Pensacola Beach is a beachside community located on Santa Rosa Island in the Northwest Florida Panhandle. If you are a visitor to Pensacola, there are several things to do across the bridge in Pensacola Beach, including visiting the incredible beaches!
The best things to do in Pensacola Beach include going out to eat at waterfront restaurants, strolling the pier, and walking on the beach boardwalk. The area has gorgeous, white sand beaches along the Gulf of Mexico and Santa Rosa Sound, with plenty of water sports and family-friendly activities. But there’s so much more to do here than just the beaches! The area also has tons of history and scenic natural beauty that will take your breath away.
Here’s our list of some of the best things to do in Pensacola Beach and nearby Pensacola Florida
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Things To Do In Pensacola Beach
There is no doubt that one of the top things to do is to visit the beaches of Pensacola Beach, Fl and that is why we have rounded up the best beaches in Pensacola at the end of this post. But before we get started, let’s look at some other Pensacola attractions to enjoy off the beach.
1. Pensacola Beach Boardwalk
One of the top things to do is to take a tour of the Pensacola Beach Boardwalk. The Pensacola Beach Boardwalk is a popular destination for tourists, residents, and locals alike. With all the great things to do around here, it’s not hard to understand why. There are many activities along the boardwalk, several stores and restaurants, specialty shops with clothing and souvenirs, and more.
One of the coolest things to do is to visit The Shell amphitheater, which is near the entrance to the dock. They have live music and entertainment here throughout the year.
If you want to grab a drink at The Boardwalk, Bamboo Willy’s is a popular bar near the amphitheater. And be sure to check out the great views of Pensacola, Florida from the dock! Check out The Best Places to Visit in Florida
- Address: 400 Quietwater Beach Rd, Pensacola Beach, FL 32561
2. Pensacola Bay Cruises
To get a different view of the skyline, hop on one of the Pensacola Bay Cruises while you are here! There’s also a free shuttle service in the area that will take you to The Boardwalk.
This sunset cruise takes you out on the water to see the sunset glow of Little Sabine Bay and Pensacola Beach. Keep an eye out for dolphins as you soak in the views of Pensacola Florida in all its glory. Details here. Meeting Point:
Behind Shaggy’s Waterfront Bar & Grill Pensacola Beach.
Pensacola Beach Boardwalk Directions – 400 Quietwater Beach Road, Pensacola Beach, Florida 32561 – Follow the GPS here
2. James P Morgan Park & Botanical Gardens
When exploring Pensicola Beach, a visit to James P Morgan Park and Botanical Garden is perfect if you want to relax and escape from the everyday hustle and bustle of life! It’s located just north of Quietwater Beach.
Filled with rosemary shrubs, southern live oaks, and century plants, this waterfront park is a beautiful place that offers many opportunities to enjoy nature.
There are also educational signs to learn about the flowers and birds in the park.
Directions: James P Morgan Park and Botanical Gardens – Pensacola Beach Trail, Pensacola Beach, FL 32561 Get GPS Co-ordinates here
3. The Fun Store- Bike Rentals & More!
One of the top ways to explore this long beach is by bicycle. The Fun Store is a local business in Pensacola Beach located in the heart of downtown Pensacola where you can rent bikes to explore Historic Pensicola. These guys specialize in bike rentals, golf carts, beach equipment rentals, and kayaks along with many other fun activities on the beautiful beaches of Pensacola Beach.
Their goal is to provide you with an unforgettable vacation experience by providing quality service at affordable prices. They also sell a lot of the necessities for a day at the beach including, sunglasses, lotion, towels, etc.
The Fun Store can be found at 5 Via De Luna Drive, Pensacola Beach, Fl 32561 – Click on the map to see details
4. UFO’s Mini Golf, Ice Cream & Arcade
Just steps away from Casino Beach are UFO’s Mini Golf, Ice Cream & Arcade! Play their 18-hole cosmic mini-golf course and cool off from the Florida heat with some ice cream from the ice cream bar.
This is one of the best things to do in Pensacola Beach for families. UFOs also has hot dogs, snacks, and drinks. There’s wine and beer for parents, too! They also have special deals for birthday parties. You can book your visit online if you’d like.
