Welcome to the meeting and event planning guide to Pensacola – written with meeting planners in mind. From its miles of sparkling white beaches to its energetic downtown district, Pensacola is a fantastic business and leisure destination that is known for its warmth, genuine hospitality, thriving culture and rich history. A variety of Pensacola event venues offer space both indoors and outdoors, as well as accessibility, green activities and sites, and an award-winning convention and visitors bureau, make it one of Florida's most-celebrated meeting destinations.
Pensacola is easily reached via the Pensacola International Airport, located just a short drive from downtown and Pensacola Beach. The airport serves nearly 4,000 passengers and 82 arrivals and departures each day, offering in-terminal retail and dining options, as well as rentable meeting space. Once in Pensacola, attendees can rent a car or hop aboard a trolley that can be reserved for groups.
The Pensacola Civic Center in downtown Pensacola is just minutes from Pensacola Beach. The center features 22,000 square feet of exhibition space for up to 10,000 people; meeting spaces include 12 versatile rooms ranging from 975 to 3,198 square feet, as well as four pre-function areas and a sprawling 10,000-square-foot arena. Meeting amenities include an on-site meeting services department, full-service on- and off-site catering and convenient parking. What's more, the Pensacola Civic Center is located adjacent to the Pensacola Crowne Plaza Grand Hotel, which features 210 guest rooms and 10 suites, as well as a 400-person Grand Ballroom, located within the renovated historical 1912 railroad passenger depot.
Pensacola's rich history and thriving arts culture are woven into many of its unique venues, such as the beautiful Saenger Theatre located on Palafox Place. The Spanish Baroque/Rococo-style theater, which first opened in 1925, recently underwent a $15-million renovation to make it a cutting-edge location for music, dance, comedy and drama productions, as well as for hosting private events in its large second floor ballroom. Serving as a bridge to the visual arts in the Pensacola region, the Pensacola Museum of Art is home to an impressive collection of 20th- and 21st-century art, with an emphasis on modern and contemporary pieces. The museum offers private group tours and plenty of gallery space for private events.
Groups now have access to the new Vince J. Whibbs Sr. Community Maritime Park and the 5,000-seat Blue Wahoos Stadium, both of which opened in summer 2012. Community Maritime Park is expected to be an exciting multi-use development on the downtown Pensacola waterfront and home to the Pensacola Blue Wahoos a Double-A affiliate of the Cincinnati Reds.
Pensacola's rich naval aviation culture is represented in its National Naval Aviation Museum, which so happens to be the third largest museum of its kind in the world. The National Naval Aviation Museum features more than 150 restored aircraft, hands-on exhibits, flight simulators and thousands of naval aviation artifacts. If a group has a military affiliation, the museum also features a number of spaces for private events and rentals, including the 10,000-square-foot Blue Angel Atrium, USS Cabot Flightdeck, Cubi Bar Cafe and IMAX theater, among other spaces.
Also having debuted in early 2012 is the National Flight Academy, adjacent to the National Naval Aviation Museum at Pensacola Naval Air Station. The $45-million, 102,000-square-foot state-of-the-art facility, which has been designed to resemble an aircraft carrier named “Ambition,” caters primarily to school groups from 7th graders to high school seniors, but also offers programs for corporate groups. Its amenities include 30 flight simulators, a 168-person galley (designed to look like the eating facilities on a carrier) and even sleeping facilities. All of the spaces were designed to provide a fully immersive learning and team-building experience.
For a truly adventurous group activity or meeting, head to nearby Adventures Unlimited, a 100-acre, year-round outdoor recreation center perfect for team and group activities. At Adventures Unlimited, visitors can canoe, kayak, tube and camp along Coldwater Creek through the Blackwater River State Forest, as well as take a canopy zipline tour, hike nature trails or take part in challenging rope courses and scavenger hunts. Adventures Unlimited also features overnight accommodations, including 21 cabins, the four-room Schoolhouse Inn and campgrounds. Adventures Unlimited specializes in team activities and corporate games, as well as features three meeting rooms accommodating 20, 50 and 80 people.
A perfect blend of urban excitement, beachfront relaxation, rich history and natural beauty, Pensacola is located within Escambia County, which sits on the extreme western portion of the Florida Panhandle on the Gulf of Mexico.
Pensacola's rich history is very much a part of its present, as its status as one of the first European settlements in the United States is recognized throughout its attractions, museums and parks. Founded in 1559, Pensacola is known as the City of Five Flags, as Spanish, French, British, Confederate and American flags have flown in the city since its founding. In fact, Gen. Andrew Jackson accepted the transfer of Florida from Spain in 1821 in the beautiful tree-lined Plaza Ferdinand, located in downtown Pensacola. Pensacola also boasts a rich naval history and current presence, as a cradle of naval aviation training. The city is home to the U.S. Navy's Demonstration Flight Squadron, the world-famous Blue Angels, and the National Naval Aviation Museum, which is one of the world's largest aviation museums.
Pensacola pays homage to its rich history in many of its historical and naval attractions, including the Historic Pensacola Village and T.T. Wentworth, Jr. Florida State Museum, which celebrate Pensacola's history, culture and people. Historic Pensacola Village spans 27 historic properties, including an 1805 French Creole home, the restored 1824 Old Christ Church and one of Pensacola's oldest remaining homes, while the T.T. Wentworth, Jr. Florida State Museum showcases historic artifacts on Americana and West Florida history, as well as a children's hands-on exhibit.
