Pensacola Photo Spots
On the westernmost part of the Florida Panhandle, almost on the border with Alabama and bathing in the Gulf of Mexico, sits Pensacola, a city known for its historic buildings, beautiful beaches of powdery white sand, and abundant nature trails. Pensacola offers many cultural activities and entertainment options, and its military heritage is an attraction in itself, especially regarding naval aviation: the city is the base for the U.S. Navy Blue Angels squadron. 🎖️ This city is picturesque like no other, offering a myriad of photo opportunities, from quaint locations like the Pensacola Lighthouse and the Old Christ Church to more artsy spots like The Graffiti Bridge, an overpass full of murals, and, of course, the many boardwalks and piers. It’s tough to think of a more ideal place for a great vacation photo shoot than this Florida gem. Let’s get started with the top 5 places to take photos in Pensacola, Florida! 🌴
1. Downtown Pensacola
Downtown Pensacola is where culture, history, and entertainment meet and is one of the best locations in town for a photo session.
Considered the heart of Pensacola and once elected one of the 10 Great Streets in America, Palafox Street is the city’s most cosmopolitan street, boasting superb restaurants, charming boutiques, theatres, and art galleries. The road is also lined with historical buildings that remind visitors of the city’s colonial past: a beautiful mix of British, Spanish, and French architecture on pristine sidewalks and squares. 😍
Plaza Ferdinand VII, on the east side of Palafox Street, is an actual historical landmark. It was the site of the formal transfer of Florida from Spain to the United States in 1821. Now, as a public garden and park, it offers stunning backgrounds for your photos, including a glorious Spanish fountain surrounded by benches and beautiful oak trees. You’ll find more noteworthy buildings facing the plaza, such as the Pensacola Museum of History.
We highly recommend you explore every corner of historic Pensacola to perceive the city’s fantastic heritage. You can end your day in the southern part of Palafox St, where Plaza de Luna and the Palafox Pier are located. From there, you’ll get stunning vistas of Pensacola Bay and, more often than not, gorgeous sunsets.
Mark on your calendar: Palafox Street is closed to traffic for one Friday each month as it becomes the stage for Gallery Night. Expect great art, live performances, music, and good food throughout the street. Also happening every Saturday, the Palafox Market is a bustling site with delicious food, antiques, and art. 🎨
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2. Naval Live Oaks
Near Gulf Breeze, a suburb of Pensacola, Naval Live Oaks Nature Reserve is part of the Gulf Islands National Seashore, and it’s a haven for outdoor activities and nature trails. The area is the first federal tree farm to preserve the majestic live oak, a species of oak used to build wooden ships in the 1800s.
The reserve has several trails where you can stroll through the woodland and feel the inherent peace of the place. Naturally, the tracks also give you excellent backgrounds for amazing pics. 📸
On the side of the park that faces the Santa Rosa Sound, you’ll find coastal trails with more lovely photo ops. This side also has a picnic area, a favourite gathering spot of locals for barbecues on weekends and holidays. On the other side, facing Pensacola Bay, there’s a campground and more great sea views. On both sides, you’ll get to admire wildlife and find pristine beaches with white sand where you can chill under the Florida sun and forget about the world. 🌞
3. Pensacola Beach Gulf Pier
Pensacola Beach Gulf Pier is one of the best photo locations in town, offering the best panoramic vistas of the Gulf of Mexico along its 1470 feet.
The pier is a very popular spot with local fishers, and you get to observe them casting fishing rods into the sea. If you want to try a catch, don’t be shy; they’re usually very welcoming towards beginners. 🎣
Abundant sea life, in general, attracts locals and tourists to the pier. Keep your eyes open, and you’re likely to see swimming barracudas, sea turtles, and sharks, with dolphins jumping on the horizon.
Don’t miss walking on the shores of Pensacola Beach to admire the immense structure stretching above the vibrant green waters — a fantastic place to take photos in Pensacola.
This spot is one of the best to watch perfect Florida sunsets. It’s actually a tradition for locals to gather on one of the many benches located down the length of the pier at the end of the day and wait for the sun to go down, colouring the sky with beautiful reds and oranges. 🌅
4. Pensacola Beach
A 14-minute drive from downtown Pensacola, across Pensacola Bay, there’s a heavenly spot of crystal-clear waters and sugar-white sands with more photo opportunities for you. Pensacola Beach, on the barrier island of Santa Rosa, is one of the Gulf Coast’s most pristine beaches. The site is also home to the photogenic Pensacola Beach Pier.
With so much beachfront space, you can easily find a quiet spot and feel like you’re on a private beach. The sand here is truly unique: first, beachgoers nicknamed it “barking sand” because of the barking sound it makes when people walk over it; second, the sand is this white because of the pure white quartz crystal coming from the Appalachian Mountains. 😮
If you are looking for something more adventurous than lounging on the beach, parasailing is a popular activity in the area. You can also stroll the Pensacola Beach boardwalk and check its shops and great restaurants.
Fort Pickens, an impressive military fort structure built in the 1800s to protect waterways and seaports, sits only a short drive from Pensacola Beach. It offers the perfect mix of history and nature, and there are many outdoor recreational opportunities around it, such as wildlife viewing, hiking, and camping. ⛺
On the other side of the bay is Fort Barrancas, another historical construction that played an important role in local history and is also well worth a visit.
5. Gulf State Park
In the neighbouring state of Alabama, less than an hour’s drive from Pensacola, in the city of Gulf Shores, the Gulf State Park is a vast public park with tons of recreational activities and dazzling beaches. The park guards over 2 miles of pristine shores of calm crystalline waters and, you guessed it, powdery white sands. If what you’re looking for is a deserted beach to unwind or take some fantastic pictures, Gulf State Park is definitely the place to go.
Sitting close to the sea, Lake Shelby is also perfect for water-based activities, such as kayaking, canoeing, paddling, and swimming. On terra firma, walking and biking through several of the park’s trails is also a delight — keep your eyes open for the beautiful biodiversity in the area.
If you want to see more wildlife, head to the butterfly garden. 🦋 You’ll find an extensive array of butterfly and moth species flying around colourful flowers. It’s a pretty idyllic setting, and there’s even a pavilion with a lovely porch which provides a lovely place to take photos in Pensacola.
Fun fact: The Gulf State Park is a prime destination for geocaching. An exciting and environmentally friendly “treasure hunt” is a fantastic way to explore this beautiful park to the fullest, don’t you think? 😉
Capturing memories in Pensacola
There’s a lot more to do in and around Pensacola. Don’t miss Bay Bluffs Park and the Big Lagoon State Park for more natural beauty.
If you’re up for a day trip, Destin, “the world’s luckiest fishing village,” is just an hour’s drive away, and a 30-minute drive gets you to the community of Perdido Key, with more mesmerizing beaches. For more on this fantastic destination, read our travellers’ tips on the best things to do while in town.
To make your trip even more memorable, book one of our local Flytographers and let them capture all your special moments in beautiful Pensacola. 🤗