Groups can experience out-of-this-world adventure on Florida’s Space Coast—located on the state’s East Coast, bordering the Atlantic Ocean. Located just one hour from Orlando, Florida’s Space Coast includes the cities of: Cocoa Beach, Melbourne, Palm Bay, Port Canaveral, Titusville, and Viera.
“Florida’s Space Coast offers once-in-a-lifetime experiences for groups of all ages as they witness the waterways glow with bioluminescence, observe a nesting sea turtle, and feel the power of a rocket lifting off to space,” said Charity Stewart, marketing director at Florida’s Space Coast Office of Tourism.
Day one: Explore and learn in nature
Florida’s Space Coast is home to an abundance of nature–it’s up to you to explore it.
Morning: Visit the Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge
Experience the great outdoors with a trip to the Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge, a 140,000-acre landmark flush with land, water, marshes, and native Florida plants and wildlife in the Cape Canaveral region. The 7-mile-long Black Point Wildlife Drive provides a viewing point for alligators, raptors, shorebirds, snakes, and more. Or groups can book a driving tour with Canaveral Wildlife Tours. Outdoor enthusiasts can hike the Visitor Center boardwalk or bike along the St. Johns River to Sea Loop.
Afternoon: Enjoy the Brevard Zoo
Adventure comes to life in the Brevard Zoo, the only zoo in the country where you can kayak around the animal exhibits. The community-built zoo focuses on wildlife conservation through education and interactive exhibits, providing groups of all sizes and ages the opportunity to see more than 600 animals and learn about conservation from on-site animal trainers and naturalists. Groups will also enjoy a Wildlife Encounter Tour or zip line adventure flying high above spider monkeys, giant otters, and crocodiles at the Treetop Trek park.
Evening: Take a guided turtle walk
Biologists around the world recognize Archie Carr National Wildlife Refuge as one of the most important nesting areas for loggerhead sea turtles in the western hemisphere. Several Florida Space Coast organizations offer guided nighttime walking tours from June through August to see the turtles at a safe distance. Book an evening reservation with the Friends of the Carr Refuge or the Sea Turtle Preservation Society to learn from knowledgeable scientists on a guided tour as you catch a glimpse of the female turtles making their way between nest and sea under the stars.
Day two: Spend the day by the water
Waves, rays, and animal encounters–explore Florida’s Space Coast aquatic ecosystem.
Morning: Ride on an airboat
See the wild side of Florida with Twister Airboat Ride. The 30, 60, and 90-minute airboat tours take groups deep into nature along the St. Johns River. Wind your way through old farms full of cows and horses and spot gators in the water along the way. The popular 60 or 90-minute ecotour promises frequent spottings of wild hogs, gators, and migratory birds. Airboat rides fit up to 15 people with group discounts available.
Afternoon: Book a surf lesson
Experience true paradise at Cocoa Beach, located just 45-minutes east of Orlando. Home to the flagship Ron Jon Surf Shop, Cocoa Beach tops the list of most famous beaches on Florida’s Space Coast. In the surf shop, visitors will find everything from swimwear and skateboards to skimboards and surfboards. Groups can sign up for guided surf lessons all year round with Ron Jon Surf School.
Evening: Experience an ecotour
Sunset from the water is a must on the Space Coast. Get up close to dolphins, manatees, and mangroves on one of the Space Coast’s many ecotour excursions that take groups onto the water to experience Florida’s diverse marine ecology. Take a pontoon ride with Cocoa Beach Dolphin Tours, sail around Merritt Island by catamaran with Sail Cocoa Beach, or take a nighttime paddle on a clear bottom kayak to see a natural bioluminescent lightshow with Cocoa Kayaking.
Day three: Experience a day of flight
Ready, set, blast off!–come see what the Florida Space Coast is all about.
Morning: Visit the American Space Museum
No trip to Florida’s Space Coast is complete without a stop at the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex. The 7.8 million-square-foot complex spans 11 buildings and acts as a launchpad for knowledge for past, present, and future space exploration. NASA and aerospace enthusiasts can also explore the American Space Museum & Space Walk of Fame. Inside the museum in downtown Titusville, exhibits feature one-of-a-kind artifacts like the space shuttle launch control center, Air Force Launch Pad consoles, and a real launchpad sequencer.
Afternoon: Tour the Valiant Air Command Warbird Museum
Walk inside a hangar and stand among flying giants at the Valiant Air Command Warbird Museum. The museum’s growing collection of over 50 warbirds includes aircraft from modern to historic relics representing military forces around the world, including preserved pre-WWI planes to military aircraft from the 21st century.
Evening: Stroll the Space Walk of Fame
End the night with a stroll through the Space Walk of Fame monuments in Space View Park. The self-guided tour honors the men and women who helped America lead the world in space exploration. Those lucky enough might even catch a view of a rocket launch in the distance.
For more information about group travel to Florida’s Space Coast, call 321-433-4470 or go to visitspacecoast.com.
Article by Erica Zazo
Main photo: Rocket take-off pad; Credit: Florida’s Space Coast Office of Tourism