Cocoa and Kissimmee: Space Coast Driving Tour
Understandably, this area of Florida is dubbed "The Space Coast."
In the afternoon, hit the highlights of the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex, State Road 405 in Titusville, or for an out-of-this-world experience, plan a full day for touring. Witness history and history in the making touring NASA's spaceport facilities. You'll get to visit the LC-39 Observation Gantry for a view of the launch pads and the Vehicle Assembly Building, where space shuttles were actually put together. The Apollo/Saturn V Center is devoted to the 363-foot Saturn V, the most powerful rocket ever launched by the United States.
Strap in for the sights, sounds and sensations of launching into space aboard Shuttle Launch Experience, meet a real space hero during daily Astronaut Encounters, walk among towering rockets in the Rocket Garden and enjoy larger-than-live IMAX space films. Admission includes the U.S. Astronaut Hall of Fame, featuring the world's largest collection of astronaut memorabilia, plus historic spacecraft and tributes to NASA space heroes. Hours: Open at 9 a.m. daily except Christmas Day and certain launch dates. Closing times vary according to season. Call 866-737-5325 for general information.
Another place worth visiting on the Central East Coast is the Brevard Museum of History & Natural Science, 2201 Michigan Ave., in Cocoa. The Museum features exhibits about ancient Florida residents, fossils, Seminoles, Pioneer Settlers, and the Cape Canaveral Lighthouse in addition to the Windover Story -- An Exhibition of Archaic Man. Call 321-632-1830.
In Kissimmee, heritage means rodeo, among other things, and you can experience the thrill of this sport at the Silver Spurs Arena, 1875 Silver Spurs Lane. You can catch the Silver Spurs Rodeo and Monster Bull Events – an event founded in the 1940s by a group of young ranchers who would gather for barbeques on the shores of Lake Tohopekaliga. Call 321-697-3495 for show times and other events.
The Kissimmee Chain of Lakes originates south of Orlando flows through the Kissimmee/St. Cloud and areas south until it eventually empties into Lake Okeechobee. The fishing here is renowned throughout the nation. Several fishing guides in Kissimmee are ready and waiting to lead you to the big ones! Catch some of Florida's awesome trophy bass or go to the Space Coast for some of the best saltwater fishing with Big Toho Fishing Charters, 1880 Queens Ct. Call 321-506-5679.
Another great way to enjoy this magnificent Chain of Lakes is by airboat. Whether you want to glide over the water at a leisurely idle pace, looking for exotic birds, turtles and Florida alligator, or fly like the wind into the swamps at speeds up to 45 miles per hour, Boggy Creek Airboat Rides, 3702 Big Bass Rd., is ready to take you on your next adventure. Call 407-344-9550.
Back on terra firma, go on a turtle trek. The Canaveral National Seashore, on A1A near Titusville, is a virtual turtle incubator, with hundreds of sea turtles making the journey to lay their eggs in the warm sands beside the Atlantic. From May to October, the park's Turtle Watch Protection Program marks new nests, excavates nests measuring hatching success. Never disturb a nest - it's illegal. But night tours under the Turtle Watch Program in June and July are offered, where you might catch a Loggerhead turtle. Canoe programs and nature walks are also available. Call 386-428-3384.
Further south on A1A, the Atlantic Ocean is a surfer's dream come true. Cocoa Beach has been long considered the best surfing spot on the Atlantic Ocean because of the size and regularity of waves. Many beach-side stands rent surfboards and bodyboards. If you forgot your surfboard or board shorts, visit Ron Jon Surf Shop, 4151 N. Atlantic Ave., a local landmark. Call World Headquarters 321-799-8888 or 888-757-8737.
In Kissimmee, the Osceola Center for the Arts, 2411 E. Irlo Bronson Hwy., is a visual and performing arts center. The Art Gallery has monthly shows of established and emerging artists. Call 407-846-6257.
The downtown Kissimmee historic district features an energetic mix of restaurants, specialty shops, historic buildings and residential neighborhoods. Kissimmee Main Street is at 421 Broadway; call 407-846-4643.