A Travel Price Comparison for Florida Gainesville vs. Pensacola for Attractions, Food, Nightlife, and Families

Should you visit Gainesville or Pensacola?

Which is cheaper to visit? Which is more expensive for vacation?

If you're trying to decide where to visit between Gainesville or Pensacola, this travel comparison, which includes costs, can help. The overall cost of travel is usually a consideration when deciding where to go next, and the cost comparison down below can help you decide based on the average prices from other travelers along with your own travel budget.

Gainesville

Gainesville is a vibrant, high energy, and active city. And you can't forget about the nightlife, food, and shopping.

Pensacola

Pensacola is a fun-filled, active, and entertaining beach town. It's also known for museums, nightlife, and food.

Gainesville and Pensacola: Pros and Cons

Pros
  • Popular museums and historical sights
  • Active nightlife
  • Family-friendly
  • Good for couples and romance
  • Good for students
  • Good public transit
Things to Consider
  • Less popular with backpackers
Pros
  • Popular museums and historical sights
  • Active nightlife
  • Nice resorts
  • Popular beach
  • Good for hiking
  • Family-friendly
  • Good for couples and romance
Things to Consider
  • Less popular with backpackers
  • Public transit not as usable


Is there more to do in Gainesville or Pensacola?

Visitors will generally find more to do in Pensacola than Gainesville. While Gainesville is larger than Pensacola, Pensacola has more sights, attractions, and activities for tourists. Pensacola is very popular for its food, resorts, beaches, and hiking, while Gainesville attracts visitors for its museums and nightlife. Pensacola is more touristy than Gainesville and is known for its white sand beaches and long running naval history. It is also well known for Gulf Islands National Seashore. Gainesville is famous for being the home of the University of Florida

How is Gainesville different from Pensacola?

Which is Better for a Holiday?

Let's take a look at the differences and similarities between Pensacola and Gainesville. Then, you can decide for yourself which place is better for your next trip.

Are the Museums and Historical Sights Better in Gainesville or Pensacola?

Gainesville
Pensacola

Gainesville is notable for its sights and museums. Also, Pensacola is not as famous, but is still a good beach town to visit for its museums and history.

Many visitors head to Gainesville specifically to visit some of its top-rated museums and other sights. There's a surprising number of museums around town such as the Florida Museum of Natural History, the Samuel P. Harn Museum of Art, and the Cade Museum for Creativity and Invention. Also fascinating is the Historic Haile Homestead, the Butterfly Rainforest, and the city's planetarium.

If you're looking for an educational opportunity, there are a decent number of museums and historical sights around Pensacola. On a rainy day there are some nice museums in the area. You can visit the National Naval Aviation Museum, the Historic Pensacola Village, the Pensacola Lighthouse and Museum, or Pensacola Children's Museum.


Is the Food Better in Gainesville or Pensacola? Which Destination has the Best Restaurants?

Gainesville
Pensacola

Pensacola is notable for its local cuisine and restaurants. Also, Gainesville is not as famous, but is still a good city to visit for its restaurants.

With its innovative style combined with traditional elements, Pensacola makes for a great culinary experience. You'll find no shortage of seafood options around town. Oysters, shrimp, and fresh fish are popular on the menus. You'll also find lots of Cajun flavors as well as casual sandwiches and pizza.

Gainesville has a delicious restaurant scene that relies on local flavors. Casual eateries are popular around town, particularly with the student population. There are grills, diners, and bistros that serve local dishes at affordable prices.

Is Gainesville or Pensacola Better for Nightlife?

Gainesville
Pensacola

Gainesville is notable for nightlife and partying. Also, Pensacola is not as famous, but is still a good beach town to visit for its evening party scene.

Gainesville has plenty to do after the sun goes down. The nightlife centers around the student population. The two main party areas are Midtown and Downtown. Midtown is between Northwest 17th Street and Northwest 18th Street and it's convenient for students who live on campus. The area has a great stretch of bars and clubs. The Downtown area has many of the city's top clubs, and it's popular with upperclassmen and students who live off campus.

With a handful of venues, visitors can find a fairly lively vibe in Pensacola. There's a casual nightlife scene with pubs, live music, and a mellow but fun setting.

Is Gainesville or Pensacola Better for Resorts?

Gainesville
Pensacola

Pensacola is notable for its resorts. However, Gainesville is not a resort destination.

Pensacola is a popular resort destination that attracts visitors from everywhere. Family-friendly resorts with pools, waterslides, and lazy rivers are common. You'll also find beachfront hotels and more affordable options set back from the beach.