UFO’s address – 2 Via De Luna Drive, Pensacola Beach, FL 32561 – Click on the map to find it
5. Radical Rides – Jet Ski & Parasailing
For those looking for something more adventurous things to do in Pensacola Beach, jet ski rentals are available along with parasailing! Whether you’re looking for something exciting like parasailing or just need a way around on the water, they have you covered.
Radical Rides has been around for over 25 years and is the go-to company in the area for parasailing and boat, kayak, paddleboard, and wave runner rentals.
They are located next to Quietwater Beach and the Pensacola Beach Boardwalk.
Address: 444 Pensacola Beach Blvd, Pensacola Beach, FL 32561 – Click here to follow the map
6. Waterfront Dining in Pensacola Fl
After enjoying a day out on the beach, stop by one of the waterfront restaurants in Pensacola Beach and nearby! Most of these restaurants specialize in seafood and casual fare, but there are also options for pizza, barbecue, and upscale.
Pensacola Beach Boardwalk and Nearby: Shaggy’s Waterfront Bar & Grill and Frisky Dolphin Oyster Bar & Grill are located across the street from The Boardwalk. Other great places to dine near the boardwalk are The Grand Marlin (casual, upscale), Laguna’s Beach Bar & Grill, Papa’s Pizza, Hooters, Flounders, and Water Pig BBQ.
Near Casino Beach: Crabs on the Beach, The Dock, Drift (casual, upscale), and Casino Beach Bar & Grille are good options for dining near Casino beach in Pensacola Fl.
Navarre Beach: There is also great dining near Navarre Beach, some of our top choices are Windjammers at the Pier, Juana’s Pagodas, and Dewey Destin’s (Pictured above, Located in Navarre)
7. Admiral Mason / Veterans Memorial Park- Pensacola Beach
Are you looking for a little workout in Pensacola Beach? Admiral Mason Park is the perfect place to get some fresh air, exercise, and enjoy the water views and nature! This 5.5-acre park is part of Veterans Memorial Park and has walking paths, benches, a memorial clock tower, statues, and military monuments.
The park is a great place to visit to check out all the monuments, and also for one of the best sunsets in Pensacola Fl. It has beautiful views of Pensacola Bay and Pensacola Beach.
Veterans Memorial Park is located at – 200 S 10th Ave, Pensacola, FL 32502 Follow directions here.
8. Naval Live Oaks Nature Preserve- Gulf Breeze
If you’re looking for a quiet place to go on vacation or just need some time away from the busy life at Pensacola Beach, this nature preserve is for you! This is an ideal place to go for a picnic and they have a pavilion that’s available to the first guests. There are restrooms here, too.
There are plenty of things to do here including biking, bird watching, fishing, and almost 8 miles of hiking trails! Be sure to pack your camera because the views are amazing!
Naval Live Oaks Nature Preserve is located at – 1801 Gulf Breeze Pkwy, Gulf Breeze, FL 32563
9. Navarre Beach Sea Turtle Conservation Center – Navarre Beach
The Navarre Beach Sea Turtle Conservation Center is a great place to visit to learn about sea turtle biology, ecology, and conservation efforts. The main focus of the marine park is the education and conservation of sea turtles. Check out these Facts about Florida
The center offers a rehabilitation pool that supports these turtles and an exhibit space that allows visitors to learn about these great animals! It costs $5 for the indoor tour and exhibits. It’s about 30 minutes from Pensacola Beach, but it is worth visiting to see the incredible work being done and to admire the cute sea turtles.
For more amazing beaches and things to do nearby, check out these 35 Things To Do In Destin!
Sea Turtle Conservation Center is located at 8740 Gulf Blvd, Navarre, FL, 32566
Best Beaches in Pensacola Beach, Fl
A great way to explore the beaches of Pensacola, Fl is to take a scenic boat trip. Set sail from Pensacola Beach where you’ll meet your guide behind Shaggy’s Pensacola Beach. Seach for dolphins and take in the views of historical sites and the Pensacola Coast. You’ll then stop at a breathtaking beach where you can go snorkeling, relax in a loung or have a dip in the ocean. This is a pet-friendly excursion too! Details here
10. Casino Beach & Pier
Pensacola Beach truly has some of the best beaches in Florida for fun in the sun! Right at the Pensacola Beach Pier is Casino Beach. Casino Beach is just south of the Pensacola Beach water tower and across the street from The Boardwalk. There are also several beachfront restaurants nearby.
