Pensacola-Perdido Key, FL Visitor's Guide

The Northwest Florida Panhandle has been home to some of the world's best tourist destinations for decades with white-sand beaches, and a massive selection of outdoor activities to choose from including fishing, boating, surfing, and more!. Neighboring beach communities of Pensacola and Perdido Key, Florida, offer travelers a wide selection of things to do from history tours to world-class dining. The Pensacola downtown area is full of rich history and is one of the first settlements in America. That's why they call it the "City of Five Flags" because five countries have claimed the city since the 16th century (Spain, France, Great Britain, Confederate States & United States). Come to Pensacola for the history and culture and stay because of the relaxed atmosphere and nearby beaches.

Weather
Enjoy a vacation filled with sunshine during your stay in the city of Pensacola and nearby Perdido Key, 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
Historic Pensacola is known for its vintage architecture, variety of restaurants and taverns, and a strong military presence. All of these features work together to provide travelers with stunning landmarks that help give a glimpse into the Gulf Coast lifestyle.

The Pensacola Lighthouse was built in 1859, 38 years after the United States took control of Florida from Spain. The lighthouse sits on an active military base, the Naval Air Station Pensacola, and offers climbing tours, history lectures, sunset tours, children's programs, and hosts both weddings and special events. While in Pensacola also be sure to check out the Wall South Vietnam Veterans memorial, Crystal Ice Company building, and more historic and monumental attractions.

Perdido Key, Florida in all its majestic beauty attracts visitors searching for a home away from home. While visiting Perdido Key, be sure to visit the Perdido Key State Park. This 290-acre Florida State Park is open from 8am until sunset and allows beach goers a serene environment for a family outing, or romantic day in the sun.

Things To Do
Pensacola is the oldest European settlement in Mainland America (1559), so naturally there is a lot to do! Whether into history, dining, entertainment, or simple relaxation, Pensacola, Florida and nearby Perdido Key, Florida has got you covered. Inherently a family spot, there is something for visitors of all ages. Pensacola History and nature tours are perfect for those seeking a refreshing intellectual activity. Tour companies take you downtown for a pub crawl, or even through historical sites on a guided Segway tour! Parasailing and Sailing excursions are popular in Pensacola and Perdido Key, as well as deep sea and shallow water fishing trips and family beach photography sessions. If in the mood for a road trip, head east to Pensacola Beach, Fort Walton Beach, Destin, or Sandestin, Florida for even more family-friendly things to do.

Dining & Nightlife
Historic scenery, a coastal atmosphere, and southern hospitality makes dining and nightlife in Pensacola Beach and Navarre and pleasurable occasion. Many restaurants in Pensacola are built among historic, century old structures, accentuating any patrons dining experience. Perdido Key dining concentrates on Gulf inspired dishes like Oysters, shrimp, and plenty of fresh fish.

The nightlife is strongest in Pensacola's downtown historic district with bars and clubs like Seville Quarter, and multiple Pubs and Taverns leading an extensive roster of exciting party destinations. Perdido Key, Florida offers the best of both worlds with popular Orange Beach, Alabama on one side, and Pensacola on the other. Find plenty of beach bars to wet your whistle and your toes after a long day in the Florida sun.

Lodging
Beachside Condos and Hotels are popular with visitors to Pensacola and Perdido Key, 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 history and beach culture, Pensacola and Perdido Key offer a wide array of antique outlets, souvenir shops, locally owned boutiques, beach retailers, and so much more. Spend a day exploring the historic downtown Pensacola, all while browsing some of the best shops Northwest Florida has to offer. Take a break at Seville Quarter, ranked #18 out of Nightclub and Bar's top 100, or enjoy a homebrewed beer over at McGuire's Irish Pub, which according to the company website is located inside Pensacola's original 1927 fire house. 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 Perdido Key, Florida city event planners and local business provide plenty of events to keep residents and tourists busy year-round. For music, there is no better place than Pensacola. Catch one of the many music festivals including Reggae Fest, Jazz Fest, and more throughout the year. Pensacola throws Mardi Gras celebrations and parades in February, not to mention a grand 4th of July celebration and firework display. Pensacola hosts a yearly fishing rodeo from June 21-24 which attracts casual and pro fisherman from around the world.

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) Check out Gallery Night at Downtown Pensacola. It happens on the first Friday of each month. Gallery night features local art and entertainment. It's a great way to enjoy the culture and people of Pensacola.
3) Pensacola NAS is home to two of the top museums in the country. The Naval Air Museum is home to several WWI and WWII aircraft and holds tours daily. There is also the Pensacola Lighthouse next door that is full of history and interesting artifacts. Climb to the top for great panoramic photos of Pensacola!
4) Perdido Key is a perfect beach for a quiet experience. This small beach town is known for long stretches of uninhabited beach.
5) Joe Patties Seafood Market is one of the oldest and largest seafood markets in the area. Stop by for a bite to eat, or take some fresh local seafood home for a delicious meal.
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) McGuires Restaurant in Pensacola is a must visit. The atmosphere alone will make you pull out your camera and snap a few shots. There food portions are generous, but relatively inexpensive. Try some of their locally brewed beer or locally famous "boxleys".
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) Historic Segway Tours are the best way to see the downtown area and its rich history. The tour guides are fun and factual, but galavanting the streets of Pensacola aboard a segway makes it memorable.

References
1. http://www.visitpanamacitybeach.com 2. http://www.weatherspark.com 3. http://www.pensacolalighthouse.org/index/history/early-history 4. http://www.floridastateparks.org/perdidokey/aboutthepark.cfm 5. http://www.visitpensacola.com 6. Nightclub & Bar and Technomic Inc. 2012


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