Out-of-this-world adventure on Florida's Atlantic coast
Stretched out for about 70 miles on the central east coast of Florida, you'll find beautiful beaches that support surfing, fishing and sea turtles, back-country rivers where you can enjoy air boating and kayaking, and about a dozen areas where you can watch rockets shoot into the sky from Cape Canaveral and the Kennedy Space Center. Spend your next vacation on Florida's Space Coast and you'll agree that it's out of this world.
Cocoa Beach and the Kennedy Space Center
If you were around in the 1960s, you probably recall the TV sitcom, I Dream of Jeannie, starring Barbara Eden as Jeannie and Larry Hagman as Major Tony Nelson, an astronaut stationed at Cape Canaveral, Florida. Major Nelson and Jeannie lived in Cocoa Beach, and that's where you'll start your tour of the space coast.
Cocoa Beach is the closest beach to Orlando and one of the most affordable beach locations in all of Florida. While in Cocoa Beach, you'll want to walk the chocolate-colored beaches made that way because of the number of shell fragments that have mixed with the quartz in the sand.
The Cocoa Beach Pier is a perfect spot to view a rocket lifting off from the Kennedy Space Center. Plan to visit NASA's launch headquarters where you can meet an astronaut, take in the Hubble Space Telescope exhibit, let the kids play in the Children's Play Dome and eat a gourmet lunch of authentic space food. Of course if you're really lucky, you'll get to see a launch.
If you visit www.kennedyspacecenter.com, you can view a countdown clock that will tell you when the next rocket will lift off.
Not everything in Cocoa Beach has to do with space exploration. For instance, you might be interested in checking out the American Police Hall of Fame, the first national police museum and memorial dedicated specifically to law enforcement officers killed in the line of duty.
Rocketing on Wheels
Perhaps you're looking for a little more action. Check out the Andretti Thrill Park, named after legendary race car driver Mario Andretti. The attraction features four go-kart tracks, bumper boats, a wild west-style train, laser tag and batting cages.
No trip to Cocoa Beach would be complete without visiting the Astronaut Memorial Planetarium and Observatory, which dazzles visitors with star shows, a three-story Iwerks movie theatre and laser shows.
The reason the central east coast of Florida is called the Space Coast is because just about anywhere you go you can view rockets lifting off. Of course, the best seats are at the Kennedy Space Center, but there are also a number of free viewing areas in Port Canaveral, Titusville along the shores of the Indian River, at the U.S. Space Walk of Fame and at Playalinda Beach.
Want to hang ten? Believe it or not, Florida's Space Coast has some of the best surfing along the East Coast of the United States. There are over 100 surfing spots situated along the coast and one of the best is at the Cocoa Beach Pier, where you can do more than just surf. The Pier has shopping, dining and cool beverages for those steamy nights after a long day on the beach.
Maybe surfing isn't for you. That's okay because there is still a lot to do. You can kayak in the dawn's early light alongside dolphins and brown pelicans. Or hop into a harness at high noon and sail above the coast on a parasail. Maybe your idea of a good time at the beach is to stake out your spot on the sand and watch the kids build sandcastles–well, you can do that too. The Space Coast's beaches are perfect for every taste.
You're on vacation, so you might as well play some golf. The Space Coast has 20 public golf courses that will keep you swinging your clubs no matter what your skill level.
Fishing along Florida's Space Coast is about as diverse as it comes. If you like saltwater fish, you can charter a deep sea cruise that launches from Port Canaveral and will take you out for a half day or full day of fishing. You could snag a grouper or mackerel, or something a little bigger like a blue or white marlin, tuna or sailfish.
If you want to fish from one of the many piers, you might catch a sea bass, tarpon, snapper or trout. Maybe you're the type of person who likes to walk to the beach with rod in hand and fish in the surf. Surf fishing is equally bountiful, yielding channel bass, flounder and pompano.
There are also freshwater fishing opportunities available along the Space Coast. Bring your boat or rent one and float the Indian River, the Banana River or the St. John's River in search of redfish, sea bass or black drum.
The Space Coast is one of the largest intact ecosystems in Florida. There are more than 250 square miles of wildlife refuges, where Florida's beautiful and rare creatures live. Bird nesting areas are found throughout the Indian River Lagoon. The beaches, likewise, are home to a variety of sea turtle nesting areas.
Located on the Atlantic Flyway, the area is within close proximity to 40 sites on the Great Florida Birding Trail and is a perfect place to watch for migrating species. The Space Coast Birding and Wildlife Festival, is held here each January. On kayaking excursions, visitors can view pods of dolphins or herds of manatees.
For More Information:
Visit Space Coast
Florida Department of Tourism