things to do in pensacola florida

13 Free Things to Do in Pensacola, Florida You Can’t Miss

Whether you live in Pensacola or are just visiting, rest assured that there are plenty of free things to do in Pensacola, Florida. From swimming and listening to live music on the beach or learning about the area’s rich history, Pensacola has plenty of fun things to do. 

Pensacola Florida is known for it’s very popular and beautiful white sand beach “Pensacola Beach.” The mild temperatures, and crystal clear waters at Pensacola Beach attract beachgoers, fishing enthusiasts, and environmentalists from all walks of life. This barrier island, located on the western edge of Florida and spanning miles along the Gulf of Mexico, provides a variety of activities.

You can get your daily dose of Vitamin D by surfing, swimming, sunbathing, kayaking or fishing in the Gulf of Mexico.

Where is Pensacola Florida?

Pensacola Florida is located in Northern Florida in the Pan Handle area

Pensacola Florida Weather


Pensacola Florida Map

1 .Walk the Eco-Trail on Pensacola Beach 

The Pensacola Beach Eco-Trail is one of the best locations in Florida for nature and animal lovers. Located right on the Gulf of Mexico, the beach contains white sands and clear waters, with some of the most interesting animals housed in Florida. 

Some of the animals you can see on the beach include:

  • Dolphins 
  • Whales 
  • Manatees 
  • Pelicans 
  • Great Blue Herons
  • Sharks 
  • Lizards 
  • Alligators 
  • Snakes 
  • Turtles 

Plus, all of this exploration is entirely free, and informative signs help you learn about the fragile and diverse ecosystem. 

2. Explore Historic St. Michael’s Cemetery 

Located in the heart of urban Pensacola, St. Michael’s Cemetery is a historic cemetery where people can learn about Pensacola. St. Michael’s Cemetery is unlike most cemeteries because it is basically an open museum. 

Locals have used the cemetery since the mid-18th century, and there are people of all faiths buried on the land. The area became a state park in 1949. 

St. Michael’s Cemetery is open to the public every day from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and is free for everyone. 

3. Visit the National Naval Aviation Museum

The National Naval Aviation Museum is a must-see for those who love airplanes. The museum holds 4,000 artifacts related to the Navy, Marine Corps, and Coast Guard, as well as 150 restored aircraft. 

You can also try out the museum’s flight simulator or see a film at the Giant Digital Screen Theater. If you get hungry, you can stop for lunch at the Cubi Bar Cafe. 

The museum is open Monday through Sunday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., and the entrance fee is free. 

4. Tour the Pensacola Colonial Archeological Trail 

On the Pensacola Colonial Archeological Trail, you can discover a plethora of outdoor exhibits that showcase Pensacola history through the land’s Spanish, British, and American occupations. 

Throughout the trail in downtown Pensacola, you can see sites like the British Government House, Old Christ Church, and the Garrison Kitchen. 

You can download the brochure on the Historic Pensacola website, which will give you information on the areas you are visiting. 

5. Listen to Live Music at the Gulfside Pavilion

Right on Casino Beach, you can listen to live music at the Gulfside Pavilion while seated in Florida’s white sands or taking a dip in the clear water of the Gulf of Mexico. 

Every Tuesday, people of all ages can enjoy the Bands on the Beach concert series. Just show up at the beach at 7 p.m. to hear a diverse group of local artists from around the Pensacola area. 

6. Pay Your Respects at Veterans Memorial Park 

Veterans Memorial Park is a site filled with memorials for the veterans of Pensacola and all those who have served the United States. The park allows visitors to pay their respects to veterans from all walks of life and includes statues, benches, name placards, and a memorial tower. 

Everyone is free to visit the park, but you can also donate to the memorial. 

7. Enjoy the Naval Live Oaks Reservation

Many people don’t realize that the Naval Live Oaks Reservation is one of the free things to do in Pensacola, Florida. The Naval Live Oaks Reservation (also called the Deer Point Live Oaks Reservation or the Deer Point Plantation) is the first federal tree farm in the United States. 

