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.