Is “have camera, will travel” your mantra? In the age of smartphones, most of us have a camera within reach at all times. We share photos of our pets, kids, and vacations – even our lunches – through social media.

In Pensacola, the surf and sand are picturesque most any time of day, but some of the best photo ops are found at day’s end. A Pensacola sunset fills the sky with a rich palette of colors as varied as the seasons. Linger a little longer the next time you are on the beach and you just might leave with the perfect photo souvenir.

Here are five of the best places for sunset photo ops in Pensacola:

Gulf Islands National Seashore

Fort Pickens at sunset

Gulf Islands National Seashore spans many miles of natural Florida coastline, including parts of Santa Rosa Island and Perdido Key. The Fort Pickens area adjacent to Pensacola Beach offers views of unspoiled sand dunes and sea oats, as well as the historic fort itself. With its weathered brick archways and overlooks, Fort Pickens is popular with professional photographers who often visit for late afternoon sessions.

Palafox Pier

A visit to Downtown Pensacola is not complete without a stop at Palafox Pier, where you will find great scenery all around. Bring your camera along to snap shots of large ships in port, yachts docked in the marina, the nearby Blue Wahoos Stadium and a statue of the Spanish explorer who settled Pensacola in Plaza de Luna. There is a lot to see here! End your day with a sunset dinner or cocktails on the patio at Jaco’s Bayfront Bar & Grill, one of the most memorable dining experiences in town.

Perdido Key Beach

Flora-bama

Wide open stretches of sand and the emerald waters at Perdido Key Beach are ripe for sunset photography. The beach is rarely crowded and it is not unusual to see native wildlife roaming the sands. Blue heron stand tall at the water’s edge and sand pipers scamper all around. Both are good subjects for a photo. Plus they are just fun to watch as you savor the last moments of daylight on Florida’s westernmost beach.

Big Lagoon State Park

Big Lagoon State Park

Camping and outdoor adventures draw many visitors to Big Lagoon State Park near Perdido Key. Take advantage of the boat launch or paddle through the salt marshes, hike through a wooded pine forest or climb the three-story observation tower popular with birdwatchers. You will find an unlimited number of vantage points for a sunset photo here and, if you are staying overnight, enjoy the views of the moon and stars, too. Stargazing events take place in the park once a month.   

Pensacola Beach Pier

A day of fishing for the likes of Red Fish, King and Spanish mackerel, Cobia or Pompano along the 1,470-foot Pensacola Beach Pier ends with a big payoff no matter what you catch. A stunning sunset view is a sure thing at the pier, which attracts locals and visitors nightly. The pier offers an observer admission rate for those who just want to get a glimpse of dolphins and seagulls or enjoy the colors dancing on the horizon at dusk. The pier is conveniently located at Casino Beach, making it easy to grab a glass of wine or dinner on one of the beach’s most popular patios.  

Wherever you go in the Pensacola area, take a few minutes of your evening to admire the beauty of the western sky. The best things in life really are free.