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191 miles W of Tallahassee; 354 miles W of Jacksonville

A charming blend of Old Spanish brickwork, colonial French balconies, and Victorian mansions built by British and American lumber barons, Pensacola is worthy of its motto, "City of Five Flags." However, it's much more than pretty buildings and a nice vibe. Thanks to the Pensacola Downtown Improvement Board, work has continued to progress on the revitalization of downtown, promoting the full occupancy of once-abandoned 125-year-old buildings and the emergence of downtown businesses, stores, historic theaters, restaurants, and bars.

West of town, the National Museum of Naval Aviation at the U.S. Naval Air Station celebrates the storied past of U.S. Navy and Marine Corps pilots who trained at Pensacola. The Blue Angels are based here, and they demonstrate the high-tech present with thrilling exhibitions of precision flying.

Also on the naval station, historic Fort Barrancas looks across the bay to Perdido Key and Santa Rosa Island, which reach out like narrow pincers to form the harbor. Powdery white-sand beaches beckon sun-and-surf lovers to the Gulf shores, which include Pensacola Beach, a family-oriented resort, and most of Florida's share of Gulf Islands National Seashore, home of historic Fort Pickens.