Remember when you were in your 20s and traveling was the most carefree thing in the world? For just 75 cents, you could have a burger for dinner. You could get lost in a city and spend hours wandering its every corner. Your flight got canceled? No big deal, you could just sleep at the airport.
Then you had kids.
Suddenly, traveling became burdensome. “Is there any appropriate place for children at all? What should I do with them so that they won’t get bored? What if little Tammy throws a fit because she just wants to go home?”. On and on. These endless questions made you feel overwhelmed and short of breath. Sometimes, you dreamt of a family vacation, but you pushed the idea aside immediately since you didn’t even know where to go.
Finding the destination for your family trip is indeed challenging, especially with children. But hey, I have the perfect option for you! It was named the most family-friendly city in America by Southern Living. It boasts one of the world’s most beautiful beaches, with sugar-white sands and emerald-green waters. Beyond that, this place also offers thrilling water activities, relaxing nature, and delicious coaster cuisine – the perfect recipe for an unforgettable vacation.
Things To Do In Pensacola With Kids – Sign Up For Surfing Lessons
I have to put this on top of the list because surfing is seriously the best part of any trip to Pensacola. Well, this might come as a surprise to you, since most people don’t see it as a hot surfing spot. Only the locals know that it’s one of the best surfing safaris in Florida. The warm Gulf water and gentle waves are ideal for novice surfers.
You can sign up for a two-hour lesson for your kids at the Gulf Coast Surf School, which is suitable for children 8 years old and above. The lessons begin with brief land classes, then your kids will be right in the water. “I have two boys, one of them is absolutely adventurous while the other is more reserved when it comes to trying new things. After a short while, both of them were able to ride the waves like little pros”, user Peter Smith wrote on Tripadvisor.
Pensacola Stories Episode 1: Braden Smith, Gulf Coast Surf School
Of course, you can catch some waves with your kids or simply lounge on the dreamy beach. Going on a family vacation might be so much fun, but parents need some moments to slow down and relax, too. Get charged and ready to embark on the next adventure!
Spend The Day At Laguna’s Adventure Park & Laguna’s Beach Bar And Grill
Laguna is a place where everyone will have a good time, regardless of their age. Both children and adults alike can spend the entire day here without running out of things to do.
If your family is all for thrilling outdoor activities, this adventure park is a must-go. You will want to get the unlimited day pass so your kids (and you – there are so many adults having a fantastic time!) can enjoy the 3-story rope course, go-karts, splash pad, or 30ft tall clip n’ climb climbing structures for as long as they want.
And if you are fine with your children exploring things on their own? Just wind down and take on the beautiful view of the pristine beachfront! There is plenty of open-air seating, and since all the activities take place around the seating area, you will have a good 360-degree view of everything that’s going on. To make it even better for parents, Laguna does offer good food and a full bar.
Additionally, there are a ton of experiences and excursions available here. This includes parasailing, paddleboarding, and jet ski dolphin tours. So, what if someone wants to go paddling, others want to race go-karts, and the rest just want to sunbathe? You know where to head to!
Sail The Bay On A Dolphin-Watching Cruise
The Pensacola beaches overflow with wonders: Not only do they boast sparkling azure water, but they are also home to splendid maritime forests, coastal marshes, splendid winding trails, and important landmarks. Moreover, it is a sanctuary for bottlenose dolphins. Curious by nature, these creatures are inclined to check out board passengers.
Unfortunately, swimming with dolphins is prohibited by law. But hey, you can still have amazing encounters by viewing them aboard a cruise, in their natural habitats! These steady jaunts across the placid water of the Gulf cover more than 20 miles of coastline, offering you one of the best dolphin-watching experiences.
During the trip, you can also see shorebirds and amazing marine life. Examples include stingrays, turtles, herons, and ospreys, so don’t forget to keep your eyes peeled at all times!
Pensacola’s Premier Dolphin Cruise
Things To Do In Pensacola With Kids – Spot Wildlife At Perdido Key State Park
Aside from the abundant marine life, the Gulf Islands is also a top pick for wildlife lovers. After a trip to Pensacola’s Perdido Key State Park, you will know what I mean.
Here, visitors can get lost in a natural haven with various nesting birds, such as gulls and herons. You might also spot rare migratory species, like black skimmers and gannets.
