48 Beach-Less Hours in Pensacola


Pensacola may be known for its sugar-sand beaches, but there’s so much more to do and see while you’re exploring the best town on the Emerald Coast.

If you ask any local, Pensacola was home to America’s first settlement. Our charming downtown is highly walkable, booming with development, and home to so many good eats while still upholding gorgeous old-world charm.

If you’re looking to enjoy Pensacola beyond the beach, here is a kid-friendly itinerary for 48 beach-less hours in Pensacola!

Friday: Take a Tour

Go Retro tours has a great hop-on hop-off tour at noon on Fridays. This is a great way to get your bearings on the city. If you already know your way around, they have a few other options, including a ghost tour and haunted house investigation!

Emerald Coast Tours offers a free walking tour, bike tours and rentals, and a Segway Tour for those over 14.

For a self-guided experience, check out America’s First Settlement Trail. This downloadable map marks over 20 stops and 70 points of interest as you follow a red-painted line on the sidewalks of Historic Downtown.

Be sure to take in these extraordinary spots in and around downtown Pensacola to appreciate Pensacola’s Black History.

Friday Evening: Joe Patti’s Seafood Market

Joe Patti’s Seafood has been around since 1931. If you go at the right time, you can still see Frank Patti, son of Joe Patti, calling out ticket numbers and heckling indecisive customers. Make sure you know what you want before taking a number – the line moves quickly!

While the scent is… well… of a fish market, the impressive display of fresh seafood and a live lobster tank makes for a fun stop with the kids.

A young boy holding a lobster at Joe Patti's fish market in Pensacola

A favorite among locals: take home a bag of Royal Reds (a large shrimp that tastes more like lobster) and have them steamed for you at the register. We like ours tail-on, with medium spice and lemon, but you can’t go wrong. Don’t forget a jar of remoulade sauce!

Pro Tip – all kids get a free scoop of gelato!

Saturday Morning: Palafox Market

Starting at 8am, you can stroll up and down the center of Palafox Street for a local market. The market’s northern end begins at the intersection of Palafox and Wright Street. There are essentially three sections: local artists and makers, food pop-ups, and produce, and there are also live music acts scattered around. It has become so popular that it has expanded into Plaza Ferdinand several blocks down.

Pro Tip – don’t skip the playgrounds! You can find a small early learning garden for toddlers at Bodacious Brew Thru (behind the larger Bodacious Shop) and a nature-based playground with plenty of climbing opportunities at Discovery Square.

People walking around the Saturday Palafox Market in PensacolaSaturday Lunch: Downtown

You can’t go wrong with any of these downtown spots, and all are within walking distance from the Palafox Market.

Jaco’s Bayfront Bar & Grill is a fresh, seafood-centered fare overlooking the Palafox Pier Marina. Don’t leave without trying the crab cakes! And the kids can enjoy the Plaza de Luna splash pad when in season or say hello to some pelicans right outside of the restaurant.

Hub’s Stacey’s is a casual sandwich shop and bar located across from Seville Square, a small park with beautiful, aged oak trees and a gazebo that is home to many festivals and events on the weekends.

Seville Quarter is a historic group of seven restaurants and bars under the same roof with a gorgeous courtyard. You could spend hours wandering through the spaces and admiring the original and repurposed historic pieces, many of which date back to the 1800s. Expect to find a mix of pub and Louisiana cuisine. Don’t stay after hours as it turns into a giant nightclub, not to mention it’s rumored to be haunted!

For a quicker bite, hit The Garden: an open-air collection of airstream food trucks!

Saturday Afternoon: Take in a Museum

A full list of Pensacola museums and sites can be found here. Our favorites are the Pensacola Children’s Museum, Pensacola Historic Village, Pensacola Museum of History, and the Pensacola Museum of Commerce. They are not terribly big and are located within walking distance of each other, so you should have time to see more than one. Admission to all four Pensacola museums for seven days is $12 for adults and $7 for children (children 3 and under are free).

Naval Aviation Museum: while a bit of a drive from downtown, the Naval Aviation Museum is truly a gem and an absolute favorite for travelers and locals alike. Admission is free, and there are over 150 restored aircraft on display!

Know you’re entering a military base, so you must have a photo ID and abide by their security protocols.

Pro Tip: If you’re visiting during the week, plan your visit around the Blue Angels practice and watch them soar right over the museum before you go inside.

A young boy sitting inside an aircraft at the Naval Aviation Museum

Saturday Dinner

The Fish House is a Pensacola institution and has been visited by (seemingly) every celebrity who has come to visit. They are famous for their Grits á Ya Ya, and the view of the water will not disappoint. The back deck typically has live music and some space for kids to wiggle.

McGuire’s Irish Pub has a heavy, pub-centric menu and may not be what comes to mind when you visit a beach town; however, the food is great, and the restaurant is filled with entertaining gimmicks for all to enjoy.

The wait can be astronomical during peak hours; it’s best to join the waitlist through their website before heading over. Stop in across the street at Doc’s Hop Shop for a local beer if you still need to kill some time.

Sunday Breakfast @ Café Single Fin

Located in Waterboyz skate shop, Café Single Fin is a counter-service spot offering all-day breakfast, great coffee, and delicious açaí bowls. Make sure to check out the indoor skate park in the back: your little skater will be very impressed, and the rest will still enjoy running up and down the ramps during breaks.

Sunday: Gulf Breeze Zoo

This smaller zoo has undergone some major renovations in the past five years, making it a beautiful space to spend the day in. It has a lot to offer, particularly all the opportunities to feed the animals, but is still small enough to tackle in a single visit. Wagons are available to rent – and don’t skip the train ride when you buy your ticket.

Also, if you’re in the mood for a splurge, I highly recommend the Sloth Encounter!

Gulf Breeze Zoo Sloth Encounter

Seasonal Fun

Lastly, depending on the time of year you are visiting, the following is a list of seasonal events you could try to squeeze in:

Bands on the Bayou – free, live music performances at Bayview Park. Bring a blanket, let the kids run, and grab dinner from a local food truck.

Pensacola Mardi Gras – enjoy king cakes, parades and celebrations galore!

Pensacola Blue Wahoos Baseball – season typically runs from April to September. Don’t skip the playground behind the stadium overlooking the water!

Fiesta Pensacola – a ten-day festival in June to celebrate Pensacola’s history.

Pensacola Ice Flyers Hockey – season typically runs from October to March.

If you’re visiting in the fall, check out our Guide to Family Friendly Fall Festivals to see what’s happening. 

Pensacola Winterfest – from mid-November until Christmas you can see Santa, the Grinch, and take a fun and memorable holiday tour, including on the Polar Express!

We hope your 48 Beach-less hours in Pensacola are amazing!


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