Ultimate Pensacola Beach Travel Guide

Welcome to the sun-kissed shores of Pensacola Beach, Florida – a coastal paradise that effortlessly blends relaxation, adventure, and Southern charm.

Nestled along the shimmering waters of the Gulf of Mexico, Pensacola Beach beckons visitors with its pristine, sugar-white sands, crystal-clear emerald waters, and a wealth of outdoor activities.

Whether you’re seeking a tranquil escape to unwind amidst breathtaking natural beauty or an action-packed vacation filled with water sports and coastal adventures, Pensacola Beach has something to offer every traveler.

Aside from its picture-perfect beaches, this coastal gem boasts a rich history and culture, evident in its historic forts, lighthouses, and museums. Pensacola Beach invites you to embark on a journey through time, discovering the area’s diverse heritage and fascinating stories that have shaped its identity.

Be sure to indulge in the delectable seafood delights that are abundant in this region. From fresh Gulf shrimp to succulent oysters, the local cuisine reflects the seaside location, tantalizing taste buds with every bite.

As the day transitions to dusk, vibrant beach bars and waterfront restaurants come alive with music and laughter, providing the perfect setting to unwind and revel in the laid-back atmosphere that Florida’s Gulf Coast is renowned for.

Whether you’re a beachcomber, water enthusiast, history buff, or simply seeking a memorable getaway, Pensacola Beach promises an unforgettable experience that will leave you yearning to return.

So, pack your bags, embrace the coastal breeze, and get ready to create cherished memories on the shores of Pensacola Beach, Florida.

Ultimate Pensacola Beach Travel Guide:

Pensacola Beach travel tips – know before you go:

Visiting Pensacola Beach, Florida, can be an amazing experience. To make the most of your trip, here are some travel tips to keep in mind:

Getting to Pensacola Beach:

Pensacola Airport is about a 20-30 minute ride from the airport. This depends on traffic and where you are staying. The airport offers several nonstop flights daily from various cities in the USA. 

Best Time to Visit:

The peak tourist season in Pensacola Beach is during the summer months (June to August). For a more relaxed and less crowded experience, consider visiting in the shoulder seasons of spring (March to May) or fall (September to November).

Even with peak tourist season being in the summer months, please note that is also hurricane season and to keep an eye out. 

Sun Protection:

The Florida sun can be intense, especially during the summer. Remember to pack sunscreen, sunglasses, and a wide-brimmed hat to protect yourself from harmful UV rays. Reef safe sunscreen is amazing because you are also helping to protect the marine life. 

Beach Essentials:

Don’t forget to bring beach essentials like towels, beach chairs, umbrellas, and beach toys. While some hotels and resorts may provide these amenities, it’s always good to have your own for maximum comfort.

Note: all the beaches are public, so you will have access to any of them. You can park and enjoy your day at one or all of the beaches. The choice is yours. 

Water Activities:

Pensacola Beach offers an array of water-based activities, including snorkeling, paddleboarding, kayaking, and dolphin-watching tours. Consider booking these activities in advance to secure your spot and avoid disappointment.

Wildlife Awareness:

Keep in mind that Pensacola Beach is a natural habitat for various wildlife, including sea turtles and birds. Be respectful of their environment and adhere to any local guidelines for their protection.

Stay Hydrated:

The combination of sun and physical activities can lead to dehydration. Bring a refillable water bottle and make sure to drink plenty of water throughout the day.

Seafood Dining:

Pensacola Beach is known for its delicious seafood offerings. Don’t miss the chance to sample fresh catches at local restaurants and seafood markets.

Explore Beyond the Beach:

While the beach is the main attraction, take some time to explore the surrounding areas. Visit historical landmarks, such as Fort Pickens and the Pensacola Lighthouse, to learn about the region’s history.

Plan for Rain:

Florida weather can be unpredictable, so it’s wise to pack a light rain jacket or poncho just in case.


If you plan to explore beyond the beach, consider renting a car. Public transportation options are limited in the area. However, Uber/Lyft and taxis are available. 

Respect Local Rules:

Familiarize yourself with local beach rules and regulations, such as where it’s permissible to swim, park, or bring pets. Please pay attention to rip current warnings, it is for your safety.

By keeping these travel tips in mind, you can fully enjoy the beauty and charm of Pensacola Beach, making your vacation a memorable and enjoyable one.

Where to stay in Pensacola Beach:

Portofino Island Resort is a luxurious beachfront resort located on Pensacola Beach, Florida. Situated on a pristine stretch of Santa Rosa Island, this upscale resort offers guests a perfect blend of natural beauty, recreational activities, and top-notch amenities.

Here’s an overview of what you can expect at Portofino Island Resort:

Accommodations: The resort offers a variety of accommodation options, including spacious condominiums with one to five bedrooms. Each unit is tastefully furnished, providing all the comforts of a home away from home.

Beachfront Location: Portofino Island Resort enjoys a prime location directly on the beach, offering easy access to the Gulf of Mexico’s turquoise waters and sugar-white sands. Guests can enjoy beachfront views and unforgettable sunrises and sunsets.

Water Activities: The resort is a haven for water enthusiasts, with a wide range of water-based activities available. Guests can indulge in swimming, kayaking, stand-up paddleboarding, snorkeling, and more.

Pools and Hot Tubs: The resort boasts several outdoor swimming pools and hot tubs where guests can relax and unwind while enjoying the picturesque surroundings.

Wellness and Spa: For those seeking relaxation and rejuvenation, the onsite spa offers a range of treatments and services, including massages, facials, and body treatments.

