Hi Everyone! I hope (and yearn) that you’ve read and liked my “Travel Memoirs” about – Meeting Mr. Jack (Jack Daniel’s Distillery Tour) ; Trip To Bir Billing (My Paragliding Experience) ; Trip To San Francisco (My San Francisco Experience) and Trip To Chattanooga. If not, you should! (Cause it’s fun and informative to read!) Well, I bring to you another one of my travel shenanigans – my remiss trip to Pensacola Beach, Florida.
Pensacola, Florida is the westernmost city in the Florida Panhandle known for the “World’s Whitest Beaches!” Named as one of the top 25 beaches to visit by TripAdvisor, Pensacola is a perfect little place to rewind, rejuvenate and loosen up. Also, nicknamed as “The City of Five Flags”, due to the five governments that have ruled it during its history : the flags of Spain (Ca-stile), France, Great Britain, the Confederate States of America and the United States of America – Pensacola is more than just pretty beaches and mouth-smacking food. Founded in 1559, Pensacola has rigorously preserved its historic architecture and memorable framework, making it an ideal excursion destination for all age groups. With so much to see, experience and comprehend – Pensacola, for sure is more than just a pretty face!
Well yes, the “travel-adrenaline” kicked in us (Me and my Huz) again and there we were – driving down to Pensacola! It took us 7 hours approximately to reach Pensacola from Memphis Tennessee. Total distance covered – 425.8 mi/685.25 via I-55 S and US-45. With a few pit-stops and “selfie” breaks we made it safely to the “Western Gate to the Sunshine State.”
Interesting Facts – Located southwest of the city is a large U.S. Navy Air Base, the first in the country, which evolved from what was formerly a Navy shipyard first established in 1825. The air base is now home to the Blue Angels Flight Demonstration Team and the National Museum of Naval Aviation, a fact which earned Pensacola its alternate nickname : the “Cradle of Naval Aviation.”
Our abode for this trip was Hilton Pensacola Beach. Located directly on the beach, with our own private Gulf front balcony, stylish and comfortable rooms, super cordial staff, 3 in-house pools (2 outdoors and 1 in-door), an award-winning in-house restaurant H2O (serving 7 days a week, 3 meals a day with a menu by local celebrity chef Dan Dunn) and a trendy poolside bar – makes it a perfect Florida Beach Vacation Destination! Decorated in shades of blue, with glass chandeliers like floating bubbles and floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking the pool deck that leads to the beach – it IS the place to be.
Highlight – The poolside BAR – LATITUDE! With plenty of outdoor seating around the bar and on the patio, world-class cocktails and drinks, sumptuous food, sociable staff and just steps away from the white sand and emerald waters of the Gulf of Mexico – makes it a perfect hang-out place! Sit back and relax, take a walk to the gorgeous beach or just get high on the view – there is something for everyone to do here!
What We Saw –
Though there are many places to see and experience in Pensacola other than its pristine beaches, we were in no mood to get out of the “beachy-feeling!” Also, because it was my birthday month and I wasn’t supposed to do anything exerting! (Oh! Rationalizations!) – It was just swimming trunks, flip-flops, sun-tan lotion, an ice-box crammed with beer cans, beach umbrellas and chairs with an occasional tour to near-by restaurants and food joints for us. (Guilty!) With toes-in-the-sand, fun-in-the-sun and occasional jelly-fish stings (that DID NOT kill us!) – the beach is bright, speck-less, beautiful and un-crowded. Aha! Lazy days and snoozy us!
Pro Tip – Look for a sun-screen that provides “broad spectrum” protection (blocking both UVA and UVB rays), water resistance and a minimum SPF of 50. (Apply and re-apply!) Also, look for sunglasses that are described as blocking 99% or 100% of UVA and UVB, or as providing UV absorption up to 400 nm. Most importantly, stay HYDRATED (on the inside and the outside too!)
Important – Look out for “Beach Safety Flags” whenever you venture out to the beach. It is always good to be safe than sorry.
Other Places To See – Here’s TripAdvisor’s list of Top 10 things to do in Pensacola. National Naval Aviation Museum, Pensacola Naval Air Station, Pensacola Lighthouse and Museum, Pensacola Museum of Art and Blue Wahoos Ballpark – are a few of the places that you’ll like to visit when you are here. The city is full of historic sites, but the truth is that with more than 450 years of history behind it, every step you take on its brick sidewalks or city parks is a part of the country’s earliest days and memories.
