Guys. This summer. Really with the weather?? I don't know about your kids, but mine are about to crawl up the walls. Some fervent prayer for sunshine is happening in the Roman household these days--about to have a family prayer circle to address the matter. Or a Sunshine Dance. Is that a thing? We might be doing a Sunshine Dance ritual later to blow off some of this extra energy.
Because we live in the Land of Unpredictable Weather (we've all heard the saying "If you don't like the weather in Pensacola, wait ten minutes"), the final segment in our Pensacola Summer Survival Guide will involve yet more indoor (with a few outdoor) activities so you always have a Plan B when Plan A is decimated by the weather. The activities in today's post are all Low-Cost activities (all under $10) that we usually plan/budget for once a week. Once again, all are listed in alphabetical order to prevent favoritism (just like when I list off my kids).
Blue Wahoos Games: Ever since the Maritime Ballpark was built several years ago, Blue Wahoos games have become a staple tradition for Pensacola families. Tickets usually run around $10 depending on the night, seating, and who is playing, so this is an outing we probably would only do every month or every two months. There are regularly scheduled fireworks displays after games, and they host a fun Kid's Club with prizes and a birthday message to your child put on their videoboard during games. They also run regular promotions during games, including a variety of food selections and prize packs. Throughout the summer the Maritime Park hosts Free Movie Nights at the ampitheather behind the stadium, as well as Blues on the Bay Concerts. See game schedules and purchase tickets here.
Bowling: I considered listing this in our "Free Activities" post since it is technically free, at least the kids games are free, but when it comes down to it, you do have to take some cost into consideration. While the kids bowl free, parents will have to pay for their games if they choose to play, and shoe rentals are not included (shoes are usually around $3 per child). Alley staff will happily put up bumpers, and provide a ball ramp if you have really little ones. All in all, a great way to spend a couple hours! Be aware that sometimes there are early morning bowling leagues or summer kids camps that take up all the lanes, so call ahead! Sign up for two free daytime games per day, per child, through the summer through Kids Bowl Free-- participating locations include:
Dreamland Skate Center: The Kids Skate Free program at Dreamland Skate Center, located at 2607 E. Olive Road, 32514, is very similar to the Kids Bowl Free program--kids 12 and under receive 2 free skate sessions per week throughout the summer. Initial set up fee of $4, and skate rental fees still apply. Hours for free skate sessions are also very specific, so always check the calendar before heading over to skate. Sign up for Kids Skate fFree at Dreamland Skate Center here!
Mama Latte Coffee Shop: This unique little coffee shop located in the heart of Milton at 5412 Stewart Street is not just any coffee shop--it's a coffee shop geared towards moms! They provide a child-friendly environment complete with high chairs and a kids play area. Definitely worth the drive if you're in Pensacola and looking for an environment where you can drink your coffee, not in your pajamas, WITH your kiddos! (and you can take the kids to visit nearby Carpenter's Park before or after your latte.)
Movies: Last week, in our Free Indoor Activities guide, I shared information about area theaters hosting free movies throughout the summer. Here are a couple of not-free but lower-cost options.
Pensacola Children's Museum: Located at 115 E. Zaragoza Street, this charming facility in the heart of Old Seville, Downtown Pensacola, could potentially distract your child/ren all day long. Tons of fun, hands-on activities and displays--as well as regularly scheduled activities including storytelling and guided learning. Tickets are good for 7 days, and include access to the rest of the Historic Pensacola Complex. Tickets are $4 for children ages 3-14, and $8 for adults, $7 for seniors and FREE if you have an active UWF Nautilus Card, or EBT Card with valid ID. See more information here.
Pensacola Kid's Place: Located at 875 E. Nine Mile Road, This is the PERFECT place for play dates, letting the kids roam free (well in sight) and literally lounging for hours. Mainly aimed at smaller kids (I would say 5 and under) the Pensacola Kid's Place boasts a great climber and slide set up with a ball pit (which is very clean I might add) a well as puzzles, blocks, and other toys, in a smaller space so that you can see your child at all times from the comfort of your Adirondack. Normal admission is $10 per child (adults are free) and they regularly run specials, so watch their Facebook page for discounted entry days. (And then stop into Maynard's Donuts, two doors down--you won't regret it. I should really have stock in the place by now.)
Uncle Sandy's Macaw Bird Park: Located at 9513 N Palafox St, Pensacola, FL 32534, this charming little place is an awesome way to spend a couple hours. Uncle Sandy's is a non-profit organization parrot rescue that allows the public time to interact with and get to know the birds. Admission is *cash only*, $5.00 per person 13 years of age and up, $2.00 per child from 7 to 13 years of age. Children under 6 years of age are free! Group admission rates are also available. Check their website for updates on hours.
