She said yes! But amid all the beautiful (and stressful) details that come with planning your big day, any bride (or groom – in my case) knows that while the wedding is often for the guests, the honeymoon is for the couple.
All those months of planning, primping and preparation deserve time to recover, rejuvenate and rewind – and there’s no better place to set the tone for the rest of your new life than the white, sandy shores of Pensacola. Follow my insider’s guide of where to stay, see, sip, savor, spa and sweat for the perfect getaway, no matter your wedding season.
Whether beach-bound or taking in the culture and quaint downtown of Pensacola, where you stay is crucial on Cloud 9. Located in the heart of the Historic District, the Lee House captures the charm and convenience that your boutique honeymoon home needs. Guests are welcomed by wide porches to sit and stay while overlooking the glistening waves of Pensacola Bay. Walkable to all of downtown’s pleasantries, Lee House puts newlyweds in perfect proximity for honeymoon prosperity.
But if sand and sun are your sanctuaries, the luxurious accommodations and amenities of Portofino Island Resort are designed to check off all of your relaxation indulgences – encompassing 28 beautiful acres of sand and sunsets. From sailing and surfing to Portofino’s Spa-to-You private, poolside massage service, their wellness offerings indulge and delight to melt away the new fear of in-laws.
While Portofino has you covered on sights to see, venture out and set sail on a Premiere Dolphin Cruise or watch the sunset together with a Condor Sailing Adventure cruise. Stroll the Gulf Island’s National Seashore by way of Fort Pickens, with plenty of photo-ops for your honeymoon scrapbook. Or take in the beautiful, serene views from the top of the Pensacola Lighthouse and Maritime Museum, with its charming structure originally built-in 1859.
For an evening visual, enjoy the revolving productions year-round at the Saenger Theatre, Pensacola Little Theatre, and Vinyl Music Hall. (Pensacola lacks for nothing – including their uncanny pool of talent to serenade you.)
In our neck of the woods, we say “One if by land, and make it a double if by sea.”
Perched high above the Pensacola Beach Pier, the seagull’s-eye view of the Emerald Gulf Coast from DRIFT is one sip you need to sea. Fusing classic cocktails with inventive techniques and preparation, DRIFT’s master mixologists utilize unique ingredients to make your experience memorable. Just down the shore is the Island Culture Tiki Bar, where newlyweds can walk up, float up, or paddle up – boasting no parking lot – only an unassuming spot for boaters looking to anchor by the shore and passers-by on the beach. Kick back, detach and escape with a cold, tropical sip in hand.
Downtown, enjoy an afternoon glow with balcony sips at The District (with the faint sound of their baby grand piano in the background) or snag a stool at Angelena’s bar, led by a downtown husband-wife duo celebrating southern touches to classic Italian cuisine and cocktails. (Highlighting wines from thirteen different Italian wine-growing regions means your vacation has variety.)
If a brew is more you, sip together at Pensacola’s newest boutique breweries Perfect Plain or Odd Colony Brewing Co. And don’t forget to (actually) hydrate along the way with refreshing, cold-pressed juices at The Daily Squeeze juice bar and café.
Keep those sips alive at Restaurant Iron, which doubles as the center of Pensacola’s culinary scene, boasting locally sourced, hand-made, and detail-focused dishes to make your heart flutter with butter. (Y’all, it’s the South; even our cauliflower is “Hot Chicken” fried. And the black garlic butter escargot & gnocchi or icebox Nutella pie will keep you both coming back for more.)
Or keep the flame alive in the dim-lights of Union Public House, where the portions are heart’y. (As newlyweds, you understand the success of an unlikely pairing, like pimento-cheese honey hushpuppies or potato salad and gumbo.) Or get a kick-start on how to use your new cookware from your wedding shower at SoGourmet, where the two of you can take a private cooking class and then enjoy the fruits of your labor (even if that’s just fruit of the vine.)
Spa & Sweat
You’re here to relax your minds and bodies, and the full-service and friendly staff at Stay-the-Spa tailor treatments for each of you, offering couples’ packages to cover your relaxation from head to toe. Want to end your duo date with a trip to Stay’s Infrared Sauna? No sweat!
Stretch your bond further with a Duet Session at Pure Pilates, a premiere Pilates and Gyrotonic studio to hone in on many skills to take with you after the honeymoon: precision, control, concentration, centering, breathing, rhythm, and relaxation. Or challenge your minds and replenish your souls while riding together in the dark studio of Ride Society. Ride together as one with a low-impact, high-intensity full-body cardio workout by surrendering to the beat of a 45-minute rhythm ride.
And then see you again soon.
While the honeymoon phase may eventually end, Pensacola will always be here for you for many anniversaries to come.