Pensacola Beach is my happy place. About five years ago, I discovered that the most beautiful beach I could ever want to visit is a mere three hours’ drive from my home in New Orleans. Since then, I have made it my business to get my family there as much as possible. When we first started going, we booked a hotel in the city and drove to the beach. After a few visits, I looked into renting a beach home on VRBO. We have done this twice and these two trips were the best. vacations. ever. The pics above are from our first beach house visit back in 2014.
The clean, sugary sand and clear turquoise Gulf water make Pensacola Beach a breathtakingly beautiful place. I have been to a few other nearby beach towns including Galveston, TX and Biloxi, MS, but Pensacola is my favorite not only for its pristine beaches, but also for it’s uncrowded, unassuming, laid-back vibe. You do not have to drive far to find some privacy where your children can run and play without running into another family, and you can relax without dealing with hordes of tourists.
Places to Eat
Native Cafe’ is a great place for the whole family to get a delicious breakfast. It is on Pensacola Beach (the island, so you do not have to go back in to the city or Gulf Breeze (on the mainland). For something a little more upscale, Shan Kishi Japanese Hibachi is another awesome place to grab a meal when you are on the island. The kids love watching the hibachi chef prepare their meal, and the food is amazing. Shopping for groceries at Publix in Gulf Breeze is almost as nice as grabbing takeout. The store is always beautiful, clean, well-stocked and staffed with someone friendly to help you find what you need. I have cooked a large holiday meal and hosted a barbecue in Pensacola the past few years and Publix made shopping a breeze (pun intended).
Things to Do
Every time we go to Pensacola, we catch the Blue Angels when they practice. Rather than joining the spectators on the beach, we take a Chase-N-Fins dolphin cruise out into the Gulf where we can get a front row seat to the action in the air and in the sea! You can also catch the Blue Angels performance at the Naval Aviation Museum, which hosts a reception for the pilots where they meet spectators and sign autographs. And, the museum is free! Since Pensacola is so nearby, I have started taking my summer camp there for our end-of-camp trip. In addition to visiting the museum, my campers have visited the Pensacola MESS (math, engineering, science & stuff) Hall, a non-profit hands-on science museum for kids and big kids!