Where to Stay on Vacation in Pensacola


Deciding where to stay in a new city can be daunting, particularly with kids. While you can’t go wrong with being near the water, there are several other great areas for you to enjoy without compromising beach access.

Read on for the ultimate guide to help you decide where to stay on vacation in Pensacola!

Getting to Pensacola and Transportation

Pensacola Airport is about 15-30 minutes from each of the below locations. Ubers are commonplace, but are typically not equipped with car seats. Most major car rental services operate at baggage claim; just be sure that your car will be onsite so you’re not shuttling with kids and luggage in tow.

Another option is to use Turo: a car rental service provided by local hosts. Many of the hosts on Turo can offer booster and car seats, and it’s nice to be able to communicate with an actual person about what your needs are before arrival.

Pensacola Beach

Pensacola Beach is easily the top destination for travelers. Once you’ve set foot on the sugar-sand beaches and experienced the convenience of having sound-side and gulf-side waters within steps of each other, it’s no wonder that it’s consistently voted as one of the best beaches in the states.

Main areas of attraction include Laguna’s Adventure Park, the Pensacola Beach Boardwalk (shops and snacks), Quietwater Beach (sound-side beach access), Casino Beach (gulf beach access with parking and beachfront restaurants), Gulfside Pavillion (outdoor music venue), Pensacola Beach Ball Tower, the Pensacola Beach Pier, and Fort Pickens. There are some great restaurants and bars scattered along the water as you head further east: my personal favorite is Paradise Bar & Grill.

There are, of course, plenty of condo and beach house rentals available through Airbnb or VRBO. Additionally, The Beach Club offers luxury condo rentals, an indoor and outdoor pool, spa, and beach access. While further down from the bustling part of the beach, Portofino Island Resort offers ocean-view condos with balconies, a resort-style pool, on-sight restaurants, and easy beach access. Another great option is Spring Hill Suites which has rooms with bunk beds. Lastly, the Holiday Inn offers traditional rooms and has a great pool complete with a lazy river.

Distance to Downtown: 14 minutes by car, 40 minutes by ferry

Pensacola Beach

Gulf Breeze Proper

Gulf Breeze Proper is located right in between Pensacola Beach and Downtown Pensacola. You can certainly find a rental through Airbnb or VRBO and they tend to be more affordable than Pensacola Beach. There are also several traditional hotels right off the main road. This location is also convenient to Publix, Shoreline Park (waterfront park with fishing, water rentals, and hiking) and Sunset Kid’s Park that has both a playground and splash pad.

Distance to Downtown: 12 minutes by car

Distance to Beach: 7 minutes by car

Downtown Pensacola

Not to be overlooked, Downtown Pensacola is walkable, charming, and full of great shopping and eats. Palafox Street from Wright Street down to the Palafox Pier has most of the favorite locales. It’s also convenient to the Blue Wahoos Stadium & Maritime Park which has a great playground. My favorite downtown spots with kids include the Pensacola Children’s Museum, Discovery Square Playground, and the Palafox Pier. Everman’s Grocery is also walkable, and Publix is a short drive away.

There are a handful of Airbnb rentals, including several lofts on or near Palafox street. For nearby hotels, consider the Holiday Inn Express and it’s stellar location.

Distance to Beach: 14 minutes by car, 40 minutes by ferry

East Hill

East Hill is a favorite neighborhood among locals. The houses are charming, the parks are plentiful (make sure to check out Bayview!), and you can walk or bike to several great restaurants. Off of 12th Avenue, you have Alga Brewing Company, Jitterbug, East Hill Pizza, and the legendary Jay’s Bakery. New to the scene is The Burrow: a restaurant and bar with fenced-in outdoor seating for the kids to run around. It’s housed in the Historic Sacred Heart Hospital: a must-see quick-stop for history buffs. Publix grocery store is very close by.

While there are no hotels in this area, you won’t have trouble finding a home rental to suit your needs.

Distance to Downtown: 7 minutes by car

Distance to Beach: 15 minutes by car

East Hill Pensacola

North Hill

Pensacola’s Historic North Hill is located just north of downtown and has a plethora of gorgeous old homes and newer builds available for rent. This area is best suited for families who like a quieter neighborhood that’s still convenient to both downtown and the beach.

Staying in this neighborhood should put you within walking distance to Alabama Square Park and the Blake Doyle Skate Park. If you’re family enjoys marveling at century-old-trees, spending time at the park, and scoping out historic homes, this might be the spot for you. They even have a walking tour!

Distance to Downtown: 5 minutes by car, 10 minutes by foot

Distance to Pensacola Beach: 20 minutes by car

Alabama Square Park, North Hill Pensacola


This historic neighborhood is rich with cultural significance and is home to both Five Sisters Restaurant and Blue Dot Barbecue (cash only!). It’s walkable to the Pensacola Library and still convenient to downtown. There are lots of good, affordable rentals here.

Distance to Downtown: 3 minutes by car, 16 minutes by foot

Distance to Beach: 17 minutes by car

Sanders Beach

Sanders Beach sits south-west of Belmont-Devilliers and also has a great amount of affordable rentals. Sanders Beach Kids Park is excellent and right next to a kayak launch! Nearby attractions include the Corinne Jones park, the Blue Wahoos Stadium & Maritime Park (awesome playground overlooking the water), and Joe Patti’s Seafood Market.

Distance to Downtown: 7 minutes by car

Distance to Beach: 21 minutes by car

For more ideas for your stay, be sure to check out 48 Beach-Less Hours in Pensacola, PMC’s Guide to Sweet Treats, Guide to Kids Eat Free / Cheap, and don’t forget our Guide to Pensacola’s Coffee Shops!

No matter where you stay on your vacation in pensacola –

we hope you have the best of times!


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