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Downtown Parks

Greenspaces with History

Every busy city, especially in its downtown core, needs patches of greenspace in which residents and visitors alike may take respite. Downtown Pensacola has a variety of such spaces – manicured parks intended for everything from urban exercise to organized events, lively festivals to sunny picnics on blankets.

And, in a community more than 450 years old, all of those parks come with a distinct flavor of history.

Festival Favorites

Seville Square is a full city block in the historic district shaded by dozens of oak trees. It features a gazebo perfect for performances.

Seville Square is home to some of the biggest festivals of the year, including the Smokin’ in the Square barbecue festival every March, Pensacola JazzFest in April, the Pensacola Seafood Festival in September and the Great Gulfcoast Arts Festival every November, among many others. With plenty of shade and a cool breeze off Pensacola Bay, the park is also the site of choice for concerts and other community events throughout the year.

Across Bayfront Parkway from Seville Square is Bartram Park. This greenspace fronts the banks of Pensacola Bay. Named for American naturalist William Bartram – who visited Pensacola in 1775 – this park is part of the De Soto Trail, the route Spanish Conquistador Hernando De Soto took in his 16th-century exploration of the Southeast. Bartram is home to the Crawfish Festival every April as well as other annual events.

Palafox Places

Palafox Street is the beating heart of downtown Pensacola, thriving with retail shops, restaurants, entertainment venues, professional offices and government facilities. Three of Downtown Pensacola’s most active parks also call Palafox home.

Martin Luther King Jr. Plaza – named for the Civil Rights icon – is a linear park that sits in the wide median of Palafox Street for three blocks north of Garden Street. The plaza surrounds a bust of the Nobel Peace Prize winner, and includes benches and bike racks.

MLK Plaza is a choice location for special programs and events throughout the year, but is best known as the home to the Palafox Market. Every Saturday of the year, Palafox Market offers a unique mix of regionally-grown produce, local art and other hand-made items, as well as food, live entertainment and more.

Plaza Ferdinand, located at Palafox and Government Street, may be the most historically-significant park in Downtown Pensacola. The park occupies a city block, with a statue of William Dudley Chipley – a railroad magnate who served as Pensacola mayor in the 1880s – in its center. There is also a smaller bust of Andrew Jackson, marking the location where the United States accepted control of Florida from Spain in 1821. King Ferdinand VII led Spain at the time of the hand-over.

Historical markers in this park identify it as the location of colonial forts used by Spanish and English forces before Florida became a U.S. territory. The park is filled with large magnolias and other trees, and features a three-tiered fountain.

At the southern end of Palafox, Plaza de Luna beckons local sightseers and visitors alike. The circular plaza, named for Spanish explorer and Pensacola founder Don Tristan De Luna, is lined with benches and coin-operated binoculars, to help take in the panoramic view of Pensacola Bay. From Plaza de Luna, visitors can get a glimpse of Pensacola’s nautical life, from the sailboats, yachts and fishing boats docked at a nearby marina to some of the world’s largest commercial ships moored at the adjoining Port of Pensacola.

Plaza de Luna, which includes a life-size statue of the Spaniard, also features Downtown Pensacola’s only splash pad, offering the young – and the young at heart – a welcome cool-off on hot summer days.

Military Memorial

Pensacola’s legacy as a military town is an integral part of our community identity, so it’s fitting that a large, prominent park in Downtown Pensacola is dedicated to the memory of those who served.

Veterans Memorial Plaza and Admiral Mason Park are co-located on Bayfront Parkway and Romana Street. The focal point of the complex is the Wall South, a half-scale replica of the Vietnam Veterans’ Memorial in Washington, D.C. Opened in 1992, the park has also come to include memorials to those who served in the Revolutionary War, World Wars I and II, the Korean War, and the Global War on Terror as well as various branches of service. The park includes a wide, winding sidewalk that encircles a lily pad-topped pond.

Vice Admiral Charles Mason served as mayor of Pensacola from 1947 to 1957 and again from 1963 to 1965.

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