The most 'value for money' time to visit is September through to March. Pensacola averages 343 days of sunshine a year. The southerly winds off the Gulf of Mexico keeps the temperatures mild. · Average high temperature: 77° and Average low temperature of 60° .
Eat, Drink, and FLOUNDER!
Flounders is a beach bar and grill on Pensacola Beach. They've been around for years and they never seem to lose their appeal.
Flounders sports an assortment of nautical and beach memorabilia. They have everything from a display of outboard motors to sailfish and an actual Cuban Raft.
They also have their own Beach to hand out on. There's a large playground for the kids as well. The signature Drink is called Diesel Fuel. Served in a dirty mason jar that you can take with you. Bring it back on Refuel Night for discount refills.
The Shrimp both boiled and fried are excellent. The keylime pie is a triple decker behemoth!
It's all good!
This is the perfect place to just sit and relax while having a cold drink, a bowl of chowder, or some gumbo.
It overlooks the water. Sit outside and enjoy watching the boats.
You can dock your boat here while eating.
Since I wrote the original tip, hurricane Ivan hit Pensacola. The restaurant is now closed. It doesn't say why, but my guess is that it was wiped out during the storm as it sat right on the water. I didn't eat here, only had something to drink and sat in the sun. It was very pleasant.
My National Park Service service announcement
Have you noticed that most of my pages are about parks? Well, this one wouldn't be complete without mentioning the site that's in Pensacola.
Fort Pickens, Fort Barrancas and Naval Live Oaks are all AROUND the same area. Ft. Pickens in on P-Cola beach, Ft. Barrancas is at the Naval Air Station and Naval Live Oaks is in the Gulf Breeze area. There are programs, picnicking, walking/hiking and camping opportunities at the sites. Check to see which site allows what. Not surprisingly, the forts were built during the Civil War era...you can get the full history by attending an interpretive program offered by the US National Park Service rangers.
"Almost to Alabama"
Not that I like Alabama much more than I do Florida, but Pensacola has always seemed to be a strange contradiction. It may be the only city I like in a state that I dislike.
I've admittedly only been to the panhandle and northern parts of Florida. My last large US trip took me through the new territory of Jacksonville, St. Augustine and Gainesville, all within just a couple of days. But I've spent quite a bit of time on the panhandle. The beaches always bring me back.
And the sugar sand beaches that stretch east to the Chattahoochee are really the area's saving grace. The "Redneck Riviera" of Panama City is not really attractive, except for those nice beaches and the cheap, plentiful hotel rooms. I hate Destin for its over-development, pretentiousness and horrible traffic. Navarre is nice but too exclusive and at too great an opposite from Destin, just across the inlet, in that there is virtually no development.
Then there's Pensacola. Half military town, half tourist town, there's an element of transiency here that keeps it from becoming too much like Alabama, which surrounds it on almost all sides in more ways than geographically.
Pensacola has a strong Spanish connection historically and, although you won't a Spanish part of town, you will find a lot of architecture influenced by Spanish style, as well as a city layout similar to that of Spanish cities, at least moreso than many other cities. Its prominence in colonial times has left it feeling and looking much more like Charleston, South Carolina or even Savannah than Saint Augustine, in the same state. But, unlike those places, Pensacola's tourism is generally centered around its beach and not its more historic center.
Pensacola Beach lies two bridges over from its namesake city. It is only accessible by this bridge, the long road down the coast from Navarre, or by boat. The second of these bridges features a $1 toll for southbound (TO the beach) traffic.
The development is mostly condos and hotels, although making your way to the beach is not as difficult as it is in Destin, Mexico Beach or other communities that have restricted parking and access points to create a defacto private beach. My favorite spot is the parking area just in front of the entrance to the national seashore, as it's at the end of the development and slightly less crowded than the stretch to the east.
The national seashore, on the far west side of the island, has an entrance fee. This is also how you access Fort Pickens, which I think is worth the entrance fee alone.