Blake Walsh

15 Free Things to Do in Pensacola, FL

  • Published 2022/11/15

Located in Escambia County in the western part of Florida Panhandle, Pensacola exudes a historic charm unlike other places within the state.

But more than its usual local history, it also contributed greatly to America.

Known as “The City of Five Flags,” Pensacola has seen various ownerships throughout the years.

Some of the most notable flags that had flown over this bustling city include the Spanish and French.

And to celebrate this vibrant past, Pensacola hosts various festivals and regular events, both taking place indoors and outdoors.

The best part about all this is that the most fun things you can do are free!

So, if you’re looking for a budget-friendly trip to somewhere where the sea breeze is aplenty and every corner can be a historical landmark, you can never go wrong with this city.

Here are the free things to do in Pensacola, Florida, that might help with your itinerary planning:

Satisfy Your Pub Grub Cravings at Flora-Bama Lounge

Exterior of Flora-Bama Lounge

James.Pintar /

Opened in 1964, Flora-Bama Lounge provides respite through good food and music.

This beach bar on Perdido Key Drive brings live music to its waterfront venue.

Its oyster bar has everything you may possibly need for your pub cravings after a long day of exploring the city.

Building sign of Flora-Bama Lounge

James.Pintar /

But while the food and music are the essential aspects of its fame, the people also come for the fishing rodeos, concerts, and other events.

Flora-Bama Lounge has got your back for your ultimate leisure experience.

View of Flora-Bama Lounge at night

DiscoverWithDima, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Experience Art in the Streets at Gallery Night Pensacola

Take your art and culture extravagance into the streets when you attend Gallery Night Pensacola.

This monthly community event held between Garden Street and Main Street welcomes everyone of all ages in its festivities.

This non-profit organization seeks to bring locals and travelers alike to a magical night of art and tradition.

Walk down the streets and interact with sculptors, painters, musicians, and other vendors.

Listen to live music from local artists and bands.

Meet costumed individuals and join themed contests along the stalls.

And don’t worry about an empty stomach because there are various food trucks everywhere.

Every month, there’s something new to showcase in the streets!

Gallery Night Pensacola happens every third Friday of the month, so you might want to mark your calendars to make your timing right.

Browse through Produce at Palafox Market

Fresh products meet Southern hospitality in the tents and stalls at Palafox Market.

This farmer’s market, located on North Palafox Street, is an excellent stop for your local goodness and gifts.

Situated in a central location within a warm and friendly atmosphere, it’s a great place to get to know Pensacola’s heart.

From fresh products to local meat and cheese, you can find everything you may possibly need at Palafox Market.

Have a green thumb?

Drop by and get the newest addition to your plant family at this award-winning market.

Its collection of fine arts and crafts, as well as candles and soaps, can also be your next memorable gift idea to a special someone.

Explore Art at the Quayside Art Gallery

If you need some art inspiration but are hesitant to visit galleries because of admission fees, fret not, as the Quayside Art Gallery, a local co-op art gallery that is the largest in the Southeast, is home to various local art pieces.

Its pale, luxurious exterior at the corner of the street easily attracts you to it.

And inside, you’ll see the displayed paintings, ceramics, and fine woodworking.

Other art pieces are jewelry, sculptures, and more.

Join monthly limited exhibits and shows to get to know the inspiration behind every artwork.

Take your loved one on a romantic date while admiring unique art you won’t find anywhere else.

Come, visit, and even purchase art at the Quayside Art Gallery on Zaragoza Street.

Be One with Nature at Innerarity Point Park

Pensacola’s outdoor recreational spots are not only impressive in view but also cheap and, sometimes, free!

Innerarity Point Park is one such spot you should have on your list.

Located on Cruzat Way, this park spans four acres—enough space for someone who wants to be in solitude.

This park, spearheaded by the Florida Department of Environmental Protection and the Trust for Public Land, is situated next to Galvez Boat Ramp.

Innerarity Point Park is a wide-open nature surprise with its dense shades and luscious lawns.

Native vegetation spotted on the shoreline is also an excellent addition to the beauty of the greenery everywhere.

