How to Spend an Exciting Day at Kennedy Space Center

Entry to Kennedy Space Center, Florida

The Kennedy Space Center is one of the highlights in Florida and the top attraction of the Space Coast. It is a MUST if you are somewhat interested in Space. It is also a lot fun for smaller children (for other activities with children have a look here). Please find below my recommendations and insights.

Planning your visit

You should plan at least four hours, but can easily spend a full day there. Of course weekdays are less full than the weekends.

If you happen to be in the area when a rocket launch is planned this is a great opportunity. However the park will be full and there is always a risk that the launch has to be postponed due to weather or other issues.

Highlights not to miss

If you do nothing else you should do the guided bus tour. You get a kind of behind the scenes look. It covers a larger area of the place which is not part of the visitor complex. Ideally plan the best time to take the tour when you have entered the center.

Usually there are some astronauts available for Q&A sessions. This is a great opportunity to get some insights. Look for the schedule at the entrance. Other highlights are  the Space Shuttle Atlantis Exhibit and Journey to Mars.

Food

There are several places for decent food. Why not cool off with Martian Rocks flavor Space Dots.

Souvenirs

It is worth checking out the souvenir shop. They have some special items which you do not get at other shops.

Do you have any special recommendations?

We would love to hear what you liked best in the Kennedy Space Center. What are your recommendations?

One Day in Cocoa Beach, Florida

Street Art on a wall in Cocoa Beach, Florida, displaying the city's name.

You find a more recent version of the post here.

Maybe you are going on a cruise from Port Canaveral and have a day before or after in Cocoa Beach. Or you are making a round trip through Florida and are visiting the Space Coast. These are my recommendations if you have one day only in Cocoa Beach with some options for each time of the day.

Start the day right with a great breakfast

Breakfast at Juice N Java Cocoa Beach. A bagel with Avocado

Start the day right with a good breakfast. I love Juice N’Java for its relaxed atmosphere. The smoothies are delicious. If you are into surfing then try the Surfinista with its surf style theme. Or try both as they are just opposite each other on the same street. For more options have a look at our list of favorite breakfast places.

During the morning go to the beach and shop at the largest surf store

No matter whether you are looking for some swim suites or souvenirs you have to visit Ron Jon Surfshop. It is the largest surfshop in the world. It is open 24/7 and during hot days a good option to cool down.

Of course, you can also buy surfboards.

Why not directly head to the beach to try out your new gear. Just behind the shop is a good area. If you are looking for a quieter beach go to the South End of Cocoa Beach.

Enjoy some afternoon drinks and snacks

Are you ready for some drinks and snacks? Two options with great views are the Coconuts on the Beach or the Tiki Bar on the pier.

The Coconuts has great views of the beach, a large selection of food and maybe the best happy hour beer specials (5-7 pm).

The Tiki Bar is at the end of the pier with beautiful views of the beach. Enjoy your drinks sitting above the waves. Happy hour is from 4-7 pm. You will have to pay an entrance fee for that part of the pier, however can use that to pay for your drinks.

Late afternoon activities

What about some mini golf? I like the Lighthouse Cove adventure golf. There you can also take a bucket with drinks along the course. The ice cream is very delicious.

Another option for the late afternoon is kayaking. It is usually less warm, you may see dolphins hunt and could even kayak into the sunset. Some vacation rentals or hotels offer kayaks. If not you can rent them for example at Wildlife Watersports. They also have guided tours.

Finish the day with a nice dinner

After a long day you should be hungry. Is there still some time until the sunset? If yes you could watch it at the Sunset Waterfront Bar and Grill.

If you do not mind sitting inside I would recommend Florida’s Fresh Grill or the Fat Snook. Both places have great Seafood with the Fat Snook offering even more elaborated options (at higher prices). The best is just to check both menus online before you decide.

How would your perfect day in Cocoa Beach look like?

This was my perfect day. Maybe you ave other suggestions, how would your perfect day in Cocoa Beach look like?

Start the day right – Our favorite Breakfast Places in Cocoa Beach and the Space Coast

Breakfast is the start of the day. Why not make it something special? These are our recommendations if you would like to go somewhere else than the typical chains.

Juice ‘N Java

Juice N Java is great for breakfast, This picture shows 2 smoothies.

Usually the first morning I am in Cocoa Beach I go to Juice ‘N Java for breakfast. They have a relaxed atmosphere and great WiFi. The smoothies are delicious. I love the avocado cream cheese bagel.

Surfinista

Surfinista is a cool cafe with a surf vibe. The interior shows surfboards.

Just opposite the Juice ‘N Java is the Surfinista. It is nicely decorated in surf-style. It has very delicious healthy breakfast items. Also don’t miss the smoothies.

Bagel 13

Bagel 13 has delicious bagels like this Blueberry Bagel

If you love bagels Bagel 13 is a great place to go for breakfast. They have a wide selection of bagels. It is an excellent option if you are going to Orlando or further North.

Simply Delicious

Simply delicous offers a great variety of breakfast. This coffee with cream is very colorful.

The breakfast at Simply Delicous is just delicious. You have many options to chose from. Cozy atmosphere.

What is your choice?

Do you have a special recommendation where to go for breakfast? Please share it with us.

Great Activities for Children in Cocoa Beach and the Space Coast

We have many families staying at Dolphin Bay. Children will love the location. The pool is always a great place to spend time. But what else can we recommend to do with children? Below you find our top picks.

