While temperatures across the state might not be cooling down just yet, Pensacola, Fla. is ready to usher in the fall/winter seasons with new direct flight routes from Pensacola to New York City, momentous milestone celebrations and events, new dining options for visitors and more throughout the destination.
Getting to Pensacola
When planning a visit to the destination, getting to Pensacola has never been easier, with direct flights from major hubs like Atlanta, Dallas-Fort Worth, Houston, and Nashville. Launching this November, travelers can also enjoy direct daily flights from Pensacola to LaGuardia Airport in New York City on Delta Airlines, making getting to/from the Big Apple a breeze for travelers.
For those living in neighboring states such as Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, and Mississippi, the destination can also be accessed via road trip in five hours or less – making a sunny beach trip all the more convenient.
This fall, the Pensacola Ice Flyers are celebrating their momentous 15-year anniversary season in the destination. The Ice Flyers, part of the Southern Professional Hockey League (SPHL), launched their inaugural season in Pensacola in 2009 and have delighted fans for nearly two decades at the Pensacola Bay Center. All season long, the Ice Flyers will surprise and delight fans as they celebrate their anniversary.
Home of the original Bushwacker, the Sandshaker Lounge has been a Pensacola Beach staple since 1973. Celebrating its 50th Anniversary, The Sandshaker is mostly lovingly known for the rich, chocolate concoction that includes Kahlua, the occasional rum topper, and for those who’d want to add something extra, fresh or frozen fruit like bananas or strawberries.
Featuring over 740 whiskeys and artfully crafted cocktails, The Old Hickory Whiskey Bar, which gets its namesake from seventh U.S. President Andrew Jackson, is celebrating 10 years of integrating local history into an entertaining experience for both locals and visitors alike this year. And just a few blocks south sits Old Hickory’s sister bar, The Kennedy. Celebrating its fifth anniversary next year, The Kennedy is known for melding together the nostalgia of the early 1960s with a modern twist and is the perfect spot to enjoy classic cocktails and small bites created with locally sourced ingredients.
Taking place this November, the Annual Frank Brown Songwriters’ Festival will once again bring nationally acclaimed songwriters and musicians from around the world to venues along Florida’s Gulf Coast from Nov. 9, 2023, to Nov. 19, 2023, with several can’t-miss engagements at the iconic Flora-Bama on Perdido Key. Next year will mark 40 years as the festival continues to provide musicians an opportunity to share their stories behind lyrics that otherwise may go unheard with music-loving fans.
This November also marks the 10-year anniversary of a Pensacola staple, the Pensacola Foo Foo Festival. A 12-day celebration of culturally creative happenings, events, and moments under one banner, this year’s events will take place from Thursday, Nov. 2, 2023, to Monday, Nov. 13, 2023. Set to be one of the most memorable iterations yet, this year’s Foo Foo Fest will see leading acts such as Manchester Orchestra, Broadway star Megan Hilty, immersive fine art experiences and tours, performances by the Pensacola Opera, Pensacola Children’s Chorus and others.
New locations of beloved eateries have been popping up throughout the destination this year, continuing with Pearl & Horn, which will open a new, larger space this Fall. Offering the perfect culinary blend of land and sea nestled into the edge of Pensacola’s Historic Downtown district, the new expanded location will seat 300 guests and will feature a freshly shucked oyster and seafood bar, an outdoor dining area, and a private dining room available for special events. The menu will boast delicious additions of colorful caviar, seafood towers, elk, and bison. Guests can continue to visit the original location at The Garden at Main + Palafox until reservations for the new space open later this year.
Recently opened in late August, the Salty Pearl Raw Bar marries fresh seafood with innovative culinary techniques. With something for every kind of seafood lover, the Salty Pearl offers succulent oysters, seafood platters, and lobster rolls that are sure to keep customers returning for more.
Vinyl Music Hall’s new food venture, Proper Burger, recently opened on Palafox and offers craveable smash burgers and fries. Keeping it simple, their signature burgers are a custom-made Costello’s Butcher Shop meat blend slathered in their signature Proper sauce. Guests can get a single or double patty, with the choice of fries, which are made using beef tallow.
This November, there’s no better destination to vacation artfully than Pensacola. Featuring a wealth of fall festival programming, Pensacola invites visitors to experience it all with high-caliber arts and culture festivals such as the 51st Annual Great Gulfcoast Arts Festival (Nov. 3-5, 2023). The Great Gulfcoast Arts Festival is one of the highest-regarded, most popular arts festivals in the U.S. The three-day, juried art show draws more than 200 of the nation’s best painters, potters, sculptors, jewelers, graphic artists, craftsmen, and other artists.
