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Space Coast On A Budget: The 10 Best Free Activities



The best parts of a beach vacation often come free. Think about how rejuvenated and joyful you feel after a day stretched out on the sand, or exploring the trails and running across a bird you have never seen before. With the Space Coast's excellent weather and miles upon miles of beaches and open space, you can easily entertain yourself without having to spend any money at all. 

Don't miss our favorite beach in the area, Cocoa Beach. The Sea Turtle Preservation Society organizes late-evening walks to see the turtles laying eggs on the beach. And Turtle Creek is the home to rare flora and manatees. While you're there, hike the trails and learn more about the area in the educational nature center.  

But getting out in nature is not the only way to explore the Space Coast on a budget. Watch a rocket launch from the beach. Watch the cruise ships slide past Port Canaveral. People-watch at the Super Flea, the area's biggest flea market, with free parking and free admission. Ring a replica of the famous Liberty Bell in the Liberty Bell Museum. Watch free movies outside in Wickham Park, or cool off with a free movie at a variety of movie theaters throughout the summer. 


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Manatee Sanctuary Park
Photo courtesy of U.S. Geological Survey


The Manatee Sanctuary Park in Cape Canaveral is one of the best, most peaceful places near the port to enjoy the outdoors. This park spans more than 10 acres of nature on the Banana River. Plan a day excursion here. Talk the half-mile trail (and even try out the exercise stations, if you want to get in an outdoor workout); walk the riverside boardwalk; pack lunch and eat it under the covered pavilion; challenge your friends to a game of horseshoes; and best of all, watch for manatees, dolphins, osprey, waterfowl, fish and more. Tip: For nearly guaranteed manatee sightings, locals head to the corner of Berkley and St. Patrick streets. The canal under the bridge is a manatee superhighway!

Recommended for Free Things to Do because: See dolphins, manatees and other critters at this park for free.

Aimee's expert tip: Come here for lunch on the river. You can grill out and enjoy a peaceful picnic on the waterfront.

Read more about Manatee Sanctuary Park →


Pineapple Park River Front


The Pineapple Park River Front is located on the Indian River, near the Eau Gallie Library. It is a great downtown place to fish from the pier, have a picnic or enjoy a breezy walk under the palm trees. Relax on a bench, or bring your kids to play on the playground. This park is conveniently located near the Eau Gallie Civic Center. A favorite thing to do: Rent a (free) book at the nearby library and take it to the banks of the river or to the edge of the pier for a quiet, peaceful date with nature. Read until you watch the sun set.

Recommended for Free Things to Do because: This quiet park on the banks of the Indian River is a great place to get lost in a book or go on a date.

Aimee's expert tip: Rent a book from the library and read it on the pier, as the sun goes down.

Read more about Pineapple Park River Front →


Liberty Bell Memorial Museum


Ring a full-sized replica of the Liberty Bell at this museum dedicated to the national heritage of America. Catch a glimpse of over two dozen reproductions of important documents, such as the Mayflower Compact and the rough draft of the Declaration of Independence. Many historical periods in American history are brought to life through original exhibits here. In addition, check out the Brevard County Hall of Fame, featuring actors, athletes, coaches and an astronaut. (You have to go visit the museum to learn who; we're not telling!) Best of all: The Liberty Bell Museum is free and open to the public.

Recommended for Free Things to Do because: This free museum provides a unique insight into American history. Ring a full-sized replica of the Liberty Bell.

Aimee's expert tip: Don't miss the annex to the museum, the Freedom Hall, where you can see artifacts, photos, uniforms, weapons and models from past wars.

Read more about Liberty Bell Memorial Museum →


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Satellite Beach Cinemas
Photo courtesy of Stock photo


Multiple movie theaters throughout Brevard County, such as the the Satellite Cinemas in Satellite Beach and Titusville, offer free movies throughout the summer. Satellite Cinemas features different kids' movies every week. Kids are welcome to come watch their favorite flicks 10 a.m. Wednesday and Thursday mornings. In addition, Cinemaworld 16 organizes an annual "Summer KidFest," with free kids' movies at 10 a.m. seven days a week throughout the whole summer. All kids can watch for free, and adults are free with the donation of a non-perishable item for pets, which will go to the Brevard County Humane Society. Cobb Merritt Square 16, Premiere Theaters Oaks 10 and Carmike Cinemas Avenue 16 also offer free summer movie deals.

Recommended for Free Things to Do because: Get out of the summer heat and cool down with your kids at a free movie at many theaters throughout Brevard County.

Aimee's expert tip: Bring a non-perishable item for pets to Cinemaworld 16 and adults get in free, too.