Gainesville is not a resort destination.


Is Gainesville or Pensacola Better for Beaches?

Gainesville
Pensacola

Pensacola is very popular for its beaches. However, Gainesville is not a beach destination.

The beaches in Pensacola are among the best in the world. White sand beaches with blue water and mild temperatures make this a wonderful beach destination. Some of the best beaches include Casino Beach, Perdido Key Beach, and Opal Beach.

Gainesville is not a beach destination.

Is Gainesville or Pensacola Better for Hiking?

Gainesville
Pensacola

Pensacola is a moderate beach town for the nearby hiking options. However, Gainesville is not a hiking destination.

Pensacola has hiking trails if you want to get outside. Step away from the beachfront development and you'll find some nice nature parks with quiet walking trails.

Gainesville is not a hiking destination.

Is the Shopping Better in Gainesville or Pensacola?

Gainesville
Pensacola

Both Gainesville and Pensacola are nice shopping destinations.

Gainesville is a great destination for shopping. You'll find all of the standard shopping options around town such as malls, shopping centers, and retail outlets. Two popular areas are the Neighborhoods at Butler and Celebration Pointe.

Shopping is a popular activity when visiting Pensacola. There are sprawling shopping malls and shopping centers as well as local boutiques and quintessential souvenir shops.


Is Gainesville or Pensacola Better for Families?

Gainesville
Pensacola

Pensacola is notable for its family-friendly activities. Also, Gainesville is not as famous, but is still a good city to visit for its kid-friendly activities.

Pensacola is a very family-friendly place to visit. Kid-friendly beaches, minigolf, a zoo, and even a few museums make this a great family destination. There are family-friendly resorts and kid-friendly restaurants that make for an easy vacation that everyone will enjoy.

Gainesville is a family-friendly city. You'll find outdoor activities, nature parks, and a couple of museums that will appeal to all ages. Highlights for families include A. Quinn Jones Museum and Cultural Center, the Adventure Outpost, and Alfred A. Ring Park.

Is Gainesville or Pensacola Better for Couples?

Gainesville
Pensacola

Pensacola is notable for romance. Also, Gainesville is not as famous, but is still a good city to visit for its romantic activities.

Pensacola is a very popular place to visit for couples. Beautiful beaches and sunset cruises make this a great romantic getaway. You'll find great restaurants for a date night and plenty of activity once the sun goes down. During the day you can lounge on the beach or by the pool, sip drinks, and enjoy a vacation with your loved one.

Gainesville makes for a fun place to visit for a couple. Couples can enjoy wine tasting and fine dining or enjoying the city's many outdoor activities. Go on a picnic or explore one of the museums in Downtown Gainesville.

Is Gainesville or Pensacola Better for Students?

Gainesville
Pensacola

Gainesville is notable for students. However, Pensacola is not popular with students.

Gainesville is very popular with students. As the location of the University of Florida, you'll find many students around town. This keeps the energy high with plenty of evening activities and affordable entertainment options.

Pensacola is not popular with students.


Is Gainesville or Pensacola Better for Public Transit? Which Is Easier to Get Around Without a Car?

Gainesville
Pensacola

Gainesville is very good for its public transit. However, Pensacola is a mediocre beach town for times when you don't have a car.

Gainesville has a few public transit options. There's a decent bus system that's free to students and employees of the university.

Public transit is quite limited in Pensacola. There's a bus system, but it's not particularly helpful to vacationers.

Is Gainesville or Pensacola a more walkable city?

Gainesville
Pensacola

Gainesville is very good for its high level of walkability. However, Pensacola is a mediocre beach town for its ease of walking around.

Gainesville is a somewhat walkable place. Biking is actually a popular way to get around town and some areas are pedestrian-friendly.

Pensacola is generally not a very walkable city. It's not a particularly walkable city and you'll want to have a car to fully enjoy your vacation.

For even more information, also check out Is Gainesville Worth Visiting? and Is Pensacola Worth Visiting?.

Should I spend more time in Pensacola or Gainesville?

How long in Gainesville or Pensacola?

Both Gainesville and Pensacola have a number of activities to choose from. With generally more activities and things to do, visitors tend to spend more time in Pensacola than in Gainesville. Usually, 1-2 days is a good amount of time for Gainesville, and 3-7 days is enough time in Pensacola.

Families should spend more time in Pensacola than Gainesville. Because of the many family-friendly attractions and fun things to do for kids in Pensacola, it's a great place to visit with the whole family.

