Evan and I were lucky enough to spend the first two weeks of July in Pensacola Beach, FL. We rented a condo so that my family could come to visit from Alabama. We also caught up with my cousin and her family that now live in Pensacola Beach. The huge draw of Pensacola Beach for me is the pristine white beaches but sometimes you need to take a break from the heat and sand. One day when Evan had had enough of the sunshine (weirdo), we headed to the National Naval Aviation Museum.
Visiting a Naval Aviation Museum may not sound like it would be high on my list of things to do but it came highly recommended and it was free. Yep, that’s right…FREE. I figured the worst thing that could happen was that if it was crappy we would leave.
Just inside the front door are models of aircraft carriers through the years. Evan loved looking at the models. Here he is telling me about all the guys and the guns and the planes and and and. I’m not sure he was breathing at this point.
There are two buildings full of planes that you can peruse. Many have signs explaining their vintage, how long the flew, how many crew they required, etc. I let Evan lead the way so we read some signs and skipped others. He loved figuring out why planes might have folding wings and how planes that are land based look different from those used mostly near the water.
Evan loved seeing the lunar lander. I cannot wrap my head around how something that looks like a pack of Jiffy Pop landed on the moon. It is covered in ultra thin golden foil. Evan enjoyed pretending to walk around in a moon suit.
After perusing the first building, we had worked up quite an appetite. We visited the Cubi Bar Cafe’. We were lucky enough to be sat at the bar so we could look around at all the plaques from the Cubi Point Officer’s Club in the Philippines. When it was closed down, the plaques were sent to the NAS museum and they made the restaurant mirror the look and feel of the Philippines club. While we were enjoying our lunch we got to meet a couple of Navy retirees that give tours. We also saw a few pilots in their flight suits enjoying lunch. The prices for lunch were very reasonable and Evan gave it two big thumbs up.
After lunch we decided to let Evan take a spin in the pilot’s seat of a few aircraft. Evan loved that so many cockpits were open for a visit. It is a great way to let kids get interactive and everyone was doing a great job of taking turns.
Our last stop showed us a glimpse inside life on an aircraft carrier during the Vietnam War.
Overall we spent about 4 hours going through the museum and eating lunch. We did decide to pay the $7 to watch the 4D Flying with the Blue Angels experience. While the museum is free, there are a few things you can pay to do such as flight simulators, the 4D theatre and the iMax theatre. The museum is definitely worth a visit even if you aren’t that in to airplanes. Evan had a blast and will want to go back on our next visit I’m sure.
The National Naval Aviation Museum Info
The National Naval Aviation Museum is open daily from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., year-round, with the exception of Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s days.
Other operating hours: