A Cultural Hotspot in the Panhandle

A Cultural Hotspot in the Panhandle

Vacation Artfully in Pensacola

Words by Michelle Ferrand

As the dead of winter approaches, a sunny, warmer place with a bustling arts scene, exciting culinary experiences and a rich history beckons. Known mostly for its pristine beaches and its idyllic coastline, Pensacola, Florida has blossomed in the last 15 years as a premier destination for fans of arts, culture, and history. 

While most beach towns have winded down, Pensacola’s burgeoning arts and culture scene kicks off their season in November with the Foo Foo Festival, 12 days of arts and cultural events, which is then followed by unique events lined up from now until spring. With a little bit of everything for everybody in the Festival City of the South and mild winter weather (read: cool days and cold-ish nights), it’s no wonder why so many people are flocking to the city during this time of year. 

Trade your winter coat for linen pants this winter season and discover everything Pensacola has to offer when you Vacation Artfully.


Sitting at the heart of downtown is Palafox Street—a historic tree-lined street that leads you directly to the Gulf. Punctuated with cute boutiques, trendy restaurants and amazing street art, it’s easy to see why this main street in Downtown Pensacola is the coolest place in town.

Don’t Miss: Gallery Night, an outdoor art and music festival that highlights the city’s thriving art and food scene. Hosted every third Friday, this eclectic event is one you can’t miss if you’re in town.

Arts & Culture

The thriving creative scene in Pensacola may be new to you, but the arts have always been part of the city’s DNA. First iterations of the Pensacola Symphony Orchestra can be traced back to 1919. The historic Saenger Theater, which first opened its doors in 1925, continues to thrive and remains an important cultural hub for the city. The Pensacola Museum of Art is approaching its seventh decade of showcasing world class exhibits to art connoisseurs from all over. 

In more recent history, for the last several years, the Foo Foo Fest has attracted a huge crowd to Pensacola for a 12-day cultural celebration that encompasses food, art, music and theater. This multi-day event is the perfect blend of Southern sophistication and ultra artsy ambience.

Don’t Miss: Pensacola Museum of Art’s newest exhibit, Vandals to Vanguards. The collection will feature contemporary works by Andy Warhol, Keith Hartin, Banksy and Mr. Brainwash.

The exhibit promises to celebrate a generation of artists that have pushed the boundaries in pursuit of expression.

History & Heritage

Sometimes referred to as The Festival City of the South or America's First Settlement, Pensacola was founded in 1559 and has over 460 years of rich history to explore. With over eight acres and 28 properties, you can check out Historic Pensacola Village, located within the original footprints of Spanish and British forts. Or visit the America's First Settlement Trail (known as the A1S Trail) -- a newly-launched trail in Historic Downtown Pensacola where visitors can enjoy 20 stops like Plaza Ferdinand VII and Seville Square, and over 70 points of interest like the Dorr House, Christ Church and Fort George.

Don’t Miss: Blue Angels Homecoming Show. After touring all summer, the Blue Angels return to their base over at the Naval Air Station and put on one final spectacular show. If you happen to miss it, check out the National Naval Aviation Museum.

The Beaches 

Considering it’s the city’s glimmering gem and one of the most popular reasons people visit, Pensacola beaches are not to be missed! Boasted by locals and travel enthusiasts alike, Pensacola’s emerald green waters and white sandy beaches will leave you mesmerized.

And yes, even in the winter—it is Florida afterall.