Whether you want to plan a weekend getaway or want to plan out a full week or more of fun, there is plenty to do in Historic Pensacola, Florida that will fill your days with adventure and engage every member of the family. With more than 450 years of history and being the nation’s first multi-year settlement, Historic Pensacola is far from a mere beach.
Read on for some ideas on what to do when you visit this historic location:
Before looking at what to do when in the area, it’s important to understand the significance of Pensacola as a city. Pensacola is located in the Florida Panhandle and is its westernmost city. It holds the distinction of being the first Spanish settlement within the continental United States. It also is home to a significant United States Naval Air Station, incidentally also the first in the nation. It also proudly serves as the base location for the Blue Angels.
Pensacola is sometimes referred to as “The City of Five Flags” because, throughout its history, it has been ruled by five different governments. These include The United States, Great Britain, Spain, France, Great Britain, along with the Confederate States of America. It is also significant for being “America’s First Settlement” and the “Cradle of Naval Aviation.”
Historic Pensacola Village
Situated mere minutes from the Gulf Coast beaches— some of the most beautiful in the land to be sure— is Historic Pensacola, nestled within the heart of downtown Pensacola. Historic Pensacola consists of eight and ½ acres and includes some 28 properties. You can purchase one ticket, giving you seven days to explore this area and the museums that are located in the area. Ticket purchases for the tours include not only entrance into the self-guided museums but also the guided tours on the village property.
Heralding in a New Age
This is a 1920s tour available at the Lear Rocheblave House, designed to look like a 1920s boarding house. Learn what the city was like during the time of the flappers and speakeasies with this fun tour.
Becoming American Tour
This tour allows guests to learn about the area’s transition from a Spanish colony to an American territory and state. The tour begins at the Old Christ Church.
Life on the Frontier Borderlands
The Borderland Tour involves the colonial history of Pensacola and how its diverse cultures diverged in the early nineteenth century. This tour also includes a look at the 1805 Lavalle House.
Notable Museums to Visit: Self Guided
The following are the museums that you can access when visiting Historic Pensacola. Adding them to your other guided tours of the village is a great way to further your education about the area and discover even more:
Pensacola Museum of History
The flagship museum of the area is situated in this three-story Mediterranean Revival building that formerly served as the Pensacola City Hall. Here, you can enjoy a self-guided tour where you can peruse both changing and permanent exhibits.
One of the favorite permanent exhibits featured at the Museum of History is the City of Five Flags exhibit. Guests can learn about the unique story of Pensacola through photographs, artifacts, and immersive environments. It is designed to help guests experience life as it was in Pensacola when it was under each different flag.
Pensacola Children’s Museum
As another worthwhile stop when visiting Pensacola, the Pensacola Children’s Museum is purposefully designed for young guests and their parents to learn and grow together through interactive spaces. The first floor of the space features the Discovery Gallery, which houses Historic Pensacola in miniature. Kids can interact with this exhibit, playing with pint-sized houses, sailing a Spanish ship, or they can trade goods at the post.
The second floor features a recreated schoolhouse where kids can see what it was like to go to school a hundred years ago. This along with other galleries will keep kids engaged and entertained while they learn about the unique history of Pensacola.
Pensacola Museum of Art
This unique museum is backed by the University of West Florida. It is designed to augment the community missions and academics of the University along with the UWF Historic Trust by offering an inclusive space of discovery and dialogue rooted in culture, ideas, and art. The motivation behind the museum is to preserve and facilitate art through dynamic exhibitions, education, research, and interactive programs.
One notable exhibit currently featured at the museum is Seance: Photographs by Shannon Taggart. The photographs that make up this exhibit explore the phenomena and communities associated with Spiritualism, including mediumship, seance circles, and even types of technological devices that are used to communicate with spirits.
The Vandals to Vanguards exhibit is a premiere art exhibit at the museum and inhabits its entire second floor. This exhibit features contemporary masterpieces like pop favorites Keith Haring and Andy Warhol, while also promoting the works of street artists Mr. Brainwash and Banksy. This exhibit explores how some modern art icons found success by in essence rebelling against the standard sentiments of the art world.
More About The Tickets
Purchasing tickets to Historic Pensacola gives you access to the Pensacola Children’s Museum, Pensacola Museum of History, and the Pensacola Museum of Art for up to seven days after the date of presentation at the service desk. In addition to entering the museums, the ticket price also gives you access to the guided tours mentioned above, namely those that meet at the Lear/Rocheblave House, Old Christ Church, and the Well.
What About Parking?
Free parking is available for visitors, though it cannot be used in excess of two hours for the same space. If you would rather opt for paid parking in order to enjoy an uninterrupted day, you can purchase paid parking through the City of Pensacola Parking or Premium Parking.
Visiting Historic Pensacola is Entertaining and Educational
What drew people to Pensacola 450 years ago still captivates visitors today. The multicultural history, beautiful bay, and the promise of even more discoveries make visiting Historic Pensacola a great way to experience this unique city and its impactful beginning.