If you haven’t explored Pensacola during your travels to Florida, don’t miss out on the opportunity to visit some of the most scenic settings and nature trails in the area. You’ll find a handful of wildlife preserves, zoos, and observatories throughout the region; whether you’re a birdwatcher or enjoy exploring natural animal habitats, here’s where your explorations can begin in Pensacola.
The Pensacola Beach Fishing Pier is another hotspot for bird watching and plenty of fun with nature. This observation post is open 24 hours a day after February; the pier stretches out over 1,400 feet where you can spot dolphins, manatees, sharks, crabs, and hundreds of fish. Stay until sunset to catch one of Florida’s best views. The fishing pier is located at 41 Fort Pickens Road, and the beach itself is a great place to settle down for a late-afternoon picnic.
Bordering the Conecuh National Forest, Blackwater River State Forest is the place to explore streams and forest along the beautiful waterways. The lush vegetation and dozens of plant species will require a few hours to take in; you’ll come across everything from pine, oak, dogwood, Atlantic white cedar, and southern magnolia native to the area. Also be on the lookout for the carnivorous pitcher plant; these vibrant green and white plants are scattered throughout the region. If you prefer a guided tour, take advantage of the Trailwalker Program on the Bear Lake Trail for a complete overview of the park. Camping and recreation sites are also available here. Just call (850) 957-6140 for hours, rates, and other information.
Right on Perdido Beach, you’ll find the Lost Key Golf Club. This 18-hole golf course is a great place to take in an afternoon of bird watching, and it’s been featured as a prime spot by the Audubon Signature Cooperative. The soft white sand on the bunkers, and rolling hills on the fairways are attractive tot eh birds and thousands of visitors year round! The course is located at 625 Lost Key Drive; call (850) 492-1300 for more hours and golf specials.
At Hawkshaw Lagoon Memorial Park, you’ll find some exceptionally serene and tranquil settings. The Sanctuary here is filled with some of Florida’s most popular wildlife, animals, and birds; you can see everything from the observation deck, or head over to the bridge on the lagoon for a peek at marine life and culture. This is a popular spot for ecology students to sample and explore; you’ll easily see why with the rich culture of marine and animal life in the open-air settings.
It’s a walk-through exhibit you won’t forget anytime soon at The Zoo. Here you’ll explore botanical gardens, primate cages, and take part in Avian Alley to interact with birds of all backgrounds. You can also take a Safari train here for a few hours; it will take you through 30 acres of the grounds to catch a glimpse of the free-roaming wildlife. The Zoo is home to over 900 animals, so you’ll never be at a loss for activities and exhibits during your day’s visit! It’s located at 5701 Gulf Breeze Parkway, and you can call (850) 932-2229 for more information.
From golf courses to the Gulf Coast pier, Pensacola is a great spot to explore the natural world in a beautiful setting. When you venture to the South on your travels this year, don’t overlook these top spots for nature trails and walks in sunny Pensacola!