Pensacola Tourist Attractions
The port of Pensacola (pop. 60,000), situated on the best and largest natural harbour in Florida, is the economic center of the western edge of the Panhandle, the "Miracle Strip". Its history goes back more than 400 years, and the carefully restored Historic Village contains buildings of the Spanish, French and British colonial periods.Features of interest in the surrounding area are the U.S. Naval Aviation Museum; Fort Pickens (1834), at the west end of Santa Rosa Island; and Pensacola Beach with its expanses of sugar-white sand.
National Museum of Naval Aviation
The National Museum of Naval Aviation chronicles naval aviation history from its early biplane beginnings to the present state of high technology fighters. There are over 130 restored aircraft representing Navy, Marine Corps, and Coast Guard Aviation. One of the museum's highlights is the collection of four A-4 Skyhawks (Blue Angels) hanging in a diving diamond formation from the roof of a seven story glass and steel atrium. The Blue Angels are the Navy's precision-flight planes, flown by a crack team of expert pilots.Within the 291,000 square feet of exhibition space, visitors can also see the NC-4 Flying Boat, the first plane to cross the Atlantic, a full-size replica of USS Cabot's aircraft carrier island and flight deck and other famous World War II aircraft like the Corsair, Avenger and Hellcat.As well, the museum has full-motion flight simulators and an Imax theater. It is reputedly one of the most visited museums in all of Florida.
Opening hours: 9am-5pm
Always closed on: New Year's Day (Jan 1), Thanksgiving - USA (4th Thursday, Nov), Christmas - Christian (Dec 25)
Entrance fee: FREE
Useful tips: Guided tours available - meet at the Information Desk at 9:30 a.m., 11 a.m., 1 p.m. and 2:30 p.m.
Guides: Interpretive sessions sometimes available.
Facilities: Gift shop, Restaurant or food service, Wheelchair loan or rental
Typical Visit: 2 hours
Located 10 miles east of Gulf Breeze, which is connected to Pensacola via a three-mile (4.8-km) bridge, the ZOO houses more than 700 animals in naturalistic habitats. Among the ZOO's highlights are a children's petting zoo, an outdoor amphitheater with animal demonstrations, light shows at night from Thanksgiving to New Year's, and the "Safari Line" train ride through a 30-acre preserve with over 100 free-roaming animals. In one of the ZOO's "animal encounter" programs, visitors can hand-feed a giraffe.Some examples of the animals housed here are white Bengal tigers, lowland gorillas, rhinos, alligators, orangutans, ring-tailed lemurs and pygmy hippos. Several of the ZOO's inhabitants are endangered species.
Civil War Soldiers Museum
The Civil War Soldiers Museum opened its doors to the public in 1991. The majority of the collection was donated by Dr. Norman W. Haines Jr, a local physician, who began collecting as a boy.Life during the Civil War for soldiers is featured through photographs, artifacts, uniforms, equipment, weapons, art, realistic human figures, dioramas and life-sized camp scenes. Civil War medical paraphernalia and a recreation of a battlefield hospital make up a large number of items from the private collection.
The Saenger Theater is a Spanish Baroque performance hall with Rococo styling. It was built in 1925 as a showplace for Vaudeville-type road shows, Broadway plays, and silent movies. It has undergone a number of renovations in its history and today offers a wide array of theatrical performances and concerts. Some of the entertainers to play or perform here in the recent past are Harry Connick Jr., David Copperfield, Wynton Marsalis and Ziggy Marley. It is also the home of the Pensacola Symphony Orchestra.
National Memorial to Missing Children
The National Memorial to Missing Children is located within Hawkshaw Lagoon Memorial Park in Pensacola. The observation deck is home to a bronze scuplture known as The Sanctuary. The arms and hands form a shelter and represent protection.The pedestrian bridge in the park spans the lagoon.
Pensacola Museum of Art
Located in the old city jail (built 1908), the Pensacola Museum of Art houses a permanent collection of decorative arts and 20th century art. Each year the museum hosts a variety of traveling exhibitions. The Pensacola Museum of Art is also home to a reference library and art classes for all ages.
Address: 407 South Jefferson Street, Pensacola, FL 32501-5901, United States
Opening hours: 10am-5pm; Sun: 12pm-5pm; Sat: 12pm-5pm; Closed: Mon
Always closed on: New Year's Day (Jan 1), Thanksgiving - USA (4th Thursday, Nov), Christmas - Christian (Dec 25), Easter - Christian
Entrance fee in USD: Adult $5.00, Students $2.00, Military discount $2.00, Child 5 & under FREE
Facilities: Gift shop
Pensacola Naval Air Station
The U.S. Naval Air Station (NAS) opened in 1914. Nearly every American pilot who served in WW II came here to train before going to bomb the enemy. Today it is one of the area's biggest employers and home to thousands of naval staff and their families. It is also the location of the popular National Museum of Naval Aviation.
Address: 190 Radford Boulevard, Pensacola, FL 32508-5217, United States
Useful tips: For more information call the public affairs office at (850) 452-2311
The U.S. Corp of Engineers used slave labor to build this Fort Barrancas between 1839 and 1844. Its goal was to protect Pensacola Bay although it only saw a little battle action during the Civil War. There has been some type of fortification here since 1698, when the Spanish occupied the territory.Nearby, the British built the Advanced Redoubt Fort. It is surrounded by a dry moat and only accessible via a drawbridge.
Pensacola Lighthouse was built in 1859 and is located onboard the Pensacola Naval Air Station. The lighthouse is visible 27 miles out at sea and is also the tallest on the Gulf Coast.
Pensacola Historical Museum
Features exhibits at the Pensacola Historical Museum include local history exhibits from the time when Native Americans made their home here through to Spanish and British colonization and the Civil War to the present.
Plaza Ferdinand VII
Plaza Ferdinand VII, named for Spanish King Ferdinand VII, served as the center of Spanish community life and public ceremony. A statue of Andrew Jackson stands to commemorate when he received Florida from Spain in 1821.
Veterans Memorial Park
A replica memorial of the one in Washington, D.C. Veterans Memorial Park contains the names of Americans lost during the Vietnam War. There is also a UH-1M Huey helicopter and WWI veterans memorial on display.
Pensacola Opera Company
Rock Hard Designs
Sam's Fun City
Sam's Fun City features miniature golf, bumper boats and go-kart tracks. Amusement park rides including a 45-foot Ferris Wheel are available.