Pensacola, Florida
Thursday December 14th 2017

Archives

My Pensacola—Jenny Diamond

Then
Day Job: Adjunct English Instructor at UWF, Starbucks barista
Pensacola Resident Since: 1985—minus a year here, a few months there. I’ve tried to leave, but I keep on coming back.

Now
Day Job: Writing Specialist at Columbia Southern University
Still A Pensacola Resident Because: No desire to leave the coast. Pensacola is home.

—Now—
Good Eats: 12th Avenue keeps getting better and better. O’zone will always be one of my favorites, but a very welcome new kid on the block is Chubby’s Pizza and Wings next to J’s and City Grocery. Their big, garlicky pizzas are so good and only $10. Native Café is my favorite place to eat if I’m out at the beach. It’s a small restaurant, so there is usually a bit of a wait, but it’s worth it. The restaurant is cozy and decorated with local art. Try the Gulf Coast Seafood Omelet, it’s my favorite.

Outdoors & Sports: I recently went “glamping” at Coldwater Gardens in Milton. This place is off-the-charts cool. They grow beautiful produce in large traditional, aquaponics, and hanging gardens; greenhouses; and shiitake mushroom log cultivation areas. In addition to touring the gardens, you can hike on well-kept trails through forests and fields or head to Coldwater Creek at any of the three large sandbars on the property. If you want to stay overnight, there are several options: cabins, “glamping” tents (a cross between a cabin and a really nice tent), and a treehouse (!). Seriously, go check this place out. Now.

Never Miss Events/Festivals: Shopping for goodies at the Palafox Market on Saturday morning is always a good time. The vendors that set up on the northern half of the market primarily showcase goods (arts and crafts, soaps, clothing, etc.), and those on the southern half primarily showcase produce and edibles. I love finding great deals on beautiful, locally grown fruits and vegetables and actually getting to talk to the farmers who grow and harvest them. My personal highlights: enjoying a delicious chocolate chip scone from Mr. Julian; keeping an eye out for Midnight, the huge, beautiful, old wolf and his owner who can frequently be found walking around the outskirts of the market; and requesting a song and singing along with the bluegrass group that sets up in the middle of the market each week. One festival that I look forward to every year is the annual LGBT Film Fest held each fall. Last year, the festival was renamed STAMPED to honor the history of LGBTQ locals/tourists stamping their cash with the words “gay money” to show their financial impact. Each year, the festival shows films, shorts, and documentaries (ranging from hysterical to heart-breaking) that chronicle different aspects faced by members of the LGBTQ community around the world. The festival is an eye-opening opportunity for our community and allies to gather, learn, laugh, cry, and celebrate together.

—Then—
Originally Published: Sept. 2012

Good Eats: It goes without saying—or at least it should—that Cactus Flower is one of the best restaurants in town. Lately, I’ve also been frequenting the adjoining coffee shop, Maximilian. Comfortable atmosphere, pastries and fancy breakfast choices, friendly folks, outside seats, and best of all, taquitos. Delicious, delicious taquitos. Plus, they feature a lot of local products made from folks right here in East Hill. Awesome new addition to the neighborhood. Another East Hill favorite is definitely O’zone. Whoever decided to put pesto, cream cheese, artichokes, and cashews on a pizza was clearly a genius. Plus, they have great specials: Thursday is Ladies Night and Monday is half off large pizza night. Come on! Just to throw a wrench in your Monday nights, I can’t forget about sushi at Dharma Blue. Every Monday night you can get $2 off of every roll, and their prices are already good to begin with. Try the Toshi Roll or the Zoo Roll—you won’t be sorry. Plus, their awesome porch dining overlooks Seville Square. Cheap, good eats with a view. Done and done.

Watering Holes: Make new friends but keep the old, right? Keeping that in mind, an old favorite is Hub Stacey’s. Best patio, awesome staff who remember you and your order, and the kicker, half off for ladies all the time. Hubs is definitely my favorite place to grab a beer, whether it’s a casual afternoon, night out, or Sunday Funday. A new kid in town that is quickly becoming a favorite is The Magnolia. For a smaller, quaint bar, they have an awesome beer and wine selection, and owners Bill and Kiley are just about two of the friendliest business folks you’d ever want to meet. Plus, Bill introduced me to Shiner Bock’s seasonal Ruby Redbird, bless his dear heart.

Outdoors & Sports: I’ve lived in Pensacola nearly my whole life, and I gotta say, you haven’t seen Pensacola until you’ve seen it by kayak. With our various coastlines, inlets, and bays, there is so much to explore when you travel by water. I bought a kayak at the beginning of the summer, and it’s been one of my best purchases to date. However, if you’re not looking to own, there are several places to rent a kayak or paddle board at good prices: I recommend Key Sailing underneath Surf Burger if you’re on the island and Pensacola Paddle Sport Rentals at Bayview Park if you’re in town. Growing up in Pensacola, I have awesome memories of camping and day trips out to Fort Pickens—biking, fishing, walking the trails, clambering around the forts, ghost hunting. As an adult, I’ve found that my love of Fort Pickens has only grown, although now I keep a more watchful eye for snakes. You can buy a yearlong pass for only $25. If you haven’t watched a sunset from the pass or climbed Fort Battery for a 360-degree view of the island, go do it. Today.

Nightlife: For a karaoke junkie like me, no night out is complete without a little drunken public warbling. Even if you’re too shy/sober to participate yourself, rest assured that karaoke is never boring. You can find Krazy George, Pensacola’s resident karaoke MC, at Hub Stacey’s on Saturday nights and Play on Tuesdays. Also, Cabaret features awesome karaoke on Mondays and Thursdays. So take a nap, stay out late on a school/work night, and show the crowd that Christina Aguilera has nothin’ on you.

Arts/Culture: The Culture Club on the first Thursday of each month at the Pensacola Museum of Art is such a fun way to start an evening out.

Never Miss Events/Festivals: Barktoberfest! An early-October festival in Seville Square dedicated to families and their pups. Seriously, one of the funniest and most fun events of the year. Dogs in costume everywhere you look. Plus, many shelters and rescues use Barktoberfest to promote their causes, collect donations, and attract volunteers and potential parents for furry babes needing homes. Bring your friends (of the two and four-legged variety) and check out this great fall event.