By Carla Olivo, USMC Spouse
If you enjoy fun in the sun, sand between your toes, or a warm breeze in the air, then orders to Florida’s Emerald Coast is good news for your military family. Whether stationed at Hurlburt Field or Naval Air Station Pensacola, there are plenty of family-friendly activities to enjoy.
10 Amazing Things To Do near Naval Air Station Pensacola
#1 Explore Pensacola’s Civil War history
Travel back in time to the days of the Civil War on this guided, 2-hour sightseeing tour. You can visit the battle lines, and learn how Pensacola went from being the largest and most prosperous city in Florida to a town primarily burnt and destroyed. By the way, the tour includes a trip to the top of the Pensacola Lighthouse and Museum.
#2 PENSACOLA BEACH
This seems like a no-brainer if you are stationed at Naval Air Station Pensacola, but the beaches are worth mentioning. From CrossFit competitions to concerts, there is always something going on. Also, you won’t find more beautiful, white sandy shores. Just be mindful, parking is strictly enforced!
#3 NATIONAL AVIATION MUSEUM
The National Aviation Museum is conveniently located on the “open” side of NAS Pensacola. In addition to the full-size planes from across history on display, there is a café and an indoor play area for kids. You could easily visit this museum weekly and discover something new each time.
#4 PENSACOLA M.E.S.S. HALL
The Pensacola M.E.S.S. Hall is not your typical science museum. The website describes it as, “Math, Engineering, Science & Stuff.” This is a great hands-on, ‘non-museum’ science museum that will appeal to the entire family, young and old. You can also check out the day camps offered during school breaks.
#5 THE BLUE ANGELS
You’ve heard about the Blue Angels, and you may have had a chance to see them in action at an air show you’ve visited. They are everywhere along the Emerald Coast! The Blue Angels perform at two popular air shows each year, but you’ll also see them participating in local parades and other community events. Furthermore, they practice most Tuesdays at the National Aviation Museum. Additionally, they will often stay after to take photos and sign autographs. If you are lucky, they may fly over your house during practice!
#6 PERDIDO KIDS PARK
The Perdido Kids Park is not your average kids’ park. Swings, towers, and replica Blue Angel planes set this park apart from most. It also features the usual picnic areas with tables and barbeques. The misting station in the toddler area will offer some relief on those hot Florida afternoons.
#7 PALAFOX MARKET
Each Saturday, the grassy area between the two sides of Palafox Street fills up with artists, local vendors, farmers, and food stalls. There are several booths with home-baked goods, coffee, and fresh produce. Also, the String Farm plays in an open area, encouraging little kids to play with them.
#8 JOHNSON BEACH
While Pensacola Beach is very popular and easy to get to, Johnson Beach is a favorite among many military families. It is a national park, so there is an entrance fee, but it is waived for military members. Also, you can make the trip in under a half hour from Naval Air Station Pensacola.
#9 Cruising With Dolphins
Dolphins are intelligent, playful, majestic creatures often seen leaping from waves behind the wake of a boat. There are several cruising companies offering dolphin tours. This is a thrilling experience that your family is not likely to forget. Just google ‘Dolphin Cruises Pensacola Beach,’ and a list of companies providing tours will pop up.
#10 BLUE WAHOOS STADIUM
The Blue Wahoos, a Minor League Baseball team, have a beautiful stadium located right on the water. There is also a grassy hill, perfect for family seating, and frequently there are inflatables for the kids to play with during the game. Additionally, summer games end in fireworks providing an ideal ending to a summer evening.
If you’ve lived at NAS Pensacola or the neighborhoods near Hurlburt Field, please pay it forward to your fellow military families by leaving a base housing or neighborhood review at PCSgrades.com. We are a community of military and veteran families helping each other with our biggest relocation needs through trusted reviews. Help us to help each other and submit your reviews today. Together we can make a difference!
Carla Olivo has garnered numerous TV industry awards including the Associated Press award for Spot News Reporting, and Documentary Reporting. She lives in Northern Virginia with her husband, a retired USMC Lt. Colonel and their two children.Carla Olivo