Aside from its rich history, Pensacola is also known for its beautiful beaches and outdoor recreation. Pensacola's Gulf Islands National Seashore runs along the Gulf of Mexico Barrier Islands in both Mississippi and Florida, encompassing the largest stretch of protected seashore in the country. The park includes offshore barrier islands, historic fortifications, nature trails and 52 miles of stunning white-sand beaches, composed of fine quartz that was eroded from granite in the Appalachian Mountains and then carried seaward. Visitors flock to Gulf Islands National Seashore, and Pensacola as a whole, for canoeing in its tranquil, calm waters. Divers and snorkelers also frequent the area to explore the world's largest artificial reef, located at the USS Oriskany, a retired aircraft carrier sunk offshore.
Downtown Pensacola is divided into seven areas, including the Civic Center District and Museum/Arts District, home to the largest concentration of museums and galleries in northwest Florida. The downtown Historic District is home to French Creole, Spanish Colonial and British arts and crafts architecture, while the Palafox Place area is lined with dozens of unique shops, art galleries and restaurants.
Speaking of restaurants, Pensacola is home to a variety of fine and casual eateries that line Pensacola Bay to the streets of downtown. Housed in the ground floor of a revitalized 1860s building, the award-winning Jackson's Steakhouse serves seasonal fare and pays homage to the adjacent Plaza Ferdinand in its park-like restaurant interior, complete with handcrafted tree branch light fixtures. A local favorite since 1977, McGuire's Irish Pub serves fresh Gulf seafood, steak and traditional Irish fare, while the fun, casual The Oar House serves Southern favorites, Caribbean treats and endless entertainment. Offering upscale dockside dining, The Fish House serves Gulf specialties and breathtaking views, as it overlooks Pensacola Bay and Seville Harbour, while The Grand Marlin restaurant and oyster bar offers a sophisticated, relaxed atmosphere with spectacular views of Santa Rosa Sound and Pensacola Bay sunsets. In fact, Pensacola’s culinary offerings are so delectable and distinct that five of the area’s most notable chefs, the Pensacola Celebrity Chefs, have cooked at New York’s acclaimed James Beard House for two consecutive years.
All average costs based on U.S. Government Per Diem rates as published by the U.S. General Services Administration.
Boasting 343 days of sunshine a year, Pensacola features short, mild winters and hot, humid summers. The city's average annual temperature comes in at 75°F; with an average high of 61°F and average low of 43°F, February serves as Pensacola's coldest month, while August is the city's warmest month, with an average high of 91°F and average low of 75°F. Pensacola experiences an average of 64 inches of rain each year; the summer months are the rainiest time, with July alone experiencing about eight inches of rain. Due to its Florida panhandle location, Pensacola is vulnerable to hurricanes.
Pensacola Civic Center
Located in downtown Pensacola, just minutes from Pensacola Beach, the spacious Pensacola Civic Center features 22,000 square feet of exhibition space for up to 10,000 people. Since its 1985 opening, the Pensacola Civic Center has been a top choice for trade shows, conventions, seminars and banquets, as well as the host for large entertainment and sporting events. Meeting spaces include 12 versatile meeting rooms ranging from 975 to 3,198 square feet, as well as four pre-function areas and a sprawling 10,000-square-foot arena. Meeting amenities include an on-site meeting services department, full-service on- and off-site catering, convenient parking and access to the Escambia County Area Transit bus system. The Pensacola Civic Center is located adjacent to the Pensacola Crowne Plaza Grand Hotel, which features 210 guest rooms and 10 suites, as well as a 400-person Grand Ballroom, located at the site of a restored 1912 railroad passenger depot.
Pensacola International Airport (PNS)
Approximate taxi fare: $20 USD
Located just three miles northeast of Pensacola's central business district, the Pensacola International Airport serves nearly 4,000 passengers per day, as well as 82 daily arrivals and departures. There are a total of more than three dozen direct flights each day, from Atlanta, DFW, Miami, Memphis, Houston, Tampa, Orlando, Washington, DC, Chicago and Charlotte. Airport amenities include free Wi-Fi service, as well as retail and dining options. The two-story airport also features the 1,400-square-foot public conference room, available for private rentals for up to 80 people.
Airline carriers serving Pensacola International Airport:
The Escambia County Area Transit (ECAT), provides 15 comprehensive routes throughout the Greater Pensacola Area six days a week year 'round. The 15 routes are comprised of over 1500 stops and 285 miles of coverage. They also provide a seasonal free trolley shuttle on Pensacola Beach. Trolleys run from Mid May to Labor Day Friday - Sunday.
Five Flags Trolley Co. is a fantastic charter service that takes its passengers to enjoy Pensacola entertainment – or brings the entertainment onboard. Passengers can take part in entertainment while on board the hand restored trolleys, thanks to the Red Trolley Repertory Theatre, which offers mixed media comedy, drama and history productions. If you are planning an in-town tour for guests to area attractions you can charter your own transportation from Beach Bum Trolleys. The company has an extensive supply of trolleys of varying capacities to accommodate every group size, and is a favorite choice of military reunion groups.
Good Times Tours has luxury motorcoaches and specializes in groups of all sizes. Flexible charters and packaged-tours to numerous popular destinations are also available.
Rental car companies represented at the Pensacola International Airport include Alamo, Avis, Budget, Dollar, Enterprise, Hertz, National and Thrifty.
Pensacola International Airport passengers can access several taxi companies outside of the terminal; expect to pay about $15 in taxi fare from the airport to most area hotels.
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