Is it a good idea to visit Pensacola with kids? YES! If you plan accordingly. We just finished spending 3 days in Pensacola and it was heaven. There are some things you should know before visiting Pensacola with kids.
We visited on Spring Break with young kids was probably a mistake. College kids were out and acting like… college kids. The first night we went to eat on the beach at a restaurant called The Dock. Normally I think it would be a fun, casual place to eat. This time it was full of heavy drinking kids in little clothing and acting like… well, college kids on spring break. They were having fun. But it was a little much for my little kids to see. So try planning a time that is not a party week.
The beach was also super crowded in the evenings. There were people EVERYWHERE. And it was a huge party. They do allow alcohol on the beach. To avoid the crowds we discovered going to the beach early in the morning was the answer. We hit the beach about 9 each morning. And we had the beach to ourselves! It was awesome! By 2pm we were tired and people were starting to come out so we would leave about 2. That was perfect for us.
Where to eat
I recommend Shaggy’s. I had the gumbo and it was out of this world. From fried pickles to hamburgers, to seafood, they have a great selection. I loved that the kids were given chalk and chalkboards to play with at the tables. The food was great and the prices were competitive with others around town. For a family of 4 plus an appetizer it was around $40.
The Shrip Basket is another good option. They just opened one on the beach. We loved the fried seafood selection. It is a higher priced restaurant costing us over $50 for just the 4 meals. But it is worth it if you like seafood. The kids get a lot of food in the kids meal. Actually, we all got a lot of food!
The beach is the reason we went to Pensacola with kids. I have always wanted to see the beaches of Florida. This was far more than I expected. The beautiful white thick sand. The blue, clean water. The clean beaches. It was heavenly!
I suggest going to the part of the beach that has the public restrooms, showers, lifeguards, and places to eat. It is so clean and I felt very safe. A lifeguard even came and talked to our kids about RIP currents and how to stay safe. It was so sweet. They keep this area clean and very well kept. The bathroom was large and clean and easy to get to from the beach. The showers were in the open and plentiful. Perfect for leaving the beach without sand all over your body.
The beach is free fun. You do have to pay $1 as you enter the island. Then you just need money for food or souvenirs.
Where to stay
We stayed at the Travelodge which is right across the street from the part of the beach mentioned above. You can park there and walk to the beach. Easy peasy! They offer free hot and cold breakfast with a different menu each day. The beds were very comfortable. The rooms were clean and had a cute beachy theme. The entire hotel was clean and decorated for the beach. I loved the feel of the hotel. The employees were all very friendly. Each one we passed said hello and asked if we needed anything. That was such a refreshing and pleasant feeling. It was one of the more affordable hotels on the beach. We really loved our stay at the Travelodge.
Pensacola was a great place to go as a family. I highly recommend checking it out!