Pensacola Beach-Navarre, FL Visitor's Guide

The Northwest Florida Panhandle has been home to some of the world's best tourist destinations for decades. Neighboring beach communities of Pensacola Beach and Navarre, Florida, offer family and budget friendly vacations lauded by both the young and the old. Visitors will enjoy long stretches of uninhabited beaches, historical landmarks, and upscale accommodations. Pensacola and Navarre Beach is the place to go for a little less commotion and a little more ocean.

Weather
Enjoy a vacation filled with sunshine during your stay in Pensacola Beach and nearby Navarre, Florida! Northwest Florida receives an average of 320 days of sunshine a year. Mid-Western and New England residents, as well as many foreign visitors, find themselves unprepared for the warm, humid climate producing hot, hot, summers, and no dry season. The "warm season", lasting May 24th to September 30th, produces an average temperature of 83.5 degrees Fahrenheit, while the "cold season", lasting November 30th to March 5th, cools even the bravest beach goers with an average daily temperature of 56 degrees (and a low of only 46 degrees)! Be prepared to dress in layers in the late fall, winter, and early spring, and to peel those layers down to a bathing suit when May comes around.



Landmarks
Pensacola Beach is known for beautiful beaches, scrumptious seafood, and a busy nightlife. All of these features work together to provide travelers with stunning landmarks that help give a glimpse into the Gulf Coast lifestyle.

Perhaps the most memorable landmark is the retro Pensacola Beach flashing sign! This commissioned in the late 1950s, the sign was designed by Patricia Born, and built by Lamar Advertising in 1960. The sign can be visibly seen from US Hwy 98 and points the way to the Pensacola Bay Bridge. Pensacola Beach Gulf Pier is one of the longest in the Gulf of Mexico at 1471ft. The Pensacola Beach Gulf Pier is located conveniently beside the Portofino Boardwalk which features bars, restaurants, and shops.

Not far down the road, Navarre, Florida stands as one of the most quiet and affordable beach destinations within the Emerald Coast. Just as you cross the Navarre Beach Bridge from the mainland onto the island of Navarre Beach, you can't help but recognize the large beach park on the east side of the strip. The Navarre Beach Marine Science Station is a public research center that allows public tours and educational visits. On the Science Station's website, www.navarresciencestation.org, the mission is stated as the appreciation, conservation, and understanding of the marine ecosystem of coastal Florida through education and service.

Things To Do
Whether into history, dining, entertainment, family-fun activities, or simple relaxation, Pensacola Beach, Florida and nearby Navarre, Florida has got you covered. Inherently a family spot, there is something for visitors of all ages. Sailing excursions, pontoon and wave runner rentals are popular in Pensacola Beach and Navarre, as well as deep sea fishing trips and family beach photography sessions. In neighboring Gulf Breeze, check out the Gulf Breeze Zoo for an exciting non-beach day. Take a trip to West Pensacola Beach to Fort Pickens, where you'll find an old Civil War base that once held the infamous Geronimo! During the Summer months, you can catch the Blue Angels air shows, where travelers from all over the country come for this event. If in the mood for a road trip, head east to Fort Walton Beach, Destin, or Sandestin, Florida for even more family-friendly activities.

Dining & Nightlife
A coastal atmosphere and southern hospitality makes dining and nightlife in Pensacola Beach and Navarre and pleasurable occasion. In the beach communities of Pensacola Beach and Navarre Beach discover both limited seating, and high-volume seafood restaurants with stellar views of the Gulf of Mexico. It is also easy to find familiar chain restaurants, as well as food trucks, which continue to grow in popularity in resort towns of the Florida panhandle.

Hit Navarre Beach for multiple watering holes including "Juana's Pagodas", a massive restaurant/bar/night club located directly on the beach. Enjoy live entertainment while dancing on the sand covered floors, relaxing on the deck, or lounging on one of the many beach chairs laid along the shoreline.

