Spending time on the Florida Panhandle? Choosing where to stay in Pensacola should be top of mind on your trip planning mission. Pensacola is one of the top vacation spots on Florida’s Emerald Coast, a perfect destination for historic sightseeing, beach time, and watersports.
Although it’s a smaller city, finding the best areas to stay in Pensacola can be difficult, with countless options and neighborhoods to choose from. Each district offers something unique, from amazing lodgings in the city center to stunning beachfront resorts. No matter where you choose, the best hotels in Pensacola are close to the city’s historic sites, beautiful beaches, and emerald water.
Not sure where to begin? Get your Pensacola accommodations search started with this guide to the best places to stay in Pensacola, Florida.
Best places to stay in Pensacola, FL
Packed with beachgoers and residents all year round, deciphering where to stay in Pensacola can be challenging. Pensacola is the westernmost city in the Florida Panhandle, with warm weather in all seasons. The city’s diverse areas, neighborhoods, and suburbs give visitors a wide range of hotel and lodging options.
If you’re visiting Pensacola for the first time, staying in Downtown Pensacola is a perfect choice. Pensacola’s city center will let you experience the city’s delicious food and bustling nightlife. Downtown Pensacola is also a popular art and history hub, teeming with many of the top tourist attractions in Pensacola.
If you don’t want to stay downtown, areas like Gulf Breeze and Pensacola Beach give you better beach access a little further away from the busyness of the city. Navarre is better for quieter beach vacations, while Northeast Pensacola is the top choice for a quick trip.
The best areas to stay in Pensacola, FL, are:
✓ Best area to stay in Pensacola for history, arts & culture
First-time visitor to Pensacola? Spend your nights in Downtown Pensacola. In Pensacola’s city center, you’ll dazzle at beautiful views over Pensacola Bay and be able to explore the city’s historic downtown. One of the first European Settlements in North America, Pensacola is full of opportunities to learn about Floridan culture and history through art galleries, museums, and walking tours.
Palafox Street is the most-visited part of the city center with great outdoor cafes, fresh-caught seafood restaurants, and several pubs and breweries. Numerous small art exhibits showcase local artists while its craft shops will let you support the local economy.
If you’re tired from spending time at the beach or in the sun, you can stop in one of the many boutiques to buy clothes, beach gear, or souvenirs. During holidays, you’ll enjoy daily parades and festivals through the downtown streets.
Recommended hotels in Downtown Pensacola
For a stay in the heart of downtown, book a night at the Pensacola Victorian Bed & Breakfast. Located in a historic home, the bed & breakfast is a cozy place to relax after a long day at the beach. The lodgings offer free breakfast, private bathrooms, large comfortable beds, and free WIFI in all the rooms.
Searching for a modern downtown hotel? The Courtyard by Marriott Pensacola Downtown delivers everything you need for your journey. Relax at the outdoor pool or work on your beach body at the on-site fitness center. The hotel’s small bistro is the perfect spot to grab a quick lunch or dinner.
Offering the finest beach views downtown, Holiday Inn Express Pensacola Downtown charms with private balconies with views of the Gulf of Mexico in every room. They offer a hot breakfast buffet and an outdoor pool. Walk to the nearby Quietwater Beach Boardwalk in the evening for dinner and nightly entertainment.
Offering a comfortable and leisure stay, the Residence Inn by Marriott Pensacola Downtown has spacious suites perfect for a family getaway or traveling with a large group of friends. Enjoy fantastic views over Pensacola Bay at the outdoor pool. They also have complimentary breakfast and nightly evening socials.
✓ Top-rated district to stay in Pensacola for beach bums
If your only goal is to visit the beach and stay in your bathing suit for your entire vacation, Pensacola Beach is the perfect place to stay.
Many of the accommodation options in Pensacola Beach are beachfront hotels with quick access to Pensacola’s beautiful white-sand beaches. Pensacola Beach is only about a 20-minute drive to downtown. It’s quite easy to get into the heart of the city for evening entertainment.
If you’re booking a room in Pensacola Beach, carve space in your schedule to visit Fort Pickens. The historic military fort offers self-guided tours that take you back in time to the American Revolution. There’s also a small swimming beach, picnic pavilions, and some short hiking trails.
Recommended hotels in Pensacola Beach
For a beachfront option close to excellent dining and shopping, reserve your room at Hampton Inn Pensacola Beach. The outdoor pool has comfortable lounge chairs and fluffy towels. Pensacola Lighthouse, Gulf Islands National Seashore, and Fort Pickens are all less than 10 minutes away.
Need a poolside escape for the whole family? Holiday Inn Resort Pensacola Beach has a heated 250-foot lazy river, waterfalls, an indoor heated pool, and an outdoor swimming pool. The hotel features a sports grill and tiki bar on-site. Guests can spend their whole vacation here without leaving the property.
For spacious units with free WIFI and a hot breakfast buffet, book a room at Springhill Suites by Marriott Pensacola Beach. Guests will enjoy superb beach views from the huge balcony included with the suites. Many of the rooms are family-friendly with separate sitting rooms and spacious beds.
Holiday Inn Express Pensacola Beach is within walking distance of diving, boating, and fishing hotspots. Many of the hotel rooms have direct beach access. You also enjoy free WiFi access and free breakfast. Several shops and restaurants lie across the street, too.
