Escape to Pensacola Beach this Winter

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The Santa Rosa Island Authority invites visitors to ditch the snow shovel and come dig in the sugar-white sands instead on Pensacola Beach

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If the scene outside your window is as dreary as the thought of three more months of frigid temps, don’t worry. Pensacola Beach has you covered. Ditch the snow blower and come play in the snow-white sand instead.

If the scene outside the window is as dreary as the thought of three more months of frigid temps, don’t worry. Visit Pensacola Beach is here to help. Ditch the snow blower and come play in the snow-white sand instead.

Here are just a few of the many reasons to escape the winter woes and head south to sunny Pensacola Beach, where pristine seashore spans miles of powdery, quartz-sand beaches and turquoise water, all-year long.

1. Unbeatable rates this time of year - Pensacola Beach offers the perfect winter backdrop for outdoor activities and relaxation, with average highs in the low- to mid- 60s in January and February and a warmer 70 degrees in March.

Winter visitors often take to the gulf for kayaking, paddleboarding and surfing. It’s also a great time of year to book a Gulf charter for deep-sea fishing, have a relaxing afternoon casting from shore, or get face-to-face with some of the area’s most popular beach residents on a dolphin tour or a migratory-bird-watching hike.

Visitors can stay anywhere from a cozy beach cottage, to a hip hotel within walking distance of great shopping and dining options, to a luxury resort and condo. Winter is among the best times to book a stay on Pensacola Beach, with wide-open beaches and the best rates of the year.

2. Gulf Islands National Seashore – winner of Florida’s Best Beach in a USA TODAY 10Best Readers’ Choice poll – Gulf Islands National Seashore’s snow-white beaches are made up of 99.4 percent quartz crystal.

Its breathtaking beauty, historic charm and well-preserved natural environment are just a few reasons why this national park also ranked No. 2 in USA TODAY’s 10Best Naturally Preserved Shorelines in the country.

Dolphins, sea turtles and rays are commonly spotted swimming near the shore in the crystal-clear waters. Visitors are sure to spot osprey hunting for fish near the shoreline overhead. Great blue herons tend to migrate toward the onshore fishermen, hoping for some spoils. And for much of the year, the Seashore provides an ample nesting ground for various seasonal shorebirds, like the beautiful black skimmers and tiny least terns.

3. Historic sites—It’s not just the beautiful beaches you’ll find on Santa Rosa Island but also centuries of history dating back to 1559 when Spanish explorer Don Tristan de Luna started America’s first settlement on the banks of Pensacola, just across the bay from Pensacola Beach.

Fort Pickens, located on the western tip of Pensacola Beach, is the largest of the historic forts in the Pensacola Bay Area. Built between 1829 and 1834, it was occupied by Union forces during the Civil War and is one of only four Southern forts that didn’t fall into Confederate hands.

The Battle of Santa Rosa Island took place within sight of its walls. And, between 1886 and 1888, Apache chief Geronimo and members of his tribe were imprisoned there. Abandoned as a military post following World War II, Fort Pickens was reopened by the National Park Service in 1976.

4. Recreational activities — Pensacola Beach offers an endless range of recreational activities to fit your lifestyle and speed - including kayaking, fishing, parasailing, jet skiing, sailing, hiking nature trails, biking, camping, surfing and more. The island even offers two designated dog beaches for those who want to travel with their four-legged friends.

The Pensacola Beach Gulf Pier – an icon on Pensacola Beach - is one the longest fishing and observational pier on the Gulf of Mexico at 1471 feet. There’s no need to purchase equipment – you can just rent it for the day as the pier features a restaurant, gift shop, bait and tackle shop for all your fishing needs. King and Spanish mackerel, redfish, pompano and tarpon are frequently caught off pier in winter. For the sightseers - dolphin, stingrays, and sea turtles are often spotted in the crystal clear waters below. It’s also a spectacular place to watch the sunset.

Shelling is a favorite pass time in winter too as the beach’s emerald waters are best appreciated at low tide.

Or if just relaxing by the shoreline with a good book in hand, from the comfort of your beach chair is more your speed — well, you simply couldn’t ask for a better view.

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Media Note: For interviews, please contact SRIA Executive Director Paolo Ghio at 850-932-2257 or email him at paolo_ghio(at)sria-fla(dot)com.

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Pensacola Beach is owned by Escambia County, Fla., and is under the direction of the Santa Rosa Island Authority (SRIA). The SRIA was created by the Florida legislature in 1947 under Chapter 24500. The SRIA does not receive tax support from the taxpayers of the county. It is fully funded from lease fees collected from business and residences on the beach. The Island Authority board is made up of six members; members of the Escambia County Board of Commissioners whose term is the same as the commissioner who appointed them name five. Registered voters on Pensacola Beach elect the sixth member. The elected member’s term is two years.

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Katie King

Paolo Ghio
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