National Naval Aviation Museum, Pensacola
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National Naval Aviation Museum is an impressive museum with enormous fighter planes, including Blue Angels jets! Exhibits tell you some interesting stories about World War II and Vietnam. There is a street full of atmosphere that takes you back to the 1940s, where you can walk into a corner grocery store and see all the food items you would find back then- this is so much fun! The Pearl Harbor area has a World War II-era bar with a sign: beer for 10c and "ice?...forget about it!"
A fun exhibit about George Bush talks about his military career and shows notes written by his supervisor in March 1943: "Aviation cadet Bush is an upstanding lad with great self-confidence. It appears however that he may be somewhat eccentric."
The real raft upon which Pastula, Dixon, and Aldrich survived for 34 days at sea living solely on rainwater and fish (and a little coconut, shark, and bird meat) is displayed. They steered themselves toward allied islands using their memory of maps, and eventually landed on an allied island, Puka Puka atoll.
There should be some little flaps for kids to lift, buttons, and other touchable things at the bottom of each exhibit so parents can have a chance to read the info on each board while their kids explore.
Kids love the children's area in the middle of the museum, where they can run around the command tower of an aircraft carrier boat with a twisty slide at the top.
Admission is free but there are extra things for a fee, such as simulator rides (kids love these though they aren't that impressive for adults) and IMAX movies (always fun to do).
The Cubi Bar Cafe is an easy place to eat (go at 11am because the waitlist gets long) right in the museum, and though it looks like the food will be awful it's actually good. The soup or chili is great (you'll need it because the AC is very cold in the museum), as is the apple pie.
There is a second hangar with more planes and an interesting and sad exhibit about prisoners of war in Vietnam.
On most Tuesdays and Wednesdays at 11:30am the Blue Angels practise just outside the museum. It's fun to gather with the huge crowd and watch them. They fly so incredibly close together- it's amazing! Bring an umbrella as there's no shade. Also bring ear plugs. Here is the 2015 practise schedule.
Run through the tunnels at Fort Barrancas, which is half a mile east on the base.
If you like science, you should also bring your school-aged kids to Pensacola Mess Hall while in the area. Also fun is a drive to Pensacola Beach to build a sandcastle in the white sand.
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National Naval Aviation Museum is located at 1750 Radford Blvd, Pensacola FL 32506, call (800) 327-5002.
Open daily 9-5. Closed Jan 1, Thanksgiving (fourth Thurs in Nov), and Dec 25.
Admission is free. Free parking. Simulators and IMAX movies are for a fee.
Adults 16 years and older must present valid ID. No backpacks.
Cubi Bar Cafe open 11-3. IMAX movie times every hour, first one at 10, last one at 4.
This is an interactive map, you can zoom and move it.
Overall Visitor Rating: Unrated.