What To Do On Florida's Space Coast
What Is The Space Coast?
Many have not heard the term "Space Coast", and are unsure what it means or even where it's at. It is the area around Kennedy Space Center and Cape Canaveral in Florida. It extends throughout all of Brevard County, and includes the towns of Cocoa, Cocoa Beach and Melbourne. It is bordered by the Atlantic Ocean on the East, the Treasure Coast on the South, the Daytona area to the North, and Central Florida and Orlando on the West. Now it should be obvious as to why it is called the Space Coast. So, what is there to do on The Space Coast? Quite a bit, actually, and not all of it has to do with space.
But Some Of It Does
Space is very important to the Space Coast. There are several space related activities along the Space Coast. Let's start with the most obvious...Kennedy Space Center.
Kennedy Space Center offers a variety of activities and packages for every budget, from a basic tour package, to an all-access space pass, to even lunch with an astronaut. There might not be any shuttle launches in the future at Kennedy, but there are still rockets launched that send satellites out into space, and information regarding the launch dates is available on the Kennedy Space Center website.
The city of Titusville, FL offers three space oriented activities that you can enjoy. The first is U.S. Astronaut Hall of Fame. The Hall of Fame used to be located in Melbourne, FL, but was moved to Titusville after the private company that owned it went into foreclosure. It is now operated in conjunction with Kennedy Space Center, and certain ticket packages for Kennedy Space Center offer a free ticket to the U.S. Astronaut Hall of Fame; if it is used the next day. There are a variety of displays covering various sides of the Astronauts honored here; from Buzz Aldrin's high school football jersey to John Glenn's goggles and flight gloves. There is also an interactive "Astronaut Adventure" area where visitors can sit in a stripped-down shuttle cockpit, or feel the force of 4G's in a training centrifuge.
The second is Space View Park, located on Indian River Ave, in Titusville. Space View Park offers a stunning viewing point for shuttle and rocket launches, as it is located just 15 miles from the launch pads. The park also features live audio feed from NASA's control room. Other things to do at the park include a journey through the history of space exploration, a hand-print display of the Mercury astronauts, and picnic areas and restrooms.
Located a few short blocks from Space View Park is the U. S. Space Walk of Fame. It features shuttle monuments and a free museum.
Located in nearby Cocoa, FL is the Astronaut Memorial Planetarium and Observatory. It is operated in conjunction with the Brevard Community College. They offer tours, field trips, and various shows throughout the year.
The Space Coast is a great place to go fishing! My husband will attest to that! There are a variety of great fishing spots all over the area; either on the ocean or along the Indian River. There are also several companies that will charter fishing trips if you are looking for something a little more involved, or you would like a guide to some great fishing spots.
Flats Time Fishing Charter in Cocoa FL, offers charters in the area of the Indian River lagoons. They provide everything you will need for a great fishing trip, from the required licenses to rods and reels and plenty of drinking water. They do not allow large amounts of alcohol or any illegal drugs, so do that on your own time.
There are two options in Cocoa Beach, FL. Native Son Fishing Charter operates charters from the Mosquito Lagoon on the Indian River down to Sebastian Inlet. They allow for larger groups than Flats Time and also offer night-time charters, as well. The other Cocoa Beach option is Fish Tales Tours. They offer a variety of activities from fishing charters to airboat rides to kayaking. They also offer trips for shark fishing and off-shore fishing for big game fish. Each charter company offers a little something different; it all depends on what you are looking for.
For those that want to learn about fishing, or those that just love fishing that much; there is the Sebastian Fishing Museum, located within Sebastian Inlet State Park in Melbourne Beach, FL. The museum is dedicated to the history of fishing in the area. There are numerous displays of home-made fishing gear, including a home-made boat, along with pictures showing the rich history of fishing in the area.
Let's stay on the water a little bit longer, but if fishing isn't for you, there is always surfing. The Space Coast may not be the first place you think of when it comes to world class surf spots, but surfing is still a big thing along the Space Coast.
