Pelicans in Paradise: A Tour of Downtown Pensacola

Posted: Aug 18, 2020 07:46 pm Updated: Oct 17, 2023 09:08 am

On every continent you visit (with the exception of Antarctica) you’ll find pelicans soaring the coastal skies above you, looking for a meal in the glinting ripples of cool blue passing beneath them. There’s one species of pelican unique to Pensacola, however. If you’re a local, you’ve probably had the chance to catch sight of a few of these elusive birds; and if you’re a visitor, then you’re in for a real treat when you meet one. The intrigue surrounding these pelicans is that each bird is completely one-of-a-kind, capturing a range of color only an artist’s eye could produce.

Pensacola is home to the Pelicans in Paradise. For the past 15 years, these large fiberglass pelicans have been popping up around Pensacola, beginning as an art installation fundraiser by the Pensacola News Journal. They remain now to show an appreciation for the birds, the city, and the wonderful people and businesses that call Pensacola home. 

Downtown Pensacola is now home to over 10 of the 74 flightless pelicans that you can find perched around the city. So, grab your walking shoes, your bike, or schedule a Segway tour with Emerald Coast Tours, and let’s find a few of the must-sees! 

Mermaids in Paradise 

When planning a tour of Downtown Pensacola, we believe it’s best to start and end with the best view in the city. That’s why our first stop on the Pelicans in Paradise tour is at Palafox Pier. Welcoming visitors at the entrance of the pier stands our colorful friend, the Mermaids in Paradise pelican. This peaceful pelican depicts flowing blue waters, brilliant orange fish, and a mermaid lazing in the drift. Like the tides at Palafox Pier, give her a “wave” on the way in and out!

Tribute to Our First Nations Pelican 

Pensacola is rich in sea life and sun, but with the title of “Oldest City in America,” it also comes with an abundance of history. Welcoming visitors to the T.T. Wentworth, Jr. Museum, stands the Tribute to Our First Nations pelican, and the second stop on our Pelicans in Paradise tour. Perched proudly across from Plaza Ferdinand VII on its stone foundation, this pelican pays homage to the rich history of Pensacola and its Native American culture. Don’t forget to stop in the T.T. Wentworth, Jr. Museum and discover more about Pensacola’s past!

Armed Services Pelicans at Palafox & Garden 

When you leave the T.T. Wentworth, Jr. Museum, cross the Plaza Ferdinand VII and head north on Palafox Street. Rest your wings on Palafox Street at one of Pensacola’s local eateries on the way. Grab a cool treat from Bubba’s Sweet Spot, or a signature burger from the Tin Cow. Once you’ve wet your beak and you’re ready to continue your tour, head north on Palafox Street until you reach the intersection of Palafox and Garden. Here you’ll find our third stop! 

This intersection is home to not only one or two Pelicans in Paradise, but four! Here, you can find a bird proudly representing each branch of the military: Air Force, Coast Guard, Army,  and Marines – the Navy pelican has since been requested for unknown duties elsewhere. 

Our Pelicans in Paradise are colorful, historical, and courageous – but they’re also fashionable. From the armed forces pelicans, fly down south to the corner of S. Baylen St. & Government St. to find our fashionista friend, Dolly. This perky pelican sports red stilettos, a blonde wig, and a cheetah-print outfit worthy of the red carpet. Don’t forget to get your picture taken with this A-List Pelican in Paradise!

After grabbing a quick selfie with Dolly, you can continue southbound back to Palafox Pier to say one last goodbye to the Mermaids in Paradise pelican, but don’t forget to see all of the ones not included on this tour! Here’s a list of a few more to spot: 

Tail of Two Cities Pelican: Located at the corner of S. Alcaniz St. & E Government St.

Press(ton) Pelican: This Pelican in Paradise is located outside the entrance of Pensacola News Journal headquarters downtown. 

Style Pelican: You can find this red-and white-striped Pelican in Paradise outside of Style Salon on N Palafox St downtown. 

Pelican Formerly Known as Pelvis: What was once a bird with attitude and a rhinestone suit, has now received a full makeover, sporting a bright green jumpsuit and a bike helmet. This pelican is located at the northeast corner of Garden and S. Baylen St.

These are only a handful of the Pelicans in Paradise that call Pensacola home. They often fly to new locations, so you can’t always rely on directions, but we think that adds to the fun and excitement of spotting one!