We get it. You need free activities, and your time span might be between meals and a nap time. You’re wondering, “How can I squeeze in an activity or two and maybe a reward for just having a great day?”
We’ve put together five popular spots in Pensacola for you and your young people to explore. Choose between sightseeing or hands-on activities. Regardless, your kiddos will have a blast!
Here’s what your day might look like:
Bay Bluffs Park aka “Let’s go Bluffin!” The drive to Bay Bluffs is scenic itself as it’s located off of Scenic Highway which teases beautiful views of Escambia Bay. Once you get to the nature preserve, you’ll take the long wooden stairway down to the beach, cross railroad tracks, and let the kid’s imagination take off! Beautiful trees line the sometimes steep boardwalk. Perhaps an adventure to Neverland? Nonetheless, a treat at the Dairy Queen at the foot of the Escambia Bay Bridge and Scenic Highway is an awesome way to treat yourself for making the eighth of a mile hike!
Bayview Park is located in East Hill right on the bayou. It’s just a large park to play in and includes a dog park! Tennis courts, a fitness pad, children’s playgrounds, a community center, and many walking trails give you options to choose from. Trees provide shade and park benches and picnic areas provide a place to rest. When you’re done, you can drive by the Graffiti Bridge on 17th Avenue, then stop by Krispy Kreme on 9th Avenue and Cervantes for donuts – it’s always fun to watch these being made.
Naval Aviation Museum. Make it a Blues day by visiting the Naval Aviation Museum that includes a play area for children five and under. There are many activities to do as you walk through the history of aviation. Plan to get to the museum early on Tuesdays and catch a Blue Angels practice. When you’re done, take a drive to Barrancas National Cemetery. It’s an awesome sight, especially during the holidays or Memorial Day when headstones are lined with wreaths.
Plaza De Luna. Make it a De Luna, Pier, and Pelican day! Historical markers will tell the story of Spanish Conquistador, Don Tristan De Luna and about African Presence in Colonial Pensacola. The park is downtown at the south end of Palafox Pier. Here, you’ll watch pelicans dive for fish, see all sizes of boats and ships – including tugboats, yachts, and cargo ships, and finally, play around in the splash pad. Parking is available and the pier is within walking distance of historic downtown Pensacola where you can visit shops, galleries, and parks. Restroom facilities are next to the ice cream shop located where you exit the plaza. To add a little fun, go on a hunt for Pensacola’s Pelicans in Paradise. The fiberglass pelicans are a project by Pensacola News Journal featuring local artists. The birds stand about 5 feet tall – so they’re easy to spot! Begin your hunt on Palafox & Garden as you head south towards the pier.
It’s true if you live in Pensacola, EVERY DAY is a beach day! Building sandcastles, riding the waves, looking for shells – a child’s imagination is all you need. Looking for a little something different? Here’s a beach day option.
- Shell hunting down by the bay. Headed towards Ft. Pickens, park in the last parking lot(s) before the entrance. You’ll park on the sound side where you’ll look for shells. When you hit the beach, start walking towards Ft. Pickens and look for shells within five feet of shore. You may spot a King Crown, Banded Tulip, or Moon Snail. Be sure the shells are uninhabited. If a hermit crab occupies the beautiful shell, return in unless you have another “home” for it to move into.
- When you’re finished shell hunting, cross over to the Gulf side and have a picnic. The pavilion provides plenty of tables, shade, and bathrooms.
- Bird watching. Look for more than just seagulls. You’ll spot pelicans, cranes, and because you’re close to Ft. Pickens, you might see some ospreys hunting for lunch
A stop for slushies at the convenience store at Quietwater Boardwalk is an inexpensive treat to end the day. If you still have a bit more energy, you can explore the shops.