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For those seeking a low-key way to unwind in winter – Pensacola’s award-winning National Park offers miles of unobstructed beach views and easy access to the Gulf
Pensacola, Fla. (Dec 20, 2017) - Needing time to unravel and unwind in peace and privacy after a stressful, jam-packed holiday season? Don’t worry, Visit Pensacola has you covered. Long admired and awarded for its soft sugar sands, its translucent waters and its untouched natural beauty, visitors to Florida’s Gulf Islands National Seashore (GINS) are often surprised to discover that the nation’s longest stretch of protected seashore is a perfectly secluded hideaway in winter.
Named Florida’s Best Beach and one the 10 Best Naturally Preserved Shorelines in the nation by USA TODAY, GINS provides endless opportunity for solitude and relaxation in the off season. In fact, with miles of undeveloped beaches and unobstructed views along the barrier island, your reflection in the water may be the only person you see while there. A short hike, bike ride, or kayak trip always ensures a swath of beach, sans humans.
Even without the presence of people, rest assured that you are never truly alone.
An abundant ecosystem of marine and terrestrial wildlife encompasses you within GINS. Osprey and great blue herons are often nearby or overhead, their huge nests visible in the treetops. Atlantic bottlenose dolphin, loggerhead sea turtles and cow-nose rays are commonly spotted swimming near the shore in the crystal-clear waters. The Seashore provides an ample nesting and hatching ground for shorebirds - like the beautiful black skimmers and tiny least terns. And every winter, look for hundreds of species of migratory birds as they make a pit stop along Pensacola Beach on their way to South America for the season.
For a unique look into American history and the military significance of Pensacola going back to the American Revolution, join a guided tour of Fort Pickens – managed by the National Park Service. With its huge brick battlements jutting up from white sand dunes and its labyrinth of arched tunnels, Pickens is a favorite spot within the Seashore for photographers and history buffs alike. The largest of four historic forts in the Pensacola Bay Area, Pickens is surrounded by acres of undeveloped, wild beach.
The Seashore offers a wide range of recreational activities including kayaking, fishing, nature trails, biking, camping, fort tours, ranger-led programs and more. Shelling is a favorite pass time in winter as the beach’s emerald waters are best appreciated at low tide when you can walk hundreds of yards and see nothing but a sandy, winter-white bottom and sift through thousands of small shells and sand dollars. Or, join in a ranger-led nature tour to explore life in the brackish marshes or hidden in the shade of tall pines and gnarled live oaks.
Camping is available within the park, or if you prefer your lodging a little more refined, there are plenty of hotel and vacation rentals nearby on Pensacola Beach.
Or if just relaxing in the warm sunshine, overlooking the water with a good book in hand, from the comfort of your beach chair is more your speed — well, you simply couldn’t ask for a better view.
For more information on traveling to the Pensacola Bay Area in winter, and for travel deals and discounts, log onto Visit Pensacola’s websiteand contact Nicole Stacey at (850) 434-2142.
About Visit Pensacola
Visit Pensacola is the destination management organization for Escambia County which includes Pensacola, Pensacola Beach and Perdido Key. With over 450 years of rich history and 18 miles of sugar-white sand beaches bordered by the emerald-green waters of the Gulf of Mexico, visitors from all over the world are lured to our pristine shores every year. Visit Pensacola supports the community vision of tourism by serving as the central body responsible for building tourism as an economic engine for our community through leadership, connection, collaboration and communication.