Pensacola is the place that I remember as a kid where the waves crashed above my head. I also remember the breeze over sunburned skin. And over before we could dig our heels in, normally because we would go for a day or maybe just the weekend.
Going this time was a bit different. The weather was warm at first but then it rained a lot and it got cooler. So we did not make it to the beach to play in the water but we did get to walk in the sand. Boy is the sand like fine white sugar, soft and cool.
PENSACOLA MESS HALL
Another win for the WNC membership we purchased. The entry was free but if you have to pay, it’s really inexpensive. The space is really small but packed with tons of learning and hands on experiences. My boys particularly loved playing with the parachute and air tunnels. It was amazing for them to see what sound waves look like when you change the frequency and loudness.
We did not grab a Mess Kit with experiments for kids to try. My boys are a little too young for it but I was able to watch another kid use one. They are rotated out so if you have a membership, there’s going to be something new to try.
Important Tip- definitely use the directions from the website. I drove around a bit before stopping to visit them again. It’s behind Caldwell Associates Architects. THAT made a huge difference. Once I located that, I saw the MESS HALL sign.
NATIONAL NAVAL AVIATION MUSEUM
Free. Cannot get a better price than that, of course, donations are always welcome. This family loves airplanes and space. And the National Aviation Museum delivers. We spent all day here and still could have gone back for another visit. There are planes available for people to sit in and take pictures. And for little boys to pretend they are flying. It was hard to get them out of some of them.
HISTORIC MUSEUMS/CHILDREN’S MUSEUM
If you go on Sunday, only the T.T. Wentworth is open however you will pay half price and be able to visit the rest of the museums for a week or take the walking tour. We didn’t do the tour because of the weather and well, two kids under 5 aren’t really history walk ready. Too bad because the brief walkthrough made me want to go back.
T.T. Wentworth gives you the history of Pensacola. The building itself is very beautiful. And there’s a lot of archeological finds discovered locally. It’s amazing how much of it was found. Plus a petrified cat, a weird petrified cat that the namesake couldn’t get rid of after it was found in the walls of a home.
The bottom of the Children’s Museum is a bunch of fun. There’s a shop area, homes, and a big ship in the middle. Kids can play dress up or pretend they are pirates. We spent a good amount of time before going upstairs. Upstairs had even more hands on play which was perfect for me to be able to read about each section. Kids distracted and mommy learns, perfect combination.
Gearing up for Mardi Gras time was easy in Pensacola. There are parades in the different areas. Our first little taste was the Pirates of Lost Treasure Flotilla in Perdido Key. Normally, the Krewe is on their ships but the windy weather made the beaded pirates come shore side. While we waited for the parade to show up, we family took up a table at Hub Stacey’s at the Pointe. Hub Stacey’s is the kind of place you want to frequent if you are a local. The severs are friendly and accommodating and the food is amazing while being well priced.
The Pirates came in a bus, trucks, and jeeps. The wind could not keep the spirit of festivities down. Trucks were adorned with beads and all things carnival. And the members were dressed in their costumes. It was pretty cool to watch the boys catch things on the same level as the Pirates. They received a lot of attention since it was a small party. You could tell the members have a great time giving out throws and seeing their neighbors.
The next week, Navarre Beach had their parade. It was a lot like parades in the New Orleans area. Floats, Shriners, and tons of throws. The bridge closes a few hours before the parade starts and quite honestly, if you don’t have a parking spot by 9 am, you might as well park along the bridge. Had we known, we may have tried to park the RV closer.
FIVE FLAGS RV PARK
Perfect location off the highway! This is a gem of a RV Park. Nik helped us get into our RV space. And by help, the ground was a little soft and we didn’t have leveling blocks yet, he got us some bricks and helped to place them under the stabilizers. He also helped us get our sewer and water hooked up. First time ever that this has happened.
