“Local Pulse, help me out! We’re expecting a house full of guests and bored kids of all ages over the Thanksgiving holiday. HELP!”
Here is a list of 10 things to consider doing over the Thanksgiving break:
- WINTERFEST The highlight of the holidays is the downtown Pensacola Winterfest tradition. Sing and dance along with your favorite characters throughout the night! Preshows are free and open to the public – there’s something happening every few minutes in the Winterfest plaza at Government and Palafox, starting at 5 p.m. every night of the tours. Tours are available to reserve online and feature The Grinch, A Polar Express theme, Santa, and more. Photos with The Grinch and Santa Claus are also available. The music, “snow”, and entertainment will stir up that holiday magic. Visit https://pensacolawinterfest.org/ for tickets and a full event schedule.
- HOT CHOCOLATE AND CHRISTMAS LIGHTS This is a favorite tradition of mine and is fun for all ages. Simply find a playlist on iTunes or Spotify of your favorite Christmas songs, stop by a local coffee shop like Fosko’s, Drowsy Poet, or Maker’s for a carrier of hot cocoa, and begin. A great place to start your journey is by driving from Cervantes down Palafox for the City of Pensacola’s holiday lights. Afterward, make a left on Main Street, then a left on S. Alcaniz Street, then an immediate right onto East Zaragoza through the historic district. Left on S. Florida Blanca St. will take you through the Aragon neighborhood, which always has beautifully decorated homes. While lights may be hit or miss, the cocoa, music, and time together make the memories magical.
- MOVIE THEATER OUTING Many families have a tradition of going to the movies on Thanksgiving night, while others trade the madness of Black Friday for a newly released show. Either way, it’s a fun family outing. Next week, there are several options with the releases of Napoleon and Disney’s Wish, or Marvels already out in theaters. For movie times: https://www.amctheatres.com/movie-theatres/pensacola/amc-bayou-15/showtimes/all/2023-11-17/amc-bayou-15/all
- ICE FLYERS GAME AND AFTER-GAME SKATING I promise you don’t even have to be a hockey fan to have a ball at an Ice Flyers game! There are so many fun activities, pictures with Maverick, contests, and theme nights – you’ll have a great time and fun pictures. I admit staying for the after-game skate is for the energetic and ambitious, but it could be a ton of fun for kids home from college who are used to staying up late. STAR WARS NIGHT, Saturday, November 18, and Thanksgiving Eve Game on November 22. Check https://iceflyers.com/tickets/ to purchase tickets!
- BREWERY TOUR Pensacola has some wonderful breweries known for more than their beer. When guests are in town, consider a brewery tour at some of our local hot spots. If moving about isn’t for you, Coastal County and Gary’s Biergarten are great settle-in and stay-awhile kind of places on the outskirts of Pensacola proper. But if you want to stay near the downtown area or hop from place to place you could consider starting at 1. Alga Beer on 12th Avenue; 2. Stop next at Doc’s Hop Shop on Heinberg; then move down to 3. Perfect Plain or Odd Colony downtown, before a final stop at 4. Pensacola Bay Brewery on Zaragoza. There are food trucks located at several of the breweries, or add The Dog House to your stop for a meal that won’t disappoint. As always, be responsible – don’t drink and drive.
- TURKEY TROT The 13th annual Pensacola Beach Turkey Trot for Thought at 8:30 a.m. on Thanksgiving Day, November 23 is the perfect family bonding event! There will also be a Kids Beach Turkey Dash. The Dash starts at 8 a.m. with a color craft t-shirt following and the 5k starts at 8:30 a.m., There will be an after-party, runner’s breakfast, awards, costume contest, and giveaways! Trot before Turkey to raise money for brain cancer research. More information here: https://www.pensacolabeachturkeytrot.com/
- BELLINGRATH GARDENS Another special Christmas light experience is touring Bellingrath Gardens, just a short drive from Pensacola. This experience opens on Friday, November 24, 2023, at 5:00 pm and runs through January 3, 2024 at 9:00 pm. Santa will be at Bellingrath Gardens & Home nightly from 5:30 to 9 p.m. through December 23rd depending upon the weather. He is available for pictures in the Magnolia Room, adjacent to the Café. Hot cocoa and snacks are available for purchase on Live Oak Plaza; hot evening meals are available in the Magnolia Café nightly from 4 to 8 p.m.; beer and wine are available for purchase in the Magnolia Café and on Live Oak Plaza, as well as Irish coffee at the midpoint of the walking tour. Visit https://bellingrath.org/experiences/events/magic-christmas/ for a map and all the details for planning an evening trip.
- PENSACOLA BEACH TREE LIGHTING AND PHOTOS WITH SANTA Friday, November 24 from 6 p.m. – 8 p.m. on the Pensacola Beach Boardwalk you can bring your own camera and take pictures with Santa after the lighting of the Christmas tree. All Boardwalk Merchants will be open until 9 p.m., including Kilwin’s where you can snag some yummy fudge. http://pensacolabeachboardwalk.com/happenings/index.html
- SOWELL’S NORTH POLE This special experience in Milton doesn’t open until the Saturday following Thanksgiving, November 25 at 5:30 p.m., but runs through Christmas Day. This magical world boasts over ONE MILLION lights and a variety of experiences! Go for the lights, but stay to enjoy photos with Santa, camel and train rides, and more! The Elf Shack has hot cocoa, popcorn, and other holiday snacks. The cost of entry is $15 per vehicle and train tickets are sold separately for $2 per person. Follow Sowell Farms on Facebook for specific dates and times of operation. Currently, daily hours are listed from 5:30 p.m. – 9:30 p.m. https://www.sowellfarms.com/northpole
- KIA’S ANNUAL NIGHT OF LIGHTS & SANTA CLAUS This is an event geared toward young children. Join Kia Autosport of Pensacola on November 26th, 4 PM – 6 PM for the 4th Annual Night of Lights. This year’s event will benefit the Children’s Home Society of Florida and its Healthy Families Program. 3-D Eats and TasteBuds Ice Cream food trucks will be there along with bounce houses, face painting, and more! Although the event is free, please consider bringing a donation for Healthy Families (diapers, wipes, mittens, hats, socks, coats, or blankets) Kia Night of Lights Info.
While you’re downtown, go see our friends at The Dog House for some yummy food and drinks!
Food is fuel and football is life. You can find both at The Dog House this weekend. We’ve got all the best games playing on our big screens and you are invited to the watch party!
We’ve got handcrafted cocktails and a special Tailgate Menu to take your game-watching experience to the next level. Make plans to make your way downtown this weekend!
Located in the heart of Downtown Pensacola, 30 S Palafox St
Open 8 AM – 9 PM, Thursday – Saturday!