1. Spend time at Fort Pickens.
Fort Pickens is located at the end of the National Seashore on Santa Rosa Island, which is home to Pensacola Beach. The United States Army built Fort Pickens in the 1800s to help defend the Gulf Coast from overseas enemies. In 1821, the Third System of coastal forts was extended to include protecting Pensacola Bay and the communities that lined the mainland shore. Pensacola Bay had long been considered important by European powers that sought to colonize North America.
By 1825, legislation was passed to establish a navy yard and depot on the bay. Fortifications were needed to protect the new territory, its resources, and its assets.
From Santa Rosa Island, the fort worked with Fort McRee on Perdido Key to guard the entrance to Pensacola Bay. Fort Barrancas and the Spanish Water Battery, staring down from a bluff facing the harbor’s entrance, adding more protection. Fort Barrancas and Advanced Redoubt guarded the Pensacola Navy Yard against land attacks.
2. Take in a show at The Saenger Theatre.
The Saenger Theatre has been called the Grand Dame of Palafox, but the Saenger Theatre is much more than a Great Lady; she is a survivor. Opened in 1925, its Spanish Baroque architecture, in opulent Rococo style took nearly thirteen months to complete.
In the early years, the Saenger hosted a colorful array of Vaudeville-type road shows, Broadway plays, and silent screen classics. Later years saw use as a movie house until 1975 when the aging edifice closed its doors. That same year ABC Southeastern Theatres donated the building to the City of Pensacola as a cultural affairs center.
Through a joint effort by the city of Pensacola and the University of West Florida, the theatre was restored and returned to its standing as a center for the performing arts. The restoration project took four years and 1.6 million dollars to complete but in 1981 the theatre reopened. It has since gone through additional renovations and today is listed in the National Register of Historic Sites.
3. Watch the Blue Wahoos at Blue Wahoos Stadium featuring Admiral Fetterman Field.
Entering its 11th season, Blue Wahoos Stadium is widely considered one of the premier facilities in Minor League Baseball. Recently named the “Best View” in Double-A baseball, the ballpark has established itself as one of the best places to enjoy a Minor League Baseball game in the country. A three-time recipient of the Southern League Ballpark of the Year, Blue Wahoos Stadium welcomed over 2,000,000 fans in its first seven seasons, finishing first or second in the league in attendance five times.
With a capacity of 5,038 fans, Blue Wahoos Stadium is the smallest in the Double-A South, allowing fans to get closer to the players and the action than any other park in the league.
4. Take part in Historic Pensacola. Historic Pensacola encompasses tours and museums that capture the rich history of Pensacola, America’s first city.
There is always something to see and do in Historic Pensacola. For example, the Museum of Industry and Museum of Commerce are hosts to permanent exhibits and tell the stories of Pensacola’s early industries and downtown Pensacola circa the 1890s.
5. Explore the Pensacola Museum of Art.
In 2016, the Pensacola Museum of Art entered into a gift agreement with the University of West Florida to transfer the museum to the university. The PMA is now part of the University of West Florida Historic Trust, which maintains 30 historic properties in northwest Florida. As a Direct Support Organization of the university, educating and training students is a central part of the Museum’s mission. However, the PMA also has major responsibilities outside of the realm of university functions and is the central art institution serving Pensacola and the greater Northwest Florida community.