Couples should spend more time in Pensacola than Gainesville. You'll find plenty of romantic sights and fun activities in Pensacola that are perfect for a weekend getaway or a longer couple's trip.

Backpackers and budget travelers should spend more time in Gainesville than Pensacola if your budget allows for it. With a larger number of budget-friendly sights, good nightlife, and active things to do, anyone traveling on a budget would have a good time in Gainesville.


  • How many days in Gainesville or Pensacola? Ideal Length of Stay
    Gainesville 1-2 
    Pensacola 3-7

One day in Gainesville or Pensacola?

You'll find shopping and museums around the city of Gainesville. One day is a great amount of time to relax and see the many things that Gainesville has to offer. It has many unique tourist attractions and fascinating things to do.

Visitors enjoy the nightlife and food when visiting the active beach town of Pensacola. You can also relax and pamper yourself at one of the resorts. Most people visit for the beaches. One day is usually not enough time for a trip here as there is plenty to do. The entire region has so many activities, and you'll want time to do everything.


A weekend in Gainesville or Pensacola?

You'll find museums and nightlife around the vibrant destination of Gainesville. This is a popular place to visit for a weekend.A weekend should give you a good understanding of everything this city has to offer. This city offers a variety of activities to choose from.

Visitors enjoy the food and shopping when visiting the entertaining destination of Pensacola. It's a great spot for a beach vacation. This beach town offers something for everyone. Since there is so much to do in the area, a weekend is probably not enough for all of it.

Five days in Gainesville or Pensacola?

Travelers enjoy the nightlife and food when visiting the vibrant city of Gainesville. The length of your ideal trip is an individual decision. Five days is plenty of time to see everything, even with extra days to spare.

Visitors enjoy the shopping and museums when visiting the active beach town of Pensacola. People enjoy relaxing at one of the resorts. Many people spend five days here.If you enjoy all that's offered here, then five days is just the right amount of time to spend here. The length of your trip often depends on your style of travel.

A week in Gainesville or Pensacola?

Gainesville is a popular choice for travelers. One week is usually plenty of time to spend here with extra days to spare. With this much time, visitors often visit nearby destinations or take day trips. It will give you the chance to have new experiences.

Visitors enjoy the museums and nightlife when visiting the destination of Pensacola. Anyone can find something fun to do here. This is a popular place to visit for one week. Travelers enjoy the resorts in the area as well. Most people visit for the beaches. In one week, you should have a good grasp of this beach town.


Which place is cheaper, Pensacola or Gainesville?

These are the overall average travel costs for the two destinations.

The average daily cost (per person) in Gainesville is $221, while the average daily cost in Pensacola is $198. These costs include accommodation (assuming double occupancy, so the traveler is sharing the room), food, transportation, and entertainment. While every person is different, these costs are an average of past travelers in each destination. What follows is a categorical breakdown of travel costs for Gainesville and Pensacola in more detail.



Accommodation
  • Accommodation Hotel or hostel for one person
    Gainesville $119
    Pensacola $115
  • Accommodation Typical double-occupancy room
    Gainesville $238
    Pensacola $230
Compare Hotels in Gainesville and Pensacola

Looking for a hotel in Gainesville or Pensacola? Prices vary by location, date, season, and the level of luxury. See below for options and compare which is best for your budget and travel style.

Hotels in Gainesville


Hotels in Pensacola


Kayak helps you find the best prices for hotels, flights, and rental cars for destinations around the world. Compare prices for multiple destinations when planning your next trip.


Our Analysis
We've analyzed the average and typical hotel prices based on guest reviews, star ratings, and hotel amenities here: Gainesville Hotel Prices and Pensacola Hotel Prices.

Local Transportation
  • Local Transportation Taxis, local buses, subway, etc.
    Gainesville $40
    Pensacola $64

Typical Local Transportation Prices in Pensacola

Below are a few samples from actual travelers for transportation costs in Pensacola:


  • Boca Grande Causeway Toll
    $5.00

Hired Cars and Shuttles in Pensacola

Some specific examples of transportation prices in Pensacola:

  • Pensacola International Airport (PNS) to Pensacola - Arrival Private Transfer: $55
  • Pensacola to Pensacola International Airport (PNS) - Departure Private Transfer: $55
  • Pensacola International Airport (PNS) to Destin, FL - Arrival Private Transfer: $71
  • Pensacola International Airport (PNS) to Pensacola - Round-Trip Private Transfer: $110
  • Pensacola International Airport (PNS) to Destin, FL - Roundtrip Private Transfer: $143

Is it cheaper to fly into Gainesville or Pensacola?

