The Pensacola Bay Area, which prides itself on welcoming visitors from around the world and from all walks of life, offers a great variety of year-round nightlife and special events to satisfy the appetites of any LGBT visitor. Here are the top five reasons LGBT visitors should make Pensacola their next vacation stop:
1. Sugar White Beaches: Winner of Florida’s Best Beach in 2015, Pensacola’s beaches are known the world over as the cleanest, whitest beaches to be seen – sand so white the coastal waters take on a turquoise hue. While Pensacola offers many beachfront hotels and condos, it also boasts miles and miles of undeveloped beach reserved for undisturbed enjoyment. Breathtaking. A stretch of beach near the entrance to the Gulf Islands National Seashore Santa Rosa Area is an unofficial LGBT beach area. Any warm day will find the beach there peppered with rainbow flags and umbrellas. LGBT couples wishing to tie the knot in Pensacola couldn’t choose a more picturesque setting than Pensacola Beach. Many local officiants are available for same-sex weddings on the beach, including the Rev. Jamie Hullenbaugh (850-748-5668) and Rev. Booth Iburg (firstname.lastname@example.org).
2. Memorial Day Weekend: Probably the best-known LGBT event in Pensacola, Memorial Day Weekend brings more than 100,000 visitors from around the Southeastern U.S. and beyond to enjoy the first rays of summer and a series of coordinated nightlife events. Starting the week before Memorial Day and running through the holiday itself, nightclubs and special venues around town offer ticketed events with DJs, foam parties, girl parties and live entertainment of national caliber. Restaurants and businesses on Pensacola Beach and all over town hang out the rainbow flag to welcome LGBT visitors.
3. Three words: Drag Queen Bingo! Yes, the popular barroom pastime is alive and well in Pensacola. Every Friday at 6 p.m. LGBT nightclub Emerald City hosts Drag Queen Bingo in its casual side bar, the Other Side. The club awards Bingo prizes like bottles of premium spirits and bar tabs. The main bar at Emerald City is a high-energy dance club with drink specials and theme nights. Other LGBT nightspots in Pensacola include a piano bar called Cabaret, the western-themed Roundup, and Top of the Town, an after-hours club. All of Pensacola’s LGBT nightclubs are located in the downtown area.
4. PensacolaPRIDE: This is the authentically local LGBT event of the year in Pensacola. Organized by a dedicated group of local volunteers, PensacolaPRIDE is a week of events – most of which are free – every June intended to entertain and educate the local community around issues that are meaningful to LGBT people. In 2016, the pride Festival in the Park is set for Saturday, June 11, at historic Seville Square in downtown Pensacola. The festival traditionally includes local speakers and entertainment, as well as numerous vendor booths ranging from LGBT-friendly religious organizations to fine-art dealers. The week usually includes special events like an open mic performance, educational forums and a movie marathon, and caps off with a semi-formal banquet and dance called the Celebration Ball, set for Saturday, June 18, in 2016.
5. Lights, camera, FILM FEST: The Stamped LGBT Film Fest is set for October every year – usually the second week – and features independent, art house productions aimed at shedding light on LGBT lives. Stamped offers the unique experience of a different venue every night. Past venues have ranged from the independent theater Treehouse Cinema to the outdoor restaurant East Hill Yard to the prestigious Pensacola Museum of Commerce. Best of all, the festival offers free admission to all who wish to attend.
In addition, LGBT visitors to Pensacola will find no shortage of LGBT-owned and LGBT-friendly hotels and restaurants, including: Sole Inn & Suites, Portofino Island Resort, Cactus Flower Café, Maximillian Coffee, Bonelli’s Café Italia, Sluggo’s Vegetarian Restaurant and the Ruby Slipper.