Even though we’ve lived in Florida forever, we’ve never spent any time on the Space Coast. So we hopped in the car and decided to fix that!
We really weren’t sure what to expect about this area but knew for sure we wanted to visit Kennedy Space Center. I asked my Instagram community to share any advice for KSC first timers, and here’s what they said: 1. Get to the complex as soon as it opens to beat the crowds 2. Bring lots of water, because you’ll do a lot of walking in uncovered areas 3. Start in the back of the complex and work your way forward. So we got up early, packed our water, dressed in matching NASA shirts and hit the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex first thing in the morning! As we worked our way to the back of the center we realized just how solid the advice was. We got to see the Atlantis exhibit with only one other group! The Atlantis video reveal (IYKYK!) was one of the coolest experiences we’ve ever had, and it felt like we were the only people there. That exhibit and the rocket garden were, by far, our favorite parts of Kennedy Space Center. Even though we got to the park early, we still stayed until about 3:00pm and there were areas we didn’t even make it to. There’s just to much to see! If I had to pick a highlight of the weekend, this was definitely it. We recently watched Hidden Figures, and I felt like we were experiencing so much history as we explored the complex.
On our drive back from Kennedy Space Center to Cocoa Beach we stopped to check out Exploration Tower. The tower looks like a building straight out of Dubai and is a unique structure with 7 floors of interactive exhibits, observation decks, plus a cafe and gift shop. The observation deck has a panoramic view of the cruise ships coming in and out of Port Canaveral, and the first floor houses a huge collection of sculptures made of recycled beach trash. It’s definitely worth a stop, and it you want to spend even more time watching the constant activity at the port, there are plenty of restaurants nearby to grab lunch.
One of the things I loved about the Space Coast area was the retro feel of so many of the homes and businesses. You can tell there was a huge boom in this area during the 60s, because much of the architectural style is still delightfully mid century. Our hotel Beachside Hotel & Suites, was a block from the beach, so when we weren’t floating in the property’s lazy river we enjoyed walking to the beautiful public access and checking out Cocoa Beach. We also made a visit to Ron Jon Surf Shop, the world’s largest surf shop. If you’ve spent any time at all driving south between St. Augustine and Cocoa Beach, you’ve seen the endless billboards for Ron Jon. And when we realized the famous surf shop was right next to our hotel, we had to make a visit. Anderson got a little carried away inside and walked out with a fun new wardrobe! Food was a little hit-or-miss all weekend, but we all loved Juice-N-Java Cafe. It’s a great spot for breakfast or lunch at the beach!
We also really enjoyed exploring historic Cocoa Village in the evenings. It’s a downtown area full of historic, tree-lined streets, restaurants, and unique shops with a relaxing vibe. It was the perfect place to relax after our fun and sun filled days. Because I love all things nostalgia and kitsch, I also made my family stop for pics of I Dream of Jeannie Lane, the famous Kelly Slater statue, and Sonny at the Sun Bum office. A few local adventures we didn’t get to were the Brevard Zoo, a bio-luminescent kayak tour (the weather didn’t cooperate on the night we had this scheduled), the Cocoa Beach Pier, and the Cocoa Beach mural tour (we did see a few murals though!) But this just means we already have a list to start with next visit!