Traditionally, the mention of Pensacola summons images of lazy days relaxing on sugar white sands as the emerald green waves lap at your bare feet. Pensacola summers are hard to beat, but I think our winters might actually have an edge. Allow me to present five pieces of evidence to support this radical claim:

1. The Weather

In Pensacola, I get to stroll through my very own winter wonderland, without needing snowshoes. Can you imagine getting your white Christmas with an average high of 65 degrees? It's the best of both worlds! I love going to the beach during the winter, not only because I can leave the sunscreen at home, but also because it's so serene. Winter is our offseason, so there are much fewer people on the beach. It's pretty easy to convince yourself that the beach belongs only to you and the occasional seabird. It also happens to be the time of year when you get the best rates on beach accommodations.

Beach view

2. Downtown Pensacola Decor

Every year, Downtown Pensacola dons its holiday best, and it is truly a sight to see. Thousands and thousands of twinkling white lights adorn every tree, lamppost, and storefront, transforming Palafox Street into something out of a classic Christmas film. The lights go up right around Thanksgiving and stay through the early part of the new year. Grab a cup of hot chocolate and someone you love and take a dreamy stroll.

Downtown Lights

3. Performing Arts

Pensacola really does have so much to offer, but one element that consistently flies under the radar is our performing arts offerings. Did you know that we are one of just a few cities in the Southeast that boast the "big five"? Not only do we have an accredited art museum, but we also have professional symphony, opera and ballet companies and a professional theatre - the Saenger. On any given weekend, you can go to the Saenger Theatre and see world-renowned opera singers performing one of the opera's grandest productions, or a professional ballet company performing the classics or brand new shows written specifically for them. You can also catch a touring Broadway show like the "Jersey Boys" or "The Sound of Music." The Pensacola Symphony Orchestra puts on incredible shows every year, but you don't want to miss their annual Beethoven in Blue Jeans in January.

Saenger Theatre

4. Ice Hockey

Yes, you read that right. If the performing arts aren't your scene, how about catching a hockey game instead? If you're having a hard time picturing hockey in Pensacola, it's time to experience it for yourself. Our Pensacola Ice Flyers are a minor league team playing in the Southern Professional League, and they have won three league titles in four years! Pretty impressive! The best part in my opinion is the legion of fervent fans they have amassed over the years. An Ice Flyers game is much more than just hockey' It's become a Pensacola institution!

Hockey

5. Let the Good Times Roll!

Did you know that Pensacola has been celebrating Mardi Gras almost as long as they have in the Big Easy? Mardi Gras was first observed in this country by our neighbors to the north in Mobile, Alabama, but it made its way down to Pensacola shortly after that. Though we celebrate with various parades and events from January through March, our main events take place in one weekend. The first two of the three main parades takes place on Friday and Saturday in Downtown Pensacola, while the third takes over Pensacola Beach. The New Orleans parades may be known worldwide, but they also have a reputation for being less than family-friendly. Here in Pensacola, we believe young and old should be able to let the good times roll together!

Mardi Gras Parade

So, let's recap. A perfect, serene beach all to yourself on a 65-degree day. World-class performances. Dreamy holiday lights. Family-friendly fun.... and ice hockey. I rest my case. We'll see you this winter!

What is YOUR favorite things about Pensacola in the winter? Let us know in the comments!