Cocoa Beach and Port Canaveral Florida
Surfers strolling along one of the area’s 115 kilometers of beaches
The Space Shuttle Atlantis on display at Kennedy Space Center
Family playing in the soft sands of Cocoa Beach
Paddling along a mangrove-lined waterway in Cocoa Beach
The mesmerizing sight of a rocket launch from Kennedy Space Center
Viewing giraffes on a kayaking tour of the Brevard Zoo
A picture-perfect sunrise over Cocoa Beach
A nighttime rocket launch over Exploration Tower, home to museum exhibits and observation areas
Jetty Park Beach in Port Canaveral, an ideal locale for cruise ship spotting
A surfer waiting to catch the perfect wave
Out-of-this-world beaches, surfing and adventure on Florida’s Space Coast
Space Coast: More than a Nickname
Time your visit right, and you might witness one of the world’s most awe-inspiring sights: a rocket launching into space. On a clear day, you can see launches from nearly anywhere in the region. Arrive early to secure a spot at beaches, parks, waterfront restaurants and piers. For the most up-close experience, secure tickets to watch from the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex.
Rocket launch or not, Kennedy Space Center offers plenty of ways to connect with the past, present and future of space travel. Marvel at the Space Shuttle Atlantis and the towering figures of the Rocket Garden. Learn about icons of space travel in the U.S. Astronaut Hall of Fame and modern missions in the NASA Now + Next exhibit. Hold on tight for the Shuttle Launch Experience, a thrilling, 8.5-minute simulation of the space shuttle’s ascent into orbit.
At the American Space Museum in Titusville, study artifacts donated by astronauts, space workers and NASA. Nearby, walk among the impressive monuments at the U.S. Space Walk of Fame at Space View Park, also an ideal spot for watching launches. Exploration Tower in Cape Canaveral is another launch-viewing spot that showcases the history of Port Canaveral and how it became a center for space travel.
Beaches and Nature Galore
Florida’s Space Coast boasts 116 kilometers of soft, golden-sand beaches and an array of parks protecting unique Old Florida ecosystems. Start your beach exploration near Titusville at pristine Canaveral National Seashore, known for its dunes and secluded stretches of wide-open sand. Walk serene paths through the barrier island wilderness, see Timucuan shell mounds or just relax in the sand. Nearby, drive the 11.3-kilometer Black Point Drive Loop through Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge. You’re likely to spot native wildlife while admiring coastal marshes, pine flatwoods and hardwood hammocks. A natural beach escape south of Melbourne Beach is Sebastian Inlet State Park, a popular spot for surfing and family beach days.
In Cocoa Beach, which has been called the “East Coast Surfing Capital,” take surfing lessons, visit the flagship Ron Jon Surf Shop or stroll the Westgate Cocoa Beach Pier. Back in Melbourne Beach, Archie Carr National Wildlife Refuge is one of North America’s top sea turtle nesting locations. If visiting in June or July, make reservations to take a guided, nighttime walk for a chance to spot a nesting sea turtle. Another incredible nighttime summer activity is a kayak tour on the bioluminescent Indian River Lagoon. At the Brevard Zoo in Melbourne, go on a kayak tour to see animals or soar through the forest canopy with Treetop Trek Aerial Adventures.
Local Culture & History
Beyond the wonders of space and nature, Florida’s Space Coast is home to a wealth of opportunities for cultural exploration. In small-town Mims, visit the Harry T. & Harriette V. Moore Cultural Complex, a memorial park honoring Florida’s first civil rights activists. Tour a replica of the couple’s home, which was bombed on Dec. 25, 1951, as well as a museum dedicated to preserving both their legacy and Black history. You can also discover an array of historic downtowns and bustling neighborhoods such as Downtown Melbourne, the Eau Gallie Arts District, Cocoa Village and Historic Downtown Titusville. Shop for unique finds from local vendors and artists, view colorful murals, go restaurant hopping and watch performing arts.
The Space Coast is one of the top places for loggerhead, leatherback and green sea turtle nesting in North America, representing 90% of sea turtle eggs laid in the USA.
Indian River Lagoon Preserve State Park is home to one of the most biologically diverse estuaries in North America.
Surf’s up in Cocoa Beach: This surfing capital is the birthplace of champion surfer Kelly Slater and home to the flagship store of world-famous Ron Jon Surf Shop.