Pensacola (population 62,100) is the last outpost on Florida’s Panhandle and 10 miles east of the Alabama border. It rivals St Augustine as Florida’s oldest town.
Pensacola Bay is the largest landlocked deepwater harbor in the state. Over its colorful history, Native Americans, Spanish, French, British, and Americans struggled back and forth to control this harbor.
Pensacola is a commercial, manufacturing, and military center; it is also the home to the Pensacola Naval Air Station.
Attractions include the Historic Pensacola Village, the Civil War Soldiers Museum, and the Natural Museum of Naval Aviation. The downtown Palafox Historic District is the site of the Pensacola Museum of Art and Pensacola Historical Museum. This area recalls life from an earlier era, with original Spanish Renaissance and Mediterranean structures. North Hill Preservation District is listed in the National Register of Historic Places. It includes hundreds of architecturally significant homes covering 50 blocks north of the Palafox Historic District.
Gulf Islands National Seashore is a 1,742-acre wildlife preserve of sand dunes and white-sand beaches. It provides sanctuary for more than 280 species of birds. There is swimming, fishing, boating, scuba diving, nature trails, and camping, plus Fort Barrancas and Fort Pickens. Nearby Milton is known as “the Canoe Capital of Florida,” and Blackwater State Park is another popular day trip.
Lodging and dining options are plentiful. Pensacola Regional Airport and trains service the area.