Well that's it for our Pensacola Summer Survival Guide, folks. I really do hope that our compilation of activities helps you survive the summer--let us know how it goes! And please let me know if I missed anything. I am happy to include additional activities that maybe I forgot or just didn't know about!
Previous Post: Pensacola Summer Survival Guide, Part 1: Water Play!
Previous Post: Pensacola Summer Survival Guide, Part 2: Free Indoor Activities
Now that the summer is officially in full swing, (notoriously marked in Pensacola by the weather suddenly sentencing us to thunderstorms for the foreseeable future) you have my permission to shelve last week's post on Water Play for sunnier days ahead and delve into this week's post--Free Indoor Activities. Next week, we'll tackle all the Low-Cost Activities there are to enjoy in the Pensacola area.
When I encountered my first unstructured summer at home with my kiddos four years ago (also freshly postpartum with newbie number four) my mother gave me some very wise advice about adding structure to the summer (she's pretty much the funnest mom ever having been in public education for 30 years). Summers with her were a blast, and now I know why! Her secret:
Some of the activities I have listed happen on specific days each week, so you can always plan the structure of your week around when each activity is happening. I have listed them in alphabetical order, so as to not reveal my own favorites.
Churches: Around this time, several area publications including Greater Pensacola Parents Magazine and the Pensacola News Journal will publish special directories with a list of churches hosting Vacation Bible Schools. Some churches, like St. Mark United Methodist, run several summer programs like Family Fun Evenings, playgroups, and free art camps.
Imagination Station: This little gem is located at the front of the Maritime Park/Blue Wahoos Stadium on Main Street. Hosted by WSRE, our local PBS station, the Imagination Station is full of hands-on toys and activities inspired by favorite kids PBS characters and shows--which translates to unlimited free play geared towards kiddos aged infant-5, and a great (air conditioned!) place to meet and hang out with other moms. Hours are limited--they are open Monday, Wednesday, and Friday from 9:00am-12:00pm, but always double check their Facebook page before heading over there to make sure they are open.
La Leche League: The Pensacola La Leche League group has been a steadfast pillar on the calendar of events for new moms for years. All La Leche League meetings are laid-back support groups for new moms and moms of toddlers, specifically addressing breastfeeding questions and concerns. A La Leche League meeting could be the perfect first postpartum outing by yourself with baby! If you have an older child/toddler, they are welcome as well, just make sure to bring a quiet toy or snack to keep them occupied. La Leche League Pensacola meetings happen on the 1st Thursday of each month at 10:00am at the Community Educational Center at Ever'man Cooperative Grocery. They also provide an informal Breastfeeding Cafe on the 4th Thursday of each month in Pace, as well as another chapter meeting in Gulf Breeze/Navarre.
Libraries: Our weekly trips to the library were a hallmark of my childhood summers, and I have continued the tradition--Thursdays are our customary library days! Even with very small children (who make noise!) library visits are still doable. Usually there is a designated children's section with not only books, but also activities, puzzles, and reading areas, and story days where even the littlest children are welcome. Both the Molino and Tryon Branches have fantastic outdoor playgrounds if you visit early or later in the day. This summer, each library is not only hosting their summer reading program, but also fun activities throughout the week for kids, like Lego Night, where they will have building competitions. See all Escambia County Library Branches here and all Santa Rosa County Library Branches here.
Movie Theaters: A few of the Pensacola, Gulf Breeze, and Pace area host free matinee movie showings throughout the summer. Upside: this is a great (free!) way to spend a couple of air conditioned hours out of the house with little ones. Downside: these showings fill up fast, lines into them are usually long, and showings may be loud because of all the kiddos attending. Some daycares/daycamps will bring busloads of kids to these showings, so get there early. Also, the movies being shown are usually movies that are already out on DVD or streaming on Netflix, so may not be new material--but what two year old cares how many times they see Finding Dory? And it makes it that much easier to leave an hour into the showing if your two year old decides he has seen it too many times.
Naval Air Museum: My kids literally beg to go to this place, and I can see why. Especially for little kids interested in planes and control panels (what kid isn't into control panels??) it's a veritable gold mine of entertainment. Not only do they have an indoor playground, but many of the airplanes and equipment can be climbed in and on (make sure to watch out for signs that indicate whether or not something can be played on). If nothing else, it's a great place to stroll around in the air conditioning for a couple of hours. The other great thing about this place is that the displays change every so often, so even if you go once, there's usually something new the next time you go. When we go, we pack a lunch to eat at the Perdido Kids Park on the way over and usually end up spending two or three hours looking at everything. Visit their website for hours and more details.