First off, you should learn a little about surfing by visiting the Cocoa Beach Surf Museum. They have exhibits on legendary surfer, Kelly Slater, who is a native of Cocoa Beach, as well as exhibits on female surfers, and collections of surf boards from the 60's to today. They also sponsor events throughout the year, including a surf contest in the summer.
After touring the museum, why not learn how to surf? There are at least three options if you want to learn to surf; all of them in Cocoa Beach. One is the Cocoa Beach Surf Company Surf Camp. They offer private lessons, group lessons and even half day and full day summer camps. The second is the world famous Ron Jon Surf School. They offer a variety of programs for all ages, including a kids surf camp. The last one is Sobe Surf. They offer surfing lessons, stand-up paddle lessons, as well as rentals and tours.
Yes, there is even more to do out on the water. There is a lot of water down on the Space Coast. From boat tours to airboat rides, to kayaking, there is so much to do on the water in this area.
Airboats are a popular attraction on the Space Coast, and there are several options to choose from depending on where you are, and what you want to see. Twister Airboat Rides out of Cocoa, FL, offers different tour packages depending on group size and length of tour. They operate tours in the grassy marsh areas of the St. John's River and Lake Poinsett. Everything is by reservation only. Grasshopper Airboat Eco-Tours, is also located in Cocoa and offers 1 1/2 hour tours through the marsh areas of the St. John's River, as well. Located in Melbourne, FL, is Airboat Rides Melbourne. Makes sense...They offer smaller boats and explore areas of the St. John's River, the Stick Marsh, and Lake Washington. There are a lot of alligators in Lake Washington!
For a more adventurous boating experience, maybe you might like to try parasailing. There are two options in the Cape Canaveral area. Big Toho Parasailing and Cocoa Beach Parasail offer thrills that just sitting in a boat could never give you. Fly high above the sand and surf and take in the stunning views of the Cocoa Beach/Cape Canaveral area.
If taking things a bit slower is more your sort of thing, you might like kayaking a little bit better; though it is a little more work. There are many options for kayaking adventures, including A Day Away Kayaking Tours, in Titusville, FL; and Adventure Kayak of Cocoa Beach, Inc, and Cocoa Beach Kayaking, both in Cocoa Beach. There are other nature parks throughout the Space Coast that offer kayak rentals, but don't often offer tours. Be sure to think of the length of the tour and your physical ability before booking a tour. Remember, kayaking is tiring work, and you don't want to get worn out halfway through the tour.
Yes, there is a difference between boating and cruising. Cruising brings to mind a more relaxed atmosphere, and often includes food, drinks or entertainment. There are cruises for all budgets and time frames.
Obviously, there are several major cruise lines that launch out of Port Canaveral, FL, including Royal Caribbean, Norwegian, Carnival and Disney. Some of these cruise lines do offer tours, so you get to see the ship and get a feel for it, in hopes that you will book a cruise, of course. But, if even a three day cruise is a little more than you were looking for, the Space Coast still has some cruising options available to you.
The Indian River Queen Paddle Boat, out of Cocoa, offers several different options for cruises. They are available for rent for special occasions, and also offer public, afternoon and evening cruises. The boat is a stunning triple-decked, old-fashioned paddle boat. Also along the Indian River, is the Indian River Cruises Sailing School. The teach classes in various skill levels of sailing, and are also available for sailing charters; including a picnic lunch sail, or a sunset cruise. They even offer the services of a personal chef if you are so inclined. Now that sounds romantic!
The Island Boat Lines Water Taxi may sound like just another way to get from point 'A' to point 'B', but it is more than that. They offer daily eco-tours of the Thousand Island Areas of Cocoa Beach. They have a full schedule on their website, and do offer private charters, if you "fill the boat".
Along those same lines, is the Space Coast River Tours.They offer two hour river tours leaving out of Port Canaveral. You can see bald eagles, herons, egrets, dolphins and manatees. The Brevard County area has the largest concentration of manatees in the world, so this area is really the best place in the world to see them.
