How to fly through the best of Space Coast Florida?
The Space Coast has numerous enthralling activities for visitors including history buffs, nature enthusiasts and those looking for culture along Florida’s East Coast. It is home to NASA’s Kennedy Space Center, one of the largest intact eco-systems in Florida and more than 20 cultural venues!
Visitors who drive the ocean side road that stretches along the 72 miles (110 km) of Florida’s Space Coast’s untamed beaches quickly realize that this destination is different from any other Florida destination. Located just 35 miles east (56 km) of Orlando—making it Orlando’s closest beach—the Space Coast is a nature-lover’s paradise; home to NASA’s Kennedy Space Center; the East Coast surfing capital of the United States; a burgeoning center for the arts and much more!
As the only place in the country where visitors could witness 135 space shuttle launches,the countdown to a memorable vacation begins with a trip to the Space Coast, where the end of the shuttle program ushered in a new era in tourism.
At the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex, the nation’s space history can be further explored at the Rocket Garden, showcasing historic NASA rockets; the Apollo/Saturn V Center, featuring rockets and equipment from the Apollo missions to the moon, and the Astronaut Hall of Fame, where the sights, sounds and experiences of famed astronauts are captured and the world’s largest collection of personal astronaut memorabilia is located.
Nearby, the U.S. Space Walk of Fame Museum is the first and only walk in the nation which honors America’s astronauts as well as the men and women behind the scenes of the space program. It features Shuttle launch memorabilia and an outdoor park comprised of monuments dedicated to U.S. space missions. Most notable is the intricate Apollo monument which took 10 years to construct. Guests will enjoy unique finds like x-rays of boots that went to the moon and actual pieces from a shuttle. Best of all, visitors have the rare opportunity to actually touch the showcased items, including consoles from past shuttles.
The Space Coast is one of the largest intact eco-systems in Florida. The area’s natural treasures can be explored with guided and unguided tours by foot, automobile, kayak or bicycle. There are more than 250 square miles of wildlife refuge, where Florida’s beautiful and rare creatures live. Along the Indian River Lagoon, there are bird nesting areas as well as manatee and dolphin habitats. The beaches are home to 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 & Wildlife Festival, the country’s most popular birding festival, is held here each January.
Some exciting options to explore the area’s natural side include: the 140,000-acre Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge, where a seven-mile journey provides views of a wide array of animals found in the marshes and a special viewing area is available to observe manatees; The Maritime Hammock Sanctuary in Melbourne Beach, where there is a hiking trail, boardwalk over wetlands and an observation deck over a marsh pond; Pelican Island National Wildlife Refuge, a coveted five-acre mangrove island in the Indian River Lagoon recognized as America’s first wildlife refuge; the Jordan Scrub Sanctuary in Malabar, ideal for spotting bald eagles; the Viera Wetlands, a 200-acre wetland system accessible by car and an ideal locale for waterfowl and wildlife viewing. Turtle enthusiasts can also join the Sea Turtle Preservation Society for a nighttime Turtle Walk along the area’s beaches in June and July to discover nesting areas for various species of sea turtles.
The Space Coast boasts more than 20 cultural venues, including museums, playhouses and cultural centers. The destination features more than 100 events each year, providing year-round options for guests to explore. Cultural enthusiasts can discover the area’s resident symphony orchestra, theatre companies and enjoy dance, touring Broadway shows and other performances at the Henegar Center, King Center and Melbourne Civic Theatre.
Space Coast Florida details:
Start your day off early by taking a walk on part of the 72 miles of beaches to see the sunrise. Then before the sun gets too high in the sky it’s time to head to the boat ramp to meet your local fishing guide for an unforgettable day on the Indian River Lagoon. North America’s most diverse estuary is home to over 700 species of fish, but today you’ll target Giant Redfish! Have your guide motor over to River Rocks Restaurant for a casual lunch on the deck. Stroll off some of your lunch in old Downtown Eau Gallie. Antique shops, the Foosaner Art Museum and original Florida Cracker houses make this a quaint, unique area to explore. The afternoon you can see another special waterway, the St. Johns River, like a local—on an Airboat. Skim over the quiet waters to spot alligators, bald eagles, deer, an occasional bear and sometimes the elusive Florida panther.This evening the Eastern Florida State College Planetarium & Observatory beckons you to search the stars through the Southeast’s largest public telescope.
Explore the wonders and many species of the Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge with its 220 square miles of land and water which are contained within the same boundaries of NASA’s Kennedy Space Center, and are home to more endangered and threatened species than any other refuge in the continental US. Canaveral National Seashore is just to the east and consists of 24 miles of undeveloped beach and wetlands. Here is the coast of Florida as it must have looked to Ponce de Leon in 1513—no buildings or seawalls, just sand and dunes. Have a picnic lunch at Eddy Creek Pavilion on Mosquito Lagoon. This afternoon visit the Enchanted Forest Sanctuary, a place where subtropical and temperate plant species are found together and where you can see the exposed layers of coquina rock that form ancient high dunes. Later kayak with A Day Away Kayak Tours to enjoy river views of the massive shuttle assembly building and towering launch pads of KSC. Sample a local delicacy, rock shrimp, at Dixie Crossroads Restaurant. Tonight join the Sea Turtle Preservation Society for a “turtle walk” along the Archie Carr National Wildlife Refuge. Witness the nesting process, which has been repeated over millions of years. Loggerheads, Leatherbacks and Green Sea Turtles will return as adults to nest on the same stretch of beach.
Check out Sebastian Inlet State Park beaches, dunes, hammocks, mangroves and maritime forests. This is one of the most popular parks in the state with catwalks and two jetties for anglers, a wading pool for kids and many sites for birders. Nearby you’ll find the McClarty Museum showcasing the story of the 1715 Spanish Plate Fleet which sank offshore during a hurricane. This afternoon visit Turkey Creek Sanctuary, a refuge to endangered plants and animals. Three distinct environments overlook the “blackwater” creek, which is home to manatees, river otters, turtles and many types of birds including the rare white pelican. Take flight on a scenic flight with Florida Biplanes in an authentic 1940’s fully restored WACO UPF-7 biplane. Experience the thrill and adventure of flying in an open cockpit biplane as you enjoy the unsurpassed views of the beaches, Port Canaveral, Kennedy Space Center and the many other incredible sights of Florida’s Space Coast. Dinner tonight will be at Café Margaux in Historic Cocoa Village. Catch a performance at the Cocoa Village Playhouse then stop in at Murdock’s Bistro for a nightcap.