Florida’s Space Coast is a sleepy beach community that moonlights as America’s gateway to the stars. When you’re there you’ll notice there’s not much traffic not much hustle or bustle, but rather tons of spaces to learn something new, explore the unexpected, and relax in pure paradise. If you’re thinking about visiting Florida’s Space Coast for the 1st time, here are some of our favorite things to do that you can only do there! Here’s what you NEED to add to your ultimate Space Coast bucket list.
Witness a Rocket Launch Up Close
The Space Coast is named the Space Coast because of America’s Space Program. Since it was established in 1962 the United States has been blasting rockets and astronauts to the stars, moon, mars, and beyond from the launchpads on the Cape Canaveral Space Force Station. In recent years companies like SpaceX and ULA have become integral parts of NASA’s programs and are launching both commercial and NASA missions nearly every week. When you visit the Space Coast, your chances of witnessing a rocket launch are very high. Check out the launch schedule at SpaceCoastLaunches.com or download our Launch Console app to find out if a launch is happening while you’re in town. Check out this map of all the best launch viewing locations on the Space Coast. Find your spot, get oriented at look up!
Visit Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex.
Whether you’ve seen a rocket launch or not, when you come to the Space Coast a definite bucket list item is the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex. This complex is beyond impressive and will take you through the United States’ journey to the stars. From Explorer One, the first satellite launched by NASA, to the upcoming Artemis missions, you’ll chronicle the major events that lead to our exploration of deep space. It’s amazing for guests of all ages! Air-conditioned buildings filled with awe-inspiring exhibits are a reprieve from the Florida heat and there are activities that both children and adults will enjoy and remember forever. If you can get there on launch day, you’re in for a treat!
Explore our Beaches
Beaches on the Space Coast are pretty incredible. Overall they are not the crowded shorelines you’ll find in other Florida destinations. Our buildings are small, the sand is expansive and perfect for sprawling beach chairs and umbrellas, and our rolling dunes provide shelter for all sorts of native wildlife. Busier beaches include Cocoa Beach, Indian Harbour Beach, and Indialantic where you’ll find ample beach rentals, surf shops, and parks with playgrounds and pavilions. You won’t need to bring a thing with you to enjoy these hot spots. Less crowded beaches include the Canaveral National Seashore, the Beaches of Patrick Space Force Base, and Melbourne Beach. You’ll want to pack a lunch and bring your chairs for some relaxed Space Coast fun in the sun at these locations.
Take a Surf Lesson
The Space Coast is also known as the Surfing Capital of the East Coast. We don’t just have hometown hero, Kelly Slater, to thank for that. Our consistent surfable waves, great weather year-round, and 72 miles of publicly accessible shoreline make for the perfect surfing storm. If you’re looking to learn to surf the Space Coast is where it’s at! There are tons of surf schools available for individual and group classes, you can even learn to surf from the likes of pro surfer Todd Holland. If the waves here are good enough for some of the best surfers in the world, you know your first time on a board will be an experience to remember when you learn to surf on the Space Coast.
Cruise From Port Canaveral
Port Canaveral is the busiest cruise port in the United States, with 5 popular cruise lines homeporting more than 10 ships embarking on your dream vacation from the Space Coast is easy. Many area hotels offer packages that allow you to park your car, shuttle you to and from the cruise terminals, and even to and from the airports (MLB & MCO)! Once you’re here, you can relax and enjoy your time on the decks of some incredible waterfront restaurants in The Cove. Sip a tiki drink while you watch other cruises embark. Savor fresh seafood as you see the ships that caught it unload today’s catch. Sit back as rocket boosters glide by on drone ships. All before you head over to efficient and easy-to-navigate cruise terminals to board your ship. It’s like a pre-vacation vacation when you cruise from Port Canaveral.
Experience the Brevard Zoo
The Brevard Zoo is one of the best zoos in the United States. Seriously, they’ve been voted in the top five zoos in the South East for the past 3 years by USA Today Travel and once you step foot inside you’ll see why. This manageable zoo is easy to spend the whole day in. Interactive and immersive loops feature animals from Africa, Australia, Florida, and South America. It’s accessible and easy to walk for little kids in your group. But what sets the Brevard Zoo aside from any others are the affordable add-on adventures that allow you to get closer to the animals than you’d ever imagine. Kayaking in the Nyami Nyami River takes you through the Expedition Africa exhibit. You’re literally paddling past giraffes, ostrich, and zebras INSIDE their enclosure! When you do a TreeTop Trek, you’re traversing a self-guided rope & zipline course through the jungles of Rainforest Revealed amongst the spider monkeys. They have an Indian River Lagoon Splash pad for the kids to cool off in, right next to a tank of lagoon-native species too. There are so many more check out their website and be amazed. It’s a must-do on the bucket list
You can also feel good about your visit to the Brevard Zoo because they are one of the most dedicated activists on the Space Coast when it comes to wildlife and habitat restoration and conservation. Their Restore Our Shores program partners with local restaurants to reclaim oyster shells that are returned to the water to improve the health of our Indian River Lagoon. They recently created a Manatee Task Force that goes out to help injured or distressed manatees. The Brevard Zoo is a must-stop when you’re visiting the Space Coast.
Navigate the Indian River Lagoon
The Indian River Lagoon is one of the most incredible aspects of the Space Coast. This biodiverse estuary is home to dolphins, manatees, and many species of fish. You can also see an impressive array of native and migratory birds feeding and relaxing in its waters. You can experience this lagoon in so many ways while you’re here too! Hop on an eco-tour for a guided, relaxed experience. A kayak tour is also a fun, active way to explore mangrove tunnels and have close encounters with marine mammals and comb jellies. Feeling like exploring on your own? Kayak and Boat Rental operations are all over the Space Coast. They will get you outfitted with all the gear and know-how you need to explore the Lagoon on your own!
• All about Dolphins on the Space Coast
• Space Coast Manatee Field Guide
Paddle through Bioluminescence
Speaking of the Indian River Lagoon, every year the Space Coast is an epicenter of the natural phenomenon of bioluminescence. When you visit between June and October you can book a bioluminescence tour of the Indian River Lagoon to experience the water glitter like galaxies far far away. Check out this video and, yes that’s what it’s really like! You HAVE to add this one to the bucket list.
A trip to the Space Coast is one you will remember forever. There is no better way to experience the Sunshine State than visiting the place where the sand meets the stars and life teem with excitement below. Start planning your ultimate Space Coast Bucket List trip today!