The beach is nice and wide, with sugar-white sands, and plenty of room for social distancing! It’s free and there is a large, free parking lot, as well. The Gulfside Pavilion, which is at the beach, is a popular spot for events and concerts with local residents of Pensacola Fl.
Looking to do some fishing in Pensacola Beach? At a whopping 1,471 feet, Pensacola Beach Pier is a great place to do some fishing or enjoy a stroll. Common fish to catch here are Mackerel, Seatrout, Redfish, Pompano, and Flounder.
It’s $2.25 to walk the pier and $7.50 for an adult fishing pass. There are a couple of shops at the pier and they sell snacks, too. While at the beach and pier, grab some food and drinks at the Casino Beach Bar & Grille. Check out another great Florida Beach: Things to do in Daytona Beach
Casino Beach & Pier is located at 20 Casino Beach Blvd, Pensacola Beach, FL 32561 – See our interactive Pensacola Beach Fl map for details here.
11. Quietwater Beach
Located at the Pensacola Beach Boardwalk is Quietwater Beach. This narrow stretch of beach is on the left (east side) shortly after you cross the bridge into Pensacola Beach from Pensacola Fl. This beach is great for kids since it’s on the Santa Rosa Sound side with shallow, calmer waters compared to the Gulf.
The beach and parking are free here. There are options for parasailing, jet ski, and other rentals nearby. Quietwater Beach is near the shops and restaurants of the boardwalk. There are also waterfront restaurants right across the street including Shaggy’s and The Frisky Dolphin.
Quietwater Beach – 400 Quietwater Beach Rd, Pensacola Beach, FL 32561 – Get directions here
12. Gulf Islands National Seashore / Opal Beach
The Gulf Islands National Seashore is a national park located in parts of Florida and Mississippi. There are 6 different areas of this national park in Florida. State Highway 399 is filled with beaches and there are several access points from Pensacola Beach to Navarre Beach. Fort Pickens Road is also a great spot for beaches on the west end of Pensacola Beach.
There is a beautiful section of Gulf Islands National Seashore beach in between the two cities (Santa Rosa Area). It’s a scenic drive through the middle of the island and there are bright white, sandy beaches, and massive sand dunes.
Opal Beach, a popular beach in the area, is actually part of the National Seashore. This beach has showers, restrooms, a picnic area, and is open 8 am-sunset. There is lots of parking here with several parking lots between Pensacola Beach and Navarre Beach.
Gulf Islands National Seashore/Opal Beach – Highway 399, Pensacola Beach, Florida, 32561 – Get directions here
13. Park West Beach
A popular beach for families, Park West is a beach on the west side of Pensacola Beach. There is a kids’ playground on the sound side of the beach with shaded picnic areas. Across the street on the Gulf side are pavilions, picnic areas, grills, bathrooms, showers, and of course, more beach! There are parking lots on both sides.
Park West Beach coordinates: 1340 Fort Pickens Road, Pensacola Beach, 32561 – Follow directions here
14. Dog Beach Park
If you’re looking to bring your four-legged friends to the beach, there are a couple of options in Pensacola Beach! This particular beach is Dog Beach Park East but there is also Dog Beach Park West on the other side of the city. Dog Beach Park East is at Beach Access 28B as you’re heading to Gulf Islands National Seashore from Pensacola Beach.
Let your dog splash around in the Gulf’s emerald green waters and play in the sand. There are some rules to follow, though, so be sure to pay attention to the signs. Most importantly, dogs are required to be on a leash here.
Dog Beach Park (East) Beach Access 28B, Highway 399, Pensacola Beach, FL 32561 – Directions can be found here.
