Escambia County was inhabited by the Panzacola, Creek and Poarch Indians before Spanish explorers surveyed the land in 1559. Pensacola derives its name from the Panzacola tribe. Escambia County became Florida’s first official county in 1821. Early resident and former President Andrew Jackson became the first territorial governor. The Parks and Recreation Department manages over 70 sites and 600 acres in Escambia County. Bellview residents have access to multiple senior and community centers and an equestrian center, in addition to numerous athletic facilities. Residents journey to the Pensacola Greyhound Track and Five Flags Speedway to fulfill their cravings for races. The Pensacola Opera and Symphony provide the community with cultural enrichment. SpringFest, Fiesta of Five Flags, the Great Golf Coast Arts Festival, a seafood festival and a songwriters’ festival are some of the area’s annual events. Locals learn about the area’s history at the National Museum of Naval Aviation, Pensacola Historical Museum and Civil War Soldiers Museum. The National Museum of Naval Aviation features restored aircraft displays, flight simulators and informal tours. A 4,200-square-foot building houses a plethora of exhibits at the Civil War Soldiers Museum. Big Lagoon State Park, Blackwater River State Park and Fort Pickens State Park are perfect weekend getaways. Recreational fun abounds at these parks. The 590-acre Big Lagoon State Park is a swimming, hiking, fishing and boating haven. At Blackwater River State Park, residents pursue similar activities including canoeing, horseback riding and camping. This state park – located northeast of Bellview – is adjacent to the Conecuh National Forest and Eglin Air Force Base. These three places comprise the “largest holding of Long Leaf Pine trees in the world.” Fort Pickens State Park, near the National Seashore Aquatic Preserve and Pensacola Beach, consists of approximately 34,000 acres of land that are home to endangered and threatened birds.
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