Of course, the state park provides a great insight into the local sea life, too. I have some amazing findings for you: If you visit Perdido from May to August, you will have a chance to see sea turtles that return to the beach yearly to breed. They appear during the evening, make their secret lairs, lay their eggs, and disappear back into the sea. It requires a bit of luck to catch one, but seeing a loggerhead up close and in its natural habitat will be an unforgettable experience for your children!
In case you are up for some family adventures, there are some hikes to take, such as the Discovery Nature Trail which follows a boardwalk down to the ocean.
See Amazing Aircraft At The National Naval Aviation Museum
One of the most loved tourist destinations on the Emerald Coast with a perfect rating of 5/5 on TripAdvisor, Pensacola’s National Naval Aviation Museum is famous for being the largest naval museum in the world. This 350,000-square-foot wonder displays more than 150 restored, vintage aircraft, so obviously, there is a lot to explore.
Even if you are not a die-hard aviation or military enthusiast, you will come away amazed by these history-drenched flying machines. Admire the very first plane to cross the Atlantic – the “Curtiss NC4”, while your children stand in awe of the majestic Blue Angel planes, single-engine aircraft “F8F Bearcat” and the R4D-5L named “Que Sera Sera”, which was the first aircraft to land at the South Pole.
Marvering at the warbirds within the museum, you and your kids might be curious about what’s like to be in one of those cockpits. You are in luck, then: The museum provides flight simulators so tourists can get a sense of how high-performance airshow and military flying feels!
Look Up! It’s A Blue Angel
Speaking of aircraft… what if I tell you, you can see a real Navy Blue Angels maneuvering overhead? For most people, it’s a one-of-a-life-time experience, but here in Pensacola, you can catch this jaw-dropping sight several times a month! That’s undoubtedly one of the best free things to do in Pensacola.
The City of Five Flags is home to the Blue Angels’ headquarters, also known as Forrest Sherman Field. If you want to look at the soaring aerobatics, 2022 practice sessions for the Navy demonstration team are scheduled for the following dates:
- August 23
- August 24
- August 31
- September 7
- September 13
- September 20
- October 12
- October 18
- October 19
- October 25
- October 26
- November 1
- November 2
- November 8
- November 9
Gates open at 9:30 AM and the Blues will take off at 10:30 AM. Attending these practices is absolutely free, but keep in mind that in order to access the area, you need a DoD ID card. Outside of the headquarters, though, you can still look up to see these talented pilots in flight!
Blue Angel High Show 2021
Things To Do In Pensacola With Kids – Visit The Historic Pensacola Village
If you want to dig deep into the rich heritage of Pensacola, visit the Historic Pensacola Village. This is a collection of historical buildings and educational attractions. I would recommend the place to any homeschoolers or family that wants to add an education component to their trip.
The district, which appears on the National Register of Historic Places alongside York PA‘s old town, Irving‘s Ruth Paine House Museum, and Richmond‘s depot district, is home to the Old Christ Church – one of the longest-standing churches in Florida. It also contains must-see attractions like the Pensacola Archeological Trail, Fort Pickens, and the Pensacola Museum of history. As you stroll down the street, you will come across costumed interpreters – interact with them and let them guide you on the history of the building!
Take The Kids To The Pensacola Children’s Museum
After a long day of thrilling outdoor activities, the kids will have fun at Pensacola Children’s Museum. Each floor features a variety of interactive exhibits geared toward children of all ages, that’s why it’s famous among Pensacola attractions for families.
On the first floor, there is a miniature village for children to explore, play, and learn about the history of Pensacola. The whole family can also enjoy the exciting hands-on Brick Makerspace, where they imagine, create, and show off original work. The reader’s nook is a great place to spend some quality time with your children: Not only does it offer excellent books for older kids to read but also dress-up clothing for younger ones as well.
The museum is open Tuesday through Saturday from 10 AM to 4 PM, and Sunday from 12 PM to 4 PM. The Historic Village unified ticket includes admission to the Children’s Museum.
A Good Dose Of Vitamins Sea For The Family!
Children are very sheltered these days. They can spend the whole day between the four walls watching Youtube or playing games. That’s exactly why regular travel with family is crucial: It helps them experience the beauty beyond the walls and outside the screens.
This list of things to do in Pensacola with kids doesn’t only teach them to appreciate the outdoors and connect with nature but also helps adults to loosen up and wind down. Let’s smell the fresh air, roll in the sand, play in the water, and collect fond memories together!