I haven’t written anything here lately, because, well, I haven’t traveled anywhere is a year! How sad is that?
This past week, the family and I traveled to Pensacola Beach, Florida for my ‘lil sister’s wedding. Can I get a “whoohoo!”?
This post will be in two parts. Part 1: the hotel and beaches; Part 2: area attractions.
Let’s begin with the first thing you check out when traveling…your hotel. We stayed at Quality Inn and Suites in Gulf Breeze. Gulf Breeze is a quick trip from Pensacola (15 minutes from the airport), over the bridge, situated in the Bay. From the hotel it’s a quick drive over another bridge (this one is a toll of $1) to the infamous Pensacola Beach.
We choose to stay at one of the Choice Hotels® when traveling, but this Quality Inn was a bit of a let down. It’s just your average hotel. There are no bells and whistles here. It’s a room with double beds and a small bathroom. The room was clean. Am I the only one who checks the mattress for bed bugs upon walking into a hotel room? Anyway, clean is always good, but it was dim and small. But, we are in Florida…we were just sleeping there, so what else do you need? I felt the price was a little high considering you don’t get a free breakfast, which is almost standard at other Choice Hotels® franchises. There is a restaurant with good breakfast (we only ate breakfast there) and you receive a discount when staying at the hotel.
The view from the hotel is really what you are paying for here. It sits right on the bay with its own private sandy white beach. Seriously, take a drink to the beach and watch the sunset.every.single.night. The water is calm for the little ones to build sand castles, look for seashells, and frolic in the water. The pool overlooks the bay and was clean. My kids enjoyed it very much.
If I have to pick apart the hotel then this might sound pety…The wifi was spotty. The password and username didn’t allow for continuous log in. Once your device goes to sleep, you must log in again and again. For teens and tweens trying to post to Facebook or Instagram it can be aggravating. Our cable TV didn’t work. We only had local channels. Maintenance tried to fix it but couldn’t. They offered us a different room but for the inconvenience of moving all our stuff we chose not to. And, how much TV were we really watching? Not much. They have an on-site washer and dryer, but the soap dispenser was out of order requiring a trip to Walmart for detergent. If a hotel offers an amenity, they should make sure it works, or don’t advertise it.
Pensacola Beach is famous for its white sand and night life. You will know it by the huge beach ball sign high in the air. We were there Memorial Day weekend (Sunday). It was crazy busy. I was told by locals that this beach is always like that on weekends, not just holiday weekends. That being said, we still had fun. My girls have never been to a beach, or swam in an ocean, or in this case, the Gulf.
The water, well, I expected it to be crystal clear blue water. It was not. It had a brownish tint. Locals told me it depends on if there were storms recently. Some days its blue and other days, not so much. It wasn’t gross or anything like that. It just wasn’t what I envisioned.
This area is where the large, bells and whistle hotels are located. This is also where you can find 1500 different t-shirts with the words “Pensacola Beach” stamped across the front. Souvenirs? They got ‘em.
Need a little slice of Florida heaven away from the crowds? Try Navarre Beach Park. Just a short and scenic drive down Gulf Boulevard (past Pensacola Beach) is this little gem. This is where the locals know to go. We were there Memorial Day. We pulled into the Navarre Beach Park. Normally it cost to get in by the car load ($8), but it was a holiday, so it was free. There are pavilions with picnic tables to get out of the hot sun and have lunch. Now, there are other park areas that do not charge a fee and have pavilions. We just happened to be there on a free day. Also, located there is Navarre Beach Pier, the longest pier in the Gulf. There is a charge to stroll the pier. You can get a fishing license and rent a pole to drop a line.
The water is crystal clear blue. Beautiful! Collect seashells, maybe find a live sand dollar, or spot dolphins jumping in the water (we did!). My sister was married on Navarre Beach later in the week. We packed lunches and drinks to spend pretty much the whole day there. It was the best day ever. If we had time in our schedule, and it hadn’t rained for two days, we would have been back to this beach. Truly, this is a great beach for families. And, there are plenty of condo rentals in this area of Navarre beach.
Word of caution about the beaches: Respect the water and pay attention to the flag warnings. There were several water related deaths reported while we were in Pensacola. Oh, and use a lot of sunscreen! If you think you are using enough sunscreen, add more.
* * * * *
Later this week…attractions in Pensacola, FL and Mobile, Al.