If you come by this site, you’ll find its walking paths a great spot to reflect on while you enjoy the fresh Pensacola air.

There are two playgrounds your children can have fun in.

And if you’re planning a small gathering, the onsite pavilions can be the best venue for some fun and catching up.

Spot a Famous Figure’s Tombstone at St. Michaels Cemetery

Daytime view of St. Michaels Cemetery

Ebyabe, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Set in the historical and alluring North Alcaniz Street, St. Michaels Cemetery is one attraction you shouldn’t cross out on your list.

If you have an affinity for history, this place is your best bet.

More than a local cemetery, it is also a state park, and it earned its label of being one in 1949.

Extending to eight acres, it’s one of two Florida cemeteries that have been extant.

Headstones at St. Michaels Cemetery

Ebyabe, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Stroll around the lawns and spot famous figures’ names on tombstones protruding from the ground.

Take a break at the benches and enjoy the serenity of the place.

St. Michaels Cemetery offers a piece of Florida history and genealogy that’s free to the public!

The grounds of St. Michaels Cemetery

Ebyabe, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Dance and Sing Along to Live Music when You Watch Bands On The Beach

At the lovely beach town of Pensacola, there’s always something to celebrate.

Bands on the Beach is a go-to summer festival to celebrate live music within an open concert area.

What’s most remarkable about this summer event festival is not only the regional artists, though they offer the best entertainment.

The beautiful Pensacola skyline that greets you in your seat while out at the pavilion takes the cake.

Not only that, but the lull of the waves of the Gulf of Mexico right behind you adds to the ambiance.

Bring the family and listen to varied music from a lineup of lovely artists and bands.

Pack your lounge chairs and a comfortable blanket as you settle for an afternoon of pleasant music.

If you want to catch your favorite artist on the Bands on the Beach, be early to Gulfside Pavilion and find yourself a good spot!

Enjoy a Peaceful Walk at Pensacola Bay Bluffs Park

It’s time to take a break from the bustle and buzz of historical and cultural establishments.

Pensacola Bay Bluffs Park is a pleasant nature wonder on Scenic Highway.

This 43-acre preserve is home to dense trees and a large landscape slope with a steep hillside.

Its boardwalk sneaks into a zigzag into a vegetation incline that ends with a majestic ocean view.

The accompanying staircases along your journey can work up your muscles and serve as an unexpected exercise while still enjoying nature.

Bring a camera to capture the beautiful hideaway spot among the friendly branches and ancient walkways.

With the park open from sunrise to sunset, take the opportunity to drop by before the sun turns a charming orange glow, so you see its reflection on the crystal clear ocean.

Pensacola Bay Bluffs Park is waiting for your arrival!

Learn More about Sea Wildlife at Footprints in the Sand Eco-Trail

Ready for some wildlife exploration?

Started in 2013, Footprints In The Sand Eco Trail gives the Pensacola household name of beaches and history another amiable perspective.

This 8.5-trail mixes your need for walking and hiking, and wildlife learning.

It houses educational signs along the way, telling of Pensacola’s biodiversity.

Its most featured informational guide is of the endangered turtles nesting on the city’s shores.

Footprints In The Sand Eco Trail also has 28 kiosks along the beach and multiple educational panels that display colorful photos.

And if you’re lucky, you can also birdwatch along the way.

Find this trail on Fort Pickens, and ensure you only leave your footprint behind as you go.

Wander along Downtown Pensacola

Welcome sign of Downtown Pensacola

JNix /

Who says you can’t have fun while strolling down Downtown Pensacola?

What makes Pensacola the city it is today, known for its cosmopolitan bustle and beachside silence, is the historic streets of its downtown area.

From quaint establishments to state-renowned historical spots, be ready to find everything interesting about this city.

Centered on Palafox Place, gift shops and decorated trees and buildings are also plenty.

Food trucks at Downtown Pensacola

Leigh Trail /

Take in the Spanish influence that most of the buildings and street layouts shine with.

Bring your curious mind with you as you head over to Plaza Ferdinand, where museums line the boulevard, and more trees serve as shade from the blistering heat.

Experience Pensacola on foot, and see the wonders every traveler is talking about.