The owners are new and are really making this park memorable. Little trolley cars house the laundry, which you use tablets to track your laundry usage and pay at the end of your stay. There are games like corn hole and horseshoe to play. During our stay, they were cleaning up the trees. Perfect timing since the rain started shortly after and a bonus for the boys to watch the big machines mulch the branches.
If we go through Pensacola again this will be where we will stay. There’s no doubt about it.
Nowhere else can compare to New Orleans. People have always said this whenever I say I’m from the area. Even though you can see similar architecture elsewhere, it doesn’t have the same feel in those places. And while many, many restaurants outside of New Orleans try to replicate the food, it’s never the same.
This is a great indoor place to take kids. Kids can learn about how their bodies work or which pulley system makes it easier to pull themselves up. There’s a place for the kids to pretend they work at a restaurant and can get patrons food and beverages and a wonderful area for shopping in a mini grocery store.
The art area is amazing. We’ve been a few times and each time has been something different. The most recent visit allowed the kids to make Mardi Gras masks using paint and different media. The volunteers and employees are really hands on.
If you plan on going to all of these attractions, you may want to purchase a group pass or even to purchase a yearly pass, especially if you want to go more than once. There isn’t any reciprocity with any other zoos, a huge bummer but it is worth going.
Our oldest has a fascination with bugs. The Insectarium definitely fills that love. You can touch some bugs, look at others in their habitats and even eat some bugs. That’s right, bugs are on the menu. Some are in cookies, some are dips, or even plainly seasoned. Not everyone liked eating them this time but trying is always a good option.
Audubon Zoo is pretty large. Lucky the weather is pretty nice during our visits and not too humid. We went twice and still could have gone back a few more times to just sit longer in each area. Of course, the boys wanted to stay in the playground as long as possible. Sadly, the carousel and Cool Zoo were not working during our visit.
The Aquarium is so perfectly located. You can see the Mississippi River and could go to the Riverwalk or over to the rest of the shops. It’s near a bunch of parking lots, so it’s not too long of a walk and especially important if you have to carry kids.
Pro tip- park on the Westbank because it can be cheaper to ride the ferry instead of paying for parking. Plus, it’s totally fun for the kids. There’s a parking lot you can choose to stay in or park on the street. If you do have a RV, they do allow parking there but I’m not sure of the cost.
At our most recent stop, we had our plans changed in an instant through no control of our own. The fortunate bit was timing, as we hadn’t pushed off to our next campground and proximity to friends and family. The latter being the most helpful. That allowed us to explore more of New Orleans and also to have helping hands when the kids and I (wife) were sick while the hubster was out of town. We are still recouping from some of the changes before heading out to our next adventures.
This is a state park located a few miles out of New Orleans. It is in a safe neighborhood and is quickly accessible to New Orleans or Metairie. Of course, the only thing that does stink is not having sewer hookups. We still don’t have a portable RV grey tank so we have to move the RV every time the grey tank fills up, which happens faster than the black tank. It’s just an inconvenience but not a reason not to stay at Bayou Segnette.
The park spots all vary. Some are closer to shade trees which can help keep the temperature down during the hot months. Some have nicer concrete pads with decks. They are all pretty long spots and have a good bit of space between you and your neighbor.
Walking the trails, we were able to see tons of birds. The cardinals were very abundant. And since we were visiting during February, the weather was great for walking the trails. We do not have a boat but a few other campers had since there’s a boat launch and access to abundant Louisiana fishing. If you go during the summer, Bayou Segnette has a wave pool.
PONCHARTRAIN RV PARK
There is a lot of activity at this resort. There’s a restaurant, laundry facilities, a pool, and if you wanted, a shuttle to New Orleans. While we were happy to have sewer hookups, the drive to the park was a bit insane. There was a pothole that took up one side of the road and the park was in an industrial facility. The last little note, we had a flat tire on a Sunday. We notified management early on to see about leaving a little later, they required us to pay another night regardless of finding if we could get help yet. Maybe they knew, but we did wind up staying a few more nights.
