Pensacola - Abbey Travel, Ireland

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Welcome to Pensacola


Pensacola, close to the Alabama state border on the Gulf coast, is yet another of Florida's resort Meccas; but instead of theme parks and excitement, the city relies on real history and natural attractions to draw the crowds and the ambience is relaxed and laid-back among fountains and parks.

Ancient Native Americans left their mark here around the natural deep-water harbour, before European settlement arrived in 1559, in the form of a group of Spanish colonists. It was the start of a long rivalry for control of the port, with France, Great Britain, the United States and the Confederacy battling it out over the years, leaving the city with a blended architectural legacy ranging from Spanish brickwork and French wrought-iron balconies to Victorian mansions. Pensacola also now boasts the Seville Historic District to showcase its heritage, containing treasures such as Florida's oldest church. With plenty of interesting history, the city also has a noteworthy Historical Museum.

Apart from ancient history, Pensacola is known for its current stars, the Blue Angels precision flying team of the US Navy, who are based here and hold thrilling exhibitions. The US Naval Air Station is situated to the west of the city and also boasts the National Museum of Naval Aviation.

In and around Pensacola powdery white sandy beaches abound along the coastline and on the Gulf Islands, particularly at Perdido Key and Pensacola Beach with their luxury resorts. The coast and islands are a paradise for fishermen, and 'foodies' will enjoy the plentiful local oysters.

Information & Facts


Pensacola has a temperate climate with mild winters and hot summers, with summer temperatures moderated by the southerly prevailing winds from the Gulf of Mexico. The city has an average 343 days of sunshine a year. Late summer and autumn can be very windy.

Getting Around

The best way to see the sights in the centre of Pensacola is to board the Five Flags Trolley, run by the Escambia County Area Transit System; it departs frequently from the Pensacola Visitor Center. The route passes through the historic Pensacola Village every weekday, with two lines serving the downtown area, Palafox Street, the waterfront and North Hill Preservation District. Another trolley service, the Tiki Trolley, runs along Pensacola Beach on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays, between Memorial Day weekend and Labor Day weekend. Escambia also runs public buses around the city daily except Sundays, but these do not access the beach. There are bicycles and scooters for hire, and taxis can be ordered by telephone from various companies.

English is the most common language but Spanish is often spoken in south-western states.

The US Dollar (USD) is the unit of currency and is divided into 100 cents. Only major banks exchange foreign currency. ATMs are widespread and credit cards and travellers cheques are widely accepted. Travellers cheques should be taken in US Dollars to avoid hassles. Banking hours are Monday to Friday 9am to 3pm.

A store-front museum in Pensacola's business district houses a fascinating collection of Civil War artefacts gathered by a local physician, Dr Norman W. Haines Jr, throughout his lifetime. The exhibits have been arranged to give visitors an insight into what life as a civil war soldier was like. Particularly interesting are the medical exhibits. The collection also includes the handmade First National Confederate flag captured by Wilson's New York Zopuaves during the Battle of Santa Rosa Island in October 1861.

The museum on site at the sprawling US Naval Air Station west of Pensacola is regarded as one of the largest and most remarkable air and space museums in the world, with more than 170 aircraft on display dating from the 1920s to the space age. In addition the museum boasts a very realistic recreation of a World War II aircraft carrier and a wartime Pacific airbase. Between March and November visitors might catch a practise session of the Navy's Blue Angels flight demonstration team soaring through the skies. If not the team can be seen in action on one of two Imax films shown at the museum, or keen would-be aviators can have a go at doing it themselves on the flight simulator.

The museum is a good place to learn about the city's diverse history and understand why Pensacola is known as the 'city of five flags'. The museum is housed in the Arbona Building, built in 1882, and the site includes an archaeological dig dating back to the Spanish colonial era, which visitors can view from a boardwalk with explanatory signs.

The capital city of Florida, Tallahassee is located 191 miles (308km) east of Pensacola on the 'Big Bend', close to the border with Georgia, 14 miles (23km) to the north. The city is set in rolling hills and sports moss-draped oaks, fragrant magnolia trees and grand old plantation houses more reminiscent of the Deep South than the Florida sunshine scene. Tallahassee hosts the Florida State University at the state's new Capitol Building, which towers 22 storeys above the downtown area. The city's five Canopy Roads, where trees form virtual tunnels, are lined with interesting sites such as plantations, ancient Native American settlements and mounds, gorgeous gardens and scenic picnic spots. There is also a Museum of Natural History and Science combined with a natural habitat zoo of indigenous wildlife.

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