One of the challenges of military life is being apart from family and many times you can go many months and even years before being able to visit “home” or for family to come visit you. However, when the stars align just right, and you’re able to have family come to you, what better way to celebrate than getting to be a tourist in your new home of residence?
My brother-in-law came to visit us last week for a quick, but great trip! We were so excited to be able to show him around Pensacola and we were able to take advantage of a little road trip together to New Orleans, which has been on my bucket list for quite sometime. I’ll write all about New Orleans in another post, but for today I will go over our voyages around Pensacola.
The first time we visited Pensacola was in 2014 during a roadtrip we completed of the southeastern part of the US. We came back in November 2016 to house hunt, and moved in December 2016. In our travels and now residency, we’ve been able to experience a lot of what Pensacola has to offer, but there was still more for us to do that we hadn’t had the opportunity to take advantage of yet. So let’s take a gander at the Top 5 Things to Do in Pensacola according to TripAdvisor:
- National Naval Aviation Museum– The National Naval Aviation Museum is a free museum with free parking and free tours. Free Free Free! They also have an IMAX theater and simulation rides you can do for an additional purchase. It is the largest Naval Aviation Museum in the world, and has over 150 aircraft representing the Navy, Marine Corp and Coast Guard. The museum is located on Naval Aviation Station Pensacola, but civilians and military are both welcome. I have been to the museum more times than I have fingers, but I still enjoy it every time. I can see why it is listed as the #1 top thing to do in Pensacola.
- Pensacola Naval Air Station– This includes the National Aviation Museum, the Pensacola Lighthouse and Museum, Fort Barrancas, and Barrancas National Cemetery. Since TripAdvisor compiles it’s ‘Top’ list based off of comments and reviews of users, some reviewed all of these destinations under the NAS and some reviewed each place individually. I think it makes it a bit redundant, and not as comprehensive, but oh well. All of these things are located at Pensacola NAS and all worthy of your time, military or civilian.
- Blue Wahoos Ballpark– Number 3 on TripAdvisor is the Blue Wahoos Ballpark. This location is absolutely beautiful and is located on the Gulf of Mexico with a fantastic modern playground for children, and outdoor amphitheater. Since it is currently winter, there are no baseball games to catch, but if you would like to take a scenic walk/run around the ballpark, it is definitely a great place to do so.
- Pensacola Lighthouse and Museum– The Pensacola Lighthouse and Museum is my favorite thing to do on base. It is not free to go inside, but well worth the small fee to be able to climb the 177 steps to the top and take in the view of NAS and also the Gulf of Mexico. The museum portion allows you to learn about the history of the lighthouse and the keepers who have maintained it for decades. There are even rumors that the lighthouse is haunted, and who doesn’t love a good ghost story? Also, behind the museum is a short path that leads you onto one of the many white sandy beaches in Pensacola. The sand is so fine it feels like you’re walking on sugar.
- Fort Barrancas– Fort Barrancas is a military fort located on NAS Pensacola. This is another free excursion that can be done. It’s such a beautiful and historical site and I highly recommend going down into the fort and through the underground tunnels. Such a cool experience!
We did all of these things when we visited Pensacola the first time, now after living here for almost two months, I think I’ve found a couple other gems that I would recommend you do should you ever find yourself on the panhandle of Florida.
- Pensacola Lighthouse and Museum– As described above, the lighthouse is gorgeous, historical and quite the sight to see. Put this at the top of your list. And don’t forget to hit the beach behind the lighthouse, it’s like two birds with one stone!
- Pensacola Ice Flyers– I went to see my very first ice hockey game at Pensacola Bay Center. So So So much fun! The tickets are inexpensive, even the most expensive are only $29 and they offer a military discount. There is not a bad seat in the house and many of the home games have an open skate following the game. Definitely do this if they are playing while you’re in town.
- Downtown Pensacola– Main Street and Palafox Street are where a majority of the restaurants, bars and boutiques are located in downtown Pensacola. Even if you just take the time to stroll up and down the streets, it is an easy way to spend a few hours. Also be sure to see how many of the pelicans you can find that are on display!
- Brothers BBQ– If you’re in the mood for delicious southern bbq, Brothers BBQ is a spot I highly recommend. Tuesdays and Wednesdays they even have an all you can eat special. Calories don’t count when you’re enjoying BBQ.
- Seville Quarter– For those adults out there looking for some adult activities, Seville Quarter has 9 bars in 7 buildings all conveniently located together in Downtown Pensacola. My favorite… well technically the only one I’ve been inside is the piano bar, the musicians were excellent and the ambiance and decor was terrific. 10/10 friends would recommend. Also Wednesday night is ladies night and drinks are cheap!
I’ve always thought no matter where you lived, people and places were all generally the same. But I was wrong, each place is so unique and will have different things to offer. I’ve really enjoyed our time in Pensacola so far and discovering all the quirks that make one a ‘local’. As we spend more time here, my top 5 may change, or perhaps we’ll get orders soon for a new location and I’ll have the opportunity to discover a whole new place. Do your worst United States Navy, I’m ready!