Fun Fact – Festivals and special events color the city year-round. The Fiesta of Five Flags, held in June, celebrates the city’s Spanish heritage. May’s Craw-fish Creole Festival commemorates the area’s Cajun influence with a large craw-fish boil in addition to other traditional Cajun and Creole fare. The Great Gulf Coast Arts Festival is a three-day juried art show which draws more than 200 of the nation’s best artists of all types. The Pensacola King Mackerel and Cobia Tournament, held in June, is one of the Gulf Coast’s largest fishing tournaments. Every September, the city hosts the Pensacola Seafood Festival, where delicious fruits of the sea and a variety of continuous local entertainment can be enjoyed over a three-day period. (Tip – Plan your trip accordingly to witness the madness, flavors, best of cuisine and celebrations!)
Where We Ate –
1 Red Fish Blue Fish – With a “backyard’ on the beach and two white sand beaches, this place boasts of lip smacking, soulful “southern style” food served with the same southern warmth. The food is simple, made with local produce and tastes delightful.
Food ordered– rfbf fish sandwich (fresh gulf fish sandwich (grilled, blackened or fried), cheddar cheese, lettuce, tomatoes, pickles & thin cut red onions & tartar sauce on sesame seed bun) and rfbf chicken avocado sandwich (boneless chicken breast (grilled or blackened), swiss cheese, fresh avocado, tomato, lettuce & mayo on sesame seed bun) and Beer.
2 Flounder’s Chowder House – Antiques, Objects d’ Art and fleet of boats in addition to their own little beach, beach volleyball courts, live music, a piece of history – the Man Eating Giant Clam, hand carved oak sections, European stained glass pub windows (and many other stimulating things that catch your fancy!) – is what that makes this place interesting and a “must-to-do” in your travel itinerary.
Food ordered – Spicy Tuna Roll (Spicy Bluefin Tuna, Green Onion, Cucumber, Spicy Mayo, Sriracha, and Sesame Seed on top), Baked Oysters – Pensacola Beach Style (Fresh Juicy Louisiana Pure Oysters covered with Parmesan Cheese and Bread Crumbs, sprinkled lightly with Garlic and Parsley Flakes, and baked to a Golden Brown), Oysters on the Half Shell and Diesel fuel for drinks.
3 Crabs On The Beach / Crabs We Got’Em – Directly located on the Gulf of Mexico, this place stands out as “one of the Reddest places” that you’ll ever be at! Fresh water fish tank, breathtaking view, Gulf side deck, live music, red fairy lights and bucket full of Crabs – is what makes this place a hit.
Food ordered – Mixed Grille Seafood Platter (Grilled Mahi, Grouper, Crab Cake with Stuffed Crab Garnish served with French fries, Coleslaw, Hush puppies) and their own Homemade “melt in mouth” Honey Buns with some Beer.
4 Latitude Beach Bar By The Pool At The Hilton – Beach Bar overlooking the Gulf of Mexico boasts of an alluring view, delectable, flavorsome daily specials, potent adult beverages, live music and great staff! (Witnessing a live fire show was an outstanding add-on!)
Food ordered – Shrimp Pizza with garden fresh tomatoes, Potato Wedges with Sour cream and Spring onions with Bushwhacker and Strawberry Daiquiri for drinks.
Travel Tip – There is a lot more to do in Pensacola! For the ones who are high on adrenaline – Parasailing, fishing, diving, snorkeling, surfing, paddle-boarding, sailing, wind-surfing, jet-skiing, kayaking – are the activities to indulge in. Here is a list of 10 Best Boat Tours & Water Sports in Pensacola Beach.
So, that was our trip to Pensacola Beach! The Seashore provided us with endless opportunities of solitude and relaxation and miles of unobstructed views and access to the Gulf. It was a perfect “getaway” for the two of us where we found ourselves on the sand that was whiter than any other sand we’d seen and the water was clearer than any other beach. Rejuvenated, refreshed,revitalized and “bronzed” – we smilingly returned to Memphis (with a murmured promise to be back soon, real soon!) The sand had spoken and we had heard all that it had to say!
If you have dreamed of a day exploring a pristine beach, surrounded by emerald Gulf Water, Pensacola Beach is your ultimate destination. So make a plan today to experience the beauty and fun of Pensacola’s beaches for yourself!
Here’s to travelling and discovering new places! Cheers!