Fitness Center: Stay active during your stay at the resort’s fully equipped fitness center, featuring modern exercise equipment and group fitness classes.

Tennis Courts: Tennis enthusiasts can enjoy playing on well-maintained tennis courts with beautiful views of the surrounding landscape.

Dining Options: Portofino Island Resort offers a selection of dining options, from casual beachside eateries to upscale restaurants serving delicious Gulf Coast cuisine.

Kids’ Programs: Families with children will appreciate the resort’s kids’ programs and activities, keeping the little ones entertained and engaged throughout their stay.

Stunning Views: Portofino Island Resort’s architecture and layout ensure that many units have stunning views of the Gulf, Santa Rosa Sound, or the surrounding nature preserve.

This resort was perfectly situated on the beach and away from the hustle and bustle of the city. Incredible escape!

Things to do in Pensacola Beach:

Pensacola Beach offers a delightful array of activities for visitors of all ages. Here are some of the best things to do while exploring this beautiful coastal destination:

Relax on the Beach:

With its powdery white sands and crystal-clear waters, Pensacola Beach is a paradise for beach lovers. Spend your days basking in the sun, swimming in the Gulf of Mexico.

There are so many beaches to choose from, I personally loved Casino Beach by the Pier!

Visit Gulf Islands National Seashore:

Explore the nearby Gulf Islands National Seashore, a protected area with stunning beaches, nature trails, and opportunities for wildlife viewing. Fort Pickens, a historic fort within the national seashore, is also worth a visit.


Take an afternoon sail with Condor Sailing. Captain Kirk has a trimaran sailing yacht that glides through the water like butter. No tipping, no rockiness – it’s great for those who get seasick because the movement is so little. Great adventure. But do not forget sunscreen!

Water Sports:

Try your hand at various water sports, such as paddleboarding, kayaking, jet skiing, or parasailing. Rental shops are readily available along the beach.

Pensacola Beach Pier:

Go fishing or simply take a leisurely stroll along the Pensacola Beach Pier, where you can enjoy panoramic views of the coastline and spot marine life. Bring cash as it costs money to access. 


Blue Angels Practice:

If you visit between March and November, you might be lucky enough to catch a practice session of the U.S. Navy Blue Angels aerobatic team. They often rehearse at the nearby Naval Air Station Pensacola.

Pensacola Beach Boardwalk:

Stroll along the boardwalk to find an assortment of shops, boutiques, restaurants, and bars. It’s a great place to shop for souvenirs or savor local cuisine.

Explore Pensacola Downtown:

Take a short drive to Pensacola Downtown and explore its historic district with charming architecture, museums, art galleries, and a vibrant food scene.

Palafox Street:

Palafox Street is the main thoroughfare and the heart of downtown Pensacola. It’s lined with boutiques, art galleries, restaurants, and bars, making it a popular destination for locals and visitors alike.

Historic Pensacola Village:

The Historic Pensacola Village is a must-visit attraction within the district. It comprises a collection of historic homes and museums that offer insights into different periods of Pensacola’s history. Some of the notable sites include the T.T. Wentworth, Jr. Florida State Museum, the Museum of Commerce, the Lavalle House, and the Julee Panton Cottage.

Graffiti Bridge:

This is a cool stop off on the road that you can explore. It gets repainted all the time. 

Visit the National Naval Aviation Museum:

If you’re interested in aviation history, head to the National Naval Aviation Museum in Pensacola. It’s one of the largest aviation museums in the world and showcases a vast collection of aircraft.

This museum is the number one attraction in Pensacola Beach. 

No matter what your interests are, Pensacola Beach offers a diverse range of activities to ensure a memorable and enjoyable vacation experience.

Where to eat in Pensacola Beach:

Pensacola Beach boasts a fantastic dining scene with a variety of restaurants offering delectable dishes, seafood delights, and Gulf Coast flavors. Here are some of the best restaurants to try during your visit:

The Grand Marlin:

Offering stunning waterfront views and a diverse menu that showcases both seafood and steak dishes. The restaurant has a sophisticated ambiance, making it perfect for a special occasion.

Order the piccata grouper and oysters with a bushwacker. Thank me later!

Bear Fruit Bowls:

Located right on the beach, this is by far my favorite breakfast/snack place in Pensacola Beach! You can make your own smoothie bowls. The coffee here is incredible too. 

Casino Beach Bar & Grille:

Located right on the beach, this restaurant offers a diverse menu and tropical drinks. It’s an excellent spot to unwind after a day in the sun.

Order the conch fritters!

Jaco’s Bayfront Bar and Grille:

Overlooking the Palafox Pier Marina, this restaurant is considered to be Pensacola’s *Best* waterfront dining and bar. 

Order the crab cakes!

Bodacious shops:

By far and away, the best coffee shop!

Order the honey latte. TRUST ME! It was recommended by a local and I would go back daily if it were an option. 

Restaurant Iron:

Located in downtown Pensacola, if there is one restaurant that is going to push the boundaries of flavor, presentation and elevation – it’s here. 

Order the PB + J foie gras, jalapeno cornbread, and the chicken and dumplings. 


Overlooking the Gulf of Mexico, if you are looking for handmade ramen, elevated seafood and sushi – this is the place to be. 

Order: Berkshire Pork Ramen and Astakos Lobster

The Well:

The Well Floridian Lounge is a fantastic place to grab drinks! The interior is stunning and the drinks are very unique. They offer a robust menu of selections. Try a few. 


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