Just two hours West of New Orleans, Lafayette has all of the Cajun charm without being in the Big Easy. The Downtown area is very clean (big difference to NOLA) but also way smaller. We were able to park and see the main bits within a couple of hours.
Of course, we had to hit the Children’s Museum of Acadiana while here. It’s a no brainer with two kids under five. The day that we chose to go was really busy due to a school field trip. We were offered half cost passes if we came later but I couldn’t accept them because the boys were ready to play. Plus, other kids make it easier for them to have fun.
The staff was really brilliant. They definitely controlled the chaos and kept the groups moving through the activities. While we were not part of the groups, they were still engaging my kids. One even showed the oldest how to use the cash register machine in the grocery store.
PIONEER ACADIAN VILLAGE
This park is right off the highway, you can even see it as you are taking the exit. The actual campgrounds are pretty large but there are not a lot of spots. Instead, you are able to have a good amount of space to spread out as well as take advantage of a huge soccer field to play in. While the actual playground equipment is small, our boys didn’t even notice it because there was a butterfly garden to explore and lots of bugs and frogs to try and catch. Both took turns grabbing grapefruit off the tree directly behind our rv. We had fresh squeezed juice almost every day. There were a few pecans on the ground but not enough to collect; I don’t think it was the right time of year for it.
The laundry and bathroom facilities are top notch. I kind of scoffed after I got off the phone when making reservations because the rep told me how awesome the facilities were. Normally, we don’t use the bathrooms but I made a point to go in there and yes, it was not only clean but very cozy and well thought out.
Not going to lie, there’s just too much going on in Houston. Nothing is really
LAKEVIEW RV RESORT
This resort is part of a chain of resorts in the Houston area. So picking one of them was solely based on location to our family. It was definitely a good pick. Resort RV parks can get a bad rap in the Fulltime Family community. Too many rules, too packed, too many weekenders… While I can understand their concerns, this park was pretty nice. Our first spot was across from the stocked lake and a short walk from their recreation room. There we were able to get coffee, FREE ice, and had access to a really nice laundry mat.
What an awesome idea, tons of kites in flight at Hermann Park Conservancy. The only bad part is when the weather doesn’t want to work out and the winds are only blowing for a minute at a time. Running downhill trying to pick up speed was fun though and we got a few free kites sponsored by the local grocery chain.
There’s a ton to do in Houston. TONS. But we wound up at the Children’s Museum of Houston twice because we didn’t get through everything. I’m almost certain that we probably could have gone another time and found even more things to do. What made this museum very special was the outdoor space. Most places have a small water table to play with but here you have the FlowWorks exhibit. Kids can create boats and see how closing off different access points will make it move. There’s a separate table with piping and joints to make geysers. Even better is the gigantic waterfall maker. The whole time the kids are playing, it’s gathering water in a huge red cauldron. They can even shoot water into it and when it gets completely full, it topples over and gets everything in its path wet!
1940 AIR TERMINAL MUSEUM
If you haven’t figured it out yet, the boys have a few keen interest. Space and airplanes. Being able to visit one of the original airports while in Houston was not going to be passed up. It’s hard to imagine that the building was at one point sitting in disrepair since now it looks almost as beautiful as it must have been back in the 40s.
There is planespotting outside. The week we were there, it was March Madness. Which meant, those who owned or could charter planes were flying in and storing their planes nearby. Lots of activity but even more special, one of the volunteers took us out on the tarmac. He explained the difference between the planes and was very passionate about them.
If you can’t get to Houston to visit but want to see what we did, there’s a cool 360video.
With some changes in our personal life, our 2016 potential travel map has certainly changed. We were planning on heading out to the West Coast and hoping to drift down to Florida in December. Now, we are not really certain what we want to do. Ideally, we’d like to stay mid to East Coast and while Florida is still a possibility, this could be changed too. If you have any suggestions on what we should see, please drop us a comment or send us a note on FaceBook. Extra helpers can let us know if there is a festival or event we HAVE to see or even the best time of year to visit.