One mom became an internet sensation last month when she appeared relaxing on a pool float with a cold beverage in hand in her kids’ back-to-school photo. It’s pretty clear how she feels about the start of a new school year!

Even though many of us are sad to see our summer end and admit that our kids are another year older, that mom is all of us, really. What parent couldn’t use a break every now and then?

Hopefully, if you have little ones (or not-so-little ones) heading back to school, after lunches are made and backpacks are packed, you can embrace some newfound free time or, at the very least, the return to a predictable routine for your family.

During the school year, when our schedules allow it, my husband and I enjoy meeting for lunch dates. It’s one of the best opportunities we have to talk without our children chiming in. Add in a waterfront view, and we’re practically on vacation in the middle of the day (and then we have to go back to work). The Grand Marlin at Pensacola Beach and the Fish House or the Oar House near Downtown Pensacola are a few of our favorite open-air dining spots. On Perdido Key, you might try the Crab Trap, Flora-Bama Yacht Club, or Sunset Grille.

Grand Marlin Oysters

Lunch is nice, but if you can arrange to spend a kid-free weekend in Pensacola, you can relax even more. Plus, you’ll find plenty to do this month.

September marks the beginning of festival season. Craft beer enthusiasts can purchase tickets to sample the brews at the Emerald Coast Beer Festival, Sept. 7-8, at Seville Quarter. The next weekend, bring your appetite! Taste of the Beach showcases local chefs and gives guests a chance to try some of the best dishes on the coast at Casino Beach, Sept. 16. Admission is free, with food and drinks for sale by each vendor.

Downtown Pensacola’s monthly Gallery Night takes place Sept. 22, celebrating art, entertainment, dining and shopping along Palafox Street. Rounding out the month is the Pensacola Seafood Festival, Sept. 29-Oct. 1. Celebrating its 40th anniversary, the seafood festival is free to attend, with individual restaurants and vendors selling fish, shrimp, oyster and crab dishes in Fountain Park. Enjoy dinner then take in the sounds and sights of live music, arts and crafts that add to the experience.

Of course, you can explore the history and natural beauty that the Pensacola Bay area offers anytime. Here are a few ideas to help you build an itinerary:

Day 1

old hickory whiskey bar

  • Improve your culinary skills with a cooking class at So Gourmet or Pensacola Cooks
  • Take a walk through Historic Pensacola Village
  • Sip evening cocktails at Old Hickory Whiskey Bar or O’Riley’s Irish Pub
  • Savor a romantic tapas dinner at Global Grill

Day 2

Kayak Couple

  • Watch the sun rise over the Gulf Islands National Seashore on Pensacola Beach
  • Paddle along a guided eco-tour of Perdido Key with Littleheads Kayak Rentals
  • Dance and sing along to live music at Vinyl Music Hall

Day 3

Five Sisters

  • Feast on everything from chicken and waffles to shrimp and grits at 5 Sister’s Blues Café Sunday Jazz Brunch
  • Roll your way through history and some of Pensacola’s most popular sites with a Segway tour from Emerald Coast Tours
  • Jog along the walking path or relax and have a picnic at Wayside Park
  • Take to the skies with an aerial tour of Pensacola from Gulf Coast Air Tours

Plan to do as little or as much as you want when you visit the area. Your only homework is to have fun.