Visitors will find some of the most beautiful beaches in the world at Perdido Key and Pensacola Beach, where blue skies, jewel-green waters and swaying sea oats provide the perfect backdrop for your Florida vacation.
Explore Gulf Islands National Seashore, the longest tract of protected seashore in the United States website.
Gulf Islands National Seashore protects 5,842 acres of public land and 18,953 acres of water along 52 miles of Gulf and bay shoreline around Pensacola. The seashore is not continuous, but spread out over one Florida island, parts of other islands and Mississippi. National parks and other protected public-use areas provide access to the intriguing terrain and opportunity for playing in the seductive sand.
The largest parcel lies within Fort Pickens at the west end of Pensacola Beach on Santa Rosa Island. During the Civil War, the Union and Confederacy divided Pensacola. While Rebel forces occupied Fort McRee on nearby Perdido Key and Fort Barrancas on the mainland, Federal troops moved into Fort Pickens, one of only three Union strongholds in Florida. In later years, the fort gained attention when the government sent Geronimo and his band there for incarceration. Tourists by the boatload would sail by in hopes of a glimpse of the mighty American Indian warrior.
The massive brick fort and its ruins spread over the park’s 1,742 acres. The island slims down as you enter the park, to let you glimpse views of both the Gulf and the bay. At Langdon Beach, battery remnants begin to crop up among the dunes. Picnic shelters are found both on beach and bay. A Dune Nature Trail snakes through this sea- and wind-whipped environment that turns magnolias, pines and oaks into bonsai versions. Wild flowers and sea grasses add color to the searing whiteness and sightseeing for bicyclists following a 2.2-mile bike trail.
The actual fort structure occupies the very western tip of the island. Here, visitors can travel back in time through the archways and tunnels, to the escarpments, casements, bastions and cannon. Tours can be self-guided or guided. On certain nights, candlelight tours add an element of historical authenticity and eerie romance.
Our coast is perfect for fishing, surfing, scuba diving, collecting seashells or just taking it easy. In fact, Pensacola’s beaches have been ranked among the best in the country by TripAdvisor, Dr. Beach and the Travel Channel. Make a plan today to experience the beauty and fun of Pensacola’s beaches for yourself.
Information courtesy of Visit Pensacola, the Official Web site for Pensacola, Pensacola Beach and Perdido Key (Pensacola Bay Area Convention & Visitors Bureau), and VISIT FLORIDA®, the Official Florida Tourism Industry Marketing Corporation.
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