Read more about Satellite Beach Cinemas →


Turkey Creek Nature Sanctuary
Photo courtesy of Flickr/John Krupsky


Turkey Creek offers 113 acres of true habitat sanctuary for many threatened species of flora and protection for the manatee. This sanctuary is open seven days a week, is free to enter and is open to the public. Visitors can also enjoy canoe trails, high cliffs, an historic Indian site, 4,000 feet of boardwalk, a jogging trail with exercise stations, a gazebo, and picnic area. Ranger-guided tours are offered every Saturday and Sunday at 2 p.m.; self-guided tour are continuous. If you have a bike, don't miss the nine-mile mountain-bike trail. Also be sure to check out the Margaret Hames Nature Center, which has a media collection and hosts various educational programs.

Recommended for Free Things to Do because: See threatened flora and manatee in this free sanctuary, full of trails, a long board walk and an educational nature center.

Aimee's expert tip: If you have a canoe or kayak, you can access this sanctuary by water.

Read more about Turkey Creek Nature Sanctuary →


Cocoa Beach
Photo courtesy of Photo by Flickr user Bryan Shrode


The Space Coast boasts more than 70 miles of sand – most of which are free and open to the public. Build a sand castle, cool off in the waves and enjoy the sunshine, all without needing to drop a penny. Toss out a fishing line and maybe you can even catch dinner for free. One of the area's best beaches is Cocoa Beach; it was even voted one of the top 10 Best Beach Towns in Florida by USA Today. But beware: It can get excruciatingly hot and humid, so it's best to do your beaching early morning or late afternoon.

Recommended for Free Things to Do because: The Space Coast's beaches are one of the best features of this region, and most are free and open to the public.

Aimee's expert tip: Avoid the beach during the hottest part of the day, from around 10 a.m.-2 p.m. The sun and humidity here can get pretty aggressive.

Read more about Cocoa Beach →


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Wickham Park
Photo courtesy of Flickr user grendelkhan


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. Watch dolphins at the nearby beach. On Friday evenings in the summer, you can often catch free movies in the park, shown on the massive, 23-foot screen, beginning at sundown. Bring a blanket or chairs. Wickham Park offers a ton of fun features, including but not limited to a plethora of trails, swimming, a pavilion, multiple lakes, disc golf, volleyball, soccer fields, a dog park, amphitheater and more. Camping overnight is going to cost you, but it's free to enjoy the other features here.

Recommended for Free Things to Do because: Wickham Park features plenty of public events and features trails, swimming, lakes, disc golf, a dog park and more.

Aimee's expert tip: Bring a blanket and watch a free movie in the park on a 23-foot screen.

Read more about Wickham Park →


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Port Canaveral
Port Canaveral
Photo courtesy of Flickr user tomsaint


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. Spend a day here watching the ships pass by and depart. Bring a book, relax on the port, people-watch and keep your eyes open for whales, manatees and five different varieties of sea turtles. 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.

Recommended for Free Things to Do because: Watch the ships pass by, and if you're lucky, you might see a whale, too.

Aimee's expert tip: Parking near the port can be pricey, so if you're on a budget, plan on parking farther away and walking.

Read more about Port Canaveral →


Sea Turtle Preservation Society
Photo courtesy of USFWS/Becky Skiba


The Space Coast is home to the second-biggest group of Loggerhead sea turtles in the world. Your visit to the Space Coast is not complete without having the unique opportunity to "meet" one of them. Spend a day volunteering with the Sea Turtle Preservation Society, and reserve a spot on one of their guided hikes through sea turtle nesting spots. Well trained guides lead these late evening walks and can answer questions and teach about the turtles' ancient history. You will also see an educational presentation and learn how you can help keep them safe. Sea turtles nest March through October, with nesting season peaking in June and July. That's an ideal time to watch them. If you are lucky, you might get to see a turtle laying her eggs on the beach. It is highly important to stay quiet and leave your flash cameras and flashlights in the hotel room. You can also occasionally spot Hawksbill and green and leatherback sea turtles.

Recommended for Free Things to Do because: Not only can you watch sea turtles lay eggs in the sand, but you can also learn how to help keep them safe.

Aimee's expert tip: Guided hikes book out quickly, so reserve a spot early in advance – several months, if possible.

Read more about Sea Turtle Preservation Society →


The Cocoa Beach Pier
Photo courtesy of Flickr user RyanCrierie


Where else in the world can you check this off your bucket list? Grab a beach blanket, stretch out on the beach and score an excellent seat to watch an intergalactic adventure begin – all for free. The Space Coast is the home of the Kennedy Space Center, a former NASA home base that still occasionally launches private rockets. Although the space center's museum, movie theater and simulators are not too expensive, you don't need to drop a dime to witness one of the most exciting events in the world. Find the schedule for the launches at spacecoastlaunches.com. The Cocoa Beach Pier itself is also a great place to hang out, people-watch, listen to live music and go fishing.

Recommended for Free Things to Do because: Grab a beach blanket and watch a rocket launch from the sand for free.

Aimee's expert tip: Watch a space shuttle launch from Cocoa Beach.

Read more about The Cocoa Beach Pier →


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Meet Aimee Heckel

Aimee Heckel’s passion for storytelling has brought her around the world as a journalist, writing award-winning articles about Haiti and Uganda. Aimee studied international journalism at the...  More About Aimee

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