Head West to Pensacola Beach and make a stop at the Margaritaville Hotel for some Lunch or Dinner at their in-house restaurant. Stay a little later and head to the Landshark Bar outside the hotel for some Jimmy Buffet tunes and cocktails. Spend a day as a "Parrot Head" in Pensacola Beach and enjoy the fun, sun and sand!

Lodging
Beachside Condos and Hotels are popular with visitors to Pensacola Beach and Navarre, Florida. The first thing to consider when looking for a rental in the Gulf Coast is: Hotel or Condo?

Hotels typically offer limited amenities, more traditional rental rooms, and less proximity to the beach. But the average Hotel makes up for what it lacks by offering lower and negotiable rates, and 24 hour service. Many renters consider Condos for their stay because of the large room size (to more easily accommodate larger families and longer stays), and proximity to the beach (many condos are Oceanside and feature gulf views and instant beach access). Also, condo management typically will include family-fun activities and events like movie nights, beach luaus, and pool parties to give guests more bang for their buck. Remember that rates for Rental Homes, Condos, and Hotels fluctuate seasonally. Typically rental rates will increase in the spring and summer, and drop during fall and winter. If interested in booking a rental, always attempt to book in advance for the best prices and availability.

Shopping
As towns built on beach culture, Pensacola Beach and Navarre, Florida offer a wide array of souvenir, locally owned boutiques, beach shops, and so much more. Spend a day browsing for beach clothing and one of the many swimsuit shops at the Pensacola Beach Boardwalk, or hit the Paradise Shops of Navarre for name brand clothing and accessory shops. If looking for a change of scenery, take a short drive to Destin, Florida for premium shopping at the Destin Commons Shopping Center, or to Miramar Beach to shop at Silver Sands Outlet Mall.

Annual Events
Pensacola, Florida and Navarre, Florida city event planners and local business provide plenty of events to keep residents and tourists busy year-round. Both Navarre and Pensacola throw separate Mardi Gras celebrations and parades in February, not to mention grand 4th of July celebrations and firework displays. The largest event in Pensacola Beach is the Blue Angels Air Show, which typically takes place twice a year. Travelers from all over the country come to Pensacola Beach for thsi event. Along with many other city-run events, Navarre hosts the Annual Fun Fest in April offering attendees a local dose of talented musicians, cuisine, and games.

Top 10 Travel Tips
1) Never underestimate the sun, use sunblock at all times. The white sand may be cool to the touch, but it's also reflecting the sunlight upwards and accelerating the rate at which your skin will tan (or burn).
2) Winter and Fall lodging rates are typically 30-50% less than what are quoted in Spring and Summer. This is great for most visiting on a budget, however most leisure travelers will notice a lot of tour operations shut down, restaurants are short-staffed, and there are very few events offered.
3) Most families will find it less expensive to split a 2 or 3 bedroom condo rather than doing separate condos. The savings could be anywhere from 20-30% for each family.
4) Tour companies are typically slower on Saturdays and Sundays during the peak tourist season (June-August). Look for special deals and offers on these days to save on tickets.
5) Visit the Pensacola Beach Boardwalk for shopping and dining. It's also a great way to hear live music daily during the Summer season.
6) The first 2 weeks of June and the last 2 weeks of August are the slower weeks during peak tourist season. The rates are slightly lower and the beach are slightly less crowded.
7) Hurricane season starts through June and run through November. Make sure to check the policy on hurricanes before booking lodging or activities. Some rental agencies are more restrictive than others.
8) Head to the zoo for a fun non-beach day activity. It's inexpensive and even has a safari train that runs through the park.
9) For those travelers who plan on going charter fishing, but don't know what to do with the meat, take it to a local seafood restaurant. Most seafood restaurants will prepare your fish into a meal for around $10.
10) Head over to Fort Pickens for some historic landmarks and history lessons.

References
1. http://www.visitpanamacitybeach.com
2. http://www.weatherspark.com
3. "Art History Lives! Here?" Pensacola Bay Magazine, January 1987.
4. http://www.visitpensacola.com/landing/pensacola-beach


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