From moon walks and dune overwalks to cruise ports and water sports, a galaxy of options await visitors at Florida’s Space Coast, a 72-mile stretch of sun-bronzed Atlantic shore, space age attractions and protected wildlife refuges flourishing along the surf — all at down-to-earth prices. Featured among Money magazine’s “Best Places to Vacation,” the Space Coast is comprised primarily of area cities Cape Canaveral, Cocoa, Cocoa Beach, Melbourne, Melbourne Beach, Palm Bay and Titusville.
The city of Cocoa, also referred to as Cocoa Village, is a historic area full of antique stores, coffee shops, and 19th-century architecture. It is also known for its surf and for its association with the nearby Kennedy Space Center.
Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex
At the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex, visitors can sense galactic adventures at this 140,000-acre megaplex including a replica of a space shuttle, two extraordinary IMAX movies that launch viewers into space, a Rocket Garden riddled with Mercury and Gemini era rockets and bus tours viewing breathtaking launch pads along pristine shores.
The Apollo/Saturn V Center celebrates one of humankind’s greatest achievements with an authentic Saturn V rocket – the most powerful ever built – created to transport man to the moon.
In sweeping contrast and absolutely free, surrounding the Kennedy Space Center, is the 220-square-mile Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge which is home to more federally endangered species than any refuge in the United States. A six-mile driving tour with shaded boardwalks weave through lush pine and oak hammocks of the second-largest sanctuary in Florida.
Astronaut Memorial Planetarium and Observatory
Also in Cocoa is the Astronaut Memorial Planetarium and Observatory where visitors can spy comets crash on Jupiter, sneak a peek at the rings of Saturn and study the surface of Mars up to 450 million light years away at the planetarium claimed “The Best in the World” and all under a signature 70-foot aluminum dome.
Cocoa Beach, just south of Cape Canaveral between the Atlantic Ocean and Banana River is known primarily for its surf.
Attractions include the Cocoa Beach Pier, a 41-year-old landmark pier that stretches 840 feet over the Atlantic Ocean and serves as a beachside grandstand for space launches and endless festivals from surfing to seafood.
Surprisingly, Space Coast accommodations provide priceless beach vacations with great family value. Whether posh or practical, more than 9,500 East Coast rooms are dotted throughout the area from popular hotels and spacious condominiums to beachside cottages and five-bedroom bungalows.