The Space Coast of Florida offers many attractions and recreational activities for the weekend family getaway. You will find sunny beaches, modern technology and old-fashioned wildlife all in within the borders of Brevard County. Whether you are visiting on a shoe-string budget, or plan to “do the works”, the Space Coast has something for everyone.
Brevard County has several well known sights to see. The most famous must be the Kennedy Space Center at Cape Canaveral. There you can visit Kennedy Space Center’s Spaceport USA. Kennedy Space Center Visitor’s Center offers guided bus tours, an art gallery, a theater, a rocket garden, various displays and a gift shop. At Spaceport USA, you will learn information about everything from the beginnings of the space program with the rockets of the ’60s to the cutting-edge technology of the space shuttles of the ’90s. While at Spaceport USA you can visit the Gallery of Spaceflight; the Astronauts Memorial; and “The Boy from Mars,” a 22-minute award-winning movie. The only admission fee you may pay at Spaceport USA is for the optional bus tours and IMAX productions.
Near the Space Center, you will find the Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge, which is actually on the same land as the Space Center. The Merritt Island Wildlife National Wildlife Refuge has become one of the country’s most productive breeding grounds for the endangered bald eagle. As you take a 6 mile driving tour of the refuge or meander along the walking trails, you may catch glimpses of sunning ‘gators, raccoons, armadillos, bobcats, wading birds, song birds and many other native Florida critters. Guests will also have an opportunity to observe Florida’s most gentle native, the manatee, from the Manatee Observations Deck. Stop in the Visitor Center M-F 8-4:30 and Sat 9-5 for a free map of the refuge. The refuge is open seven days from daylight to dusk. Rate: No entrance fee.
In the northern part of Brevard County, Titusville offers several sights of interest. The U.S. Astronaut Hall of Fame encompasses information about the heroes of the space program and displays memorabilia from the original Mercury Seven and Gemini astronauts. Guests of the U.S. Astronaut Hall of fame can climb aboard a full-scale orbiter mock up and be whirled in a centrifuge. Rates: $12.95 Adults, $9.95 Children 6-12, 5 and under Free.
Port Canaveral also can be found at the north end of Brevard County. Port Canaveral’s claim to fame is being the third largest cruise ship port in the country. It hosts recreational facilities such as boat ramps, parks, beaches, fishing areas and campgrounds including an ocean-front park for RVs and tents. Charter fishing boats can be found at the port, as well as the largest scallop fishery in the world. Just south of the Port, the city of Cape Canaveral offers several family fun activities such as airboat rides, mini-golf, go-cart racing and large arcades.
The central part of Brevard County also has much to offer the visiting weekender. Visit the world famous Cocoa Beach, Ron Jon Surf Shop as well as Cocoa Village. When visiting Ron Jon Surf Shop guests are amazed at the sheer size of the 24 hour 52,000 square ft. store and enchanted by two city blocks of large “sand” sculptures. Visitors can walk a winding sidewalk to the Ron Jon Park featuring ten life form sculptures portraying such beach activities as kite flying, surfing, water skiing, and scuba diving. Ron Jons sells their world famous T-Shirts as well as any other gear you need for the Florida sun. They also offer hourly, daily and weekly rentals of: beach bikes, in-line skates, surf boards, body boards, beach umbrellas, and beach chairs. In Cocoa Village, a restored downtown district, you will walk tree-lined brick streets to specialty shops, a gazebo, a picnic area and the Porcher House. The Porcher House was once an estate of wealthy citrus growers which is now open to the public for tours.
In the city of Cocoa, several museums await visiting guests. The Brevard Museum hosts exhibits of history and archeology as well as natural science. Brevard Community College’s Cocoa Campus offers the Astronaut Memorial Space Science Center and a Planetarium which has fabulous space programs and laser shows set to rock and roll music.
