Florida is well known for its stellar attractions – a more literal statement than it might initially appear. This is a place of real-life rocket launches and blissful sandy beaches, where you can kayak through brilliantly clear water and meet a NASA astronaut within the space of a single day.
Meet an astronaut at the Kennedy Space Center
The Kennedy Space Center, Florida's gateway to the universe, doesn’t just serve as NASA’s primary launch base – it also hosts an integrated museum that charts the history of space travel. Exhibits are organised into ‘Mission Zones’ from Heroes and Legends – essentially the astronaut hall of fame – to Behind the Gates, where you’ll board a tour bus to see historical launch sites and spaceflight facilities.
Each day, you’ll have the chance to meet a veteran NASA astronaut at the live Astronaut Encounter event. Time is allotted for both a presentation and a short discussion – so come armed with questions.
Watch a Live Rocket Launch by the Space Coast
While NASA phased out its shuttles in 2011, the space programme itself didn't shut down. In fact, the Space Coast is making a triumphant return to human spaceflight, beginning in November 2018.
Of course, the aforementioned Kennedy Space Center offers the best views of the action, though there are a number of great viewing locations nearby if space is at a premium.
Sand Point Park, found in the historical Downtown Titusville, is one of the most popular, and we’d also recommend heading to Playalinda Beach. If you’re lucky enough to watch a launch, it can be a particularly surreal and magical experience to watch it right by the Atlantic Ocean.
Interested? Check out the countdown to the next launch or the Space Coast launch list.
Witness the Space Coast’s Natural Wonder
Not all the Space Coast’s marvels require you to look to the heavens. It’s also home to an underwater light show that has to be seen to be believed. During the summer, tiny plankton-like particles appear in the waters of the Banana River and Indian River Lagoon emitting light as they swirl around – a phenomenon known as bioluminescence.
If you’d like to get close to the action, local kayak tours are available. If you’re lucky, you may also spot manatees, dolphins and other aquatic wildlife on your journey.
For more Space Coast wildlife, head to St. John’s River for an airboat tour, which sees you skim across this natural paradise in search of bald eagles, sea otters, alligators and blue herons.
Enjoy Some Downtime in Melbourne, Florida
The Space Coast’s premier entertainment hub, Melbourne is also home to 33 miles of unspoilt shoreline. This spot is a surfer’s dream – but if you’re more interested in topping up your tan, the wave riders make for a majestic spectacle.
The Eau Gallie Arts District offers daily walking tours, and ghost tours in autumn, while Downtown Melbourne has all the restaurants, bars and independent boutiques you could hope for to top off your trip.
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