It had been a long time since I last visited Pensacola Beach when my husband asked me if I wanted to tag along with him to a conference he was attending.
I said “Of course, packed my bags and my laptop, because I was going to work during the day while he was in his classes.”
Which is another topic that is worth discussing. If you haven’t taken some solo time to yourself or with your spouse and you have a support system that will allow you to do this, I highly recommend it.
Pensacola Beach after Hurricane Sally:
The Pensacola Beach area had unfortunately been hit pretty hard by Hurricane Sally, and with COVID the economy has suffered greatly.
This trip that my husband and I took was in January of 2021. Hurricane Sally hit in late September of 2020. We were in town less than a year after the hurricane.
I would say that the area has largely recovered from the destruction that Hurricane Sally caused. However, on walks to dinner or lunch we would see hotels that were still undergoing repairs or restaurants with signs that said closed for repairs.
The biggest issue that Hurricane Sally caused in Pensacola Beach was rendering the Pensacola Bay Bridge unsafe. 22 cargo barges slammed into the Pensacola Bay Bridge causing a lot of damage. Which also means that the 10 min drive from Pensacola has turned into a 40 min drive.
All of that being said, I observed that the beaches in Pensacola Beach are in great shape and are ready to welcome sun and surf seekers back to its shores.
Where is Pensacola Beach located?
Geographically speaking, Pensacola Beach, is located in the panhandle of Florida and is technically a barrier island of Florida. For reference, Pensacola is just about 20 miles from the border of Alabama.
Where to eat in Pensacola Beach?
One of the things that I loved the most about dining in Pensacola Beach, at least in relation to where were were staying at the Hilton was that we were able to walk to all of the restaurants. Be advised however, that we were visiting in mid-January and it was rather chilly at night.
That being said knowing that the spring and summer months will bring about warmer temperatures and even more enjoyable conditions for walking to dinner.
Shaggys – The crab cake sandwiches and the fish tacos are fantastic!
Water Pig BBQ – Offering just as it sounds, bbq offering breathtaking water views is what you will find at Water Pig BBQ.
Red Fish Blue Fish – Don’t miss the fish tacos and the swings in the bar area.
Papas Pizza – Sure, you can find a traditional pizza here but you can also try some innovative pies here as well.
Cafe Nola – Offering a wide variety of po-boys, everyone will find something that they love at Cafe Nola!
The Reef – You’ll find the best burger on the beach at this quaint restaurant.
Where we stayed in Pensacola Beach:
Because we were traveling for my husband’s conference we stayed in the hotel where the conference was taking place to make it easier for my husband.
We stayed in the Hilton Pensacola Beach and I would 10/10 stay here again and recommend it to anyone looking for a place to stay on Pensacola.
The Hilton was one of the hotels that unfortunately was damaged by Hurricane Sally, so there were some differences between the way that the hotel typically looks and functions because they are actively working to do repairs.
That being said, if you were to travel to the hotel before the construction is completed, I don’t feel that it would be disruptive to you.
The hotel has a very nice exercise room, which came in handy for me because I was doing a 6-week weights challenge at the time. For what it is worth, I have never seen a hotel gym as well taken care of a clean as this one. Every time I worked out, there was a staff member either finishing cleaning or just starting to clean.
There are 2 beautiful outdoor pools. One is a shallow, zero entry for the little ones. Additionally, in peak season there are cabanas for rent
The Starbucks in the lobby was really nice to have access to. Especially since I was working my 9 – 5 while we were there. It was lovely to pop down for a coffee or a tea during the mid-afternoon slump.
We were lucky enough to be upgraded to a Junior Suite for our stay, which made working from a hotel room that much more enjoyable. It was a good sized room with 2 queen beds that was separated very well with a living space, wet bar and a huge balcony that overlooked the ocean.
Perhaps what I liked the most about our time at the Hilton Pensacola was getting to know the the staff at the hotel. They went far out of their way to help and to be incredibly accommodating.
Things to do in Pensacola Beach
Pensacola Beach Fishing Pier – You certainly don’t have to fish off of this pier, it is also a great place to take a stroll, take in the sunset or just listen to the waves. Just a note, it is $1.50 charge to access the pier.
Dolphin Cruise – There are a large numbers of places to hop aboard a vessel and watch for dolphins.
Laguna’s Adventure Park – No matter the adventure that you and your family want to embark on you are likely to find it here! From go-karts, to a 3 story rope course, a 30 ft tall climbing tower and even jet ski rentals!
UFO’s Mini Golf, Ice Cream and Arcade – Try your hand at mini golf or play your favorite video game in the arcade and after you finish treat yourself to an ice cream They even have milkshakes just for the adults!
A trip to Pensacola Beach is perfect no matter the occasion. It is a fantastic destination for families and for a couples getaway as well.
If you are looking for similar beach destinations nearby we’ve listed some of our favorites below:
Gulf Shores is just under an hour away from Pensacola or 34 miles.
Navarre Beach is a very quiet beach town, and is one of our favorites. Navarre Beach is 36 miles from Pensacola.