Where to Stay in Pensacola, Florida

Thinking about staying overnight in Pensacola, Florida? It’s the birthplace of European civilization-so-called-in the New World, you know. There are a few things you’ll need to learn first. Like where to stay. And maybe even where not to stay.

Just so you’ll know: Pensacola itself isn’t really on the beach. Oh sure, there’s plenty of bays and inlets dotting the city, but when you think of the beach at Pensacola, you’re really thinking of Pensacola Beach. Which is located on Santa Rosa Island. In order to get to Pensacola Beach, you have to drive you the city of Gulf Breeze via the city of Pensacola.

Were our founding fathers on drugs when they named this place? You be the judge.

When thinking about stahing overnight in Pensacola, the first place you’ll probably want to start looking is on the beach. After all, that’s what you’re going to drive all that distance for, right? And if I were you the first hotel I’d look into would be:

The Hilton Garden Inn. Located at 12 Via De Luna Drive, Pensacola Beach, 32561. 850-916-2999. The Hilton Garden Inn looks like what a fancy hotel should look. Seven floors of rooms, a swimming pool, a conference room, a business center, all located right on the beachfront. Depending upon traffic and which direction your driving the airport is between twenty and sixty minutes away. In other words, don’t get off the plane in the middle of a Saturday in July and expect a quick twenty minute drive to you room. It ain’t gonna happen.

The Hilton offers high speed wireless internet access in rooms that are business-traveler equipped. Room are also equipped with microwaves and fridges. It’s got a nice heated indoor and what they like to call their outdoor heated “fantasy pool.” Prices range in 175 to 225 bucks range. But hey, you can’t get that information off their web site, right?

Here’s the real skinny: If all you plan to do while in town is be a beach bum, this is the place for you. You’re right on the beach and even post-Hurricane Ivan there’s plenty of nightlife attractions to visit for both kids, teens and young adults. The beach is in proximate location to most of the nightclubs, bars and restaurants on Pensacola Beach. But that’s the thing. Pensacola Beach isn’t Pensacola.

If you plan on spending a lot of time at the Naval Air Station, you’ll be doing some heavy commuting. If you plan on visiting any attractions in Pensacola proper, you’ll be making a drive. Just want to soak up the sun, party at night and maybe get in some goofy golf or parasailing? Stay here.

On the other hand, if you plan on visiting friends at the Naval Air Station or soaking up Pensacola’s history, better to stay at:

Courtyard by Marriott, located at 451 Creighton Rd. Pensacola, FL 32504. 850-857-7744. This has the typical design of a Courtyard hotel, three floors, white, bright and nice to look at. Features non-smoking rooms, free wireless internet, meeting rooms, dry cleaning services and a gym. Prices range in the $100 to $150 area.

We’re still not terribly close to the Naval Air Station or downtown Pensacola, but at least we’re right next to University Mall, only a few miles away from the Univ. of West Florida and, most importantly, a stone’s throw away from I-110 and I-10 which can get you to NAS and downtown very quickly.

The Courtyard by Marriott offers a nice breakfast buffet, but why bother with that when there’s a Waffle House on the way to the interstate!

Let’s see if I can’t get you a little closer to the Naval Air Station and downtown. How about the:

Ashton Inn & Suites, 4 New Warrington Rd, Pensacola, FL 32506. 850-454-0280

This is a pretty nice place, actually. Of course, prices start at $120.00 a night, so why shouldn’t it be nice? Three floors, in-room DVD players, common area high speed internet access, indoor and outdoor pools, nice gym. And, hey, it’s right across the street from Pizza Hut! Better yet, it’s within walking distance of the best Mexican restaurant in Pensacola, the Taco House. (Which is next door to a bowling alley, if you like that sort of thing).

Now I’ve got you right in the heart of the Air Station/downtown section of town. If traffic is on your side, you’re only about a five minute drive away from both. Not only that, but add another ten to twenty minutes and you’ve got your choice of two different beaches on the opposite sides of town from each other. If something exciting is going on down at the Civic Center, you can get there from here in less ten minutes.

Sure, the Hilton and the Marriott have the name recognition going for them, but for my money, if I was going to stay overnight in Pensacola, I’d choose the Ashton.

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