Things to do in Pensacola

Pensacola caters for a more sedate market: those who appreciate excellent seafood, miles of deserted beach, spectacular views, scuba diving on shipwrecks, and exploring the local historic sites.

Fifty-odd miles (80km) of white sandy beach should be enough to draw sun-seekers to holiday in Pensacola, but this Florida city contains much more than natural attractions and historic sites. The city is home to the US Navy's Blue Angels flight squad, and is renowned for the spectacular air displays that attract hundreds of spectators to Pensacola. The National Museum of Naval Aviation also holds a number of other interesting military craft and exhibitions. Pensacola is also celebrated for its location: Tallahassee and Panama City are close by and Amelia Island, Santa Rosa Island, and the Gulf Islands National Seashore offer many diversions for visitors, making the city a great travel base for those wanting to explore the surrounding coastline and islands.

National Museum of Naval Aviation photo

National Museum of Naval Aviation

Located on site at the sprawling US Naval Air Station west of Pensacola, the institution is one of the largest and most remarkable air and space museums in the world, with more tha…

National Museum of Naval Aviation

Located on site at the sprawling US Naval Air Station west of Pensacola, the institution is one of the largest and most remarkable air and space museums in the world, with more than 170 aircraft on display, dating from the 1920s to the space age. In addition, the museum boasts a very realistic recreation of a World War II aircraft carrier and a wartime Pacific airbase. Between March and November visitors might catch a practise session of the Navy's Blue Angels flight demonstration team soaring through the skies. If not, the team can be seen in action in one of two IMAX films shown at the museum. Keen would-be aviators can have a go at doing it themselves on the flight simulator.

Website www.navalaviationmuseum.org

Tallahassee photo

Tallahassee

The capital city of Florida, Tallahassee, is located 191 miles (308km) east of Pensacola on the 'Big Bend', close to the border with Georgia, 14 miles (23km) to the north. More rem…

Tallahassee

The capital city of Florida, Tallahassee, is located 191 miles (308km) east of Pensacola on the 'Big Bend', close to the border with Georgia, 14 miles (23km) to the north. More reminiscent of the Deep South than sunny Florida, with its fragrant magnolia trees, and old plantation houses, Tallahassee is home to Florida State University and the state's new Capitol Building, which towers 22 storeys above the downtown area. The city's five Canopy Roads, where trees form tunnels, are lined with sites such as plantations, ancient Native American settlements and mounds, gorgeous gardens, and scenic picnic spots. There is also a Museum of Natural History and Science combined with a natural habitat zoo of indigenous wildlife.

Gulf Islands National Seashore photo

Gulf Islands National Seashore

Located on the western end of the Florida panhandle, Gulf Islands National Seashore is a 150-mile (241km) stretch of undeveloped beach. What it lacks in tourist traps, it makes up …

Gulf Islands National Seashore

Located on the western end of the Florida panhandle, Gulf Islands National Seashore is a 150-mile (241km) stretch of undeveloped beach. What it lacks in tourist traps, it makes up for in sheer beauty. Camping, hiking, and biking in the isolated regions is a treat for travellers looking to get away from the crowded resorts of southern Florida. The park includes several islands, including Santa Rosa Island (home to the popular Fort Pickens Campground), Perdido Key, Horn Island, and West Ship Island (home of Fort Massachusetts). There are limited restaurants and shops in the Gulf Islands National Seashore region, though most camping sites are near enough to coastal beach communities that visitors don't need to bring everything with them and will find necessary amenities not too far away.

Website www.nps.gov/guis

Panama City photo

Panama City

Located near Pensacola on the Gulf Coast of the Florida panhandle, Panama City is a popular travel destination. Set along 27 miles (43km) of white sand beaches, the town is a great…

Panama City

Located near Pensacola on the Gulf Coast of the Florida panhandle, Panama City is a popular travel destination. Set along 27 miles (43km) of white sand beaches, the town is a great place for families on holiday in Florida, with plenty of outdoor activities available in St Andrews State Park and Pine Log State Forest, and city attractions such as the Panama City Center for the Arts and Ripley's Believe It or Not! Museum. Panama City is usually a fairly quiet town, but comes alive each spring as thousands of students flock to the town for Spring Break. Concerts, parades, and other events are regular occurrences during this period. Travellers looking for peace and quiet should remember to avoid Panama City at this time.

Website www.visitpanamacitybeach.com