Pensacola Florida – The Perfect Getaway
Are you looking for the perfect Florida getaway? I’ve been to Florida several times but I never truly considered it somewhere I would go to have a luxurious vacation. That was until Adam brought me to Pensacola Beach. If you’re looking for luxurious travel on a budget then Pensacola, Florida might be the perfect place for you. Between cheap hotels, cheap food and drink, and free access to white sand beaches, it can’t get much better. All this and more makes for the perfect Florida getaway that won’t empty your bank account. All opinions are my own.
Staying In Pensacola
There are many options for places to stay while you are in Pensacola. While we were visiting, we wanted somewhere that was close to the beach so we could wake up and go each morning, but we didn’t want to pay a ton of money, either. We stayed at the historic Pensacola Grand Hotel which was only a 15-20 minute drive to the beautiful Pensacola Beach. The rooms are very reasonably priced considering their close proximity to the beach. The rooms at Pensacola Grand Hotel were spacious, clean, and had a fairly decent view of the ocean.
The lobby had a nice balance between feeling modern and historic that we really enjoyed. Adam liked to wake up in the morning and go downstairs to play their baby grand piano. The employees at Pensacola Grand Hotel were very helpful and kind. We couldn’t believe the deal we had scored by staying at this hotel! I bet if you are an avid traveler like I am, you already know that when traveling on a budget, there is almost always a downside to finding a seemingly perfect location.
When you look up the Pensacola Grand Hotel you will see it mentions its historic train lobby and some other small tidbits about an old train station. What it doesn’t mention is that the hotel is LITERALLY next to train tracks that are still in operation. I’m not going to lie to you, we were woken up several times from a passing train during our stay. For that reason alone, I wouldn’t stay here again. By no means did it ruin our trip but I can’t say it wasn’t frustrating. If you’re a light sleeper or value your sleep at all, I would recommend searching elsewhere for a place to stay. There are a few other hotels in the same area that are a little more expensive but most likely not next to the train tracks!
White Sands and Crystal Water
Rule one for a perfect Florida getaway? White sand beaches. I think I can safely assume you are looking to travel to this area to spend some time relaxing. Lucky for you, Pensacola has some of the most gorgeous beaches I have ever seen. I am the type of person who can spend the entire day laying on a beach and be happy. Certain areas on the beach give you the option to rent lounge chairs by the hour. If you’re on a budget, bring your best beach towel!
In case you’re someone who needs a little more of an action packed day, don’t worry, there is plenty to do. If you want to stay close to the beach check out Key Sailing for pricing on rentals for jet skis, paddle boards, parasailing and more. Seasoned tip, you will want to bring extra strength sunscreen. It was way too easy to get a sunburn on the very first day.
Can you see why I couldn’t tear myself away from the beach? Pensacola has a long strip of beaches to choose from. We spent our days hopping from one part of the strip to the next. Along the strip you will find parts of the beach where the water is calmer which is perfect for small children or someone who likes to lay undisturbed in their inner tube. In some areas you will be lucky enough to catch a sight of some dolphins! Adam and I spotted a few not far from the shore one morning! Take some time to check out the different parts of the beach, but once you find your sweet spot, there’s no harm in setting up camp for the day.
As you may know, when it comes to my daily way of life, coffee always comes first. I need my coffee fix first thing in the morning, so it was vital for me to get some ASAP. (We actually had coffee grounds with us and tried to make some in our room, big mistake. It tasted like toilet water.) If you are like me, you want to find the local coffee and food places in the area. There was a McDonald’s and a Starbucks that was close to our hotel and one morning I was so desperate – we almost stopped at one of them. I’m so glad we didn’t because I found one of the best cafes I have ever been to.
The Drowsy Poet is a local cafe that totally embodies the sleepy little beach town vibe. They had amazing coffee (and I have high standards) and a variety of blended drinks, including smoothies. The owner and staff were all very friendly and were kind enough to give us the backstory of the local handmade mugs that they sold in the cafe. Once we got our iced vanilla coffees, we decided to take a seat on the balcony to take in the beautiful view. We even got a free showing of the Blue Angels practicing off in the distance!
Where to Eat and Drink
There was so much to choose from in such a small area- that at times it felt overwhelming! I am a vegetarian and was a little disappointed to see many of the restaurants I wanted to try didn’t offer much for me. But the places we did try were pretty fantastic.
If you like Mexican food you need to go to this next resturaunt. I repeat. You NEED to go this next restaraunt. Cactus Flower was the best Mexican food Adam and I have ever had in our entire lives. We loved it here so much we went back again the next day! Their vegetarian taco was absolutely to die for. A perfectly crispy shell, avocado, beans, cheese, a special housemade sauce & a side of rice. If you visit Pensacola and you don’t visit this spot, you are beyond missing out.
We had a lot of drinks while we stayed in Pensacola, but our two favorite places to grab a cold one were Shaggy’s and Red Fish Blue Fish. Shaggy’s is a colorful hub of delicious bar food and fun vacation drinks. (see the superiour Corona-rita below) We planted ourselves at a picnic table out on their deck and drank and ate the afternoon away. Luckily for me, their picnic tables were covered by brightly colored umbrellas to help shield my sunburn.
Red Fish, Blue Fish is a great spot to go if you have young ones with you or if you are young at heart. The indoor/outdoor turquoise bar and restaraunt has conventional seating as well as rope swings that you can enjoy your drink on. Their beach pit area is equipped with life size jenga and connect four. They also have lounge chairs out by the water that you can use while you work on your tan or gaze at the sunset.
- This is the perfect place to visit if you want to combine a gorgeous location that is relaxing but not relaxing to the point where it feels boring. Pensacola seems to really enjoy the relax all day and party into the night atmosphere. It’s perfect for a couples retreat or a best friend meet-up.
- Minus the purchase of a plane ticket, Pensacola is a relatively cheap place to stay, eat, drink, and have fun. It’s rare to find access to such high quality beaches for free. If you want to feel like you are on a faraway tropical island for much cheaper, this is a great destination.
- The area feels very safe both during the day and night
- Stay hydrated, bring high SPF sunscreen (even if you think you don’t need it) and make sure to take breaks from the sun. We both got sunburned on our first day and watched someone get taken away in an ambulance from heat exhaustion.
Hopefully this post has either helped you plan an already existing trip to Pensacola or has inspired you to visit someday! I can’t wait to revisit this small piece of paradise in the future.