If you desire a little more chance with your cruising, you might like to check out the Victory Casino Cruises, also launching out of Port Canaveral, FL. They offer afternoon and evening cruises throughout the week and the weekend, and they have all the classic casino games such as craps, slots, roulette and card games.
If a relaxing round of golf is more your idea of a good time, there are a lot of options all around the Space Coast area. Golf is a major deal around here, and the courses are beautiful, and often challenging.
Just a few of the options include, The Majors Golf Club at Bayside Lakes and Jo Daddy's, both in Palm Bay, FL. Jo Daddy's offers a lighted course for those that like to get an early start out on the links, or who would love to squeeze in a round of golf after work. In nearby Melbourne, there is Mallard's Landing Golf Course.
Turtle Creek Golf Club, in Rockledge, is a lovely course, and offers tournaments throughout the year. Sam's Executive Golf Course, in Sharpes, FL, has a USGA rating of 70, and provides challenging holes on a gorgeous course. And, then there is Royal Oak Resort and Golf Club, in Titusville, FL. The course at Royal Oak was designed by Dick Wilson. The resort features onsite lodging, an Olympic sized swimming pool, and a restaurant and lounge.
The Space Coast area of Florida offers a wide variety of natural wonders to entertain and invigorate any nature lover. From the beaches, to nature parks, to refuges, the Space Coast is alive with natural beauty. Since there are so many to list, I will provide a few, and group them by area, starting in the Northern end of the Space Coast.
The northern end of the Space Coast includes the areas of Mims, Titusville, Merritt Island, Rockledge, Port Canaveral and Cocoa. That is a large area, and in that area, there are numerous nature parks to choose from. They all offer their own interesting elements. The Micco Scrub Sanctuary in Titusville, offers mountain biking, horseback riding and hiking trails throughout the over 1,300 acres of protected marsh and scrubby land. The Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge covers 140,000 acres and offers a wide variety of activities, including hunting and fishing (with permits during specified dates and times), canoeing and kayaking, and an information center. The Enchanted Forest Sanctuary, also in Titusville, may sound more like something out of a child's fairy tale, but it's not. It is still a pretty special place, providing a protected habitat for the threatened Gopher Tortoise. Other nature parks in the northern Space Coast area include, Helen & Allan Cruickshank Sanctuary, Chain Of Lakes, and Pine Island Conservation Area.
The rest of the Space Coast area is no exception when it comes to beautiful natural areas. There are numerous options for wonderful nature walks and opportunities to see native wildlife. The Melbourne Riverview Park, Erna Nixon Park, and the Maritime Hammock Sanctuary, all in Melbourne, FL, all offer gorgeous natural plant life and wildlife. Turkey Creek Sanctuary, in Palm Bay, has a gorgeous nature trail and also offers kayaking along the beautiful Turkey Creek. James H. Nance Sea Turtle Park, in Indiatlantic, is a beachside park, and features facilities for fishing, swimming, and a pavilion. There are several sanctuaries in the Melbourne Beach area, including, Coconut Point Sanctuary, Archie Carr National Wildlife Refuge, and Barrier Island Sanctuary.
For history buffs, there is plenty to do along the Space Coast of Florida. Located in Cocoa Florida, is Porcher House (pronounced por-shay). Porcher House offers tours by appointment and is available for rental for events and weddings. In Grant, Florida, is the Grant Historical House. It is located at "Fisherman's Landing", and is available for viewing.
