20 Best Things to Do in Perdido Key

Perdido Key
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Perdido Key is an unincorporated island community located in Escambia County, Florida.

It lies between Pensacola, Florida, and Orange Beach, Alabama, and it is connected to the mainland by bridges.

The name ‘Perdido’ literally translates to ‘lost’ in Spanish and Portuguese.

In their quest to find the inland water bodies in Pensacola Bay, Spanish explorers led by cartographer Carlos de Sigüenza y Góngora were blown off course in 1693.

They were spotted by a native Indian chief in Bear Point who offered to help them to the elusive inland waters.

Hence, the name 'Perdido' means ‘lost’ or ‘hidden.’

Perdido Key is now an exciting island getaway with pristine beaches, protected wildlife parks, and endless opportunities for outdoor activities!

If you choose to visit Perdido Key, there are many things for you to do on this island.

Gulf Islands National Seashore/ Rosamond Johnson Beach

Gulf Islands National Seashore
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Sit back, relax, and sunbathe on the pristine white sands of Rosamond Johnson Beach.

The beach's blue waters are a part of the Gulf Islands National Seashore.

There is also a half-mile, wheelchair-accessible, self-guided nature trail near the beach that passes by salt marsh through a maritime forest!

A haven for wildlife enthusiasts, the beach's shores are an excellent place for spotting birds and animals.

The beach is home to blue herons, sea turtles, loggerhead turtles, gopher tortoises, Atlantic bottlenose dolphins, starfish, crabs, and ray fish.

There are also more than 300 species of birds here!

Rosamond Johnson Beach
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While the beach offers you opportunities to engage in an array of outdoor and seaside activities, the environment can also be inhospitable at times.

When visiting Johnson Beach, you will have to look out for intense sunlight, strong evening winds, rip currents, as well as sharks and jellyfish.

Be sure to abide by the warning posts on the beach.

Fort McRee

Fort McRee
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Located on the eastern end of Perdido Key, Johnson Beach is also home to Fort McRee.

The fort is located on the eastern tip of the beach and is only accessible by boat or by foot.

A historic military fort, Fort McRee was constructed to defend Pensacola Bay and its natural harbor.

Today, the remains of the fort are open to visitors.

The remains are an opportunity for you to discover the Gulf Islands National Shore's local coastal military history.

Battery Center in Fort McRee

If you’re a history enthusiast, the Battery Center in Fort McRee on the eastern end of Perdido Key is the place for you.

The Battery Center is a historic landmark that offers low-key and straightforward adventures and sights for visitors.

Constructed in 1899, the landmark is a coastal artillery battery named after the Lieutenant John P. Center, adjutant to the 6th U.S.Infantry.

He died in the battle of Okeechobee, Florida, on 25th December 1837 during the Second Seminole War.

The battery construction was completed in 1901 and was deactivated from use in 1920.

The Center is accessible by boat or by hiking up to Fort McRee on the eastern tip of Johnson Beach.

Big Lagoon

Big Lagoon
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Located just north of Perdido Key, the Big Lagoon State Recreation Area is a 678-acre state that opened in 1978.

The park is a natural habitat for various birds and animals, such as waterfowls, herons, gray foxes, skunks, opossums, and raccoons.

Pelican at Big Lagoon
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The park has more than 75 campsites, a 500-seater amphitheater, five picnic sites with shelters, and a dock with boat ramps.

It also boasts an observation tower that offers panoramic views of the Big Lagoon and Gulf Islands National Seashore, boardwalks, and nature trails.

There is also a Cookie Trail that the Girl Scouts manage!

Perdido Key State Recreation Area

Spread over 247 acres on a barrier island, the Perdido Key State Recreation Area is a perfect spot for fishing and camping.

You will have to obtain a saltwater fishing license from the park authorities before fishing here.

There are picnic shelters for campers and visitors between the Gulf coast and the Old River to the north of the Perdido Key community.

Bon Secour National Wildlife Refuge

Bon Secour National Wildlife Refuge
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The Bon Secour National Wildlife Refuge is a sanctuary for native flora and fauna around Perdido Key.

