My family lives in central Florida. As a homeschooling family, we’re determined to learn as much as we can about this beautiful and diverse state. We’re always looking for ways to get our children out of the house and out on real-life adventures that explore history, architecture, and science. As a writer for KidTripster, I’m also always searching for family-friendly places to play, stay, and eat.

We began our 3-night stay in Pensacola by checking into the luxurious Portofino Island Resort on Santa Rosa Island. Each morning, we walked out onto our balcony to enjoy views of the Santa Rosa Sound as well as the beach and the Gulf of Mexico. What a special spot to enjoy the Gulf Islands National Seashore! This resort offered a unique opportunity to get away from the crowds and enjoy the beauty of the beach, which was quite dreamy. Even under threat of rain, the area still amazed us.

Our first excursion was aboard the Portofino I. For us, this two-hour cruise started at the resort, but the boat did stop to pick up guests who weren’t staying at the hotel. The catamaran also loads from the dock behind Hemingway’s Island Grill on the Pensacola Beach Boardwalk. It was aboard this excursion that we caught a glimpse of Fort Pickens, which we also visited, and plenty of playful dolphins!  My kids were so excited that they feel asleep from exhaustion on the ride back to the dock.

Eating was such a treat in Pensacola! We had tacos, chips, and some wonderfully fresh salsa at Cactus Flower Cafe. I swear if I lived in Pensacola, I’d be here every week! Before heading out of town, we stopped at Red Fish Blue Fish. The ambiance was really neat; most of the building is made out of reclaimed pieces of wood and shipping containers! During our time in downtown Pensacola, we also enjoyed a meal at Five Sisters Blues Cafe. I was intrigued by the backstory of how five sisters assembled all their family recipes to create a restaurant where people gather to eat down-home comfort food while enjoying live jazz and blues. 

Red Fish Blue Fish

Speaking of stories, it seems that you could spend a lifetime exploring the area and never come close to hearing all the tales that date back to the first settlement of Pensacola. We joined the guided tour of homes and buildings in the Historic Pensacola Village. I’m thankful that my children got to hear what life was like for colonial children and compare it to the life that they know today. They also were exposed to American and World History here.

Historic Village

We also toured the beautiful Pensacola Lighthouse before spending an afternoon in absolute awe at the National Naval Aviation Museum. Wow! We heard that it was world-class, but boy, did it deliver!

We loved our time exploring Pensacola, and it’s certainly a destination city that we’d recommend to families. We’ll be back again!