Snowbirds Escape Winter Blues in Port Aransas and Pensacola
Work schedules have become more flexible in the last year, making it easier than ever for people of all ages to partake in extended snowbird travel. Two of the best cities to make temporary winter homes are popular Gulf Coast destinations Port Aransas, Texas and Pensacola, Florida, which enjoy milder temperatures, fewer crowds and lower lodging prices during the winter months.
Boasting 343 days of sunshine and an average temperature of 77 degrees, Pensacola is “The Way to Beach” and was recently named one of the top cities to retire in the country. In addition to sugar-white beaches and emerald green waters, the coastal city is home to a vibrant culinary scene, a rich culture and history, and also offers numerous vacation rental options, from full-service condominiums to downtown cottages and beachfront rental homes.
The popular Portofino Island Resort overlooks the Gulf of Mexico and the Santa Rosa Sound, offering an array of amenities including Island Adventures, a spa, fitness center, 40,000-square-foot lifestyle center, tennis courts, waterfront dining, eight heated pools and an indoor Olympic-size pool. For a more laid-back feel, Paradise Beach Homes offers condos, townhomes, classic beach cottages, and luxury Gulf-front homes that accommodate every budget. Many of their properties are pet-friendly, so four-legged family members can also escape the harsh winter temperatures.
Visitors making the most of their extended stays can find everything from beachfront casual dining like the recently renovated Casino Beach Bar & Grille and the iconic FloraBama in Perdido Key to upscale Italian restaurants like Angelena’s with nationally-renowned chefs and vegetarian-friendly restaurants like Agapi, which offers a dessert “choc”-uterie board.
Pensacola provides plenty of outdoor restaurants and unique local establishments including Five Sister Blues Cafe where guests can catch a jazz brunch every Sunday, and the Belmont-Devilliers neighborhood which is home to decades of Black History and local favorites such as Blue Dot.
Pensacola is one of the country’s most popular diving destinations, and coincidentally, the diving conditions are best during the winter. With crystal-clear visibility, divers can see everything from shipwrecks like the former USS Oriskany, AKA the “Mighty O,” to thriving marine life. Visitors can opt for shallower waters and snorkel around one of the artificial reefs installed in the waters off Pensacola Beach and Perdido Key.
Port Aransas has always welcomed generations of Texans to its sunny shores, and with milder temperatures it’s the ultimate escape from the snow and ice. The idyllic and colorful beach town prides itself for running on “Island Time,” allowing visitors to unwind and relax while enjoying some of the best beaches, surfing, birding, fishing, and food the Gulf Coast has to offer.
Known as the “Fishing Capital of Texas,” Port Aransas offers numerous fishing charters and excursions, allowing avid anglers to reel in a catch for the books and even have it prepared at one of the many restaurants in town that will cook your catch.
The island community was also recently designated a Music Friendly Community by the Texas Music Office and boasts numerous live music venues to explore. Music lovers can grab a glass of wine at Island Wine and enjoy live music and find a different show every night with the Port A concert schedule.
Long-term rental options abound in Port Aransas, and many are newly renovated following Hurricane Harvey, including The Dunes and Sandcastle Condominiums. Visitors can also score a more private beach house through one of the property rentals on the island such as Port A Escapes, Sand Key Realty, Beachcomber and Bee Gees Coastal. With so many options, there’s a rental property fit for every budget and party.