Far Away Friday v1

Greetings from the Sunshine State, best known for Disneyworld, the Keys, weird news, and hurricanes. If you’ve only ventured to our comical state on a mouse-ear fueled vacation, chances are you’re not familiar with the region affectionately known as the panhandle. Here in Northwest Florida, we have our own little slice of paradise, filled with beautiful beaches and a surprising amount of history, among other things.

My name is Gabby, and while I’m originally from Norfolk, VA (and very proud of it!), I have lived in the Pensacola, FL area for around 15 years. I am a phlebotomist, student, but most importantly, a mother! My son is 3.5 years old, so we try to find activities on the weekends to keep all of us busy, and on a budget. If you find yourself planning a vacation to Pensacola, which I hope you will, here’s the run down on must-do’s!!

First things first, you need somewhere to lay your head after an eventful day of getting to know our city! Depending on your desires, there are many places you can opt to stay. We have your basic hotels, which are located everywhere you go, and are reasonably affordable. If paradise is your forte, Pensacola Beach boasts a wide variety of hotels, and condos with varying price ranges. A lot of residents on the beach rent their homes during tourist seasons, and sometimes during off season. There are tons of great hotels on the beach, such as our famed Margaritaville resort, and Portofino, however those tend to run a bit higher in price range. Pensacola Beach also has a fair share of your basic beach hotels, which are friendlier on your checkbook. If the city life is your cup of tea, you can choose any of our basic hotels located off the interstate exits. These are way better for a family vacation, and you have perfect access to the interstate to take you wherever your heart desires.

So, you’ve found your temporary abode and are ready to go on an adventure! Pensacola is known for its rich history, military background, and local arts. We have an extensive list of festivals, complete with local artists, musicians, and southern treats. The Gulf Coast Arts Festival is my personal favorite, and it typically takes place in the fall, spans 3-4 days and hosts hundreds of vendors, and activities. Our festivals are the perfect gateway into our culture, and it is always family friendly.
If festivals aren’t your preference, you can take a trip to the Naval Aviation Museum, home to the famed Blue Angels, and a very inexpensive outlet for your little one’s excess energy. Admission into the museum is free of charge, although they do have a donations box by the entrance, and is always appreciated. They have endless corridors of real planes, and historic aviation exhibits. You can hop in the cockpit of numerous planes, press every button, and flip every switch from sun up to sun down. The exhibits range from aerospace, to world wars, and even an IMAX theatre. This museum truly is a blast for everyone, and educational, as well! During your visit, you can have a bite to eat at their little café, but be sure to pop into the gift shop on your way out and grab some astronaut ice cream for dessert!
Naval Aviation Museum, Pensacola, FL

We also have amazing site seeing, such as the Pensacola Lighthouse, which is near the Naval Aviation Museum. They conduct tours through the keeper’s quarters, and you can climb the tower to the top! I don’t recommend allowing small children to climb the tower, as the steps are very narrow. If you’re able, it’s worth the 177 steps climb to get the best view of the Gulf Coast, but don’t forget to grab yourself a shirt and certificate to prove how awesome you are!
Pensacola Lighthouse, Pensacola, FL
Our historic city has so much more to offer than I am capable of listing, so you’ll just have to see it for yourself! We even have an amazing downtown that is perfect for both families, and a much-needed parental vacation. So, pack yourself a bag and load up, but leave room for souvenirs!
Plaza de Luna (R)

For a full list of things to do in Pensacola and the surrounding areas go to www.visitpensacola.com