Kayaking on the Banana River

Kayaking on the Banana River

If they are old enough kayaking on the Banana River is so much fun. If you leave from our backyard the best way is to go to the right. You can explore many canals with beautiful homes. Or you can go further to the mangroves. If you are lucky you can see dolphins or manatees. Avoid the midday sun.

The Beach

two small children on the beach

One of the other best activities is the beach just across the A1A. It is usually very quiet and kids will love to play in the water and sand.

Miniature Golf

playing miniature golf

If you want to go beyond pool and ocean, we also love to do some miniature golf. We like the Lighthouse Cove Miniature Golf. After a fun round they have also great ice cream.

Brevard Zoo

Brevard Zoo is only 25 minutes by car and you can easily spend half a day here. It has many activities also for smaller children. Another option for the older ones is the ropes course. It is not included in the entrance and lasts around 3 hours. My recommendation would be do that in the morning to avoid too high temperatures.

Obloy Family Ranch

Child riding a horse

Another option to see animals is the Obloy Family Ranch. They have many rescued animals. The guided tours are really interesting and you can also go horse riding.

Merritt Island Nature Reserve

Marritt Island Nature Reserve

If your children love wildlife then the Merritt Island nature reserve is a great option. The time to drive there is about 30 minutes.

Kennedy Space Center

Inside the Kennedy Space Center
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If your children are somewhat interested in Space the Kennedy Space Center is a must. They have many activities for children and you can easily spend a full day here.

Boat Trip on the Banana River

Doing a boat trip is a great way to explore Banana and Indian river. There are options for half or full day available. We liked the tour with Coastal Lagoon Tours.

Orlando Amusement Parks

Magic Kingdom Cinderella Castle

Last but not least of course many of our visitors go to the amusement parks in Orlando. You can easily visit Disney (4 parks) Universal (2 parks), Lego as day trip from our place. The other option is stay in Orlando for a couple of days. While the parks can be amazing, they can also be very exhausting. It is important to know what to expect and to plan well ahead.

What is your Favorite?

These were just our top selections. But maybe you have an additional tip which you would like to share?

Also check out kid-friendly restaurants in Cocoa Beach and the Space Coast.

Which airport should I fly into when visiting Cocoa Beach?

This is a question I sometimes get when people book our vacation rental. Luckily there are usually several options in Florida. However, what is best for you will depend on several factors.

What else have you planned during your trip?

Are you only staying in Cocoa Beach and Orlando area or have you planned other stops during your vacation? Maybe you are making a roundtrip through Florida or you have even been in other states before. If you just plan to stay in Cocoa Beach and the surrounding area the closest large airports are Orlando, Tampa, Fort Lauderdale and Miami. Smaller options are Melbourne and Jacksonville. Another larger airport, the Southwest Florida International Airport is close to Fort Myers and with close to 4 hours drive a bit far away unless you also would like to spend time in that area.

Are you flying in from Abroad?

Miami Airport

If you are flying in from outside the United States Miami, Orlando, and Tampa are the airports with most international direct flights. These are also the airports international flights connect often to when having a different stop-over destination. While direct flights are the best options if prices are ok, the advantage of having a connecting flight is that you will have done your immigration at that airport. At your final airport you only have to collect your luggage.

What else should be considered?

Airplaine

Most likely you will rent a car. Orlando has the advantage that car rental kiosks are in the airport building and you can get your car directly across in the parking garage. That is one reason why Orlando would be my first choice if there is a good priced option.

In both Miami and Tampa trains connect you to the car rental terminals. Think about adding the prepaid toll packages for rental cars or have sufficient cash with you.

It is worth looking at your arrival times. If you do have to do immigration add at least one hour. Car rental can also take one hour. Especially with jetlag I would try to avoid long driving times in the dark. In my experience Orlando is manageable however if I would arrive in Tampa or Miami, I might consider booking a room for a night.

On your departure day check the traffic information upfront and in particular when flying out of Miami I would add one hour extra.

So in Summary…

Info graphic showing number of flights and travel time from airports to Cocoa Beach

If I get a good priced flight into Orlando that would be my first option. It is a short drive and convenient airport in particular if you are also renting a car.

What are your thoughts?

What experiences would you like to share? Which factors are important for you?

Drinks with a View

Cocoa Beach has not only the Atlantic ocean but also the beautiful Banana River with breathtaking sunsets. So naturally there are also many great places where you can enjoy a drink with a view. Here are our recommendations.

Coconuts on the Beach

Coconuts is directly on the beach. It is a great place for the afternoon. They have some specials after 5pm.

Beach House (Patrick Air Force)

The Beach House is located at the south end of Cocoa Beach opposite to Patrick Air Force Base (which it also belongs to). It is usually quiet. Please check for opening times.

You have great views from the upper deck.

Squidlips

Squidlips is just located 3 minutes walk north of Dolphin Bay. You can also kayak there.

The Island

The Island is favorite with locals. It is directly located at the Banana River and you can watch sunsets here. The food is also decent.

Riki-Tiki Bar

The Riki-Tiki Bar is at the end of the Cocoa Beach Pier. It has stunning views of the Beach. You pay an entrance fee for that part of the pier which you can use for drinks and food.

Sandbar

The Sandbar is one of our favorite places. They made the list thanks to a special view – when you want to watch sports (it is a sports bar). They have drink specials on most days.

Last but not least…

…you have the best for a breathtaking sunset from our balcony. Enjoy your sundowner.

Did you find your favorite place?

What is your favorite place? Maybe you have a recommendation which is not on our list yet?