Home Arts & Culture It’s A Dang Good Life, it’s Pura Pensacola

It’s A Dang Good Life, it’s Pura Pensacola

Local Pulse Lifestyle Editor Dana Hof writes love letter in her newest column "Postcards from Pensacola."

A Pensacola Sunset: Dana Hof

Don’t lie. You’ve beaten the steering wheel to a pulp, air drumming to Phil Collins’s “In the Air Tonight”. I’ve seen you – lips pursed, eyes closed, reliving your best eighties moments. 


It doesn’t matter if the eighties were your heyday or not, that song comes on and everybody knows what’s about to go down. If you haven’t listened in a while, you keep thinking the drum fill is about to break out, but Phil is a master at suspense. And then BAM…the hypnotic rhythm turns into an explosive guitar solo that kicks the entire song into overdrive. 

Up to that moment an energy is building and creating anticipation for what you know is coming. No matter how many times you’ve heard it, when that eruption happens your body can’t help but delude you into thinking you’re a master percussionist on the verge of being discovered. 

The buildup in that song is like the accelerating energy in Pensacola right now. You can’t go downtown without knowing that we are right on the cusp, just before the massive meteoric high. 

But unlike a guitar solo that breaks out and goes back to the rest of the rhythm, the serotonin surge of Pensacola is more like chasing a perfect wave. The good stuff doesn’t peak and leave, it just keeps rolling. 

The power of compounding, or the snowball effect, is in play for Pensacola. Small actions and investments made over time by many people are leading to some very big results. We have an energetic and visionary mayor like DC Reeves in office and the prevalent entrepreneurial spirit is permeating everything. 

The best part: we are just getting started. 

Throughout the history of civilization, the energy and excitement of trade and travel were centralized in port cities, so they became the hubs of information, growth, and business. Most port cities also have a history of collecting the most interesting and well-traveled people and Pensacola is no different.

The military has long been responsible for bringing some of the best and brightest people here to share in the growth of Pensacola, but now people are also coming because the word is out that it’s a great place to live and work. 

Not too long ago, I had dinner with people from three different countries: France, England, and Louisiana (wink), and earlier that week I visited with a couple visiting for two weeks from Quebec. The group in total has traveled to over 130 countries, but all were in agreement that Pensacola is exceptional and surprising. 

I believe part of what makes Pensacola special and set apart from other beach towns along the Gulf Coast is its deep historical roots and a geographic layout that keeps the resort and beach area separate but easily accessible from its thriving downtown. Once held by crowns, now it IS the crown – corona de la costa – the crown of the coast.

With its significance as the first city in America, Pensacola’s historical side is woven together masterfully with the water and beachside life of fishing, surfing, and sailing, while the moderate temperatures allow for nearly year-round sports like skateboarding, cycling, or tennis. All of this creates a culture that cannot be replicated anywhere else in the United States. 

On top of that, did you know we are one of a few US cities our size that have all five of the arts, or The Big Five, represented? Pensacola has the Pensacola Museum of Art, an accredited museum of visual arts, the Pensacola Opera, the Pensacola Symphony Orchestra, the Pensacola Ballet, and the Pensacola Little Theater. 

Not to mention we are the home of American Magic and the Navy’s Blue Angels. Both of those teams bring people from all over the world to sail, fly, work, and live in our community. 

With all the sanctioned 5ks and marathon races here, I think we could safely say, that our people are the fastest on land, in the air, and on the water. And if there is an award for “most festivals per calendar year,” we’d be crowned the winner. 

Earlier in the year, I had a lump in my throat watching the community come together for the opening of the Blake Doyle Community Skatepark. Jon Shell, you knocked it out of the…well, skatepark.

Talented chefs, athletes, adventurers, artists, musicians, entrepreneurs, and visionaries are making their way here for the first time or are choosing to return – investing their time, talent, and resources here. To be a part of the excitement. 

I said before that Pensacola’s Got The Good Stuff, but I think it’s better said that Pensacola’s Got The Good People: from Old Salts to rainbow-haired skaters and everybody in between, you are all beautiful and I’m so glad you’re here. 

YOU are the reason Conde Nast Traveler readers just named Pensacola as one of the top 10 best small cities in America. As I said on The People of Pensacola, this really means that Pensacola is a city of the “Top 10 Best People,” because a city is only as great as the people that live there.

With your open minds, creative ideas, and welcoming smiles, it’s YOU making Pensacola special, not just as a place to visit and call home, but by creating an entire culture and way of life.

It’s the concept of pura vida mixed with our unique heritage and history; it’s a dang good life, it’s Pura Pensacola.