Florida's Space Coast
The next time you hit the road, combine your fascination with space travel with your love of sunny beaches and spend some time on Florida's Space Coast. This bit of the coast, nearest to Orlando, stretches from the Canaveral National Seashore down to Sebastian Inlet State Park. Along this coast you can enjoy some of the best surfing spots, saltwater fishing, the wildlife of Florida, sunny beaches, and the history of space travel at Kennedy Space Center.
There are a few places along Florida's Space Coast that all visitors need to take some time to see and explore. The Canaveral National Seashore has over 24 miles of undeveloped beaches. Throughout the year you can fish, boat, swim, hike along the trails, and even surf. The National Seashore is just north of the NASA Shuttle Launching Facility, which may cause temporary closures of the Canaveral Seashore.
Another important piece of culture and history of the Space Coast is its part in America's history of space travel. During a visit to this part of Florida, be sure to make time to visit the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex. At the Kennedy Space Center you can tour launch areas, see rockets, experience the space flight simulators, and speak to an astronaut. If you are really lucky and time your visit right you may even be able to view a shuttle launch. Space enthusiasts should also visit the US Astronaut Hall of Fame. At this museum you can see what space travel was like for the first astronauts. Try out the astronaut training simulators and look at the museums large collection of the astronauts personal items.
Surfing is another big part of Florida's Space Coast culture. Stop by Ron Jons Surf Shop, a 24-hour surf shop is considered to be one of the world's most famous surf shops. At Ron Jons you can explore 52,000 square feet of surfing gear.
For those who want to experience surfing, there are many places that offer surfing lessons. If you want to observe some world-class surfing, visit Sebastian Inlet State Park. This state park hosts surfing contests. Sebastian Inlet is also a great saltwater fishing destination. Visit the McLarty Museum and the Sebastian Inlet Fishing Museum to learn about the history of the area.
Another great surfing area is Cocoa Beach. From the Cocoa Beach Pier you can enjoy a delicious nosh while watching some of the area's pro surfers, as well as some of the amateurs. Cocoa Beach is also a great destination for non-surfers who like the swimming and sunbathing. The pier also offers entertainment, including the "Concert of the Beach" series, which features many big names.
For visitors interested in wildlife, the Brevard Zoo is a must-see family attraction. This zoo is home to more than 550 animals. At this zoo you can view African, Latin American, and Australian animals, and animals native to Florida. Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge is a great place to bird watch, spot wildlife, and even observe manatees from a special observation deck. You can also enjoy the varied habitats while boating and canoeing.
Another great way to enjoy the natural habitat of the Space Coast is on an eco-tour, possibly in an airboat. These tours will guide you along central Florida's rivers and Everglades.