Pensacola, Florida: Our First Family Vacation
In 2011 my husband and I decided that it was time to take our first family vacation. We had 3 small children at the time and wanted to make sure they were going to have a good time and not be bored. After all vacations are about fun in the sun right? After weeks of research, we finally decided on Pensacola, Florida. This was going to be the first time at the beach and our first long road trip with our 3 small girls.
Let The Packing Begin
A week before our departure I had gotten the girls little boxes to decorate. These boxes could hold memories from our vacation. Things like bought souvenirs, sea shells from the beach, ticket stubs, etc. The only rule was that nothing alive came home in those boxes! Anyway decorating these boxes was great because it got them excited about our trip and kept them occupied while I packed for a family of five.
I prepared a picnic basket of goodies like cookies, crackers, fruit snacks, etc. and a cooler for drinks. The dreaded words, " I'm hungry" was an easy fix in between potty breaks. This also cut the cost of buying snacks every time we stopped.
Once clothes, beach toys, life jackets, snacks and drinks were ready it was time to his the road!
With small children we found it best to make the 12 plus hour trip at night. This way the girls had their bellies full, been to the restroom, and ready for bed. The goal was to make the trip easier on them while they slept most of the ride.
The downfall was they missed most of the scenery and one parent took the wheel while the other tried to sleep. After a while we switched so the other could drive and the other could try to sleep.
Must Do While In Pensacola, Florida
Pensacola Beach: Playing in the sand and the ocean was a blast for all 5 of us. The water was so beautiful. Building sand castles and finding sea shells was a favorite for my kids. Life jackets are a must when playing in the ocean. That tide can be cruel at times! If you can spend the extra few becks, walk on the pier. You can fish if you want, but we got to spot lots of jelly fish and even got to see a dolphin. It was beautiful.
National Museum of Naval Aviation: We spent the entire day at this museum. We got to see all different types of air craft, learn about different war settings, and the kids got to sit in different planes. We had so much fun there that we lost track of time and didn't realize that we had spent the entire day there!
Pensacola Lighthouse: We visited the outside of the lighthouse but did not go up in it. We didn't feel like walking up all those stairs after walking around the museum all day. It was very beautiful on the outside though. If you ever go and get to go up in it, I would love to hear what you thought about it!
Peg Leg Pete's: This was our favorite place we ate. They had everything on the menu from sea food, to chicken, to kid friendly meals. The price was well in our budget for a family of 5. There was an outdoor sand area complete with playground so that kids could pretend they were pirates and the parents could enjoy a drink with the feet in the sand.
Chase-N-Fins Dolphin Cruises: The most amazing thing ever! The dolphin cruise was about an hour and half and at a reasonable price. We booked this when we booked our hotel so plan a head. The captain of the boat was amazing. The girls got to go up and help him drive the boat. To pass time on getting to the dolphins there was some dancing on low deck. There were plenty of dolphins as the guide promised. Still to this day my girls talk about this experience.
The BoardWalk: This was the best place to find souvenirs. So many different shops with amazing prices. There was a lot of different photo opportunities as well!
Best Vacation Ever
We could not have picked a better place to go for our first family vacation. Planning a head of time seemed to be the key. It definitely made things easier and stress free. If you ever go to Pensacola, Florida check out these awesome places. They will not disappoint. I promise.