What to do in Perdido Key, FL?

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Located on a thin strip of land in the extreme northwest corner of Florida, Perdido Key is known for  its rolling, white-sand dunes and stunning views of the calm gulf waters. Stretching 16 miles and surrounded by federal and state parks, it is connected on the east by bridge to the city of Pensacola and to the west by bridge to Orange Beach, Alabama.  So this town is within only 30 minutes either way of all the summertime commotion, yet it is secluded enough for relaxation in a laid-back beach atmosphere.

Using this spot as our home base for a week, we ventured out.  The weather was chilly and windy during the first few days, but that didn’t deter us from making our first and only stop in Florida for a while a busy one.  We plan to spend a lot more time exploring Florida next winter, but we now have a good feel for this part of the state.

Perdido Key

A glimpse of Perdido Key

Armed with a recommendation from Erin of Two to Travel’s Phaeton Journeys about the nearby Naval Air Station – home of the Blue Angels, we ventured out on a breezy Tuesday (with a windchill of 37 degrees) to watch them perform their air show practice.  We had seen them during an air show while still living in California, so this was our second show – but this one was free!  We enjoyed watching them soar overhead, performing their thrilling aerobatics.  On an unfortunate side note, we also learned this was their last week of rehearsals and shows, grounded as a result of federal budget cuts.  They won’t be seen in any air shows this year, so you will just have to enjoy my photos and imagine the deafening roar of the jets 🙂

Blue Angels

Blue Angels in upside down

Upside down!

The Blue Angels is the Navy’s famed precision flying team.  Their mission is to enhance Navy and Marine Corps recruiting, and credibly represent Navy and Marine Corps aviation to the United States and its Armed Forces to America and other countries as international ambassadors of good will.

Blue Angels

Blue Angels

It was very crowded at the Blue Angel’s rehearsal, which is held next door to the National Naval Aviation Museum.  It seemed like all of the spectators (well, the kids were still on spring break) also went to the National Naval Aviation Museum after the show.  This museum is the world’s largest Naval Aviation museum and one of the most-visited museums in the state of Florida.  And why not – free admission, free tours, free parking and free education and learning about all the cool stuff the Navy does.

Propellers or Screws

This propeller is made entirely of bronze and weighs over 27,000 pounds.

The museum is where naval aviation’s rich history and more than 150 beautifully restored aircraft representing Navy, Marine Corps, and Coast Guard Aviation are on display.

wpid11333-2013-03-26-FL-1370229.jpg

One cool thing we did was join the virtual Flight Deck Operations, Mission: Launch & Recover Aircraft aboard the USS Enterprise aircraft carrier.  After an explanation by a naval expert of how the steam-powered deck catapult works, we experienced the virtual ride which was complete with blowing wind and engine noise of the aircraft taking off and landing on the carrier deck.  That was really enjoyable, yet I would not dream of working there!

alabama national guard band

Alabama National Guard Band played some beautiful music at the museum.

Where else can you learn about the definition of a “Navy Shower”?

Navy Shower

Navy shower

And a pretend to disembark from Marine One…

Naval Air Museum

Hail to the chief! This is Richard Nixon’s actual Marine One helicopter.

There was so much to read and gawk at, we could have spent a whole day reading through all the plaques.  But after several hours our tummies were grumbling and we had big lunch plans.  Following another tip from Ayn of RoadLife, we drove to Peg Leg Pete’s restaurant to check out why it is so popular.  Although there was a long line when we arrived on a Tuesday at 1:00pm, we were seated within fifteen minutes.  And we weren’t disappointed, the seafood was excellent and very fresh.  They even served Guiness on tap – Steve loved it!

With satisfied, full tummies we continued our exploration by going back to the Naval Air Station where we visited two historic sites, Fort Barrancas and the Pensacola Lighthouse. Fort Barrancas sits on a bluff overlooking the entrance to Pensacola Bay.  The fort functioned with Fort Pickens and Fort McRee across the bay to create a brutal crossfire against any enemy warships.  Touring the Scarp Gallery, we noted a series of arches which at the time were applied by the military as the latest design.  This was state-of-the-art engineering, as these arches are extremely strong and hold up better than flat structures.

A Florida Landmark, the Pensacola Lighthouse rises 160 feet into the air and has towered over Pensacola Bay since 1858.  It is still in use today.  The lighthouse played a central role in local Civil War events.  We climbed the 177 steps to the top and were rewarded with a gorgeous view of the Naval Air Station, Ft Pickens and the white sandy beaches and aquamarine waters of Pensacola Bay.

Pensacola Lighthouse

Pensacola Lighthouse

Stairway in the lighthouse-177 steps in all

Views seen from the top of the  lighthouse.

Fort Pickens

Fort Pickens

Pensacola Lighthouse

Naval Air Station

Pensacola Bay

Pensacola Bay

Next up: More activities at Perdido Key!

20 thoughts on “What to do in Perdido Key, FL?

  1. Many thanks for this webpage, can blissfully declare
    we currently have a steam shower of our own and we think it’s great

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  2. I’m way behind on reading your blog, but I wanted to say that your picture of Steve atthetop of the stairs in the lighthouse is totally awesome. I love the dark & light and the textures. Wow!

    It sure looks and sounds like you are enjoying all that you do.

    Susan & Bob

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  3. Your photos are just stunning Mona! I had no idea there was so much to do in Florida. We are now settled into Ohio (brrr) assisting my husband’s parents so we will just have to live vicariously through a few of you for the next several months.

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  4. Wow, looks like a fascinating place. I have to add this to stuff to see when we head east again someday. Great shots of the Blue Angels!

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  5. What a great description of our communityand some of our best assets.
    Thanks. And please hurry back.

    Mark O’Brien

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  6. Ah, and to think Al learned how to fly there at the Pensacola Naval Air Station. AND he flew on and off carriers…..crazy guy. He looks forward to showing me around his old stomping grounds one of these days. Awesome photos of the Blue Angels!

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    • Now that is soo cool, Wow, I am glad I have met Al, a pilot that has been on and off carriers! When you do go, Perdido Key is the place to be and its away from the crowds.

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  7. Glad you got to see the Blue Angels for a second time and such spectacular photos to remember them by. Looks like we’re going to have to wait to see them in closer proximity than we did last time. Darn! Wasn’t the food at Peg Leg Pete’s great … they had the best shrimp when we dined there in January.

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    • The seafood we had were really fresh and tasty. Yup, no Blue Angels this year. Thanks again for your ideas.

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  8. Just a fabulous set of shots! Totally dig the Blue Angels. You’re making me miss Florida now.
    Nina

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  9. I guess it was a good thing we saw the Blue Angels when we were in FL. We were staying in Miramar Beach and had to set the alarm so we could get up and drive the hour and half to make the practice. We loved the museum, also. It really is a very neat place. It was very crowded the day we were there (it was April) and there was no Spring Break!

    I love the picture from the top of the lighthouse…a perfect post card!

    I have never heard of Perdido Key. Sounds like a place to visit.

    I really miss fresh seafood. Your platter looked so wonderful!

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    • Thank you.
      We were only 20 mins away from NAS but we were really freezing out there that morning. Perdido Key is usually overshadowed by other destinations such as Destin or Pensacola and we are glad we found this little place.

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