Sightseeing You Can Write Home About
If you are visiting Pensacola Beach from out of town, there are probably enough basic activities to keep you busy—from shopping along the Quietwater Beach Boardwalk to simply sitting and enjoying the beach vistas. Should you find yourself wanting a break from the beach party, however, the following are a few activities worthy of a note home (or Facebook post) that don’t involve booze or amplified sound, and are unique to the beach and city of Pensacola.
On the Beach:
For the fitness-focused beach goer, Fitness Onboard’s group fitness classes offer the unique experience of exercising atop a paddleboard in Little Sabine Bay. Fitness Onboard 101, which teaches the basics, is offered at 10 a.m. on Fridays. A bootcamp class starts at 9:30 a.m. on Saturdays, and on each Sunday, classes alternate between yoga and bootcamp at 11 a.m.
A single class costs $26.25, but multi-class passes are available for those staying into the next week.
All beach classes launch from Margaritaville Beach Hotel Pier, and the company also offers paddleboard rentals for $22.50 an hour or $84.50 for a day.
165 Ft. Pickens Road
360 Pensacola Beach Observation Wheel
Not that it is easy to overlook the Observation Wheel, one of the newest attractions on the beach, but some basic info about the wheel may encourage even those afraid of heights to climb aboard one of the climate-controlled gondolas for a spectacular view.
Having opened last July, a ride on the Observation Wheel provides a great opportunity for aerial photo ops in barely-above sea level Florida. With views of the beach and Gulf of Mexico, the observation wheel revolves four times during a 10 to 12 minute ride. Weekend hours of operation are Friday through Saturday, 12-10 p.m., and Sunday, 12-8 p.m. Adult tickets are $15 on all but one VIP gondola, which is equipped with leather bucket seats and a glass floor; VIP spins cost $50 per person.
5-A Via de Luna Drive
Located at the far west end of Santa Rosa Island, history and/or nature buffs will appreciate a visit to this national park, one of multiple components of the Gulf Islands National Seashore in Florida and Mississippi.
The park itself is open 7 a.m. through sunset, while the Visitor’s Center is open daily, 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Guided tours of the fort, which was completed in 1834, take place daily at 2 p.m. The fort’s museum reopened last summer for the first time since Hurricane Ivan in 2004, and interactive exhibits and HD audiovisual features are part of the new-and-improved museum space. Thanks to fines paid as a result of the BP Oil Spill, sometime in the future there will also be ferry service between the historic fort and Downtown Pensacola.
1400 Fort Pickens Road
Emerald Coast Tours
Emerald Coast Tour’s Historic Pensacola Segway Tours provide one of the best ways to see the historic sites and neighborhoods of the City of Five Flags. Reservations are required for the various Segway excursions, which depart from ECT’s location on South Palafox Street and include history tours as well as Wine and Glide tours on Friday nights, among others.
Bike tours are also available by appointment only, but if you’d prefer to explore by bike on your own, bike rentals are only $10 a day or $25 if you prefer to keep the bicycle overnight. Price includes helmets and locks so you can ride safely and securely. ECT also delivers the bikes to area hotels for an additional fee.
701 S. Palafox
Museums in Grand Ol’ Buildings
If you are looking to beat the heat and enjoy a few air-conditioned venues, Downtown Pensacola has a number of museums and art galleries to take refuge in located in historic former government buildings.
The T.T. Wentworth Jr. Florida State Museum, formerly Pensacola’s City Hall, has three floors of historic artifacts to explore, the majority related to local and state history. Artel Gallery, a not-for-profit gallery, is located in a building that once served as the County Courthouse, and is now a visual arts exhibit space. Likewise, the Pensacola Museum of Art (PMA) resides in what was once the City Jail; some cell bars have been preserved within the museum’s two floors of space. Admission to the Wentworth Museum and Artel Gallery are free, but donations are accepted. PMA is $5 for adults. All are closed on Sunday.
T.T. Wentworth Jr. Florida State Museum
330 S. Jefferson St.
223 S. Palafox
Pensacola Museum of Art
407 S. Jefferson St.
Veteran’s Memorial Park and Wall South
Overlooking Pensacola Bay, the 5 acre-Veteran’s Memorial Park contains monuments dedicated to veterans of World War I, World War II, the Korean War, and the Vietnam War. Dedicated in 1992, Wall South is a one half scale model of the Vietnam Memorial in Washington, D.C., and is the only permanent memorial outside of the nation’s capital. A Marine Aviation Memorial Tower added last August and a Submarine Veterans Memorial are also on premises.
The park is situated on Bayfront Parkway, the main route between the Three Mile Bridge over the bay and Downtown Pensacola, making it convenient for those traveling into the city from the beach. On Memorial Day weekend, the park is one of the most significant stops visitors and residents alike can make.
Located immediately east of the intersection of 9th Avenue and Bayfront Parkway