Exploring the Pensacola Bay Area is fun at any age – just ask a senior.
Whether visiting the area for a few days or as a permanent or seasonal resident, mature adults can find unlimited activities to enjoy. From the white sand beaches and vibrant city life to its historic charms, Pensacola offers a variety of things to do year-round. Here are 10 ideas especially for seniors:
1. Experience the great outdoors
Perdido Key is a hotbed for natural beauty and coastal wildlife observation. Try fishing, bird watching or crabbing at Big Lagoon State Park, or take a stroll on the Discovery Nature Trail at Johnson Beach. The nature trail’s half-mile accessible, raised boardwalk gives visitors a glimpse of sand dunes and salt marshes. Lost Key and Perdido Bay Golf Club also are nearby.
2. Learn about the area’s rich history
If you didn’t already know Pensacola was America's first multi-year settlement, you will after you visit the T.T. Wentworth, Jr. Florida State Museum. Exhibits chronicle life in the area from its earliest inhabitants - Native Americans and 16th-century Spanish explorers - to present day. Nearby, Historic Pensacola Village offers tours of Colonial and Victorian-era homes and buildings. Living history exhibits are offered periodically, and artifacts and photographs are displayed throughout the buildings that make up the village.
3. Investigate your own history
The West Florida Genealogical Society offers monthly educational programs to assist and connect those with an interest in researching family history. Sessions on making family trees and how to use the Internet and library resources are two examples. The West Florida Public Library has a dedicated Genealogy Branch on 9th Avenue. With its many books and resources from multiple regions across the United States and countries around the world, one reviewer calls it “a must-visit venue for genealogists.”
4. Go out and play
Senior centers throughout the Pensacola Bay Area provide fitness classes, dances, and Bunco and bingo games, among other activities to help seniors stay active. The newly renovated Bayview Senior Center has several upcoming events, including Miss Senior Citizen and Party Gras. Some gyms and recreation centers in the area offer programs for Silver Sneakers members.
5. Brush up on a favorite hobby or learn a new skill
Pensacola State College’s Recreation and Leisure Courses for the Community program has courses for adults with wide-ranging interests. Choose from water aerobics and aquatics (with options for seniors and short-term visitors), art classes, foreign languages, meditation, birding, crafts, quilting, music and more. Computers for Seniors, designed for novice computer owners, and healthcare advocacy are two classes of note. Class locations vary, with most taking place at PSC’s Pensacola Main campus or South Santa Rosa County campus. Access the spring course catalog online or call 850-484-1797 for details.
6. Stir it up
Taking a cooking class can be educational, fun and delicious. So Gourmet, a part of the Bodacious shops in Downtown Pensacola, offers evening courses teaching participants how to prepare local favorites as well as international cuisines. Shorter, daytime Lunch & Learn classes are also available. Ever’man Cooperative Grocery & Café has a dedicated cooking classroom at its downtown location, where numerous free food preparation, lifestyle and health-focused topics fill the robust class schedule. In West Pensacola, Pensacola Cooks Kitchen offers monthly couples cooking classes.
7. Winner, winner…seafood dinner?
Bingo is big at the Flora-Bama Lounge, Package & Oyster Bar in Perdido Key. Grab a bushwhacker and a bingo card any Monday-Friday, 1-4 p.m. Prizes include free food and drinks, gift cards, t-shirts, books and more.
8. Cruise or lose
Don’t miss the chance to see Pensacola Bay aboard one of the area’s charters or tour boats. Dolphin cruises, sunset cruises, fishing charters and sailing tours are offered throughout the area. Pensacola Bay Cruises begins its regular scheduled passenger ferry service for 2020 in early March, but day cruises of the bay may be available select Saturdays and Sundays during winter. Those wanting to fish from dry land may prefer visiting the Pensacola Beach Gulf Pier.
9. Serve others
Have a skill or talent you want to put to good use in Pensacola? Pensacola Historic Trust offers opportunities to volunteer, such as serving as a docent at the Pensacola Museum of Art. The Pensacola Lighthouse and Museum recruits volunteers for four-hour docent shifts to answer questions from guests and help direct visitors.
United Way of West Florida sponsors the Retired and Senior Volunteer Program (RSVP), a free, federal program to support volunteers age 55 and better. RSVP pairs local nonprofit organizations with volunteers in search of opportunities that match their skills and experience. Whether you have an hour to give or want to make an ongoing commitment, you can make a difference.
10. Enjoy the beautiful beaches.
Regardless of age, most visitors are attracted to the Pensacola Bay Area for its 60 miles of coastline. Take a walk along the water’s edge, look for seashells, watch the shorebirds in flight or catch a spectacular sunset.
At Pensacola Beach, non-slip mats have been placed over the sand, providing easy access for wheelchairs, strollers, and pedestrians who might otherwise find beach sand too unstable to navigate. You can find the mats at Casino Beach, Park West, Quietwater Beach, Boardwalk Beach and Baby Beach. Beach wheelchairs are available for rent from several local vendors.
Seniors may enjoy camping and fishing among the unspoiled scenery at Gulf Islands National Seashore, a protected area with sites in Perdido Key and Pensacola Beach. At Fort Pickens, tour the remains of a Civil War-era fort.
With so much to do, what are you waiting for? Enjoy the best years of your life in Pensacola.