The Florida Panhandle is known for its beautiful beaches, such as Pensacola, Destin, Fort Walton, and Panama City. The Panhandle, however, is not only a white, sandy beach: there are other sites to see as well. Best of all, seeing them will not break your budget.
The Naval Aviation Museum
The Pensacola Naval Air Station is not only home to the Blue Angels but also home to the largest naval aviation museum in the world. Admission is free. Some activities within the Museum such as the IMAX Theater and air simulators charge admission. However, with indoors and outdoors displays involving real aircraft and displays explaining naval aviation history, this attraction is well worth the time and effort to visit.
The Panhandle Butterfly House
In Navarre, the Panhandle Butterfly House is open Thursday through Saturday. Their mission is to educate about Florida’s rich biodiversity and the important role that butterfly’s play in the ecosystem. Admission is free, but donations are appreciated. After seeing the Butterflies fly freely in the butterfly house, children can enjoy a nearby playground and splash park.
Blackwater Heritage State Trail
Starting in Milton, Florida, the Blackwater Heritage State Trail goes northward for 8.5 miles until reaching Whiting Field Naval Air Station. The trail, which was once a railroad track, is asphalted for its entire length. It is popular with bicyclist and joggers and is open from 8 a.m. to sundown. There is no charge for its use. Passing through farmland as well as crossing several streams and small wetlands, it is pleasant place to walk. A visitor center is located nearly one mile from the start of the trail. Picnic areas, benches, and parking are available at several places on the trail.
Fort Pickens is located in the Florida District of the Gulf Islands National Seashore. The fort was important for Union control of ships moving in and out of Pensacola Bay during the Civil War. Later, the fort served as a prison for Geronimo and several of his fellow Apache brethren. The Fort Pickens area of the National Seashore is open from 7a.m. daily until sunset. A visitor center is open from nine to five. Entry to the Florida District of the park is $8 for a vehicle with less than 15 passengers.
Museums in Pensacola
Pensacola has a history dating back to the 1500s. The University of West Florida Historic Trust operates several museums and attractions in Pensacola to highlight that history. The Wentworth Museum has free admission. Others charge entrance fees, but none are budget busters. The Historic Pensacola Village has living history exhibits, and the Children’s Museum is fun for the kids with hands-on exhibits.
From beautiful beaches to wooded trails to important history, the Florida Panhandle has much to offer at an affordable price. These attractions and others in the Panhandle make it a great spot for a family vacation.