Many people flock to Pensacola, Florida, just to spend a weekend relaxing amid its scenic beauty, with many options for culinary delights, outdoor activities, and endless family fun at hand. This city truly offers something for everyone and caters to a diverse range of visitors.
The challenge, however, is deciding on the best activities for a weekend in Pensacola with so much to choose from. That's where we come in. This blog will provide you with the perfect weekend itinerary for Pensacola, helping you make the most of your time in the city.
Let's jump right in!
Friday afternoon: take a stroll along PENSACOLA BEACH GULF PIER
There is nothing better than starting your weekend in Pensacola strolling along the iconic Pensacola Beach Gulf Pier soaking in the amazing views and delightful atmosphere of this amazing fishing pier.
Boasting panoramic vistas of the Gulf of Mexico, Pensacola Beach Gulf Pier is a must-go place to see fishers trying their luck (you can join them if you want since local fishers are very welcoming), admire the scenery, and spot sea life including sea turtles, barracudas, and even dolphins if you're lucky. Take the opportunity to walk along Pensacola Beach, too, and admire the structure from below.
Pensacola Beach Gulf Pier is also famous for being a sunset spot. Many locals and tourists flock to the pier looking forward to witnessing what can only be described as an unforgettable sunset.
Friday evening: soak up authentic Irish vibes at McGuire's Irish Pub
What about kicking off the weekend with a fun night out? McGuire's Irish Pub is all about good food, drinks, and genuine Irish vibes.
Within a historic 1927 Old Firehouse, this Pensacola treasure offers a diverse menu catering to all palates. Standout dishes include the Irish Boxtys and Cockles and mussels. For those craving heartier fare, choices like steak burgers, pasta, and traditional pub staples, such as the Authentic Irish Lamb Stew, await.
After your meal, lingering for drinks is a must. The live music, often featured, elevates the atmosphere, occasionally featuring Irish melodies to enhance the vibe.
The venue brews five unique beers in its onsite oak and copper brewery and offers a mix of both timeless and inventive cocktails.
Don't forget to bring a dollar bill to sign and affix to the pub's walls. Rumor has it that the establishment is adorned with over a million bills.
Saturday morning: start the day with a delicious breakfast at Scenic 90 Cafe
Start your day by having delicious sun-up sustenance in a throwback-style breakfast parlor.
The retro-inspired decor of Scenic 90 Cafe is worth the trip alone. From the moment you step inside, you can tell you'll have a great experience.
But then you taste the food: steak & eggs, hash browns, sausage & biscuits, Stack of Jacks, French toast, and fresh fruits. Add freshly squeezed orange juice to go with some coffee, and you have the perfect meal to get you energized for a full day in the sun.
The best part? You don't even have to wake up that early. Three worlds for you: all-day breakfast! Also, if breakfast turns into brunch, hey, let the kids have their milkshake; they're on holiday, after all.
Saturday morning: explore the historic and charming Downtown Pensacola
Downtown Pensacola has it all: history, culture, and a plethora of entertainment options suitable for the entire family. Regardless of the time you choose to explore this vibrant area, there's always something to capture your interest, whether it's diving into the bustling activities or simply immersing yourself in the area's amazing vibes.
In the heart of Downtown lies Palafox Street. Once elected one of the 10 Great Streets in America, this cosmopolitan and lively thoroughfare is brimming over with amazing eateries, bars, boutiques, art galleries, and cultural venues such as theaters and museums.
Multiple layers of history are also apparent on its buildings, squares, and sidewalks — a mix of British, Spanish, and French reminding visitors of Pensacola's colonial past.
Don't skip a visit to Plaza Ferdinand VII, one of the most important landmarks of the city. The square was the place where the Spanish formally transferred Florida to the United States in the 19th century. Today, the square is a stunning park surrounded by beautiful trees and buildings. One of them is the Pensacola Museum of History, a must-go for history buffs.
If you want to go further into exploring the area, the America's First Settlement Trail is a great and fun way to explore downtown. Marked paths throughout the Historic District will lead you to several historical and photogenic spots comprehending over 260 years of history.
Hot tip: Saturdays are great days to visit Palafox since the famous street becomes the stage of the Palafox Market. You'll find lots of delicious food, art, antiques, and crafts.
Saturday afternoon: unwind at Pensacola Beach and watch the sunset
The soft white sands and crystal clear waters of Pensacola Beach offer the perfect background for you and your family to engage in water activities, sunbathe, relax, and admire some of the best scenery in Florida.
Whether you want to rent a paddleboard, venture into a surf lesson, or just relax on a beach chair feeling the breeze coming from the ocean, you're certainly going to have a great time in Pensacola Beach.
Thanks to the proximity of the beach with Pensacola Beach Gulf Pier, you're just a few steps away from watching the sunset after a day of beach fun from the best place to see a show of colors at the end of the day.
Also, if you're a nature lover, take the Footprints in the Sand Eco-Trail. This 8.5-mile trail explains the amazing aspects of the island's ecology and it's as fun as it's educational for kids.
Extra tip: if you're planning to spend the afternoon on Pensacola Beach, don't forget to check Pensacola Beach Boardwalk out. Lined with boutiques, restaurants, and other entertainment venues, the boardwalk is a great spot to have a meal looking at the sea, take nice pictures with the family, and watch live performances.
Saturday evening: savor superb and fresh seafood dishes at The Grand Marlin
One of the best activities for a weekend trip to Pensacola is indulging in a culinary journey featuring the freshest seafood from the Gulf Coast. For this experience, The Grand Marlin stands out as a top choice.