Pensacola Mom-Baby Circle: I know, I know, I said I wouldn't reveal my favorites, but I can't help this one since Belly to Cradle is the host of this awesome mommy-group. We meet the 1st, 2nd, 4th, and 5th Thursdays of every month at Old Thyme Remedies from 10:00-11:30 am. This is a no-pressure, drop-in play group for moms of babies and toddler to age 3. We are taking our summer sabbatical during the month of June (except for June 1, when we will be having a very special music-themed circle!) so plan to visit us in July or August. Like our Facebook page for more updates!
Story Sprouts: This class, for kids ages 3-5, meets every Tuesday at 10:00am at the Ever'man Community Educational Center. Kids participate in organic, creative, environmentally-friendly activities like arts & crafts, storytime, and snack! While the class if free, space is limited, so you do have to reserve your spot. Visit the Ever'man website for more information and to reserve a space for your child!
Visit us next week for our post on Low-Cost area activities!!
Previous Post: Pensacola Summer Survival Guide, Part 1: Water Play!
Next Post: Pensacola Summer Survival Guide, Part 3: Low-Cost Activities
As the school year is coming to an end and the temperatures are rising, parents throughout the Florida Panhandle are cheering with excitement…am I right???
Yay!! It’s time to draw the blinds and sit through an endless loop of Caillou in the comfort of the air conditioned living room. Or is it??
While this option may sound exceptionally appealing (or like torture, depending on your feelings about Caillou), summertime survival in Pensacola, ESPECIALLY when you are pregnant or freshly postpartum, can be challenging. (I remember being 48 weeks pregnant in the third week of July 2007, and needing a commercial hoist to get myself out of the pool of my best friend’s apartment complex.) But, just because you are pregnant, or have a brand new baby, doesn’t mean that you can’t get out and enjoy the summer months. In fact, we recommend that our clients enjoy not only their pregnancy, but also their postpartum, as much as possible—which involves getting out of the house!
As a mom who is now a Pensacola native-by-proxy (the mother of all native Pensacolians), I have compiled an Insider’s Guide to activities to occupy the summer months. Long-time Pensacola residents—please forgive me. Some of this info may be redundant for you. This Insider’s Guide is looooong, so we are going to split it up into three parts--Water Play, Free Indoor Activities, and Low-Cost Activities.
This week we tackle Water Play. Living near the beach, with 1000% humidity, clearly lends itself to automatic, summer-long submersion. But there are some secrets about water play around these parts.
The Beach. The secret to beach-going at Pensacola area beaches in the middle of summer is location + timing. While Casino Beach (the part of the beach with the big beach ball tower) is beautiful, it is not as family-friendly in the way of resources (ahem, facilities, if you know what I mean, potties if you don’t) as some of the other beaches. These resources are absolutely imperative for pregnant, new, and not-so-new moms who are prone to peezing (peeing+sneezing), and their children who need to potty every five minutes. (Trust me on this--I’ve timed the frequency). I like my bathroom within line of sight of the water, since it’s likely I will spend most of my beach trip at the bathroom, heading to the bathroom, or heading back from the bathroom. Some great locations with pavilions, outdoor showers, and bathrooms CLOSE to the water are the Johnson Beach in Perdido, and the Ft. Pickens Beach past Pensacola Beach. Both require a paid pass, which is $15 for a week, or $30 for the year (just get the year pass), or FREE if you have a DoD ID card, and the pass is interchangeable for both beaches.
Now let’s talk about when to visit the beach. This may seem (once again) obvious, but it bears review. 10am-2pm is the peak of the sun’s ascent, and as a result, peak time for UV rays. ESPECIALLY if you are pregnant, or have an infant’s skin to protect, maintaining hydration, coolness and avoiding sunburn is imperative. Ending your beach visit before 10am or beginning your adventure after mid-afternoon is optimal. And of course, staying hydrated and shaded is very, very important, as is cutting it short if things start to get too hot. Those pearly white sand dunes reflect the rays and can greatly increase chances of being sunburned on the sly, so we usually don’t hang out more than a couple of hours.
Beach Going Tips:
Splash Pads: Splash pads are an awesome way to not feel guilty about only spending thirty or forty minutes playing outdoors--there is little required prep, no lugging gear across sand, and NO SAND (well, for the most part.) There are five splash pads within a forty minute drive of Pensacola.
Pools: We are super fortunate to have close family friends with a pool (and outdoor bathroom) who live close by and leave their back gate open for us (please don’t hate). But, if we didn’t have the option of a pool, my top three picks for “public” pools would be:
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