For a more luxurious stay in Pensacola, check out the rooms at Margaritaville Beach Hotel. This popular luxury hotel lies just steps away from the beach. Outside the hotel, you can find places to rent bicycles, kayaks, and paddleboards. Visit the on-site restaurant for a casual meal and drinks.
✓ Top neighborhood to stay in Pensacola for families & budget travelers
Full of hotels for families, Gulf Breeze lies across Pensacola Bay from the city center. The small Pensacola suburb has all the amenities and lodging options you need if you’re traveling with children or the whole family.
Many of the locals in Gulf Breeze are families with young children. The surrounding attractions are also aimed at fun for the whole family. The price of hotel rooms on the southern side of Pensacola Bay is also lower than in downtown. If you’re traveling on a budget, Gulf Breeze is one of the city’s top choices.
Gulf Breeze forms part of the Gulf Islands National Seashore, a perfect destination for hiking and snorkeling. The seashore has places to rent water equipment, including snorkeling gear, kayaks, and binoculars for birding. If you’re looking to escape the beach or shopping boutiques, the Gulf Breeze Zoo is a fantastic family-friendly spot, too.
Recommended hotels in Gulf Breeze
Holiday Inn Express & Suites Gulf Breeze has all the basic amenities you need to enjoy your stay in Pensacola. Each room & suite has large beds, small fridges, coffee makers, and flat-screen TVs. The suite options offer double beds and a pull-out bed from the couch, making it a great option if you’re staying with kids.
If you’re looking to be equal distance between downtown and Pensacola Beach, reserve a room at Hampton Inn & Suites Pensacola/Gulf Breeze. Local cafes and chain restaurants are less than a mile away, so you’ll have plenty of dining and drinking options. The hotel offers a hot breakfast, a 24-hour fitness center, and a heated outdoor pool.
Home2 Suites by Hilton Gulf Breeze has beautiful surroundings close to all the attractions. The beaches are only 3 miles away and downtown Pensacola is only 7 miles away. The hotel offers amazing facilities including a large fitness center, an outdoor pool, and a business center. They offer budget-friendly rooms and age-based rates as well.
✓ Best place to stay in Pensacola for a quieter Florida beach vacation
Get away from the hustle and bustle of the city by heading to Navarre, an hour east of Pensacola. The relaxing atmosphere and quietude of Navarre Beach are perfect for a romantic weekend getaway or a girls’ weekend.
Located on Santa Rosa Island, Navarre is most popular for its namesake Navarre Beach but also charms travelers with plenty of green spaces. The many nearby nature parks are perfect for hiking and cycling around the island.
After spending the day in the water, visit the Sea Turtle Conservation Center or the Marine Science Station. There are plenty of opportunities abound in Navarre for mini-golf as well.
Whether you’re traveling solo, with friends, or with your partner, Navarre gives you the private space you need to enjoy a quiet beach vacation.
Recommended hotels in Navarre
Offering beautiful and simple rooms, Best Western Navarre Waterfront is a quiet hotel on the ocean. The outdoor beachfront pool and private balconies have great views of the sunset over the Gulf of Mexico. You can also rent kayaks and fishing gear next to the hotel.
Close to the Gulf Breeze Zoo and Santa Rosa Island, Hampton Inn & Suites Navarre is only 4 miles from Navarre Beach. The hotel has direct highway access, so it’s an excellent option if you plan to travel around Pensacola and visit neighboring attractions.
SpringHill Suites by Marriott Navarre Beach has affordable lodging options right on the Gulf of Mexico. They have a lazy river, a zero-entry outdoor pool, and a large hot tub. The Beach House Bar & Grille is a great place to end and unwind while overlooking the beach and golf course.
✓ Recommended area to stay in Pensacola for quick layovers
Looking to save some money and escape the tourist buzz? Settle down at one of the many excellent lodging options in Northeast Pensacola. Home of Pensacola International Airport, the suburb is a great choice If you’re taking a short trip or have a layover in Pensacola.
Beyond the airport, Northeast Pensacola offers plenty for shoppers and nature lovers. Cordova Mall is just a short drive away. This popular mall is loaded with budget-friendly shops and several tasty restaurants. If you have some free time after shopping, go hiking in Bay Bluffs Park, explore the University of West Florida campus, or play some disc golf at Hitzman-Optimist Park.
For military & history buffs, the National Naval Aviation Museum and Fort Barrancas at the Pensacola Naval Air Station are still an easy 30-minute drive away.
Recommended hotels in Northeast Pensacola
One of the closest options to the airport is Homewood Suites by Hilton Pensacola Airport-Cordova Mall. The free shuttle service offers an easy way to get to the airport and other surrounding areas for eating and shopping. On weekdays, the hotel hosts evening socials where you can meet fellow travelers and enjoy free snacks.
Courtyard Marriott Pensacola has everything you need to enjoy a few days in Northeast Pensacola. Enjoy the 24-hour fitness center or swim in the indoor pool. All rooms have free WIFI, flat-screen TVs, and small spaces to work. The hotel is also close to great restaurants and breweries.
Just one mile from the airport, Hilton Garden Inn Pensacola Airport/Medical Center gives you quick access for early morning or late night flights. They also have an airport shuttle and on-site restaurant to make your stay stress-free. You’ll also enjoy the outdoor pool, fitness center, and room service.