The Pensacola Escape: Part 1

Willow - Pensacola, Florida

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Why Pensacola? 

To date, I have never spent more than 10 nights away from home. I never went to an overnight camp growing up nor did we take an extended vacation. As I write this we are on night seven and have eight more nights ahead of us on our long break in Florida. It’s what I wanted – an extended period away from home to have different work views and explore a new place. Staying home for almost a year was depressing and anxiety-inducing and I wasn’t prepared for the mental effect it would have on me. I don’t think anyone was prepared.

I have never been in a hurry to get away from home for long. While I love to travel, there is no better feeling than returning home from a trip and sleeping in your own bed. My whole family is also in Wisconsin. It’s hard to leave. But after a year of COVID-19 and working from home, I knew I could handle a two-week break from Wisconsin.

Pensacola is not totally new to us. We visited Sam’s family here in April of 2019. While it’s the perfect place to relax and recover both physically and mentally, it is not my favorite place in Florida. Mainly because it is so far north and tends to be cooler. I definitely prefer my hot beach days. But when deciding on a location, the prices were reasonable and we happened upon a gem of an Airbnb.

Redfish Loft:

Have you ever entered a place and right away felt at home? That’s how it was when I arrived at Redfish Loft just before 1am on a Monday morning. Redfish is a quaint, quiet one-bedroom apartment on the bay in Gulf Breeze, Florida. I’m ashamed to say this was only my second Airbnb experience as the first time Sam got us a shared apartment with a door that didn’t lock and I spent the whole night terrified someone was going to surprise us. After a stay at Redfish Loft, I’m very excited to try out more Airbnb’s.

About the Loft: 

The apartment is built above a garage and shares a lot with the host’s main residence. While the owners are right next door, there is no one below you and aside from the shared yard, the place is yours. This was key as it was our first time traveling with Willow (goldendoodle) and the last thing we wanted was to disturb anyone with her barking or her running around at odd hours. The apartment itself is really just two areas – the bedroom and the kitchen/living room/dinette with a bathroom squeezed between the two. The bedroom is huge and has a king bed with a large closet and two dressers. There is plenty of room in the main area to cook or watch tv, although the kitchen appliances are studio-sized.

The outside of the apartment is amazing. The property sits on East Bay boasting beautiful views of the Garcon Bridge. The apartment also features two decks – one large deck overlooking the bay and one wrap-around deck on the front of the apartment. The hosts provide everything you need to have a wonderful stay. There are chairs and beach loungers on the deck, two kayaks available for you to use, and a large grill. With the hosts living on site, you don’t have to worry if there is an issue as they are right there, and more than willing, to assist.


Redfish Loft is located in Gulf Breeze, Florida, just a short drive from Navarre Beach and Pensacola Beach. If you’re looking for a place on the beach or within walking distance, this is not the Airbnb for you. The apartment is tucked in a cute, safe neighborhood, along highway 98, but there is no easy access to the beach. You must drive. However, with us road tripping down here and me working, it was the perfect location. It’s quiet, has great wifi, and still offers easy access to all of Pensacola’s great areas.

Just down the road you will find plenty of food options, grocery stores such as Publix, and pharmacies. E. Bay Blvd. also features a multi-use trail that is perfect for taking in the views along the bay.

The drive to Pensacola from the apartment is normally about 20 minutes. However, as of March 2021, the main bridge into Pensacola is still out due to Hurricane Sally and the alternate route is substantially longer. Without traffic we could get to Pensacola in about 35 minutes, but with traffic, we experienced backups as long as an hour.

Fortunately, Pensacola Beach and Navarre Beach are still easily accessible and can be reached in about 20 minutes – a must for the beach lovers like myself.

What We’ve Done So Far:

While the past week has been a lot of relaxing and taking in all that our little spot in Gulf Breeze has to offer, we’ve done lots of exploring as well. I have to work my normal hours of 8am-5pm every day, but then we make the evenings an adventure.

During my work hours, Sam has been fulfilling his goal of tackling sections of the Florida Trail, going 12 miles on Thursday. He’s also been simply enjoying not working and catching up on numerous life items.

Some of our after work explorations have included:

  • Watching the sunset at The Bridge Bar/Sunset Lounge
    • The Bar and Lounge is located right before the Pensacola Bay Bridge (closed) and offers plenty of outdoor seating to take in the gorgeous sunset views. Sam really enjoyed the chili as well.
  • Eating Dinner at O’Riley’s Irish Pub on Palafox Street
    • Although we ate outside on Palafox Street, the restaurant appeared to have a very fun vibe. The outside was still decorated for St. Patrick’s Day and they sure went all out with the decorations.
  • Trying Red Fish (Sam only) at the Frisky Dolphin.
    • This restaurant was located next to Pensacola Beach and boasted a menu full of tasty fish dishes, but for the non-fish eaters like myself, had plenty of salads and sandwiches. It also offered quite the drink menu and is situated along the water.
  • Relaxing at Navarre Beach
    • Known as ‘Florida’s Most Relaxing Place’, the beach is calm and the surrounding area is rather quiet, with a few hotels, bars, and restaurants. Don’t expect the typical ‘tourist beach area’ here. It’s a wonderful place to relax for the afternoon.

Plans for Next Week:

We have one more week of enjoying the bay views from my temporary office before we head back to Wisconsin. Similar to the first part of the trip, we have nothing concrete planned, but several options if we are looking for something to do: Gulf Breeze Zoo, Hiking the Florida Trail, Navarre Beach Sea Turtle Center, FroYo Treats.

I’d love to hear your thoughts and suggestions! Post a comment or send me a message with any questions or suggestions of things not to miss while I’m in Pensacola.


2 thoughts on “The Pensacola Escape: Part 1”

  1. Annie says to have a froyo for her. In fact she thinks you should have at least one each day left on your trip!

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