10 Top-Rated Sight-Seeing Destination in Pensacola (2022)
Florida Panhandle’s westernmost city, Escambia County’s seat, the city of Pensacola in Florida, is famously known for being home to Naval Air Station Pensacola. The Pensacola city is situated between Alabama and the Gulf of Mexico over a narrow strip of land. Pensacola attracts plenty of tourists every year for scenic shorelines, historic landscapes, art festivals, seafood festivals, historical military installations, and magnificent landmarks.
The city of Pensacola is not a place with a prominent skyline but various low-rise buildings. Compared to the other vacation worthy cities in Florida, Pensacola is relatively inexpensive, less-explored and family-friendly, making it even more beautiful and less human destroyed. Even if you are under a definite budget, there are plenty of hotels and fun activities you can include in your list of things to do in Pensacola.
10 Top-Rated Sight-Seeing Destination in Pensacola
The Pensacola city is more comfortable to explore; however, to give you a well-versed idea, we have compiled a list of the best places to visit in Pensacola.
1. National Naval Aviation Museum
The oldest base of its kind in the USA with a historical naval aviation tradition is the National Naval Aviation Museum in Pensacola for you. The museum is dedicated to the US Navy, Marine corps, Coastal Guard and exhibits the development, growth and historical heritage of the country’s naval aviation. It is counted amongst the top-rated sightseeing destinations in Pensacola, and one must not miss it when in the city. The museum displays over 150 aircraft, helicopters, and spacecraft, including some of the prestigious ones like the Curtiss NC-4 (the first which crossed the Atlantic in 1919), the aircraft in which former President George H. W. Bush got trained, Blue Angels Skyhawks, biplanes and more. Image Source:
Further, a 4D theatre with moving seats makes the visitors feel like they are in a Blue Angels Skyhawk plane. The museum also has an IMAX theatre, a café, and a store. Photo identification is a must for visitors to take entry into the museum.
2. Pensacola Lighthouse
Adjacent to the National Naval Aviation Museum is the Pensacola Lighthouse, which must not be missed. It is registered on the National Register of Historic Places and must be on your list of places to visit in Pensacola if you are a history admirer. Climbing 177 stairs to the top transforms into a challenging leg workout, but the view up there is worthwhile. Being at the top of the Lighthouse makes you witness the most astonishing views in Pensacola, where you can see white sandy beaches, clear seawater, sky soaked in beautiful sunset colors or even the famous blue angles flying from the adjacent Aviation center sometimes.
3. Historic Fort Barrancas
A historic fort from the 18th century, the Fort Barrancas is 20 feet high and is built with 6 million bricks. It is a marvel of human ingenuity and military engineering and a site that played a crucial role during America’s Civil war in defending coastal lines and its nearby settlements. It is a magnificent site where you can see underground passageways, ammunition depots, soldiers’ quarters, camouflaged artillery bunkers, brick-fortified cannon placements, and a lot of such places that belong to history. The Fort is covered with lush grounds with hiking trails and picnic spots that combine for a day of sightseeing, fun and relaxation in Pensacola.
4. Fort Pickens
If you want to explore the intricate tunnels and authentic cannons that played a crucial role during the Civil war, then Fort Pickens is an ideal sight for you. It is one of the 4 military forts that date back to the 18th century and sight of historical importance. There are still a few cannons, guns and weapons on display used during the Civil war.
Once done with visiting the Fort, the site offers excellent fishing opportunities from pier and shore, camping and picnic spots in the green parks and a glorious beach view that will relax and rejuvenate you to the core.
5. Gulf Islands National Seashore
A 150 miles stretch of beautiful white sandy beach along with crystal-clear aquamarine water is what makes the Gulf Islands National Seashore one of the Best places to visit in Pensacola. It is more of a rural destination where you won’t find café, restaurants or bars adjoining the sea. However, being here, you can definitely swim in the warm water of the Gulf of Mexico, hear birds chirping all the time melodiously, and spot some indigenous wildlife. The entire Gulf Islands consist of 8 different islands, 4 visitors centers, 2 well-developed campgrounds, kayak spots, nature reserves and plenty of recreational sites that not even a 4days trip can do justice to the whole.
