Florida’s Space Coast has the right stuff for an astronaut vacation! From space program history and stories around every corner to hidden gems frequented by cosmic explorers, and astronaut-worthy attractions, here’s how you can spend your day like an astronaut on Florida’s Space Coast.
Cruise Around like an Astronaut
When you’ve navigated the cosmos in a spacecraft, no normal car will do. Astronauts tend to drive around these parts in their custom Corvettes. And so can you! Rent one when you land at Melbourne Orlando International Airport, from Instant Luxury Rentals. With many convenient locations around the Space Coast, you’ll be able to ride in style and explore the area just like the astronauts.
Want something spacey but a little more compact? Space Coast Slingshots rents Polaris Slingshots for guided tours of the area or just to cruise around in. While you won’t be pulling any G-force on the A1A, it’s still a stellar way to get around the Space Coast.
Eat like an Astronaut
Here on the Space Coast, we like to fuel up before we have fun. Start with the famous pre-launch breakfast of Steak and Eggs at Sunrise Diner in Cocoa Beach or Too Cool Cafe in Indian Harbor Beach. Then make like Gemini 3 Astronaut, John Young and smuggle a Ruben Sandwich into your picnic basket. Looking for a real Space Coast delicacy? Whenever you see a Mahi Ruben on ANY menu, order it! Trust us, your dining options on the Space Coast are better than anything you can get on the ISS.
Adult Astronauts can enjoy a drink at one of the final remnants of the Space Race. The Mouse Trap Bar at the Cocoa Beach Fish Camp Grill is where astronauts used to belly-up before blasting off. Back in the 60s and 70s, this building was known as The Mouse Trap and while the original restaurant has since closed, it’s been replaced by an incredible Old-Florida-style Fish Camp. The bar in the middle has held onto some memorabilia like the tin ceiling, mirrors, and stained glass our first astronauts peered into, and gazed upon as they got ready to take flight!
You cannot live a day like an astronaut on the Space Coast without freeze-dried ice cream. Thankfully you can grab this at the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex, but we can do you one better! Follow @CosmosIceCreamTruck on Facebook and Instagram to find out where the world’s largest ice cream truck is while you’re on vacation. This double-decker bus is serving up some of the coldest, creamiest, out-of-this-world nitrogen-infused ice cream on the planet. There are some perks to keeping your feet on the ground, and ice cream is one of them!
Launches and Lagers
Looking for the perfect beer to pair with your launch experience? Check out this incredible Launches and Lagers guide from the Economic Development Commission of Florida’s Space Coast. It will help you decide which of our local craft brews you’ll want in hand as you prepare for launch!
Sleep like an Astronaut
Book a stay at the La Quinta Inn Cocoa Beach-Port Canaveral. What’s so amazing about this La Quinta? Well, it’s got a story to tell, originally called the Cape Colony Resort it is remembered as the home of the Mercury 7 during their mission of becoming America’s first astronauts. You can find signage dedicated to them, a mural of their famous photo in their spacesuits, and other photos from the era in the lobby. Relax by the pool with a copy of Tom Wolfe’s book, enjoy some classic shuffleboard, and head outside to #LookUp for an incredible view of a rocket launch.
Want a true space-race feel? Beachside Hotel and Suites in Cocoa Beach has been retro remodeled to pay homage to the space and surf culture of the Space Coast back in the 1960s. With serious art-deco, Magic City vibes, this quaint hotel will take you back to a time before we landed a man on the moon, with a lazy river and tiki bar, the Duck Dive! We like to call that a lounge and launch.
Explore Cocoa Beach Like an Astronaut
Known as the Last Stop Before Space, Cocoa Beach is where astronauts and their families enjoy their time before launching to the stars. Stroll down the Westgate Cocoa Beach Pier like Alan Shepard, and head to his park located behind Ron Jon Surf Shop, to enjoy the sun, sand, and surf.
See the Space Coast Like an Astronaut
While you may not be able to see what the astronauts see in the last moments before launch, you can come close with a biplane or helicopter tour from Florida Air Tours and Beachside Helicopters. Choose a Space Center Package to soar over the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex for a unique view and also fly down the Space Shuttle landing runway. While you’re up there, you’ll notice the beautiful Indian River Lagoon and Merritt Island Wildlife Refuge! You won’t find views like this anywhere else in the world.
Check out the Exploration Tower
For another panoramic view of the Space Coast, head to Port Canaveral and head to the top of the Exploration Tower. You’ll see launch pads, the jetty, cruise ships, and on special days rocket parts making their way to and from the Kennedy Space Station. If you can’t get enough of those views, head to any of the restaurants in The Cove for fresh seafood, live music, and cool drinks!
Experience History at the American Space Museum
The American Space Museum and Space Walk of Fame in Downtown Titusville is a space museum curated with artifacts and memorabilia donated by astronauts and their families, and all the men and women that made the Space Program in the USA possible. Their collection includes the actual (and still working) launch controls from the Space Shuttle and Atlas-Centaur missions, pieces of the shuttles, launch suits, concept drawings, models, and so much more. You’ll also learn about the significance of the collection from space program-workers-turned-docents who took us to the moon and back! True space fanatics will LOVE this stop.
Stroll down the Space Walk of Fame
When you’re done at the American Space Museum, you’ll find their Space Walk of Fame right down the street. It begins at Space View Park, named in part for the spectacular views of launches across the river from Kennedy Space Center. Here, you’ll find stunning monuments for each of the space programs up to the Shuttle program and includes bronze handprints of famous astronauts. If you check this spot out on a launch day, you’ll find local celebrity, Ozzie Osband, giving a full mission rundown including where to look, and what to expect. It’s a great, free activity for the whole family and one of the best spots on the Space Coast to see the launch!
Visit Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex
You can’t come to the Space Coast and not check out the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex. This must-stop attraction features real rockets, the Space Shuttle Atlantis, a launch simulator, bus tours through active launch pads, and so much more. You will want to plan to stay all day to see and experience everything in the Complex – trust us. Amplify your experience by adding on an Astronaut Training Experience to see if you’ve you’ve got what it takes to join the ranks! Or, plan on seeing a launch from the Apollo/Saturn V Center. You’ll have to become an astronaut to get any closer to the liftoff!
View a Launch
Only Here! The cherry on the top of every Space Coast Vacation is to witness a rocket launch. It’s simply the best way to experience all of the Space Coast. While you can #LookUp to see a launch from anywhere here, we’ve made a few recommendations with this Google Map. We’ve pinned NASA’s Favorite spots, the best spots for a night launch, the best restaurants to launch and lunch at, and fun experiences like watching the launch while on an eco-tour of the Indian River Lagoon. Save it to your places for the next time you’re headed to the Space Coast for an astronaut experience!
When’s the next launch? Download the Launch Console app from the Google Play and App Store to keep current with the launch schedule here on the Space Coast. It includes 24-hour reminders, T-5 minutes notifications, a live feed of the launch, and even a compass to make sure you’re looking in the right direction! It’s free, and a great way to learn more about the space fight activity launching from Cape Canaveral!
If you wanted to be an astronaut when you grew up, and are in love with all things space, come live your dream here on the Space Coast. There are more than a few experiences that will bring you closer to the stars that your family will remember forever. Don’t wait, launch into your next vacation today!