Prices for flights to both Pensacola and Gainesville change regularly based on dates and travel demand. We suggest you find the best prices for your next trip on Kayak, because you can compare the cost of flights across multiple airlines for your prefered dates.





Food
  • Food Meals for one day
    Gainesville $70
    Pensacola $48
Typical Food Prices in Gainesville

Some typical examples of dining costs in Gainesville are as follows:


  • Diner Breakfast for Two
    $17
  • Lunch at Chop Stix (for 2)
    $24

Typical Food Prices in Pensacola

Some typical examples of dining costs in Pensacola are as follows:


  • Two Ice Creams
    $6.00

Food Tours and Cooking Classes in Pensacola

Also, here are some specific examples of food and dining related activities in Pensacola.

  • Seville Stroll Food Tour: $72

Entertainment
  • Entertainment Entrance tickets, shows, etc.
    Gainesville $44
    Pensacola $13
Typical Entertainment Prices in Gainesville

Some typical examples of activities, tours, and entrance ticket prices in Gainesville are as follows:


  • Manatee Tour for Two
    $98
  • Tour Guide Tip
    $5.00

Tours and Activities in Gainesville

Some specific costs of activities, tours, and entrance tickets for Gainesville are as follows:

  • Unique Scavenger Hunt Experience in Gainesville by Operation City Quest: $10
  • Butterfly Rainforest at Florida Museum of Natural History Ticket: $15
  • Private Snorkeling Tour in Florida Springs: $250

Typical Entertainment Prices in Pensacola

Some typical examples of activities, tours, and entrance ticket prices in Pensacola are as follows:


  • Bike Rental
    $16

Tours and Activities in Pensacola

Some specific costs of activities, tours, and entrance tickets for Pensacola are as follows:

  • Scavenger Hunt Adventure in Pensacola by Wacky Walks: $10
  • Pensacola Scavenger Hunt: Pensacola Adventure: $12
  • Scavenger Hunt Adventure in Pensacola by Zombie Scavengers: $20
  • North Hill Historic Homes Tour of Pensacola: $25
  • Ghosts and Graveyard Tour of Pensacola: $28
  • Public Dolphin & Scenic Bay Sightseeing Cruise, Pensacola FL: $30
  • Public Dolphin & Scenic Bay Sightseeing Tour, Pensacola Bch: $31
  • Hop-on Hop-off Tour in Pensacola : $32
  • Frisky Mermaid Sunset Dolphin Tour Up to 49 Pax: $36
  • Frisky Mermaid Public Dolphin + Sightseeing Cruise Up to 49 Pax: $37
  • Pensacola Beach Jolly Dolphin Cruise and Scenic Bay Tour: $39
  • Land Paddle Tour in Pensacola: $50

Alcohol
  • Alcohol Drinks for one day
    Gainesville $49
    Pensacola $44

Sample the Local Flavors in Pensacola

Also in Pensacola, these are the prices for nightlife and alcohol related activities from various tour providers:

  • Walking Pub Tour : $21


When comparing the travel costs between Gainesville and Pensacola, we can see that Gainesville is more expensive. However, the two cities are actually relatively comparable in price, as the difference is somewhat minimal. Generally, this means that you could travel with generally the same travel style and level of luxury in each place. Since both cities are in North America, it's no surprise that their costs are relatively close, as many destinations here have somewhat similar travel prices overall.

If you're trying to decide if either of these two destinations are within your price range, also see Is Gainesville Expensive? and Is Pensacola Expensive?.


Which is Bigger, Gainesville or Pensacola?

Gainesville has a larger population, and is about 2 times larger than the population of Pensacola. When comparing the sizes of Gainesville and Pensacola, keep in mind that a larger population does not always imply the destination has more attractions or better activities. So, always research the type of place that you want to visit along with the activities and attractions that interest you.


When is the best time to visit Gainesville or Pensacola?

Both destinations experience a temperate climate with four distinct seasons. And since both cities are in the northern hemisphere, summer is in July and winter is in January.

Should I visit Gainesville or Pensacola in the Summer?

Both Pensacola and Gainesville are popular destinations to visit in the summer with plenty of activities. Most visitors come to Gainesville for the family-friendly experiences during these months. Also, the summer months attract visitors to Pensacola because of the beaches, the hiking, and the family-friendly experiences.

In the summer, Gainesville is around the same temperature as Pensacola. Typically, the summer temperatures in Gainesville in July average around 81°F (27°C), and Pensacola averages at about 82°F (28°C).