6. Historic Pensacola Village
The Historic Pensacola Village is spread over 8.5-acre, comprised of 28 preserved buildings, an Archaeological Trail and museums that belong to the colonial time of World War II. The Village takes you through the unique glimpse of old Pensacola, where you can witness Pensacola’s oldest remaining homes and churches that now are a heritage of the first multi-year European settlement in America. Every building here seems as new as possible, and one must not miss visiting the Historic Pensacola Village during their trip to the city.
7. Museum of Commerce
The Museum of Commerce is an ideal place to visit with family and kids in Pensacola. The site consists of 20 properties that include a lot from history and some event spaces where weddings and receptions are often organized. The museum’s insides have a unique atmosphere that exhibits leather, hardware, printing shops (antique printing presses), historic toy store music, and a fascinating collection of horse-drawn buggies. The museum is particularly famous between history lovers and one of the favorite sites amongst children of Pensacola. It is a part of Historical Pensacola village and is open for self-guided tours.
8. Tarkiln Bayou Preserve State Park
A swath of wetland habitats spread over 4,290 acres in the magnificent Tarkiln Bayou Preserve State Park of Pensacola. This state park is home to over 100 rare plants and animals, including four species of endangered pitcher plants, the rarest carnivorous white, alligator snapping turtle, Chapman’s butterwort that are solely dependent on the wet prairie habitat. The state park also offers a boardwalk over the Tarkiln Bayou (which flows into Perdido Bay), hike on the nature trails to the Perdido River across the park, and adventure outing sites and some nice picnic spots. The park opens early at 8 am and welcomes visitors till the sunset. Bring your own bicycle, download a navigation app and have a blast here along with your family and kids.
9. Pensacola Museum of Art
Pensacola’s only art museum that earlier served as jail is the Pensacola Museum of Art. A group of women founded it in 1954 that belonged to the American Association of University Women. The museum exhibits an astonishing art collection from the 19th, 20th, and 21st century including paintings, sculptures, contemporary art, modern art and a lot of work on paper. The display here holds some masterpieces from the renowned artists of the time like Pablo Picasso, Andy Warhol, Salvador Dali, Louis Comfort Tiffany, Thomas Hart Benton, Leonard Baskin, Alexander Calder, and Käthe Kollwitz. Moving forward, you can also find some appreciable collection of African art, glass art, interactions of art, culture, technology and science. Over the years of its existence, the Museum of Art has successfully organized hundreds of educational programs, visual art events, and exhibitions.
10. Niuhi Dive Charters, Pensacola, FL
The Gulf of Mexico holds an entire underwater world, and Pensacola off course, offers some of the best diving experiences amongst many. The Niuhi Dive Charters is a company that offers dive charters of reeks and wrecks and hosts divers of all experience levels. Water adventures are one of the best things to do in Pensacola, and if you have the heart of an adventure, it is definitely not worth a miss. Of all the beaches and islands in Pensacola, the Niuhi Dive Charters offers one of the best coral reef diving, night dives, and spearfishing Charters.
How to reach: The Pensacola International Airport, FL, is the main international airport in the city that receives international flights from several countries and domestic flights from almost all of the USA. The airport is only 8.3 km away from Pensacola city and is well connected with bus, taxi, and town cars. For exploring the city while being under budget, consider beach trolley of ECAT and buses.
Best time to visit Pensacola: The peak tourist season in Pensacola begins from the mid of April and goes through until the end of August. During these months, the weather is warm and sunny, however bearable and ideal for visiting the beaches and trying underwater adventures. However, August to November experience pleasant climate, less crowds, offers cheap accommodation with a lesser risk of hurricanes as well.