“There’s just something special about this place.”
That’s Christine Kellogg, a choreographer and theater director who has carved out a home and career in a vibrant creative community a stone’s throw away from the beach.
It’s not Los Angeles or Miami — it’s Pensacola, Florida.
Kellogg moved to Pensacola in 2019 and discovered that the beautiful beaches are just part of what this must-see city provides. She’s now adding to the vibrancy of this picturesque town as the artistic director of PenArts, a theater nonprofit that teaches under-served youth and brings wildly entertaining productions to all of Pensacola and its visitors. This fall, Kellogg and co. will bring a Shakespearean musical western (yes, you read that right) to the 10th annual Foo Foo Festival, a 12-day cultural celebration that coincides with amazing weather and helps showcase all of the artful offerings that Pensacola has to offer.
“There’s a heart and sincerity that’s really inspiring here,” Kellogg says. “I’ve been all over the country, and I can say the diversity of talent here is really special.”
From can’t-miss theatrics to those beautiful beaches, here are 10 reasons Pensacola is quite literally the picture-perfect destination for your fall getaway.
1. Foo Foo Fest is better than ever (which is saying something)
Each fall, the Foo Foo Festival merges art, theater, music, history and more for 12 days of unforgettable events in Pensacola. Now in its 10th year, this year’s celebration offers everything from opera to a jazz fest and an appearance by a Broadway fave (more on that in a little bit…)
2. Wildly entertaining theater from a master of the craft
At this year’s Foo Foo Fest, Kellogg and her actors will bring the Shakespeare-inspired “Desperate Measures” to their black box theater in the historic Belmont-DeVilliers district — the same district where Tina Turner and Sam Cooke once performed. Kellogg describes “Desperate Measures” as a witty, fast-paced interpretation of Shakespeare’s “Measure for Measure,” and based on their past performances, it’s sure to be a must-see production filled with hysterical performances.
3. Let’s face it: You deserve a carefree beach escape
It’s always a good time to visit Pensacola, but the fall is simply unbeatable. The pristine beaches and cooler temps await you, and in between Foo Foo Fest events, you can lounge beneath the glimmering sun with a good book, a pair of shades and not a worry in the world.
4. Or maybe you want some adventures on the water…
Guides are available to take you on some scenic dolphin sight-seeing tours, or you can rent a boat or paddle and explore the beaches, marshes and rivers of lush Pensacola. The town and surrounding areas also offer a wealth of hiking and biking opportunities for anyone who loves the great outdoors.
5. Enjoy some “Smash”ing good music
The Pensacola Civic Band has a knack for bringing top-tier talent to their town, and this year continues that trend. For Foo Foo Fest, the band will be joined by “Wicked” and “Noises Off” alum Megan Hilty — who you may also know from the hit TV show “Smash” — for an aptly-titled performance called “On Broadway.” On Wednesday, November 11, Hilty and the band will perform Broadway’s most iconic songs in a glitzy night sure to thrill lovers of musical theater and great music.
6. Sensational seafood
After seeing some live music or relaxing at the beach all day, is there anything better than enjoying some delectable, freshly-caught seafood? (Spoiler alert: No, there’s nothing better than that.) For proof, look no further than classic restaurants like Angelena’s Ristorante Italiano in downtown Pensacola, where the handcrafted pasta and fresh Gulf seafood arrive on your plate courtesy of an award-winning chef (and two-time “Chopped” winner.)
7. Awesome accommodations
There are a plethora of comfy resort and hotel options dotting the Pensacola coast, and you can’t go wrong with any of them. It’s all about the vibe you’re looking for: Do you want to lounge at high-end pools while having drinks brought to you, or do you want to enjoy the trappings of a luxurious spa after a day of activity? All of that and more (including fine dining and lodging just steps from a sandy beach) is available to you in Pensacola.
8. Marvelous museums
Lewis Garvin, a member of the Pensacola Civic Band, likes to describe his city as a place “where history and creativity collide.” The city is home to several fan-favorite museums, including the National Naval Aviation Museum. Plus, this year’s Foo Foo Fest includes a “living museum” from the Pensacola Museum of History on Thursday, November 7, wherein actors will walk you through centuries of the region’s rich history. See you there, history buffs.
9. Celebrate Veterans Day in style
On Saturday, November 4, the lovely Veterans Memorial Park will play host to an afternoon of art, comedy and music, including a performance by Blackbird Anthem: a band on a mission to help revive original Southern rock music while giving back to U.S. military veterans. With help from a fun and healing program of events, you and your loved ones can pay tribute to the selfless men and women who have served our nation.
10. Experience a unique cultural hub
As Garvin says, “people who don’t visit Pensacola are missing out.” Others have called it a “hidden gem” for its sheer variety of offerings. But the city’s impressive growth means it won’t be “hidden” much longer. Further, where else can you experience the best of many worlds at once? For all the reasons detailed above, the community is both a source of vibrant, locally-sourced creativity and a haven for lovers of fine cuisine, beach relaxation and outdoor adventures of all kinds. You don’t want to miss out — so we’ll see you in Pensacola this fall.
For more information, visit FooFooFest.com.