It rains a lot this time of the year in Pensacola. It's quite rainy in Gainesville. In July, Gainesville usually receives less rain than Pensacola. Gainesville gets 6.8 inches (174 mm) of rain, while Pensacola receives 7.4 inches (189 mm) of rain each month for the summer.


  • Summer Average Temperatures July
    Gainesville 81°F (27°C) 
    Pensacola 82°F (28°C)

Should I visit Gainesville or Pensacola in the Autumn?

Both Pensacola and Gainesville during the autumn are popular places to visit. The autumn months attract visitors to Gainesville because of the shopping scene. Also, the hiking trails and the shopping scene are the main draw to Pensacola this time of year.

In October, Gainesville is generally around the same temperature as Pensacola. Daily temperatures in Gainesville average around 71°F (22°C), and Pensacola fluctuates around 69°F (21°C).

Pensacola gets a good bit of rain this time of year. Gainesville usually gets less rain in October than Pensacola. Gainesville gets 2 inches (51 mm) of rain, while Pensacola receives 4.2 inches (107 mm) of rain this time of the year. Also, June to November in Gainesville is the hurricane season. Also, June to November in Pensacola is the hurricane season.


  • Autumn Average Temperatures October
    Gainesville 71°F (22°C) 
    Pensacola 69°F (21°C)

Should I visit Gainesville or Pensacola in the Winter?

The winter attracts plenty of travelers to both Gainesville and Pensacola. The museums, the shopping scene, and the cuisine are the main draw to Gainesville this time of year. Also, many travelers come to Pensacola for the museums, the shopping scene, and the cuisine.

Gainesville is a little warmer than Pensacola in the winter. The daily temperature in Gainesville averages around 54°F (12°C) in January, and Pensacola fluctuates around 51°F (10°C).

Pensacola receives a lot of rain in the winter. In January, Gainesville usually receives less rain than Pensacola. Gainesville gets 2.9 inches (75 mm) of rain, while Pensacola receives 4.6 inches (117 mm) of rain each month for the winter.


  • Winter Average Temperatures January
    Gainesville 54°F (12°C) 
    Pensacola 51°F (10°C)

Should I visit Gainesville or Pensacola in the Spring?

The spring brings many poeple to Gainesville as well as Pensacola. Also, many visitors come to Pensacola in the spring for the beaches.

In the spring, Gainesville is around the same temperature as Pensacola. Typically, the spring temperatures in Gainesville in April average around 69°F (20°C), and Pensacola averages at about 67°F (20°C).

Gainesville usually gets less rain in April than Pensacola. Gainesville gets 2 inches (50 mm) of rain, while Pensacola receives 3.4 inches (87 mm) of rain this time of the year. Also, the hurricane season in Gainesville is June to November. Also, the hurricane season in Pensacola is June to November.


  • Spring Average Temperatures April
    Gainesville 69°F (20°C) 
    Pensacola 67°F (20°C)

Typical Weather for Pensacola and Gainesville

Gainesville Pensacola
Temp (°C) Rain (mm) Temp (°C) Rain (mm)
Jan 54°F (12°C) 2.9 inches (75 mm) 51°F (10°C) 4.6 inches (117 mm)
Feb 57°F (14°C) 4.5 inches (115 mm) 54°F (12°C) 5.4 inches (137 mm)
Mar 63°F (17°C) 3.3 inches (83 mm) 60°F (16°C) 5.6 inches (143 mm)
Apr 69°F (20°C) 2 inches (50 mm) 67°F (20°C) 3.4 inches (87 mm)
May 75°F (24°C) 3.1 inches (79 mm) 74°F (24°C) 4.2 inches (107 mm)
Jun 80°F (26°C) 6.8 inches (174 mm) 80°F (27°C) 6.4 inches (163 mm)
Jul 81°F (27°C) 6.8 inches (174 mm) 82°F (28°C) 7.4 inches (189 mm)
Aug 81°F (27°C) 8.3 inches (211 mm) 82°F (28°C) 7.4 inches (188 mm)
Sep 78°F (26°C) 5.5 inches (139 mm) 78°F (26°C) 5.3 inches (135 mm)
Oct 71°F (22°C) 2 inches (51 mm) 69°F (21°C) 4.2 inches (107 mm)
Nov 63°F (17°C) 2.4 inches (61 mm) 61°F (16°C) 3.5 inches (90 mm)
Dec 56°F (14°C) 2.9 inches (74 mm) 54°F (12°C) 4.3 inches (109 mm)