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The most magical place on earth might be Walt Disney World, but 45 minutes east of Orlando is a place that offers a different type of enchantment. From the thrill of rocket launches to the quiet wonder of nesting sea turtles, the Sunshine State’s Central Atlantic Coast offers a magic all its own. Here are the best ways to explore Florida’s Space Coast.

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Things to do in Space Coast Florida- Kennedy Space Center

Kennedy Space Center | Photo: Space Coast Office of Tourism

Space out

Even if you’re not lucky enough to be in town during a rocket launch, Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex still offers plenty of ways to blow your mind. Marvel at the actual space shuttle Atlantis, prepare for liftoff during a simulated launch ride and enjoy a buffet lunch with an astronaut—your chance to pose for a selfie with a hero and ask all your burning questions about life in space.

A Delta 2 rocket lifts as seen from Port Canaveral

A Delta 2 rocket lifts as seen from Port Canaveral

Explore some more

Can’t get enough STEM (that would be science, technology, engineering and math)? The stunning Exploration Tower at Port Canaveral offers seven floors of interactive exhibits, films and more detailing Central Florida’s environment. The architectural gem’s outdoor observation deck is a perfect spot for watching cruise ships roll in—or a rocket launch!

Things to do in Space Coast Florida- surfing in Cocoa Beach

Photo Credit: Space Coast Office of Tourism

Ride a wave

With year-round warm temps and near-perfect waves, Cocoa Beach is one of the best spots in Florida to hang ten. Even if you’re not the next Kelly Slater (the world-champion surfer calls Cocoa home), pick up a new pair of board shorts at the original Ron Jon Surf Shop.

Things to do in Space Coast Florida- Cocoa Beach Pier

Peer here

The legendary Cocoa Beach Pier is a great place to watch pro surfers making the drop, but that’s just the beginning. The pier extends 800 feet across the Atlantic waves, with fishing, live entertainment, restaurants and more along the way. Enjoy a meal with a view, then pick up a souvenir.

national wildlife refuge on Merritt Island

Merritt Island

With manatees, more than 300 species of birds and yes, the occasional alligator, this national wildlife refuge merits a spot on your itinerary. Embark on an airboat tour, check out the view from a biplane or rent a bike and explore this barrier island on two wheels.

Brevard Zoo Kayak

Brevard Zoo Kayak | Photo: Space Coast Office of Tourism

Go wild

You’ve likely been to zoos before, but nothing is quite like the Brevard Zoo. Where else can you kayak past zebras and rhinos, feed a giraffe and get a birds-eye view of monkeys and elephants via zipline? 

Things to do in Space Coast Florida- sea turtle walks

Venture out after dark

From sea turtle walks to bioluminescent kayaking to a thriving nightlife scene, the real fun on Florida’s Space Coast heats up long after the sun goes down.

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