This upscale establishment is a staple in Pensacola's dining scene, exuding an ambiance that fuses local charm with Caribbean flair. Guests can enjoy captivating views of the picturesque Pensacola Sound from both the interior and exterior dining areas.
The restaurant houses an oyster bar and presents a menu brimming with some of the freshest seafood selections you'll find on the Gulf Coast. To ensure freshness, the menu is crafted and printed daily, highlighting the day's best catches. Complementing the cuisine, the drinks are exquisite, and the service consistently earns high praise.
Among the standout offerings from their "Oysters and Seafood Cocktails" menu section are the Oysters Rockefeller, barbecued oysters, and Mexican shrimp cocktails. Yet, the dish that frequently steals the spotlight is the Grouper Picatta, featuring a Parmesan-crusted Panko topping, served atop a bed of sautéed spinach and whipped potatoes, and garnished with crispy capers. Additionally, the crab cake appetizer receives great reviews from patrons.
Tip: It's advisable to make a reservation in advance, especially since the restaurant tends to be bustling during weekends.
Sunday morning: have a nutritious breakfast at the local's favorite Native Cafe
Named as such for being "Owned and operated by friendly natives," Native Cafe is one of the best breakfast destinations on the island. A hit with those looking for a delightful experience of fresh, nutritious, and homemade breakfast and brunch.
Options include a Good American breakfast with a Florida twist, Eggs Benedict Arnold, a seafood omelet with fruit, Crab Cakes Benedict, Stuffed French Toast, and the Hungry Native. The pancakes are big and delicious — a must-try!
The local community voted this place the best breakfast restaurant in Pensacola. What could be more convincing?
Sunday afternoon: visit the National Aviation Museum
As the birthplace of naval aviation, no trip to Pensacola would be complete without a visit to the National Naval Aviation Museum. Even those unfamiliar with the topic will be captivated by the museum's vast collection, featuring over 4,000 artifacts and 150 meticulously restored aircraft. Perhaps the highlight of the visit are the high-definition Flight Simulators, offering a thrilling insight into the sensations of combat and stunt flying — brace yourself for an exhilarating experience!
The museum is also home to the Cubi Bar Café, a themed eatery renowned for its delicious salads, sandwiches, and desserts. Their freshly baked bread, made daily, is a must-try. Before concluding your visit, don't forget to browse the museum shop, where you'll find a variety of souvenirs to commemorate your trip.
Craving more aviation excitement? On most Tuesdays and Wednesdays from March to November, visitors have the unique opportunity to witness the Blue Angels, the U.S. Navy's premier flight demonstration squadron, practicing above the Navy base.
On select occasions, guests even have the privilege of meeting the Blue Angels team post-practice. Trust us, it's an unparalleled experience you won't want to miss!
Sunday afternoon (alternative plan): Swing into action and tee off at Tiger Point Golf Club
Fancy a swing on the green? On the serene banks of the Santa Rosa Sound and showcasing stunning coastal vistas, Tiger Point Golf Club welcomes both members and visitors.
Drawing inspiration from traditional Scottish links golf designs, the course is a delightful blend of fun and challenge. It seamlessly incorporates water features, with a par of 72 that intricately weaves the classic Scottish links style with water elements across 14 holes.
The club further enhances the golfing experience with amenities such as a driving range, two putting greens, a chipping area, and a specialized practice bunker. Tiger Point stands as an exceptional venue to refine your golfing skills.
The club also provides private and group lessons, making it a great choice for beginners or those looking to explore golf for the first time. This place is just perfect for some family fun in the fairways!
Sunday evening: explore the vibrant vibes of the Pensacola Boardwalk
This is one of the best shopping, dining, and entertainment areas of Pensacola. Strolling along Pensacola Boardwalk soaking up the lively atmosphere and feeling the breeze coming from the sea is a great way to savor every bit of the end of your weekend.
There are so many things you can do: pick a great eatery and indulge in more fresh seafood, shop for unique souvenirs, or listen to some hits in a music venue or at the Boardwalk's amphitheater with the waters of the Santa Rosa Sound as a background. The latter is home to "The Shell," a Pensacola landmark and a must-stop for family photos.
Sunday evening (alternative plan): pass by Joe Patti's Seafood and water the cook's hat at your vacation rental
Why not wear your chef's hat and make use of the kitchen at your vacation rental in Pensacola?
One of the most delightful things to do when on vacation is to gather the family around and prepare a delicious meal. Since we are talking about Pensacola, you'll be spoiled for choice when it comes to buying fresh or frozen seafood to cook at home.
The go-to place for those looking for high-quality seafood in Pensacola is Joe Patti's Seafood. For almost a century, this city institution has been selling fresh and frozen seafood to locals and people that, sometimes, come all the way from other states to buy and browse through their vast selection.
A Weekend Vacation Guide & Top Attractions in Pensacola Beach, Florida
There is so much fun and beauty awaiting you in Pensacola. Wherever you go, you're bound to have a fantastic time, encounter breathtaking views, and savor delicious food.
While in town, why not stay like a local in a beautiful vacation rental condo or home?
At Pensacola Beach Properties, we provide a diverse selection of premier short-term rentals in Pensacola Beach and Navarre Beach, offering options with pools and pet-friendly accommodations. When you stay with us, simply kick back, relax, and immerse yourself in the Gulf Coast ambiance.