Wickham Park is our favorite, off-the-beaten-path, non-touristy attraction on the Space Coast. This is a hotspot for college students, located adjacent to the Eastern Florida State College Melbourne campus, which means plenty of events, from a medieval festival to multicultural celebrations. Friday night is food truck night. Grab a meal to go and head for the beach, where you can spot dolphins. Wickham Park offers a ton of fun features, including but not limited to: camping (with electrical hookups), a plethora of trails, swimming, a pavilion, horse stables, multiple lakes, disc golf, volleyball, soccer fields, a dog park, amphitheater and more.
Recommended for Best Attractions & Activities because: Wickham Park is a local fave and hidden gem, with tons of outdoor activities and organized events.
Aimee's expert tip: Plan a camping excursion here on a Friday night, so you can take advantage of Food Truck Fridays.
The Sky Dive Space Center in Titusville is one of the Space Coast's most thrilling activities. It's the world's highest jump, at 18,000 feet. It also is the only drop zone in the world that overlooks the Kennedy Space Center and Cape Canaveral. Sky Dive Space Center has special permission from NASA to fly right above the shuttle launch pads and runway on the way to altitude, so you can see a unique, one-of-a-kind aerial tour of the space center that you cannot experience any other way. If you're on a budget, the Sky Dive Space Center also boasts the "world's cheapest jump," for just $99 – although we recommend upgrading to the biggest packages that include video and photographic evidence of your experience.
Recommended for Best Attractions & Activities because: This is the world's highest sky dive jump, at 18,000 feet. See the Space Coast from above. Way above.
Aimee's expert tip: Upgrade and get a video of the experience. It's worth it. But if you're on a budget, you can also get the "world's cheapest jump" for just $99.
The refuge is 140,000 acres (or 22 square miles) of wetlands inhabited by more than 1,500 types of plants and animals, including more than 300 species of birds, ghost crabs, loggerhead and green sea turtles, reptiles, raccoons and bobcats. NASA owns and maintains this treasure and offers the public many ways to experience it. Join in a guided tour or explore four different hiking trails that range from 0.25 mile to five miles long. Boating, canoeing, a manatee observation deck (with informational panels about this endangered species), coastal dunes, saltwater estuaries, fishing and nature photography make this a complete wildlife experience.
Recommended for Best Attractions & Activities because: This massive refuge is home to 1,500 different types of plants and animals.
Aimee's expert tip: Try kayaking or canoeing at Eddy Creek or Turnbull Creek.
Located midway down the Florida east coast between New Smyrna Beach and Titusville, the 24 miles of park is home to over 1,000 species of plants and 300 species of birds, including 14 threatened or endangered species. Sea turtles nest here. This is Florida, in nature. Wild and untouched. Visitors enjoy camping (with permit), ocean beaches, surfing, fishing, boating and hunting. Rangers facilitate programs year-round on such topics as canoeing and sea turtle nesting. Take a self-guided tour along Black Point Wildlife Drive, through the marsh. Restrooms and a small bookstore also available, but don't expect picnic benches, phones, drinking fountains or stores. This is an escape from all of that.
Recommended for Best Attractions & Activities because: The Canaveral National Seashore is Florida, wild and untouched. See pristine beaches and rare or endangered species.
Aimee's expert tip: Consider this a warning or a tip, depending on how you roll: The last pier (No. 13) of the Playalinda Beach welcomes nude sunbathers. But if you have young kids, don't be afraid; the first 12 piers are plenty of sand.
Port Canaveral is one of the busiest cruise ports in the world. Even though millions of cruise passengers pass through her every year, the atmosphere remains relaxed. Located off A1A in Cape Canaveral, Port Canaveral serves as an industrial, commercial and luxury transportation hub by connecting land, sea, air and space travel. In addition to its daily import/export schedule, seven of the finest cruise terminals in the world are located here. Deep sea fishing and boat rental are also available. The Cove at Port Canaveral is a waterfront recreational area that's home to several restaurants, shops, charter boats and attractions.
Recommended for Best Attractions & Activities because: Port Canaveral is one of the busiest cruise ports in the world.
Aimee's expert tip: If you are going on a cruise from Port Canaveral, you can pre-pay online for parking near your ship.
