Are you going away on a summer trip? My family and I are just hanging around here this year. Instead of dreading long, hot summer days, I’m planning ahead and making a list of fun things we can do right here in our community. Who needs to escape when I can have an enjoyable staycation right here? We intend to make a splash, be trail blazers and dig deep into culture, in our own backyard.
Make a Splash
As temperatures rise, we need ways to cool down. Luckily our region has many options for making a splash. The beach is always an option here. Families can vary the times and the locations until they find the most suitable and less crowded spot. If you want a break from Pensacola Beach, then drive to the beach on Naval Air Station (NAS), Perdido or Orange Beach. Pack a cooler or bring a picnic lunch to avoid spending money on food and leaving your perfect place in the sand.
When the beaches are not an option for you or too far away, visit a local splash pad. Plaza de Luna in downtown Pensacola has a fun fountain that kids can run through and jump in. Navarre Park also has a splash pad in a great location next to other family-friendly activities. I recommend calling ahead before you go to ensure that the splash pads are operating and not doing any unexpected maintenance.
Our area also has several community swimming pool options. Find one that is closest to you or try them all to see which pool you like best. Our family has been to Roger Scott, Cecil T Hunter, 9 Mile and the YMCA pools. Some of these locations may not advertise open pool times so call to find out their policies and prices if you are not a member. Sam’s Surf City is another special option with water slides and a pool area. Look for coupons or their half-off times to maximize your time and dollars.
Trail Blaze and Star Gaze
When school is not in session, plan a few family outdoor excursions. Pensacola and the surrounding area have so many walking and hiking trails. Put on your trail blazing hat and explore. Do your homework to find a trail that fits your family’s size and fitness level. Here are helpful sites with maps, distances, photos and tips:
Keep in mind times of the day when it comes to hiking or walking. Avoid the most humid hours. Sunrise or sunset might be easier on children. Remember to dress appropriately and protect your skin from the sun or bugs. Pack water and a first aid kit in case any falls or accidents occur.
Another staycation idea is to allow your kids to stay up late and star gaze. Children can be amazed at the beauty and wonder of our night sky. Pensacola Beach has designated star gazing nights posted on the site, VisitPensacola.com/whats-happening-star-gazing. If being outside to see stars doesn’t appeal to you, contact The Pensacola State College Planetarium for special indoor shows in their space theater. Times and options vary so I recommend calling 850.484.2188 or emailing them at email@example.com for summer schedules or special reservations.
Dig Deep into Culture
Another great perk about Pensacola is its rich heritage and culture. Why not spend part of your summer digging deep into its history? Create a passport of all the historic sites you haven’t visited yet in our region. Make plans to see the ones you haven’t explored yet or revisit your favorites. Here are a few suggestions, but this is not a complete list!
Historic Pensacola downtown
Pensacola Children’s Museum
T.T. Wentworth, Jr. Museum
The National Naval Aviation Museum
Pensacola M.E.S.S. Hall
West Florida Railroad Museum
Visit Local Visitors Centers
Act like a tourist in your hometown this summer. For a complete list of ideas and more budget friendly options, stop by local visitors centers. They have brochures and helpful people who can guide you even more. Here are three options nearby but not a full list of resources:
*Visit Pensacola Visitor Information Center, 1401 E. Gregory St., Pensacola, 32502
*Pensacola Beach Visitor Information Center, 735 Pensacola Beach Blvd., Pensacola Beach, 32561
*Perdido Key Visitor Information Center, 735 Pensacola Beach Blvd., Pensacola Beach, 32561
Have a great summer spending time with your family!
Mandy B. Fernandez is a writer living in Pensacola, Florida with her husband and two children. She has a B.A. in English with a minor in Technical Writing. She writes on topics such as business, education, creative arts, health, family life, parenting and natural foods. In addition she loves sharing humorous stories, poetry and essays about womanhood and motherhood. Her first children’s book, Kazoo Makes The Team, was just released. Visit her at www.writtenbymandy.com.