What makes the perfect spring break for families? Is it the season’s mild temperatures? Beautiful beaches? Fun things to do? You can find all of that and more in the Pensacola Bay Area this year.
In March and April, Pensacola’s average temperatures hover around 70 degrees. The area’s two barrier islands – Santa Rosa Island (Pensacola Beach) and Perdido Key – span more than 60 miles of coastline and are frequently named among the most popular beaches in the nation. Whether you have a week off or just want to spend a few days relaxing with your loved ones, try these Top 10 activities for family-friendly entertainment.
1. Get Outside at Pensacola Beach
If you feel like your kids have been stuck inside climbing the walls all winter, get them outdoors at Pensacola Beach. They can do a different kind of climbing at Premier Adventure Park, which boasts a three-story ropes course, as well as a go-kart track and splash pad. If you want to make a day of your visit, take advantage of the on-site restaurant, book a parasail excursion or jet ski tour, or enjoy paddleboarding in the Santa Rosa Sound. Families will also find public kids parks with slides and monkey bars on the island at Harry Gowens Park, Crowley Park, and Park West.
2. Explore Big Lagoon State Park
Spring is one of the best times of the year for outdoor adventures in Perdido Key. At Big Lagoon State Park, there are many ways to explore the saltwater marshes and pine forests. Hike or bike the trails, launch a canoe or paddleboard or observe the local wildlife amidst this natural treasure of wetlands and estuaries. Swimming, fishing and crabbing are also popular at Big Lagoon State Park.
3. Experience Naval Air Station Pensacola
The National Naval Aviation Museum, located aboard Naval Air Station Pensacola, is one of the area’s most popular attractions. Open daily, the museum showcases more than 150 restored aircraft representing Navy, Marine Corps and Coast Guard aviation. Admission is free. Kids also love the 3D flight simulators and the Naval Aviation Memorial Giant Screen Theater, both of which require a purchased ticket for admission. If you visit the museum between March and November, you might catch sight of the world-famous Blue Angels flight demonstration squadron. The Blues, as many locals call them, practice in the skies over the museum most Tuesday and Wednesday mornings during the performance season. It is recommended that you check the museum website before you visit to review the requirements for entering NAS Pensacola. While you are on the base, be sure to check out historic Fort Barrancas and the Pensacola Lighthouse & Museum, as well.
4. Perdido Key Water-Fun
Enjoy the area’s stunning blue surf with a myriad of water sports rentals available in Perdido Key. If you want to reel in the big one on a family-friendly fishing excursion, contact All Jack’d Up Charters, which specializes in in-shore and near-shore charters, as well as offshore trips, for all ages. Bait, tackle and license are included, and you might catch red snapper, Spanish mackerel, Bonita, Ladyfish, Bluefish and more. Lil John’s Watersports rents its fleet of pontoon boats, which includes boats with seating for up to 12 people. At Littleheads Kayak Rentals, professional guides will lead you and your group on a kayaking eco-tour or fishing charter. Rent jet-skis at Flora-Bama Marina and Watersports.
5. Step Back in Time at Historic Pensacola Village
Learn a little something about local history when you visit Historic Pensacola Village. The settlement and early years of Pensacola come to life within the preserved homes, Old Christ Church and other buildings, where you can see artifacts and photographs, and hear stories about the city’s origins. Visit the adjacent Pensacola Museum of History to learn about Don Tristán de Luna y Arellano’s 16th Century voyage to Pensacola from Spain. At the Pensacola Children’s Museum, young children will learn history through interactive play as they captain a replica ship, row a Native American canoe, or dress up in colonial period costumes.
6. Get Hands-On at the Pensacola M.E.S.S. Hall
Families visiting Downtown Pensacola with children will want to make a stop at the Pensacola Mess Hall. Encouraging kids of all ages to explore science, technology, engineering and math concepts, the Mess Hall offers permanent exhibits as well as workshops and other special events for young scientists. On any given day, you might create your own zoetrope, dissect a squid or create your own video games.
7. Freaky Fast Amusement Fun
North Pensacola is home to two of the area’s best family fun centers. Sam's Fun City offers classic amusement park rides, laser tag, go-carts, mini-golf, an arcade and indoor inflatables. In late April, Sam’s Surf City, a water park, opens for the summer. Guests can try its many water slides or float along the lazy river. Pizza and other concessions are offered inside the large arcade. At Fast Eddie’s Fun Center, put the pedal to the metal on one of three family go-kart tracks, a super kart speedway for ages 16 and up, or have fun playing mini-golf or hitting at the batting cages.
8. Get Lost at Gulf Islands National Seashore
Pensacola Beach has many public access points, but if you want to camp or experience a bit of history, pay the entry fee at Fort Pickens, part of Gulf Islands National Seashore. Tour the remains of the Civil War fort or just enjoy the more secluded beach and unspoiled scenery. If you are looking for seashells, you won’t be disappointed here.
9. Aim for the Arts
Pensacola’s arts scene is family-friendly this spring. See a show with beloved characters like Winnie the Pooh and Mary Poppins at Pensacola Little Theatre. A community theatre production of A.A. Milne’s story, “Winnie the Pooh” runs March 20-29. Ballet Pensacola’s presentation of “Mary Poppins” takes the stage April 17-26. Tickets are available for purchase at the theatre box office or pensacolalittletheatre.com.
10. Zoom to the Zoo
Your family can make over 800 new friends during spring break this year – animal friends, that is, at the Gulf Breeze Zoo. From a petting zoo and giraffe feeding station to the free-flying budgie aviary where colorful gentle birds perch on your hand, and many other exhibits, visitors are sure to see something new and learn about animals from all over the world. Stroll along the elevated boardwalk for a look at gorillas, zebra, rhinos, antelope and other species. Ticket prices start at $14.95 for children and $18.95 for adults. For a few extra dollars, you can ride the Safari Express Train Ride for a different perspective on some of the most popular exhibits, including the hippo habitat. Talk about a wild spring break!
Something to remember wherever you travel within the Pensacola area is to ask about military and senior discounts if you believe a member of your party may qualify. Many attractions have options to make your spring break activities more affordable and fun for the whole family.
Have a wonderful spring break!