Pensacola area

On our way to Louisiana, we overnighted at a couple of Walmart locations in Florida (a big thanks to them for allowing this). We toured the state capital museum in Tallahassee which was free and worthy of a couple of hours.  It was Sunday and the state legislature was not in session for the year yet, so we were able to park right downtown for free.

Florida State Capitol Museum

Florida State Capitol Museum

Defuniak Springs, FL was our next stop which is a beautiful town with well-kept older homes around a big lake and the downtown area built next to a rail line.  It would be a great place to park and ride the bikes. We didn’t take the time since we wanted to see some of the beaches in the Panhandle before going to Pensacola.

To get to Pensacola, we headed south on Highway 331 to Highway 98 to drive on what I thought would be a beach view road (at least it looked like it on the map).  Turns out that most of the trip to Pensacola along this route gives a view of the restaurants, bike rental shops, bars and tattoo shops in Destin, Ft. Walton Beach, etc – very little sight of the water.

Emerald water - white sand

Emerald water – white sand

We just happened to see a sign for Topsail Hill Preserve State Park in Santa Rosa Beach, FL and we’ve heard from other campers we’ve met that this is a great park with a killer beach.  The ranger was very accommodating and said we could look around the park.   It is large – almost 200 RV and tent sites and has over 3 miles of undeveloped beach.  They run a free tram every hour to take people from campground to beach because you can’t drive to the beach.  We made a quick sandwich and did a ‘walking lunch’ the 1 1/2 miles to the beach. (Just think, seven months ago, we were doing business lunches:)) We could see why it is one of the most popular parks in Florida.  Natural dunes, white powdery sand, no condos or high rises and emerald water put it on our ‘have to go back’ list.

Natural Dunes on National Seashore on a foggy day

Natural Dunes on National Seashore on a foggy day

National Seashore drive view

National Seashore drive view

After leaving the park, we traveled to Navarre and turned off on Rte 339 to travel the road that runs along the gulf of Mexico on a barrier island through a portion of the Gulf Shores National Seashore.  The road runs about 10 miles through the park and we didn’t have to pay any entrance fees – there was not even a pay booth except at a couple of day use areas.  This stretch of the National Seashore is beautiful – tall dunes and no development along the water views.  There is a bike path along the road so you can ride your bike or walk after parking in one of the turnoff parking areas.

The beaches took more of our time than we planned, so we only had two hours to visit the Naval Air Museum near downtown Pensacola.  We thought since it was free that it would be small which was wrong-o.  It was a marvelous museum with hundreds of airplanes on display inside and outside with interesting historical exhibits.  Another place to add to our ‘back track’ list.

Naval museum sculpture

Naval museum sculpture

Bi plane

Bi plane

So cool how the wings fold up for aircraft carrier storage

So cool how the wings fold up for aircraft carrier storage

Skylab2

Skylab2

Blue Angels are based in Pensacola

Blue Angels are based in Pensacola

Next stop Louisiana!

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One Response to Pensacola area

  1. Mark Seneker says:

    I had read in another blog there is an air craft carrier open for tour in Pensacola as well. I’m looking forward to visiting the same places. Thanks for sharing.

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