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    Kennedy Space Center and Cape Canaveral: What to see in the Space Coast Florida

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    Martí Micolau

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    If you have always dreamed of becoming an astronaut and you are a fan of shuttles and space missions, there are two places you absolutely must visit in the United States: the Johnson Space Center di Houston, Texas, and the Kennedy Space Center di Cape Canaveral, Florida. This strip of land overlooking the Atlantic Ocean is known as Space Coast, because it is from here that the spacecraft take off to discover the secrets of interest.


    • Brevard County
    • Kennedy Space Center: what to see
      • Kennedy Space Center Tickets
    • Cape Canaveral: like witnessing a space launch
    • Space Coast: how to get there
    • Where to eat on the Space Coast
    • Where to sleep on the Space Coast

    Brevard County

    NASA's space center is located in Brevard County, which occupies the coastal sector of central Florida, east of Orlando. If you visit the center of NASA, you will also have the opportunity to see something nearby. The county seat is Titusville, a town on the Indian River important for its historical sites and museums. The same goes for Melbourne, the city where Juan Ponce de Leon, the first explorer of Florida, landed in 1513. Opposite Melbourne, on the thin strip of land connected by a bridge, take a trip to Coconut Point Park, where you will have the opportunity to see sea turtles in the sanctuary dedicated to them.

    Cocoa Beach, between Melbourne and Cape Canaveral, is the ideal place to observe space launches, but since this certainly does not happen on a daily basis, there must be other reasons to go there. The main one is surfing: the excellent position for the waves attracts numerous surfers every year and it is no coincidence that the museum is located right here East Coast Surfing Hall of Fame, dedicated to this sport.

    Here in the Easter period theEaster Surfing Festival, a great event where surfing is the protagonist and which attracts not only surfers, but also many people who simply love to watch those who ride the waves or want to entertain themselves with collateral events. In the center of CocoaFinally, take a stroll in the Historic Cocoa Village, the lively historic district with tree-lined streets, full of restaurants and shops.

    Kennedy Space Center: what to see

    Il Kennedy Space Center it is undoubtedly the main attraction of the area, as well as being one of the most important space centers in the world. It is located on Merritt Island, a spit of land that is also home to a nature reserve where the protagonist is the bald eagle, symbol of the United States of America, which shares the wildlife refuge with alligators, sea turtles, bobcats, Florida panthers and various species of birds such as ibises, storks and pelicans.

    Before arriving at the Space Center Visitor Center, you can make a stop in Titusville, where you will see it US Space Walk of Fame & Museum. Here you will have the testimony, with plaques and monuments located in a large open space, of some of the most important space programs, such as Mercury, Apollo, Gemini and Space. Inside the museum, however, photos and objects from space missions will help you get to know them better.

    The large NASA logo will welcome you as you arrive at the Visitor Center, where the actual visit begins. It starts from Rocket Garden: the garden where the rockets of the Mercury, Gemini and Apollo missions are exhibited. Entering the building, you immerse yourself in the spatial context and you can enter the shuttle Atlantis: a giant of the skies that has made the history of space exploration for over twenty years.

    The interactive visit continues with Modules, a life-size lunar module, and with a series of experiences that will make you feel like real astronauts. There is the mini course to learn how to fly a spaceship and the exploration of the space station, the shuttle launch simulator and the exploration of the solar system. With Eyes on theUniverse you will understand a little better the origin of the universe and with the space telescope you will be fascinated by what can be observed thanks to the lenses.

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    During the visit it is also possible to attend two shows: the first is a movies in 3D projected on the impressive and huge IMAX screen, where you will feel completely immersed in deep space. The second, called Meet an astronaut, is a theatrical show where you will have the opportunity to meet an astronaut live by asking him any question that comes to mind. Among the most interesting things about the tour is the rocket Saturn V, housed in a huge hangar. This is the rocket that brought 12 astronauts to the moon, including Neil Armstrong: the first man to set foot on the satellite on July 20, 1969. The LEM (Lunar Excursion Module) from which Armstrong descended can also be visited. 



    Finally, the US Astronaut Hall of Fame is the place where astronauts are remembered and honored while in Space Mirror and in Forever Remembered the fallen on mission are specifically commemorated. And if you get hungry on the tour, what better time than Lunch with an astronaut? You will have a rich buffet at your disposal and you will share the table with an astronaut who tells you about his experiences of working in space. In any case, the opportunities to eat something are varied: there is also the possibility of grabbing a sandwich or having a frugal meal at the bar.

    Kennedy Space Center Tickets

    The entrance ticket can also be purchased online and varies according to the package you choose, age and includes many attractions, activities and visits that can be done within the six areas of the complex. Below, for convenience, you will find some links to which you can buy the entrance ticket in Spanish and other combined packages, in case you don't orient yourself with the English language on American sites.