Running through all of Brevard County, the Indian River Lagoon entices guests with many activities. Riverside vendors offer rentals on kayaks, canoes, wet bikes and other river crafts. While enjoying the river, visitors may encounter local wildlife such as gentle manatees, dolphin, exotic large wading birds, waterfowl, and much more.
Further south, Melbourne offers visitors close encounters with native animals at the Brevard Zoo. In the three naturally wooded habitats of Latin America, Native Florida and Australia, guests will watch the antics of a wide variety of animals including a jaguar, llamas, an anteater, monkeys, exotic birds and more. A beautiful free-flight aviary is located in the Australian habitat for hands on experiences with many breeds of birds. Children will especially enjoy the “Hands-on” learning area and train ride. Hours: 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. daily. Rates: $5.50 Adults, $4.50 Seniors and $3.50 Children 2-12.
At the southern border of Brevard County you will find the Sebastian Inlet State Recreation Area. Sebastian Inlet offers fantastic Florida fun at its best. At Sebastian Inlet, the Indian River Lagoon meets the Atlantic Ocean, creating both a beautiful and exciting environment. With several campgrounds to choose from, campers looking for everything from primitive sites to full RV hookups will find the perfect spot. Once settled in, campers or day guests may play by the river, at the beach or for safe swimming for the kiddies, at Campbell’s Cove. Campbell’s Cove is a natural tidal pool which allows beach-style swimming and fun without the dangerous waves and undertow. Avid fishermen will be busy catching the snook, redfish, bluefish and Spanish mackerel abundant in the waters. For those with boating in mind, bring your own boat and use one of Sebastian Inlet’s boat ramps, take a two hour tour of Pelican Island on the Inlet Explorer (Adults $15, Under 12 $10) or rent a kayak, rowboat, canoe. McLarty Visitors Center tells guests the history of a wrecked Spanish treasure fleet laden with gold and silver. During June and July, Sebastian Inlet State Recreation Area provides nighttime guided turtle walks to observe nesting sea turtles. If interested, begin calling for July walk reservations, begin calling at 8am on June 15. Spots fill quickly. Also found at Sebastian Inlet: Concession, Picnicking, Hiking/Nature Trails, Surfing, Snorkeling, Diving Facilities and a bait shop.
For more information:
A-Awesome Airboat Ride, Cape Canaveral, FL , Phone: (407)568-7601
Brevard Zoo, I-95 (exit 73) E Wickham Rd, Melbourne, FL , Phone: (407)254-WILD, Web Site: http://www.brevardzoo.org
Cocoa Beach Area Chamber of Commerce (407) 459-2200
Funntasia Fantasy Golf, 6355 N. Atlantic Ave., Cape Canaveral, FL, Phone: (407)799-4856
Kennedy Space Center, NASA Causeway, Cape Canaveral, FL, Phone: (407)452-2121, Web Site: http://www.kscvisitor.com.
Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge (407) 861-0667
Orlando Princess, 665 Glen Cheek Dr., Port Canaveral, FL, Phone: (407)784-6300, Tollfree: (800)481-FISH FREE, Web Site: http://www.orlandoprincess.com
Osprey Outfitters, 132 South Dixie Avenue, Titusville, FL 32796 Phone: (407)267-3535, Web Site: http://www.nbbd.com/osprey
Ron Jon Surf Shop, 4151 N Atlantic Ave, Cocoa Beach, FL 32931, Phone: (407)799-8873, Fax: 407/799-8873, Web Site: http://www.ronjons.com
Sebastian Inlet State Recreation Area, Melbourne Beach, FL Phone: (407) 984-4852 Inlet Explorer Boat Tours 1-800-952-1126 FREE reserve a week or so advance.
U.S. Astronaut Hall of Fame, 6225 Vectorspace Blvd, Titusville, FL , Phone: (407)269-6100
Wave Craze, 1872 E. Merritt Island Cswy, Cocoa Beach, FL , Phone: (407)452-0590, Web Site: http://www.wavecraze.com