Aerial view of Downtown Pensacola

Bown Media /

Watch Your Kids Play at Perdido Key Kids Park

Traveling with the whole family and looking for a family-centered place that doesn’t charge for admissions?

You are looking for Perdido Kids Park.

This park on Gulf Beach Highway has 3 acres of open space and promises of exciting times.

Watch your kids explore the maze of playground equipment right at the center of it all.

Don’t forget to pack snacks for your picnic at the picnic tables or even at the pavilion.

But if you’re going with a large group, come early to get your spot at the indoor pavilions.

Is Perdido Kids Park part of your itinerary yet?

Aim Your Camera and Pose at the Pensacola Photo Trail

In the Pensacola Bay Area, the beaches are not the only well-liked spots your camera could capture.

In fact, the Pensacola Photo Trail features other unique landmarks you’d want to see depicted in a photo album or your Facebook feed.

Starting with the Pensacola Photocard and the Graffiti Bridge on 17th Avenue, take a picture of the urban-style art to serve as a memento for your visit.

At T.T. Wentworth, the Pelican statue is another spot you should aim your camera at.

Its traditional design is eye-catching.

Next is the Palafox Pier Pelican, with its vibrant-colored wings depicting the ocean lifestyle of Pensacola through fish drawings.

Don’t forget to strike a pose outside the Pensacola Beach Tower and Futuro Spaceship House.

Another pelican statue on this trail is at the Pensacola Lighthouse and Museum, and it’s one that wears a simple black uniform.

All three pelicans mentioned are part of the Pelicans in Paradise public art project by many local artists and developed by Pensacola News Journal.

Discover History at the African American Heritage Trail

The African American Heritage Trail is a Pensacola hidden treasure.

Led by the African American Heritage Society, Inc, which celebrated its foundation in 1990, it highlights significant African American history in the city.

More specifically, it lays out the story of various African American figures and their contributions to American history.

The African American Heritage Trail details all the best spots you should visit and starts with the society building itself on East Church Street.

Waltz down Zaragoza Street to find Julee Cottage Museum and Dorothy Walton House, which were key spots dedicated to strong women of color.

Other sites to look out for include Trader Jon’s Marker and MLK Plaza.

Have fun exploring history face-to-face!

Enjoy a Picnic at the Gazebo at Seville Square

When you need a local getaway to destress without worrying about fees, Seville Square may be the venue you need.

Used as early as the 1700s, this historical public plaza comes with canopies of trees and relaxing walking pathways.

When the summer gets too overwhelming, relax under the shade at this small but just as attractive park.

There’s also a gazebo and lots of public art for display onsite.

Not to mention, this park hosts various festivals, including Pensacola Seafood Festival, so you are confident it’s the ideal place for some peace of mind and relaxation.

Seville Square is on South Alcaniz Street should you care to visit.

View the Military Monuments at Veterans Memorial Park

Purple heart memorial at Veterans Memorial Park

Robert Kearney /

You are not really visiting Pensacola if you never step foot inside Veterans Memorial Park.

This memorial-park-and-historical-landmark-in-one has been serving the city for over several decades.

Unlike other cemeteries, Veterans Memorial Park celebrates American honor and legacy by becoming a place of healing for families who have lost a loved one to war.

Its most highlighted amenities include the Walk of Honor and the Vietnam Memorial Wall.

Wall of remembrance at Veterans Memorial Park

Peter Titmuss /

Installed in 1992, the Memorial Gallery, also onsite, is perhaps the most famous monument.

Made of black granite, this monument lists the 58,281 people who had been MIA or KIA during the Vietnam War.

If you have the time, join in on the events, too!

Veterans Memorial Park on South 10th Avenue can help you touch up on your history, so don’t forget to visit!

Final Thoughts

With its mix of military history and sandy beaches, Pensacola is a premier spot in many traveler’s journals.

And with its array of free and public entertainment, it’s easily a preferred city for those who want to stick within their budget.

Most of its diverse spots, both historic and recreational, are also family-friendly, so if you’re traveling with your loved ones, you don’t have to worry about leaving anyone behind.

Do you think you’ll try out every activity in the list above of the best free things to do in Pensacola, Florida?

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