The name Bon Secour comes from the French words meaning ‘safe’ or ‘good harbor.’

It was established as a safe habitat for a wide variety of plants and animals.

It is home to Kemp’s Ridley sea turtles, gray foxes, blue herons, beach mice, loggerhead turtles, migratory songbirds, and other animals.

The Wildlife Refuge is also an educational site and a recreation center that offers wild-life educational programs and resources for visitors, students, and scientists.

Bon Secour National Wildlife Refuge
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Tarkiln Bayou Preserve

Tarkiln Bayou Preserve
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The Tarkiln Bayou Preserve is a wet prairie habitat that is home to several species of endangered plants and animals.

You can hike or have a picnic in the Preserve and observe the plants and animals along the way.

The Preserve is known to have at least four species of endangered picture plants, including the unique carnivorous white-top pitcher plant, which is only found between the Apalachicola and Mississippi rivers!

Tarkiln Bayou Preserve
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Home to over 100 species of endangered plants and animals, you will also spot the alligator snapping turtle, sweet pitcher plant, and Chapman’s Butterwort in the Preserve.

Alabama Coastal Birding Trail

Alabama Coastal Birding Trail
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The Alabama Coastal Birding Trail is about a 24-minute drive from Perdido Key.

It is a paradise for birds along the coast.

If you are a keen bird-watcher, the Alabama Coastal Birding Trail is a perfect daytime activity.

There are a variety of ways to watch birds here on the trail.

Be ready to be awed as you watch pelicans nose-dive into the Gulf and herons fly by past the bay waters into the sunset!

Alabama Coastal Birding Trail
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Alabama Gulf Coast Zoo

Alabama Gulf Coast Zoo
Acdixon, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons

A little ahead of the Alabama Coastal Birding Trail is the Alabama Gulf Coast Zoo.

It is about 28 minutes from Perdido Key.

A safe space for endangered wild animals, the zoo also offers free educational programs for visitors throughout the year to teach them about wildlife conservation and preservation.

Most of the species in the zoo are near extinction.

You can also join their efforts in preserving endangered wildlife in the coastal habitat.

National Naval Aviation Museum

National Naval Aviation Museum
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The National Naval Aviation Museum is just 30 minutes away from Perdido Key.

Spread over 32,000 square meters, this is one of the world's largest space and air aviation museums!

It is also one of the most visited museums in Florida.

The museum has over 4,000 artifacts and 150 restored aircraft from the U.S.Navy, Marine Corps, and Coast Guard Aviation.

You will undoubtedly have an immersive experience through the IMAX theater, interactive cockpits, flight simulators, and enjoy photo opportunities with real Blue Angels aircraft.

It shares a space with the Blue Angels squadron, and you may even be lucky enough to be treated to a performance!  

National Naval Aviation Museum
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Entry is free.

You can spend an entire day from 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM discovering aviation marvels!

Since the museum is located in a military base, make sure that you carry your ID if you are over 16 years old.

Lost Key Golf Club

Go golfing at the Lost Key Golf and Beach Club!

Located in the 300-acre natural preserve along the Gulf of Mexico, the Lost Key Golf Club is an impressive 18-hole golf course designed by Arnold Palmer.

It is an idyllic setting for this sport as it nestles amongst lush green preserves away from the sunny and sandy beaches of the Florida Coast.

You can spend your hours here golfing with friends or relaxing in the club.

Dolphin Tales

If you visit Perdido Key with kids or family, you should definitely book a boat tour by Dolphin Tales.

Dolphin Tales offers cruise tours along the coast for dolphin watching.

These tours are affordable and provide an exciting opportunity for the entire family to cruise right alongside the dolphins in Alabama’s Gulf Coast!

The captains of the cruises are well-informed, and they make sure that your family has a wonderful time on the cruise.

You can spot dolphins and other sea creatures during the cruise.

A bonus is that these family-friendly cruises are also eco-friendly and can be booked directly from Perdido Bay!

Perdido Kids Park

The Perdido Kids Park is just off the Gulf Beach Highway and is a great place to take your kids after a boat cruise or a day at the National Aviation Museum.