Ron Jon Surf Shop is the world's most famous surf shop, with a location in Cocoa Beach. You can find Ron Jon stores along the coast, from New Jersey to Maryland, but it's popular tourist attraction in the Space Coast, too. In fact, Ron Jon's Cocoa Beach location is the largest surfing shop in the world. Pick up souvenirs here, as well as some sunscreen, a new swimming suit and, of course, a surfboard. At Ron Jon's, you can find everything you need for a day at the beach. And whether you life chain stores or not, it is a Cocoa Beach landmark.
Recommended for Best Attractions & Activities because: Ron Jon's is the world's most famous surf shop and the largest in the world.
Aimee's expert tip: Check Ron Jon's website for a surf report of the waves, to see if (and where) you want to take your board out.
The world's largest collection of astronaut artifacts, this museum offers a tribute to America's first forty-four astronauts. View historical mission items from every flight and personal astronaut memorabilia. Many of the artifacts here are rare and fascinating, and the displays are inspiring; don't miss the glass etchings that line the Hall of Heroes. Take control of your very own space craft with the 3D-360 Simulator! Build and launch your own rocket. Experience the feel of walking on the moon. The third floor is a great place for a panoramic view of the Kennedy Space Center and the Indian River Lagoon. The Hall of Fame is also associated with The US Space Camp.
Recommended for Best Attractions & Activities because: The hall of fame is the world's largest collection of astronaut artifacts.
Aimee's expert tip: Entrance into the hall of fame is included with your admission to the Kennedy Space Center, so don't miss it.
Half a mile north of 520, off A1A, you'll find The Pier, an exciting extension of the city of Cocoa Beach and the Space Coast. Take in live music (the pier has welcomed the bands such as the Beach Boys and UB40) as you dine several hundred feet above the Atlantic Ocean at Oh Shucks. Or walk down to the end of the pier for classic seafood at Marlins. The Boardwalk and Atlantic Ocean Grille offer great selections, as well. There are also gift shops, volleyball courts and fishing sites. This historical, 800-foot-long landmark is excellent for fishing, as well as playing beach volleyball and some of the best surfing in the area.
Recommended for Best Attractions & Activities because: This long, historical pier is bustling with live music, fishing, volleyball and some of the best surfing in the area.
Aimee's expert tip: The local shops here, like Oceanotions, are a great place to get souvenirs of the area.
The only zoo in the U.S. to offer onsite kayaking tours, Brevard Zoo features over 880 animals from around the world. Get up close and personal with a white rhino during a Rhino Encounter from noon to 1 p.m., ride the Cape to Cairo express train, feed cockatiels and lorikeets in a free flight aviary, visit with the residents at the petting zoo and splash around in the Paws On Play lagoon. Free parking, on-site cafe and gift shop, educational programs, overnight adventures, camps and the option to rent the Nyami Nyami River Lodge for special events are all offered. So if you've never seen a meerkat, tapir, siamang, jaguar, cassowary or come face to face with a giraffe, check out Brevard Zoo open daily from 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Last admission is 4:15 p.m.
Recommended for Best Attractions & Activities because: The Brevard Zoo is a world-renowned zoo with hundreds of species and unique tour offerings.
Aimee's expert tip: Sign up for a private group guided night hike or safari through the zoo. Night hikes come with food, drinks, special presentations, games and more. A great idea for families.
The Space Coast is named for its unique history with NASA, centered around the Kennedy Space Center. Although NASA's last shuttle launch was a few years ago, you can still catch the occasional private rocket launch here. The Kennedy Space Center is the definitive place to visit for an exciting education in America's legendary space program, and to get a glimpse into the working environment of a real space exploration facility. Take a tour, check out exhibits of historic space events, see 3-D IMAX films that bring you face to face with missions of the past, present and future, and even go vertical in the Shuttle Launch Experience. General admission includes the U.S. Astronaut Hall of Fame, featuring astronaut memorabilia, simulators and displays.
Recommended for Best Attractions & Activities because: The Space Coast is named after this space center, which offers a rich and interesting history in America's space program.
Aimee's expert tip: Have lunch with an astronaut and have a chance to ask a real space explorer all the questions your imagination can dream up.