The Pensacola Blue Angels Homecoming Air Show will take place Nov. 3, 2023, to Nov. 4, 2023, with the theme celebrating “50 Years of Women in Naval Aviation.” One of Pensacola’s largest and most coveted events, visitors can enjoy a lineup of aerobatic performances alongside the Blue Angels at the free-to-the-public events, with paid seating options also available for purchase. This year, the Budweiser Clydesdales will make special appearances in Pensacola at the Blue Wahoos Stadium on Nov. 1, 2023, and at the Homecoming Air Shows over the weekend at NAS Pensacola. Fans of all ages are invited to bask in the beauty of the ambassadors of the iconic Budweiser brand.
Taking place Nov. 12, 2023, Pensacola Eggfest will return to Blue Wahoos Stadium to showcase BBQ teams and backyard cooks from all over the U.S. who share a love for cooking and the joy of giving back to their communities.
Late November brings the 56th Annual Snowball Derby, a 300-lap model stock car race held annually at Pensacola’s Five Flags Speedway. The event attracts some of the bigger names in short-track racing, including top series NASCAR drivers such as Kyle Busch, Steve Wallace, Bobby Gill, Chase Elliot, and others.
Rejoice in the Holiday Season
With miles of sugar-white sands as white as snow and rolling emerald waves, the holidays are wrapped in even more cheer each winter as the streets – and beaches – come alive for the season. This year, swap the snow for the sand for this year’s holiday celebrations.
All winter long, Pensacola offers ample experiences to choose from, like the annual First City Lighting Festival in mid-November that illuminates the walkable downtown square with 500,000 lights. The stunning spectacle is free to the public and creates a scene straight out of a storybook. Beginning Nov. 16, 2023, the local favorite Winterfest brings “snow” to Plaza Wonderland during a magical festival complete with holiday music, live performances, holiday treats and so much more. After the Thanksgiving holiday, visitors can venture to the Pensacola Beach Boardwalk to experience the annual Christmas tree lighting.
Beginning in November, visitors are invited to be on the lookout for the Holiday Cube in Downtown Pensacola. The perfect backdrop for a memorable photo op, the cube features different destination scenes inspired by the holiday season. Don’t forget to hashtag #ExperiencePcola!
And for those looking for a festive boozy beverage, don’t miss Nightmare on Palafox. The Halloween cocktail pop-up takes over The Old Hickory Whiskey Bar and The Kennedy each October with Halloween-themed cocktails, collectible decor, and more. Nightmare on Palafox is a must-see experience for visitors ages 21 years or older. Following Thanksgiving, the bars will transition into a Christmas-themed pop-up that will have guests returning for more festive fun.
Leading into December, annual immersive experiences also return to Pensacola like the Polar Express Tour where tap-dancing servers lead visitors through a trolley ride of the classic Christmas tale. In addition, The Cajun Christmas Experience is a great choice for those who like a little history with their Christmas cookies. During this open-air trolley ride, a guide shares stories of how they celebrate Christmas in the bayou as guests travel to Pensacola’s Historic Village.
On Dec. 2, 2023, the Lighted Boat Parade will illuminate the Santa Rosa Sound as guests watch from the shoreline and Pensacola Beach Boardwalk starting at 6:30 p.m. Then, on Dec. 3, 2023, visitors can venture out to Pensacola Beach to witness the Surfing Santa Beach Christmas Parade.
On Dec. 9, 2023, don’t miss a trip to the Flora-Bama to experience the Annual Santa Drop, where Santa Claus will skydive onto the snowy-white sandy beach on Perdido Key. Visitors are encouraged to keep their eyes on the skies as Santa Claus prepares to make his magical entrance at 12:30 p.m. in this free-to-the-public event.
For more information about Visit Pensacola and upcoming happenings around the city this season and for 2024 milestones, email email@example.com.
About Visit Pensacola
Visit Pensacola is the destination organization for Escambia County, which includes Pensacola, Pensacola Beach, and Perdido Key. With over 460 years of rich history and nearly 40 miles of sugar-white sand beaches bordered by the emerald-green waters of the Gulf of Mexico, visitors from all over the world are lured to our pristine shores every year. Visit Pensacola supports the community vision of tourism by serving as the central body responsible for building tourism as an economic engine for our community through leadership, connection, collaboration, and communication.