Explore Arts and Culture in the Florida Panhandle

Florida State University

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There are a lot of museums, art galleries and performing arts centers in the Florida Panhandle. You’re sure to find something that interests you!


The Tallahassee Museum

The Tallahassee Museum focuses on regional history and the area’s natural environment. Adventurous visitors can learn about the local environment on a zipline course through the tree-tops, and cypress swamp. Explore the outdoor sculpture garden featuring models of dinosaurs made from discarded automobile parts. And there’s so much more! This is one of the few museums in the nation that combines history and nature with a live display of native wildlife in a beautiful and diverse biological setting.

T.T. Wentworth, Jr. Florida State Museum, Pensacola

The T. T. Wentworth, Jr. Florida State Museum features Florida’s history. In the City of Five Flags exhibit, you’ll learn the unique history of Pensacola through artifacts, stories about archaeology.

The Trader Jon exhibit is a tribute to one of the city’s wel- known characters, Martin “Trader Jon” Weissman. He owned a bar by the same name that was a top tourist destination for decades. It’s a fun and historic exhibit, unique to Pensacola.

Pensacola Lighthouse and Maritime Museum

You can climb up all 177 steps of the Pensacola Lighthouse for one of the most beautiful views on the Gulf Coast. Built in 1859, it’s located on the grounds of Naval Air Station (NAS) Pensacola.

Walk through the Keeper’s Quarters to get a glimpse of life at the light station. Learn about the many women who were light keepers. There’s also an exhibit of the first women who served in the U.S. Coast Guard. You won’t want to miss this extraordinary museum.

Military Museums

Military history buffs will want to check out the National Naval Aviation Museum at NAS Pensacola and the Air Force Armament Museum at Eglin Air Force Base.

Naval Aviation Museum

The Naval Aviation Museum has over 150 wonderfully restored aircraft. You can see the first aircraft to land at the South Pole. Marvel at the SBD Dauntless Bureau Number 2106 that was in the battle of Midway. There are biplanes from World War I, experimental aircraft, and survivors from several wars.

The Museum has exhibits that give a closer look at people and events that shaped our nation’s history. View vintage uniforms and historic documents. Explore dioramas that transport visitors to the World War I Western Front. Each exhibit represents a chapter of the story of Naval Aviation.

The 325-seat giant screen theater is state-of-the-art. You can even “fly” with the Blue Angels in the Museum’s new attraction, the Blue Angels 4D Experience.

Air Force Armament Museum

The Air Force Armament Museum is dedicated to the collection, preservation, and exhibition of artifacts associated with Air Force munitions and their systems of delivery. There are over 29 different aircraft on display from WWII to present day. There’s a large exhibit of ordnance and arms, including a gun collection, bombs, and missiles. A short film on the history of Eglin Air Force Base is shown continuously throughout the day.

Art Museums and Galleries

Florida State University (FSU) Museum of Fine Arts, Tallahassee

The Museum of Fine Arts (MoFA) connects FSU and the surrounding community to the arts. It has a permanent collection of over 6,000 works by historical and contemporary artists, including such well-known names as Deborah Butterfield, Judy Chicago, Robert Rauschenberg, David Levinthal, and Andy Warhol. By introducing diverse audiences to the vital role that art and culture play in shaping societies, MoFA encourages collaboration, expressiveness, artistry, and critical involvement.

First City Art Center, Pensacola

First City Art Center (FCAC) is a hands-on community art center that offers a broad range of workshops, studio spaces, gallery exhibits and youth art programs to provide a variety of opportunities for people to interact with art. The Center offers classes and workshops in glassblowing, stained glass, sculpture, pottery (on the wheel and hand-built), drawing, painting, and many other mediums.

FCAC invites people of all backgrounds, ages, and skill levels to participate and explore the field of art. The Center is an active, dynamic, and exciting resource for the community, serving approximately 10,000 adults and children each year. Visitors are welcome to visit the Art Gallery 1060 on the campus of FCAC and are encouraged to observe art in action while the artists are working.

Ruskin Place Artist Colony, Seaside

Ruskin Place is a beautiful and tranquil park located between the famous Seaside Chapel and Seaside’s Central Square. It’s a beautiful park, perfect for wedding ceremonies and receptions, or for strolling through and taking a break on one of the relaxing benches. But what makes it unique is that it’s in the middle of an enclave of 3-story townhomes, shops, and art studios, creating a local artists’ colony that is a one-of-a-kind experience.

There are six galleries/boutiques in the group, where you’ll find hand-crafted jewelry; a gallery of contemporary American art, original paintings, folk art & garden sculptures; a wonderful selection of unique art, from paintings to sculptures, pottery to home décor, photography to books; a collection of local art and jewelry from approximately 30 artists, including acrylics, watercolors, photography, handmade jewelry, sculptures and much more.

Performing Arts

Mattie Kelly Arts Center at Northwest Florida State College, Niceville

The Mattie Kelly Arts Center (MKAC) is situated along the beautiful Emerald Coast and is home to the Northwest Florida State College Department of Humanities, Fine & Performing Arts. MKAC provides world-class productions – Broadway shows, concerts, comedians, and speakers – and a multitude of student-run shows. It features the Northwest Florida Symphony Orchestra and many special guest artists. It includes a variety of theaters, galleries and even an outdoor amphitheater, making it an ideal venue for any style of performance.

Theatre Tallahassee

Theatre Tallahassee began in 1949 as Tallahassee Little Theatre. In 1952, it became incorporated as a non-profit organization to develop and encourage a community understanding of the literary and dramatic arts. Construction on a new theatre began in 1957 and was completed in 1961. Today, after several renovations and improvements, Theatre Tallahassee is a beautiful, modern theatre with a Main Stage auditorium and other smaller performance spaces, beautiful and spacious lobbies, administrative offices, a canteen space and bar, and comfortable seating. They offer community theatre productions of plays and Broadway musicals.

Pensacola Little Theatre

Pensacola Little Theatre (PLT) has been providing live theatrical events to Pensacola for over 80 years.

Housed in a historic 1911 jail building the modern theatre offers unobstructed views from every seat. Audiences can enjoy local and national performances. PLT also offers a variety of educational programs for children and adults.

Don’t forget to explore other great locations in the Panhandle while you are out.

**Disclaimer: There is a good chance that this post contains affiliate or sponsor links. If you make a purchase through them, we may receive a small commission at no extra cost to you (for which we are extremely grateful).

Also, while we do our best to highlight LGBTQ-friendly destinations and businesses, info provided is based solely on personal experience and recommendations by community partners. We hope that nobody experiences discrimination or homophobia while visiting Florida and beyond, but we make no guarantees. Please inform us if you experience discrimination or homophobia while visiting any destination so we can make updates to our recommendations.

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july, 2024

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