Florida Travel and Tourist Information
A Florida Panhandle Favorite - Pensacola Features the Best Gulf Seafood and White Sand BeachesBy Kirby Collins
Along the Florida Panhandle on the Gulf of Mexico you'll find the city of Pensacola. Pensacola is part of a stretch of Florida loving called the 'Redneck Rivera' by the locals and in a way this is very true. Not only will you find some great upscale shops and restaurants but you can also kick back and relax on sugar white sand beaches as you stare out at the emerald green waters of the Gulf or you can charter a fishing boat and try to catch one of the many species of fish that swim in the waters around there. The sunsets along the Gulf Coast are some of the most spectacular you'll ever see, one of the best places to see a sunset is on one of the many piers dotted along the water here. It's a great place to just relax and take some time to unwind and speaking of time you'll have to be sure to set your watch to Central Standard time because Pensacola is the western most city in the Florida Panhandle and just past the divide into Central Standard Time Zone, the rest of Florida is on Eastern Standard Time.
Pensacola has a rich history. It is known as 'The City of Five Flags' because, at one time or another, it has been under the control of five different governments including the Confederacy. When the Spanish controlled it they called it Panzacola which was the Indian name, when the French had control it was Pensacolle, it became permanently known as Pensacola when the English took it in 1763.
You can relive the days of WWII and view the some of the most famous aircraft used to defend our nation then - the Corsair, Dauntless and Hellcat. You can also relive that first lunar landing in 1969 as you walk through their recreation of the event.
You can also take in a little history when you visit the Naval Air Station there and tour the Lighthouse, Fort Barrancas or relive the glory days of Naval Aviation at their spectacular museum. The Pensacola Naval Air Station, also called the cradle of Aviation, is home of the world renown Blue Angels and the Aviation Museum there is not to be missed.
The National Naval Aviation Museum includes the history of not only the Navy but the Marines and Coast Guard as well. Believe it or not this place rivals the Smithsonian. It has nearly 300,000 square feet of exhibit space, one of the most interesting displays is the historical S-3 Viking jet which was used to transport president George W. Bush to the USS Abraham Lincoln in 2003 where he made his famous "Mission Accomplished " speech.
The waterways have always been an important part of life in Pensacola from the early years when the Spanish built Fort San Carlos de Barrancas to watch over the bay to the fishing fleets that bring in the fresh fish and gulf shrimp caught in the waters of the Bay and Gulf here.
Pensacola is also a sea port that connects Pensacola Bay to the Gulf of Mexico. So the sunsets enjoy some of the freshest seafood you'll ever eat at one of the many waterfront restaurants.
Fishing in Pensacola, as in most of Florida, is good year round. It's not unusual for the local restaurants to offer selections caught the night before such as snapper, grouper, tuna and wahoo. In the early summer months the shrimp boats come in offering their 'fruit of the sea' - shrimp much to the delight of locals and tourist alike. If you prefer to catch your own dinner you can book one of the many charter boats to take you fishing inshore for redfish, cobia or pompano, offshore charters can take you fishing for the wahoo, mahi mahi and blue marlin.
Families can plan a week there, of course there's the beach where you can lay on the sand all day or play volleyball on the shore or build a sandcastle in the surf. You can go out in a boat where you can fish snorkel or go for a dive and if you don't care to do any of that you can rent a sailboat, or get a canoe or kayak and explore a river or one of the rare dune lakes in the area. When you're out on the water in the Florida sun don't forget the sunblock, you can still get a tan without frying yourself. If you'd like to get away from the water all together there are many shops to explore both 'mainstream' and quaint little local shops that offer unique Florida style gifts and trinkets. If you'd like to combined a day at the beach with shopping visit the Quietwater Beach Boardwalk, a local favorite spot. At night you can enjoy one of several restaurants there, some of which feature live music certain nights of the week. If you'd like, you can make it a family night at a one of the may Putt-Putt golf courses, go see a movie or stop in a local ice cream shop.
Pensacola is a beautiful place to stop and appreciate the world around you, have a fantastic seafood meal and grab something uniquely Florida for the people back home. So come, enjoy and relax.
About the Author: Kirby maintains a travel guide with information about things to do in Florida you and your family will enjoy. Visit Pensacola, Florida for a relaxing vacation on beautiful white sand beaches.
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