This park is designed to be every child’s dream park!

It has intricately designed wooden playgrounds and forts, including a lighthouse, planes, swings, and slides.

There are plenty of activities and toys to choose from here.

Your children will definitely have a fun-filled and exciting evening at the park.

Pensacola Lighthouse and Maritime Museum

Pensacola Lighthouse and Maritime Museum
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Built in 1859, the Pensacola Lighthouse makes for an exciting visit.

It offers panoramic scenic views of the gulf coast.

An activity for the entire family, the lighthouse is open from 10:00 AM to 4:00 PM except for Mondays and Thursdays.

There is a maritime museum here featuring artifacts and exhibits from maritime activities.

You can learn about maritime history, explore artifacts or participate in the events, and enjoy the maritime museum's activities throughout the year.

The lighthouse makes for a great day visit around Perdido Key.

Hugh S.Branyon Backcountry Trail

The Hugh S.Branyon Backcountry Trail is a beautiful complex of six different ecosystems and seven distinct nature trails.

You can walk or cycle through the trails.

The complex is also home to ‘lefty,’ the trail’s resident alligator in the gator swamp of the Rosemary Dunes trail.

There is also a butterfly garden with vibrant blooms and colorful social butterflies.

This trail makes for a great activity for the entire family.

You can have a picnic here under a canopied area just outside the butterfly garden.

The kids can also explore the boulder rock-climbing playground right next to the picnic area.

Twisted Palms Salty Adventures

If you’re feeling slightly adventurous and in the mood for fishing and boating, then you can book an adventure with Twisted Palms Salty Adventures.

This is one of the most trusted agencies in Perdido Key for all your adventure needs.

You can book fishing charters, eco-friendly dolphin watching cruises, family-friendly floats, and play excursions for your kids too!

The tours are affordable and can be designed to meet your unique needs for adventure, fishing, or boating.

Uninhabited Island Kayaking Adventure

If you are in the mood to explore some uninhabited islands on the gulf coast, then head on over to Uninhabited Island Kayaking Adventure.

You will be geared up with life jackets and paddles to kayak to uninhabited islands full of wildlife and coastal flora.

This is an exciting opportunity to view nesting coastal birds, such as herons, ospreys, crabs, and other marine wildlife.

You can even take a rest and swim and explore on your own.

You don’t require advanced skills in kayaking.

This activity is perfect for beginners and will excite all nature lovers!

Pensacola Scavenger Hunt

For the tech-savvy and digitally inclined individuals, Pensacola Scavenger Hunt is an app-based activity to help you explore the historical and cultural side of Perdido Key.

This app-led experience does not require any guides or reservations.

You will be able to take on interactive roles through the app as you explore Perdido Key and learn new facts about the community.

All you have to do is download the Let’s Roam Scavenger Hunt app on your smartphone and begin exploring the city with your family or with a small group of friends!

You can even compete against other groups and learn on the go as you take photos, navigate streets, and visit landmarks on the go.

A unique and off-beat activity, the Pensacola Scavenger Hunt is definitely worth a try.

Shrimp Basket Perdido Key

You cannot leave the gulf coast without devouring some delectable seafood!

Shrimp Basket in Perdido Key has got all your seafood needs covered.

The seafood, from mouth-watering seafood baskets and platters to fish grills, crab cakes, and shrimp tacos, Shrimp Basket, only uses the freshest ingredients.

This casual restaurant is a perfect night out dining with the entire family!

The Wharf at Orange Beach

Wharf at Orange Beach
divemasterking2000, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The Wharf is a family-friendly entertainment district in Orange Beach.

There is a wide range of exciting activities here for the entire family.

You can play laser tag in the indoor arena, watch a film at the 15-screen cinema, and play a host of arcade games at the Sharky’s Family Adventure Center.

At sunset, the lights illuminate the main street, and the music brings joy among people.

The Wharf also hosts kids’ nights in the summers with live animals and events, such as face-painting, sports, and music.

The Wharf, certainly, will not disappoint you!