The beach is my favorite place, the sand and salt and waves just give me all the feels! If you also need a weekend escape, I’ve got your agenda for 48 hours in Pensacola, Florida!
We’ll begin this trip at lunch time, depending on your arrival time, of course. Head to Fosko Coffee Barre for a caffeine fix after your drive and one of their signature crepes or a refreshing smoothie.
Next, it’s time to hit the beach, your whole reason for visiting! There are several beaches to choose from, but if you want the quintessential view of the sky and water meeting miles off shore, you’ll need to head to Pensacola Beach. Two bridges connect the mainland with Santa Rosa Island, home of Pensacola Beach and the Gulf Islands National Seashore. There is a toll of $1 to cross onto Santa Rosa Island and only cash is accepted. Most of the beaches are free to visit, but if you want a truly secluded experience, you can use your National Parks Pass or pay $10 (or $20 per car) for entry into the National Seashore and Fort Pickens area to the west of Pensacola Beach.
The sugar-white sand is squeaky when dry and it sounds like a barking seal as you walk to the water! Just a little extra beach entertainment for you! The perfectly salty water of the gulf is warm, even into October, and will beckon you with the constant surf. The Pensacola Pier, off to the east, is 1,471 feet long and can be accessed for $1.25 per person (more if you intend to fish).
After a sun-soaked afternoon, cruise up to LandShark Landing Beach Bar. It’s part of the Margaritaville Hotel and features an open-air restaurant and bar, views of the dunes and shore, hammocks, and fountains for the kids to play in. Live music will keep you entertained as you enjoy the Lava Lava Shrimp and an Incommunicado.
Start your second day at the Scenic 90 Café. The charming 1950s diner décor is complemented by the excellent menu. The eggs benedict was delicious. I swapped my meat choice for fried green tomatoes, and the tangy kick was just what I wanted.
Up for a little history and adventure? The National Naval Aviation Museum, located on Naval Air Station (NAS) Pensacola, is an entertaining look back in time. There are Blue Angel simulators, cockpits to sit in, and real airplanes to touch.
If you are feeling parched during your visit, head over to Cubi Bar for a Bloody Mary and enjoy the Top Gun style ambiance. It looks like a place Maverick and Goose would frequent, and I absolutely love that!
Just around the corner from the museum is the Pensacola Lighthouse. It’s the the tallest lighthouse on the gulf coast still in operation and is open daily. For $7, you can climb the 177 cast iron, spiral steps to the landing at the top for a 360 degree view of the barrier islands and NAS Pensacola. From 12 stories high, the view is spectacular, I could have stayed all day!
Now that you’ve worked up an appetite, head to the Ruby Slipper for the best shrimp and grits I’ve ever had. The sauce on the grits is beyond flavorful and I’m salivating just thinking about it!
To quench your thirst after that delicious meal, Perfect Plain Brewery is just a half mile north. The Fine Flowers, brewed with lavender and chamomile, is phenomenal, one of the best microbrews I’ve had. You can play Guess Who while you enjoy your frothy, frosty beer!
To finish your day, pack a picnic and head back to the beach. The birds have missed you and the waves have so much to say! The sun is slipping lower on the horizon and is planning a spectacular display of colors for your enjoyment.
If you are feeling rested, set your alarm and get up early. Head back to the squeaky, white sand and watch the sky gradually lighten as the sun rises. Get your fill of the salty air, splash around in the warm waves, and get good and sandy. You’ll want to find grains of crushed shells in your pocket next week, just to remind yourself of your trip!
Since you’ve been up a while, your stomach is sure to be growling. Pack up your towels, rinse (most of) the sand off, and head to End of the Line Café for brunch. On Sunday, they serve brunch from 11-2. Because each Sunday has a different prix fixe menu, you can guarantee it’ll all taste wonderful together. The menu is 100% vegan, but don’t let that scare you off! It’s amazingly delicious and my carnivorous friend left our brunch fully satisfied and raving about the menu for hours into our drive home!
If you have a little time left, stop by Nearly Dead Threads and see Bari. Her shop is a well-lit vintage paradise with lots of other goodies, including homemade doggie donuts, succulents, and stained glass art. She also showcases oddities and art, jewelry and hand designed tees, and bits of lovely home furnishings.
Ok, time is up on your 48 hours in Pensacola, and I hope you have enjoyed the sand and surf and delicious food!