At the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex in Cape Canaveral, aspiring astronauts can take a closer look at Space Shuttle Atlantis, touch a moon rock, eat lunch with a NASA astronaut and experience through realistic simulation what the 8.5-minute shuttle launch feels like for the crew.
For an even more realistic space experience, head to Vegas, where the thrilling ZERO-G Experience lets passengers experience lunar gravity and weightlessness on a specially modified Boeing 727. By performing aerobatic parabolas in the sky, passengers get to feel zero gravity without ever going into space.
At Epcot in Walt Disney World, Mission: Space sends park-goers on a mission to Mars, complete with a NASA-style training and launch simulator followed by a perilous journey around the moon and into space. With two different intensity levels to choose from, it's suitable even for squeamish astronauts.
The American Museum of Natural History's Hayden Planetarium, considered one of the best planetariums in the country, takes visitors into space through star shows, a lecture series and Astronomy Live programs featuring guided tours of the universe using the Zeiss Mark IX star projector.
Located just of Interstate 40 near the town of Winslow, the Arizona Meteor Crater is the best preserved meteor impact site on the planet. Nearly one mile across and 550 feet deep, the crater was caused by an asteroid hitting the surface of the earth at a speed of approximately 26,000 miles per hour around 50,000 years ago.
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Space Center Houston
Space Center Houston, the official visitors center for the NASA Johnson Space Center, features a collection of more than 250 space artifacts, in addition to traveling exhibits. Special experiences let guests dine with an astronaut, take a behind-the-scenes tour of Mission Control, see a life-sized shuttle replica and learn about what life is like on the International Space Station.
For those whose interest in space is less "Gravity" and more "X-Files," a visit to the UFO Museum & Research Center in Roswell, New Mexico might be in order. Inside the quirky museum, visitors can learn all about the mysterious circumstances surrounding the crash in 1947 and decide for themselves whether we're alone in the universe.
At the Griffith Observatory in Los Angeles, visitors can take a closer look at the cosmos through free public telescopes, attend a star party, or if the weather isn't cooperating, catch one of four shows presented by a live storyteller in the Samuel Oschin Planetarium theater.
For a space-centric experience of the Hollywood variety, it doesn't get much better than Star Trek Las Vegas. During this annual August event, Gene Roddenberry’s legendary characters and worlds come to life for fans through elaborate props and sets, celebrity guests, autograph signings and plenty of costumes.
Open daily for self-guided tours, New Mexico's Very Large Array is one of the world's biggest and best astronomical radio observatories with 27 giant antennas spread across the desert plains west of Socorro. It's an other-worldly sight worthy of a spot on any space lover's bucket list.