15. Navarre Beach Pier & Beach
About a 15-minute drive from Pensacola Fl. is Navarre Beach. Navarre Beach calls itself “Florida’s Most Relaxing Place” and definitely lives up to the name with its laid-back people and beaches! Amenities include restrooms, gear rentals, pavilions, picnic areas, and volleyball nets. You may also like: The Best Theme Parks in Florida
16. Stroll Historic Pensacola Village
This complex of 28 properties, which is managed by the University of West Florida, includes several historic homes and museums, each showcasing a unique period in Pensacola’s past. The village features numerous museums including T.T. Wentworth Jr. Florida State Museum, housed in the former City Hall building, Museum of Commerce and Museum of Industry, and The Pensacola Children’s Museum.
You can take guided tours of historic homes like Lavalle House, the Dorr House, and the Lear-Rocheblave House. These residences showcase how life was lived in Pensacola during different periods, from the colonial era through to the Victorian period.
Visit the Old Christ Church, one of the oldest surviving church buildings in Florida, which is still in its original location. It has served as a hospital, a library, and now a museum.
17. National Naval Aviation Museum
Visit the world’s largest naval aviation museum with 150 restored aircraft. It not only represents the Navy, Marine Corps, and Coast Guard. The interactive museum houses 4000 artifacts. There are flight simulators and a giant screen theater. Entrance is free with extra charges for the theatres and simulators.
18. Admiral Fetterman Field – Blue Wahoos Stadium
Catch a minor league baseball game at Admiral Fetterman Field at the Blue Wahoos Stadium. This stadium was voted the Best View in Double-A Baseball. Watching the Pensacola Blue Wahoos home game one of the best things to do in Pensacola with more than 2-million fans visiting the stadium. It’s one of the smallest stadiums in the league allowing a better view for fans.
19. Pensacola Lighthouse & Maritime Museum
Located on the grounds of the Pensacola Naval Air Station, the lighthouse offers a peek into the maritime history of Pensacola and also provides one of the most stunning views of the Gulf Coast.
Built in 1859, the Pensacola Lighthouse has been guiding mariners safely through the Pensacola Pass for over 160 years. The museum presents exhibits showcasing the local maritime history, the science behind how lighthouses work, as well as the lifestyle and responsibilities of lighthouse keepers. It even has exhibits specifically dedicated to the Civil War era, reflecting on the pivotal role Pensacola played during this time.
For a bit of exercise and adventure, visitors can climb the 177 steps to the top of the lighthouse. The climb is definitely worth the effort – once at the top, you’re rewarded with breathtaking panoramic views of Pensacola Bay, the historic naval yard, and the stunning white sand beaches of the Gulf Islands National Seashore.
20. Sam’s Fun City
If you are looking for things to do in Pensacola Beach with kids, a visit to Sam’s Fun City is a fun day out. There are four waterslides and a lazy river. There are also amusement park rides, go carts, mini golf and arcade games
21. Fort Barrancas
Located on the Gulf Islands National Seashore within the Naval Air Station Pensacola, Fort Barrancas was built atop a historic Spanish Fort from 1839–1844 that is worth visiting. The fort, which sits on a bluff overlooking Pensacola Bay, offers visitors an opportunity to explore centuries of American military history through its well-preserved structures and informative displays.
Visitors can explore the fort’s labyrinth of rooms, and tunnels exploring its fascinating blend of architectural styles and military strategy. V
A visit to Fort Barrancas is a journey through time, as it played a significant role in several conflicts, including the Civil War. Apart from exploring the fort, visitors can also hike the nature trail that winds through the surrounding area, offering beautiful views of Pensacola Bay. The visitor center also offers exhibits on the fort’s history and its role in the region’s defense. Guided tours are often available, providing in-depth information about the fort’s design, its history, and the life of the soldiers stationed there.
22. Pensacola State Parks
Pensacola has a few state parks that are worth visiting including Big Lagoon State Park, Perdido Key State Park, and Big Lagoon State Park. Go paddling through the tidal marshes, hike their nature trails, and spot some wildlife.
Hang out at the beach and visit the pier which is right at the main beach. This fishing pier is the longest of its kind in the state at 1,545 feet! It costs $1 to walk the pier and it’s $7 for fishing.
If you get hungry while here, Windjammers Restaurant is right at the beach and pier. Navarre Beach & Pier – 8579 Gulf Blvd, Navarre, FL 32566 – Directions can be found here.
As you can see, there are lots of amazing beaches in the area and great things to do in Pensacola Beach! So when are you booking your trip to Florida next?
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