By Richard Remick
Whether you are a Florida resident, or you are escaping the winters up north, Pensacola is the perfect destination for outdoor recreation during winter months. There’s enough to keep you busy for weeks or even months, and enough to keep you coming back for years.
Winter temperatures average in the 50s and 60s during the day.
Here are some highlights of things to do in Pensacola:
Kayaking in Pensacola: The big attraction
For those who enjoy kayaking, Pensacola is a top destination and if you’re new to kayaking, it’s a good place to get your feet wet, so to speak.
Wayside Park: A favorite kayaking location
Wayside Park is one of my favorite places to kayak in Pensacola. Not only can you spend the day enjoying beautifully calm waters and wonderful outdoor scenery, but the park offers many outdoor activities — fishing along the shore or dock, grills and tables for picnic area or under gazebos, walks on paths or trails.
1401 E. Gregory Street
Pensacola, FL 32502
Pensacola Beach and Gulf Island National Seashore
The Gulf Islands National Seashore is one of the longest stretches of protected seashores in the US. It stretches on both sides of Pensacola Beach, both the Gulf side and the sound side. Because this area is so secluded and quiet, it is one of the best places in Pensacola for kayaking or even snorkeling. While here, check out Fort Pickens for a little of Florida’s history, or walk the boardwalk for attractions, dining, or shopping.
Fort Barrancas is another Civil War era fort that offers remarkable views. It’s a manageable size with cannons, jails, tunnels and much to interest even visitors who aren’t into history. 3182 Taylor Road, Pensacola, FL 32508. (Note: At this time, November, 2021, Fort Barrancas is not open to the general public. Admission is limited to people with a Department of Defense identification. )
The beaches of Big Lagoon State Park offer visitors some especially stunning natural views. The beaches and shallow bays are perfect for kayaking, and fishing from a kayak. Visitors enjoy crabbing in the shallow bays. The amphitheater is the site of outdoor concerts and plays.
12301 Gulf Beach Hwy.
Pensacola, FL 32507
The best scenic views of Pensacola
Bayview Park. The grills and picnic areas at Bayview Park make this the perfect area for getting together with family and friends. Kids can have fun on the playground equipment and you can bring the dog to the dog park. The park also has tennis, walking trails and plenty of parking.
2001 E. Lloyd St.
Pensacola, FL 32503
Perdido Key. At this island getaway, you can find everything from expansive dunes of white sand, wetlands and estuaries, and natural beauty, all filled with abundant wildlife. You will find clean and beautiful public beaches with attractions, restaurants, and shops all nearby on what is translated as “The Lost Island.”
Other fun things to do in Pensacola
This museum, the largest aviation museum in the world, is FREE. For aviation buffs, this splendid museum alone is worth a trip to Pensacola, but even those who don’t know a Hellcat from a F-4 will find something of interest here. The guided tours are top rated, and even the cafeteria gets raves. (Note: At this time, November, 2021, the Naval Aviation Museum is not open to the general public. Admission is limited to people with a Department of Defense identification.)
1750 Radford Blvd.,
NAS Pensacola, FL 32508
Fast Eddies Fun Center features entertainment ranging from go-cart tracks, putt-putt minigolf and a state-of-the-art arcade with prizes .
505 W. Michigan Ave.
Pensacola, FL 32505
(850) 433 – 7735
Even in the winter, when the local minor league baseball team is not using the stadium, you can catch a football game, view concerts, or attend special events.
301 W. Main St.
Pensacola, FL 32502
This lighthouse, originally built in 1859, is the oldest lighthouse on the Gulf Coast – and, at 150 feet, also the tallest. If you’d like to see a little Pensacola history, take a lighthouse tour. (Note: At this time, November, 2021, the lighthouse, which is located on the naval air station, is not open to the general public. Admission is limited to people with a Department of Defense identification.)
2081 Radford Blvd.
Pensacola, FL 32508
(850) 393 – 1561
The Blue Angel Recreational Park has camping, cabins and extensive recreation choices, but it is only open to active military, reservist, Department of Defense civilians, dependents, National Guard, retired, 100% disabled American veterans, and their guests. If you qualify to stay here, you can enjoy many facilities – disc golf, miniature golf, paintball, fishing, hiking, swimming, boating, kayaking, and more.
The Visitors’ Centers
If you need more information about Pensacola or the surrounding areas, any of these visitor centers will be able to help you.
Visit Pensacola Visitor Information Center
1401 E. Gregory St.
Pensacola, FL 32502
(850) 434 – 1234
Perdido Key Visitor Information Center
15500 Perdido Key Drive
Perdido Key, FL 32507
(850) 602 – 9279
Pensacola Beach Visitor Information Center
735 Pensacola Beach Blvd.
Pensacola Beach, FL 32561
(850) 932 – 1500
A guide for beginning kayakers.
We’re happy to share a guest post today from Richard Remick, who works part time as an IT security consultant while traveling and exploring the outdoors. He spends most of his time skiing, hiking and camping in Colorado and when in Florida you can usually find him on the water either paddleboarding or kayaking.
Richard Remick works as an IT security consultant and is also a contributor to OutsidePursuits.com.
Notes from the editor:
The information in this article was accurate when published but may change without notice. Confirm details when planning a trip, especially to areas hard hit by hurricanes.
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The author, Bonnie Gross, travels with her husband David Blasco, discovering off-the-beaten path places to hike, kayak, bike, swim and explore. Florida Rambler was founded in 2010 by Bonnie and fellow journalist Bob Rountree, two long-time Florida residents who have spent decades exploring the Florida outdoors. Their articles have been published in the Sun Sentinel, the Miami Herald, the Orlando Sentinel, The Guardian and Visit Florida.