Pensacola is a well-kept secret. Most people who live outside the state have trouble pin-pointing it on a map. Take a minute and become familiar with this amazing area, because Pensacola has a lot to offer for those looking for a low-cost, luxurious vacation.

Pensacola is located on the western panhandle of Florida, near the Florida/Alabama state line. Unlike the more southerly beach areas of Florida, Pensacola’s tourist season is late spring to summer. The off-season for most Pensacola area hotels is from Labor Day to the month of March, so that’s when prices are lowest. The Pensacola area boasts two separate but beautiful beachfront areas: Perdido Key and Pensacola Beach. Perdido Key is to the west of Pensacola, adjoining the beaches of Alabama. Pensacola Beach is just southeast of the city of Pensacola, on a gorgeous barrier island. Both beaches offer sugar-white sands, sparkling emerald-green Gulf waters, and a wide array of accommodations, restaurants, shopping, and nearby attractions.

Perdido Key is the less-heralded of the two areas. Primarily a residential and second-home community for natives and snowbirds, it features a glistening white beach lined with high-rise condos. Nearby Ono Island is a haven for the rich and famous who want to enjoy the gulf in privacy. Although mostly used for homes, many units on Perdido Key are available for rent by the day, week, or month. Check with a local real estate agent. If you visit in summer, don’t miss the nearby Waterville water park, which also has go-karts and other dry-land fun. It’s just one of several attractions nearby. Golf courses abound in the area, and most are very reasonably priced.

If you like antiques, both Pensacola and the Eastern Shore area of Alabama offer many great shops within an hour’s drive. Prefer to enjoy the beach? The temperature is great for swimming as late as October, and you can enjoy it for less money, in quiet and peace. In summer, beachgoers multiply in numbers, and it’s a great time to meet people from everywhere.

Pensacola Beach is more tourist-oriented than Perdido Key, but don’t let that keep you from seeking a quiet vacation spot on this beautiful island. Again, prices and crowds are smaller in the fall and winter months. Sailing tours, dolphin cruises, jet-ski rentals and much more are offered from this area. The nearby Panhandle Butterfly House is a must-see for nature lovers and offers a Monarch Madness Festival and butterfly releases in the fall which are breathtaking displays you’ll be glad you didn’t miss.

Whichever beach you choose, be sure to venture into Pensacola for The National Museum of Naval Aviation and McGuire’s Irish Pub. Tour historic forts and learn Pensacola’s intriguing history. Shop Cordova Mall and the boutiques downtown.

These are just a few examples of hidden gems you’ll find in the Pensacola area. Come see the place “where thousands live the way millions wish they could!”

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