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Kids and the Beach

Pensacola Beach and Perdido Key are proud to be a premier destination for families from all over the world. Add one part activity, one part relaxation and one part value, and you'll see why the Pensacola Bay Area provides the perfect recipe for an amazing and affordable kid-friendly vacation.

Here are a few fun ideas to get you started – we can’t wait for you to get out and explore these beautiful islands and all their offerings!

Pensacola Beach

If you land your family on Pensacola Beach, you are in for a treat! Between up-close dolphin cruises, friendly eco-trails and camping at historic forts, the sky is the limit on our reputable Gulf Islands National Seashore. Check out these sure-bet activities for some inspiration:

Casino Beach

Located on Pensacola Beach just in front of the iconic beach ball Pensacola Beach Water Tower lies a place where families and friends can experience all the Florida Gulf Coast has to offer.

World famous for its sugar-white sand beaches and emerald-green waters, Pensacola Beach has been selected as one of TripAdvisor’s Top 25 Beaches in the U.S. and USA Today’s Best East Coast Beach.

You’ll find Endless opportunities for fun and relaxation on the island: enjoy fresh gulf seafood at a variety of restaurants, take a walk or catch fish on the Pensacola Beach Pier, or simply relax in the sun and watch your worries float away.

A portion of Casino Beach to the right of the pier is marked off as an alcohol-free zone. Signs are posted for beachgoers’ convenience.

Quietwater Beach

Pensacola Beach’s iconic landmark, The Shell, is the focal point of the Pensacola Beach Boardwalk on Quietwater Beach where you’ll find many eateries and retail shops to keep everyone entertained.

Located on the safe and shallow waters along the Santa Rosa Sound, Quietwater is great for families with small children. Leave your car in the parking lot and take advantage of the free trolley service or bike around to explore the rest of the island from a new perspective.

Just east of the Pensacola Beach Boardwalk along Quietwater Beach and Little Sabine Bay you’ll find businesses with wave runners, kayaks, boats and other water-related rental equipment ready for a day of fun. From parasailing to paddleboarding, snorkeling to sunset sailing, family cruises to dolphin tours – Pensacola Beach has you covered for your next adventure.

Fort Pickens and Gulf Islands National Seashore

Set one or more kids loose and they will eventually build a fort and stage an imaginary battle. It’s in our nature to explore, build and protect. That’s why millions of people are drawn to the Pensacola Bay Area every year to delve into our history.

Fort Pickens

Walk in the footsteps of settlers and soldiers long past at Fort Pickens. Located on Santa Rosa Island within the Gulf Islands National Seashore, Fort Pickens is the largest of four forts built to defend Pensacola Bay and its Navy yard. Built by slave labor, the fort was named after American Revolutionary War hero Andrew Pickens and was completed in 1834 and used until the 1940’s.

Fort Pickens encourages visitors to explore its site, camp overnight and walk through their museum. They even host a Jr. Ranger Camp during the summer to educate children through fun activities such as trail hiking, bird and plant identification and touch tanks.

Footprints on the Sand Eco-Trail

With everything from Bottlenose dolphins to cownose rays, from hermit crabs to laughing gulls, from loggerhead turtles to turtle sea grass, Pensacola Beach offers plenty of native wildlife to amaze and educate kids of all ages.

Learn about our native sea life, plant life, birds, and even butterflies along the Footprints in the Sand Eco Trail on Pensacola Beach. The trail features about 30 informative, educational signs stationed across the island, each one exploring a different ecological topic.

Read about birding from a seasoned bird watcher, find out the secret to Pensacola Beach's white sand, or discover the dangerous journeys of sea turtles and read about the dedicated volunteers that tend sea turtles’ nests.

The goal is for future generations of people and wildlife to be able to enjoy the beach as much as we do now, so please remember to leave only your footprints!

Perdido Key

Further west of Pensacola lies a barrier island called Perdido Key. Spanish for “lost,” Perdido is yet another uncovered treasure. Miles protected beaches and untouched Florida wilds make it the perfect place to relax and explore.

Johnson Beach

With both bayside and gulf side scenery, outdoor lovers will appreciate the uniques landscape of Johnson Beach. This local paradise rests in Perdido Key and is a part of the Gulf Islands National Seashore, just like neighboring Pensacola Beach.

Johnson Beach has access to the Gulf of Mexico and Big Lagoon State Park via the Perdido Key Discovery Trail boardwalk, which takes visitors on a a half-mile hike through sand dunes, pine trees and salt marshes suited for the whole family.

Other amenities include picnic tables and plenty of comfortable lounging and equipment rentals to get the most out of your day.

If you’re looking for a primitive, yet pristine locale where you and your family can pitch a tent and fall asleep under the stars to the sound of the crashing waves, Johnson Beach is the only campground in the region that allows visitors to camp on the beach overnight.

There are no restrooms, showers or outposts nearby and you’ll have to hike a half-mile to set up camp, but you’ll be graciously rewarded by unspoiled views of the Gulf of Mexico on one side and a tranquil lagoon on the other. 

Big Lagoon State Park

Big Lagoon State Park sits upland on 655 acres and separates the mainland from Perdido Key and the Gulf of Mexico.

Natural areas, ranging from saltwater marshes to pine flatwoods, attract a wide variety of birds while the beaches, shallow bays and nature trails offer splendid opportunities for wildlife study.

Crabbing in the shallow waters, hiking, canoeing and kayaking have also become popular amongst visitors.

Shaded by pines and oaks, the West Beach serves as a relaxing place to enjoy a picnic, too. Ranger-guided tours are available. Contact Big Lagoon State Park for more information.

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