The reservation is part of the Gulf Islands National Seashore, which the National Park Service has protected since 1971. Also, the area has been on the U.S. National Register of Historic Places since 1998. 

Of course, the reservation has lots of live oaks, but you can also hike the seven and a half-mile trails on the Santa Rosa Sound. 

8. Play at Perdido Key Kids Park/Visit Perdido Key State Park

The Perdido Key Kids Park is a free three-acre park near the coast where kids can have a blast on the huge playground. The grounds feature slides, climbing walls, and toy planes and cars. Children (and adults) can also swing on the plethora of swings inside the area. 

While the kids are playing, the rest of the family can relax and have a picnic at the pavilion or one of the park’s many tables. 

Don’t have kids? Well not to worry because Perdido State Park is a great place for locals and tourists alike. The boardwalk in the state park is perfect for a beach stroll or you can enjoy sunbathing or swimming amongst the beautiful sand dunes.

Please note, if you’re searching for free things to do in Pensacola Florida the State Park does require a $3 entry fee per vehicle if you don’t already own a states park pass. If you’d like to learn more about purchasing a States Park pass click here.

9. Bird Watch 

Pensacola sits between Pensacola Beach and Perdido Key, which are two major fly zones. You can see bird species, like black skimmers, black pelicans, ospreys, snowy egrets, and plovers. 

You can see the birds any time of year, but many people prefer to watch for them in the spring because the Gulf islands are the first stop for hundreds of birds as they fly back north. 

Some of the best places to see Pensacola’s birds are:

  • Johnson Beach 
  • Big Lagoon State Park 
  • Tarkiln Bayou Preserve State Park 
  • The Bayou Marcus Wetlands 
  • The Edward Ball Nature Trail 
  • Wayside Park 
  • Pensacola Beach 
  • Fort Pickens 

10. Discover the Palafox Market 

The Palafox Market is a gem of Pensacola. In the market, you can find a plethora of items, including arts and crafts, delicious food, and antiques. Although this Martin Luther King Jr. Plaza event is a market, you don’t need to spend any money to have a good time. Instead, you can speak with local farmers and artists while also walking under Florida’s crepe myrtles. 

You will find that the market is open every Saturday from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. unless the weather is dangerous. More than 100 vendors gather in the plaza every week year-round so that both locals and tourists have plenty to do every Saturday morning. 

11. Take Selfies on the Pensacola Photo Trail 

The Pensacola Photo Trail is a trail through the streets of Pensacola where both visitors and locals can take selfies with some of the most interesting sights in the city. On the walk, you can find fun photo-ops like the Pensacola Postcard, the Graffiti Bridge, the Futuro Spaceship House, and Jeremiah Pelican. 

12. Pensacola Historic Downtown District

The downtown area of Pensacola is rich with historical attractions. The Historic Pensacola Village is a National Register historic district located about three blocks from the Pensacola Bay. The Historic Pensacola Village comprises 27 properties in the Pensacola National Register Historic District, including 11 interpreted facilities open to the public.

13. Hike Around Bay Bluffs Park

This is a beautiful park, which is off Scenic Highway 90. The park has boardwalks and walking trails that provide views of Escambia Bay. On the boardwalk, there’s an excellent viewing spot. Although it is rocky going north, you may have a lovely walk along the coast in either direction.

Get Out and Explore!

I hope that this list of free things to do in Pensacola Florida has helped you to have an affordable yet enjoyable trip in the Florida Pan Handle area. If you have any other ideas for things to do in Pensacola Florida please leave a comment below!

If you’re new to Florida and are taking a road trip to get to there don’t miss our how to plan a trip guide, that has everything you need to start your trip off right. Also if you’re looking for more things to do outside of Florida here are our favorite scenic roadtrips in the US

FAQ About the Best Things Pensacola Has to Offer

What are the can’t-miss things to do in pensacola?

Dive Charter
The Pensacola Children’s Museum
Pensacola MESS Hall
Pensacola’s Historic Village

Which are the top attractions to visit in Pensacola?

National Naval Aviation Museum
Historic Pensacola Village
Watch a Performance at The Saenger Theatre
Pensacola Lighthouse and Maritime Museum

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