by Eric Barton | April 10, 2019

The Art of Vacationing in Pensacola

A city long known for its stellar beaches develops a new standing, giving visitors a way to satisfy their cultural cravings and “Vacation Artfully”

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It’s no surprise to most that the sugar-sands in Pensacola routinely end up on top of lists that compile the world’s best beaches.

But Florida’s most western city has become a top destination for culture as well. It’s the only city on the Gulf Coast from Mobile to Tampa with the “big five” cultural attractions – a ballet, museum, opera, symphony and theater.

Pensacola has become recognized by those who seek out culture, says Holly Jurnovoy, president of Art, Culture, and Entertainment Inc. (ACE). The nonprofit is dedicated to promoting quality of life by supporting arts, culture and entertainment in the city.

Ballet Pensacola features professional and student dancers from around the world who regularly perform at area venues such as Saenger Theatre and Pensacola Cultural Center. Photography courtesy Foo Foo Festival

“Pensacola has established a stellar reputation for its unique, diverse cultural arts offerings,” Jurnovoy said. “So it’s only natural we bring not only a variety of opera, ballet, symphony, theatre and museum culture to visitors and residents, but so many other diverse offerings of high artistic, cultural caliber.”

Ballet Pensacola, the Pensacola Opera, the Pensacola Symphony Orchestra, the historic Saenger Theatre and the accredited Pensacola Museum of Art all call the city home. Many of the venues offer year-round schedules and programming, including summer camps at Ballet Pensacola and Live on Mars: A Tribute to David Bowie this summer at the Saenger Theatre.

Located in the heart of downtown Pensacola, the Saenger Theatre frequently hosts world-class performances by the Pensacola Symphony Orchestra, Pensacola Opera Company and Ballet Pensacola. Photography courtesy Foo Foo Festival

In downtown Pensacola, visitors can take walking tours and explore shops and businesses where the area’s artistic talents are on full display, including Bubba’s Sweet Spot, Belle Ame, Rusted Arrow Mercantile, Susan Campbell Jewelry, Blue Morning Gallery and Bluetique. A historical tour highlights the city’s rich cultural roots, which date to 1559, when Tristan de Luna established the first multi-year European settlement in what is now the continental United States. Other experiences take visitors into the city’s growing and vibrant brewery scene , which includes Big Top Brewing Company, Gulf Coast Brewery, Pensacola Bay Brewery and Perfect Plain Brewing Co. A vibrant farmer’s market and more boutiques also beckon travelers to downtown Pensacola, as well as two permanent areas for food trucks, Al Fresco and the Warrington food truck park.

For more than 70 years, the Blue Angels have taken to the sky each summer at the Pensacola Beach Airshow to perform choreographed aerobatic routines over the Gulf of Mexico. Photography courtesy Visit Pensacola

Pensacola is host to a year’s worth of events. Among them is the Foo Foo Fest, held every November in downtown Pensacola featuring 12 days of cultural events, including Eggfest, Gulfcoast Arts Festival and the Blue Angels Homecoming Air Show. Foo Foo Festival’s impressive roster of events has become highly anticipated for its outstanding grant recipients who celebrate individual experiences specific to their craft whether that be art, music, dance, opera, theatre or cuisine.

ACE recently launched a national tourism campaign called Vacation Artfully to highlight the city’s arts and culture institutions and experiences. “We’re excited to welcome visitors and encourage everyone to Vacation Artfully in the city that is quickly becoming the premier cultural coastal destination in the South and indeed in the United States,” Jurnovoy said. Art, Culture, and Entertainment Inc.

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