Beyond Disney: Best Space Coast Adventures for Kids

Disney World is a rite of passage for kids. It's a main reason many families head to Florida. 

But after you're exhausted from waiting in lines and broke from the ticket costs and food prices inside the park, a short drive north with your kids will be the perfect finishing touch to your vacation. The Space Coast is full of fun, educational and outdoorsy adventures for kids.

The Kennedy Space Center gives Disney a run for its money. Your kids can watch an actual rocket launch into outer space from the nearby beaches, have lunch with an astronaut, play in the kids' area, see the Astronaut Hall of Fame and watch 3-D IMAX movies.

The Brevard Zoo is another kid favorite, with more than 800 types of animals and kayaking through the zoo. Night hikes are another unique activity here. 

Animal-lovers will also enjoy the hidden gem, Jungle Adventures, where you can see animals in natural habitat. Feed the gators, take a swamp cruise in waters that are home to hundreds of alligators and even see the world's largest "alligator," which is really a gift shop and ticket counter. 

Younger kids can get their water fix at the Palm Bay Aquatic Center. See manatees, go camping and, of course, build sandcastles at any of the excellent beaches along the coast. Your kids will love it here. 



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...  Read More

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...  Read More

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...  Read More

Jetty Park Beach and Campground
Photo courtesy of Bradley Buhro


Jetty Park is one of the Space Coast's best beaches, and a great place to go camping and fishing, too. With many campsites (for different types of camping, from rugged to RV), picnic tables, laundry facilities, hot showers and toilets, electric...  Read More



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...  Read More

Florida International Dog Surfing Championship
Photo courtesy of Florida International Dog Surfing Championship Facebook page


Calling all surfing canines on the East Coast! The East Coast Dog Surfing Association presents the annual Florida Dog Surfing Championship in at Lori Wilson Park in Cocoa Beach, Florida. Yes. You read that right. Every November, the Space...  Read More



Kids love zoos, but Jungle Adventures is event better. See rare animals in natural habitat and jungle homes. Jungle Adventures is a bit of a hidden gem and often less busy than the Brevard Zoo. Here you can see black bears, panthers,...  Read More

Palm Bay Aquatic Center


The beaches on the Space Coast are incredible, but with warm weather year-round, the Palm Bay Aquatic Center is another popular water destination that's great for families. A highlight of the center is its zero-depth entry swimming pool, ideal...  Read More

Wickham Road
Brevard Zoo
Photo courtesy of Flickr user cyanocorax


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...  Read More

Kennedy Space Center
Photo courtesy of Kennedy Space Center


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...  Read More


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