I know that it's hard to do, but while visiting Pensacola, you absolutely MUST pull yourself away from the beautiful beaches and trendy downtown to spend some time at the National Naval Aviation Museum. Would you believe that the largest museum of its kind with more than 150 aircraft to explore offers free admission? Free! Below are a few of my favorite attractions at the Naval Museum.
1. Blue Angels Practice
If you've never seen the Blue Angels from the museum flight line, you are in for a treat. The Blues are incredible from any venue, but when you are on the ground level just feet away from the jets as they scream by, you will see that it is an experience like no other. You can catch their free practice shows most Tuesdays and Wednesdays from March to November at 11:30 a.m. If you come on a Wednesday, you might just get to meet the team at an autograph signing after the show in Blue Angel Atrium!
2. Cubi Bar Café
Once lunchtime rolls around, head over to the Cubi Bar Cafe, located inside the museum. Though it is a restaurant, the Cubi Bar Cafe is basically a museum in itself. The design inspiration for this spot comes from the Cubi Point Officer's Club in the Philippines. For nearly 40 years, Naval and Marine Corp officers enjoyed this watering hole in the Western Pacific. When the officer's club closed in 1992, the thousands of plaques dedicated to the Navy and Marine Corp squadrons were taken from Cubi Point and sent to the Naval Museum to adorn the walls of the cafe. You will love reading the call signs of officers past as you enjoy a deli sandwich or salad.
3. Blue Angels 4D Experience
Have you ever wondered what it's like to zoom through the sky in the cockpit of an F/A-18 Hornet? Get a taste of the excitement at the Blue Angels 4D Experience. Located in Hangar Bay One, this attraction takes 3D technology to the next level by incorporating interactive seats and other special effects. You will take off with the Blues and experience their daring aerial maneuvers from the comfort of your theater seat. This attraction is $7 per person, and guests must be five years old or 48 inches tall to ride.
4. Flight Simulators
If you want a more intense experience than the 4D theater, check out one of the MaxFlight 360 Simulators, which offer fully interactive, 360-degree pitch-and-roll technology. In these life-like simulators, you will be able to engage in air-to-air combat or stunt flying. Tickets for this attraction are $20 for one or two people. For those who don't want a full 360-degree experience, but still want a bit of excitement, check out their HD Motion-Based Simulator, which is fully-enclosed and seats up to 15 passengers. This 5-minute, multi-sensory journey offers two story lines for you to choose from. You can fly with the Blue Angels or take off from an aircraft carrier and do battle in the Iraqi Desert during the Desert Storm simulation. These flights are $6 per person.
5. Giant Screen Theater
Did you know that you can even see a movie at the Naval Museum? Its 325-seat giant screen theater boasts brilliant 4K resolution and compelling documentaries that will entertain viewers of all ages. Younger audiences will especially love seeing the Blue Angels whiz by larger-than-life in "The Magic of Flight," while older generations will be able to relive the largest amphibious invasion in history during "D-Day: Normandy 1944". Learn about some of the most inspiring engineering stories in "Dream Big: Engineering Our World" and go inside the eye of one of the most devastating natural events the earth has ever experienced in "Hurricane." Tickets are $9 for adults, $8 for children ages 5 to 17, and free for children under 4. Be sure to check out their website for show times, and military and senior discounts!
What is YOUR favorite Naval Museum attraction? Let us know in the comments!