    • Entrance ticket (Getyourguide)
    • Entrance ticket (Viator)
    • Tour with Transportation and Combo Packages (from Orlando)

    Cape Canaveral: like witnessing a space launch

    As already mentioned, Cape Canaveral's long strip of land is a great place for those looking for great beaches and maybe doing water sports like surfing. But that's not the only reason so many come to this corner of Florida. This is where the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station: the large area from which the launches of the rockets directed towards space. Who does not remember the scenes from the movie Armageddon, as well as from other films, in which you can see the suggestive departure of the rocket from here? Well, if you are lucky enough to find yourself in Florida on one of the days when a space launch takes place (rest assured, if it happens you will see it well advertised on the Kennedy Space Center website!), You cannot miss it from Cape Canaveral.

    But where do you observe the launch of a spacecraft into space? You don't have to drive haphazardly in search of a good location - they exist four observation areas, one in the space center and the others reachable by shuttle, equipped with stands to sit and with live commentary every time there is a launch. Even if the distance is considerable, it is always recommended to wear headphones to protect the ears and it is very exciting to watch the countdown and feel the vibrations that follow the roar of the giant engines of the rocket. Here are the four observation areas.

    • LC-39 Observation Gantry. Located at the historic Launch Complex 39, from which astronauts first departed for the Moon, it is the best area to observe launches 2 to 3 miles away.
    • NASA Causeway. Along this road, which connects the Cape Canaveral Launch Station with the Space Center, launches across the Indian River at a distance of 3-5 miles are clearly visible.
    • Apollo/SaturnV Center. This is also the final stop on the Kennedy Space Center bus tour. In this case the distance from the launch pads varies between 5 and 8 miles.
    • Main Visitor Complex. Finally, the area located at the Kennedy Space Center, to be exact next to the Space Shuttle Atlantis, 7 miles from the launch pads. To access it you just need the space center ticket (while to reach the others it is necessary to add the cost of the shuttle bus), but it is also the one with the most disturbed view from the trees.

    Space Coast: how to get there

    If you are doing a road trip in Florida, or in more states of the USA, you can plan a stop at the Kennedy Space Center and Cape Canaveral while visiting the Atlantic coast. But this can also be a day trip or two departing from Orlando or Miami, which are respectively 1 hour and 3 hours drive from the space center. If you are already in the area, you may find it convenient to use the Space Coast Area Transit public transport, which connects all the towns in Brevard County. From Orlando it is also possible to arrive with a organized tour, which will take away all worries: you will be accompanied from the capital of Florida to the space center, and then back again after making the visit.

    Day tour from Orlando

    Where to eat on the Space Coast

    You will certainly be looking for a place to stop for lunch or dinner, before or after visiting the space center. So here are some suggestions to be on the safe side in the various coastal locations.

    • River Rocks Dining & Drinks Dockside (6485 S.US 1, Rockledge). With the Indian River lagoon as a backdrop and live music, this restaurant is perfect for a nice dinner at the end of the day. The cuisine is typical American and the bar with the portico overlooking the river can be reached by walking on a beautiful walkway over the water.
    • Café Margaux Restaurant (220 Brevard Ave., Cocoa). A good standard, with mixed cuisine where the French taste intersects with the Asian ones. It is considered to be one of the best restaurants in Florida and is certainly among those that offer the best wines.
    • Djon’s Steak & Lobster House (522 Ocean Ave., Melbourne Beach). On the strip of land between the Indian River and the Atlantic Ocean, here you can eat both quality fish and meat, enlivened by the piano bar.
    • Molly’s Seafood Shack (1580 E.Merritt Island Cswy., Merritt Island). An environment furnished in a nautical style that offers good fish dishes, at reasonable prices.

    Where to sleep on the Space Coast

    In the county territory it is not difficult to find accommodation and we also suggest you take a look at our article on where to sleep in Orlando, being a large city within a short distance, it offers a large number of opportunities for overnight stays. Here are some tips too if you are looking for accommodation in the area.

    • Winter Harbor (201 Ocean Ave., Melbourne Beach). Welcoming and refined historic B&B, with garden and swimming pools. It has a tropical style setting, really very pretty. And if you choose the suite, you will admire the ocean from your room.
    • Casa Coquina del Mar B&B (4010 Coquina Ave., Titusville). Here is a B&B from which you can watch rocket launches from Cape Canaveral (of course, if you are staying here at the time of a launch). The rooms are welcoming and it is often possible to participate in tea tastings.
    • Four Points by Sheraton (4001 N. Atlantic Ave., Cocoa Beach). A good hotel of the famous chain, contemporary in style. It is located near the beach and ideal for those who also want to enjoy some of the sea.
    • Holiday Inn Club Vacation Beach Resort (1000 Shorewood Dr., Cape Canaveral). Another good hotel, with swimming pool, direct access to the beach and rooms with balconies. It is located in Cape Canaveral, not far from the launch station.

    All accommodations in the area

    Are you planning a Florida tour?

    I recommend these articles:

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    • Car rental Miami and Florida: low cost practical tips
    • Florida climate: when to go and what temperatures to expect
    • Miami Travel Guide: Useful Tips for Planning a Vacation
    • Low Cost USA flights: how to save money for your flight to the United States
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