If museums are more your thing, there are several options. The Dinosaur Store and Museum, in Cocoa Beach, has a large collection of fossils, minerals, and dinosaur bones. It also has an interactive exhibit with live alligators and reptiles. The McLarty Treasure Museum in Melbourne Beach, is a small museum that houses exhibits on the history of the 1715 Spanish treasure fleet, as well as various other salvaged treasure found in the ocean around the Space Coast area. in Titusville, Florida, is the Valiant Air Command & Warbird Museum. The museum honors the history of military aircraft from World War II and beyond. Aircraft is restored, maintained, and displayed in honor of those who serve in our Armed Forces. The Brevard Museum of History and Natural Science, in Cocoa, has exhibits on the earliest inhabitants of the area, as well as interactive exhibits for children and other exhibits on the history of the area.
Located inland from the coastal area of the Space Coast, is the Fort Christmas Historical Park, where you can see a full-size replica of Fort Christmas. The park offers pavilions for rent, a playground, and various events throughout the year.
If you are looking for art galleries to visit, there is one place to check out. That is the Eau Gallie Arts District in Melbourne, Florida. There are numerous galleries and shops along the stretch of Highland Drive that you can visit. The district also hosts events throughout the year.
The Highway Grrls Gallery & Studio features the art of Robin Rothrock, who grew up in nearby Satellite Beach. The Foosaner Art Museum is associated with the Florida Institute of Technology, and features a wide variety of art on display, as well as offering art classes for all age ranges. The Fifth Ave Art Gallery has rotating exhibits in it's front gallery with premier showings on the first Friday of the month, and admission is free. The EGAD! Art Lab has art for sale, as well as various classes in all manners of art, including photography and a class on fingerpainting for adults.
The Art Gallery of Viera is another option that is apart from the art district in Melbourne. They have a wide variety of artwork from local artists and offer classes for children and teens, as well as various classes in different mediums of artwork.
The Southern Lights Gallery, in Titusville, is an option if you are venturing to the north end of the Space Coast. The Southern Lights Gallery, also known as Gallery 311, features the interesting and beautiful artwork of photographer James Gary Richmond.
Other Fun Activities
There are so many other things to do on the Space Coast. It would take me forever to list them all. It all depends on what sort of activity you are looking for. Are you looking for a more relaxed day? Or are you a thrill seeker? The Space Coast offers a little something for everyone.
The Brevard Zoo, located in Viera, is a great place to take the kids. They have a variety of animals on display, and have exhibits geared towards teaching children about the world around them. Recently added to the list of attractions at the zoo is the Treetop Trek Aerial Adventures, which features an aerial obstacle course and ziplines. There is also a train, as well as kayaks and paddle boats.
Traxx at Jungle Village, in Cape Canaveral, has three go-cart tracks, as well as mini-golf, lazer tag, a maze, batting cages, arcade games and a rock climbing wall. You are greeted by jungle animal statues as you approach the park, including an elephant wearing sunglasses. This place would be nice for an afternoon treat for the kids, or kids-at-heart.
Along those same lines is Andretti Thrill Park, in Melbourne. It has a lot of things to do, for all age ranges. They have several go-cart tracks, plus mini-golf, lazer tag, an arcade and batting cages. They also have a climbing wall, a mini bowling alley, paddle boats and a playground with carnival-type rides for the younger kids. A family could easily end up spending an entire day here.
Also in Melbourne is the On The Edge Rock Climbing Gym. They have routes for every skill level. They also have events and tournaments and have a fully-stocked shop for all your climbing gear needs. If you are an experienced climber looking for a place to climb in Florida's frequent rain, or if you always wanted to learn, this is a place you should check out. They offer rates for groups and parties, and also have a portable wall for rentals.
And So Much More
As you can see, there are a lot of things to do on the Space Coast. If you ever find yourself down here, be sure to check some of them out. There is a lot more to do down here than one might think, even more than I have managed to list here. From horseback riding, to beaches, to parks, to concerts, and so much more. The Space Coast is an area rich with beauty, and alive with culture and spirit. The people here are always changing, and the weather is almost always beautiful. Although, if you are planning outdoor activities, just remember, it rains a lot down here, so plan ahead! I do hope you come down to visit the gorgeous Space Coast.
© 2012 Anna Marie Bowman
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