to waste, however, Pensacola officials decided to transform it into a man-made reefing and diving site, and now it’s enjoying a second wind as a fun tourist attraction.
The story of the USS Massachusetts is like something out of a comedy routine.
It was poorly designed to start with, and it underwent a whole series of repairs, retires and reboots that made it even worse.
One naval officer called it “worthless and obsolete.”
Another said, more diplomatically, that it “attempted too much.”
Regardless of its origins, the USS Massachusetts has become a cool underwater shipwreck in its afterlife, so it’s something fun to do in Pensacola.
It’s accessible to all ages and skill levels, so it’s just a matter of renting the equipment and going under.
If you’re looking for unique dive sites in Florida, you should give it a try!
Start Planning Your Trip To Pensacola
These are just a few of the amazing attractions that you can find in Pensacola, Florida.
Whether you’re looking for exciting thrills or indulgent luxuries, Pensacola has it all.
Start putting together your bucket list today!