7 things to do on or near Naval Air Station Pensacola

Are you getting stationed at Naval Air Station Pensacola?  If so, you’re in for a …

f/A-18 flying over naval air station pensacola


Are you getting stationed at Naval Air Station Pensacola? 

If so, you’re in for a treat. 

This base is tucked into the westernmost part of the Florida Panhandle and is known as “The Cradle of Naval Aviation.” Plenty of training goes on here for Naval Aviators, Flight Officers, and Aircrewmen, but there’s also plenty to do when not training, too.

The minute you arrive in the Pensacola Bay Area, you’ll find yourself surrounded by white sandy beaches and plenty of beachy culture and maritime history. 

As the oldest naval air station, you’ll find lots of military history at Naval Air Station Pensacola, too. 

Whether you’re single or PCSing your whole family, get out and explore whenever you can. Both on and off base, you’ll find activities likely to keep you plenty busy until your next orders arrive. 

Ready to start exploring? 

What’s There to Do Near Naval Air Station Pensacola?

Over the years, it seems the Florida panhandle — home to Pensacola — has been ruled by everyone. From the British to the Spanish and French, to the Confederacy and the U.S., this area is also nicknamed “The City of Five Flags.” 

There’s a reason it’s the perfect location for the NAS Pensacola. 

Whether you’re a beach bum or a history buff or a fan of natural beauty, the area surrounding Naval Air Station Pensacola has it all. It’s why we named it one of the best military bases in the United States! 

Excited to explore your new duty station area? 

Here’s a  look at what to do near Naval Air Station Pensacola:

National Naval Aviation Museum 

Blue Angels perform aerial acts
(U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Carter Denton)

Keep your eye toward the skies. Whether you’re on or off base, you may hear the roar of the Blue Angels overhead. The best place to see them in action is at the National Naval Aviation Museum at NAS Pensacola. It has a visitors’ viewing area to watch the team practice. Visitors can also try flight simulators, see record-setting aircraft, and rare aircraft. As an aside, you may also hear this museum referred to as NAS Pensacola museum. 

Admission: Free

The Pensacola Museum of Art 

pensacola museum of art outside
Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

If you love art, stop by the gallery to see traveling art work and permanent exhibits. This two-story art gallery also offers programs, classes, and tours for art lovers. If you’re an artist, consider submitting your work for open calls to have your artistic endeavors displayed here. 

Admission: Adults ($7); military ($6); kids ($3)

Fort Pickens

sunset at fort pickens
Courtesy of National Park Service

History lovers will want to add Fort Pickens to the top of their Pensacola sightseeing list. This 1800s fort was constructed to defend Pensacola Bay and Pensacola Navy Yard and Depot. Stop by near sunset for a spectacular view of the sun going down in the distance.

Admission: You’ll pay an entrance fee to get into the Gulf Islands National Seashore area, which includes Fort Pickens. Cost is per vehicle or per person, depending on your mode of transportation. 

Pensacola Lighthouse and Museum

pensacola lighthouse
Image by Ray Colletti; distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International license

Don’t mind a little exercise? Head over to the Pensacola Lighthouse and Museum and take 177 steps to see stunning Gulf Coast views. You’ll need one to two hours to explore this area, along with secure shoes. As of right now, only DoD-issued cards may come to the lighthouse and museum. Guests may be escorted by DoD cardholders but must remain with them at all times. 

Admission: Adults ($8); military ($4); kids ($4)

Beaches 

nas pensacola beach
Courtesy of Unsplash

Last but not least, there are the spectacular beaches that make up the Pensacola area. The sparkling blueish-green waters and sugar-white beaches look like a spread from a magazine. Even if you’re not a beach person, the views here alone may make you into one. 

Check out these local favorites:

  • Pensacola BeachThis location is ideal for those who are active and love getting up-close with nature. Dolphin tours, paddleboarding, and diving are just a few of the activities to do off the coast here.
  • Perdido Key The name translates to “Lost Island” and you’ll see why immediately upon arrival. Home to several parks, you can spend hours enjoying the history of Big Lagoon State Park, Johnson Beach, and Perdido Key State Park.
  • Barrancas Beach – This private stretch of waterfront is located on the base. You’ll also find beach volleyball courts, cabanas with grills, and a full bathhouse. It’s also open seven days a week, so you’re able to relax on this piece of paradise on your days off. 

 

What’s On Your Naval Air Station Pensacola Must-See List?

blue angels post with marco rubio
(US Navy photo by Greg Mitchell/NAS Pensacola Public Affairs Office)

This list only scrapes the surface of everything Pensacola has to offer. 

You may also want to check out Palafox Street for shopping, The Fish House for fresh seafood, and the Pensacola Ice Flyers for your sports fix.

If you run out of things to do, be sure to stop by NAS Pensacola MWR. The representatives there can help you settle into your new home. You can also purchase discounted tickets to local attractions and learn more about the area’s best offerings. 

No matter where you go, enjoy your time while you’re stationed at this sunny Florida Gulf Coast location. Not everyone gets to enjoy beach scenery every day! 

If you’re stationed at Naval Air Station Pensacola, what are your favorite things to do? Share your favorite hidden gems in the comments below!

Feature image U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Andrew Johnson/Released

 

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