Whether nature is your passion or arts are your scene, you will find enjoyment on Florida's scenic Space Coast.
Paddle through a peaceful lagoon and angle for snapper, photograph an endangered bald eagle at a wildlife refuge and catch colossal waves in the Atlantic Ocean. Or, stroll through a thriving arts district, enjoy a show at a historic playhouse and experience a neighborhood street party with local artists and musicians.
Situated 35 miles east of Orlando on the east coast of Florida, the Space Coast is chock full of natural beauty and culture that will keep you inspired year ’round.
Consider this: The Space Coast has more than 250 miles of protected sanctuaries, 100 parks and 72 miles of coastline. Those facts crystallize why the area is home to endangered species such as Southern bald eagles and West Indian manatees.
Begin your outdoor journey at Honest John’s Fish Camp, which was established as a government homestead in 1887. Rent a kayak or boat, stock up on bait and cruise into the Indian River Lagoon, where sea trout, redfish and snook abound. In between bites, look for manatees and dolphin.
Once you’ve caught a fish worthy of a tale, head to the 140,000-acre Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge in Titusville to see how many of the 330 bird species you can spot or how many of the 1,045 plant species you can identify.
For a “wild” night, grab a Cheetahlicious cocktail at Brevard Zoo’s Safari Under the Stars on April 24. Check out the new Cheetah exhibit, participate in an auction and dine outdoors.
No Florida trip is complete without beach time. Watch world-renowned sand sculptors build masterpieces out of nearly 700 tons of sand during the Art of Sand Festival, which runs throughout April. Visit www.artofsandus.com for more information.
Or, grab a surfboard and hang ten in surf competitions at Sebastian Inlet State Park. To score the latest boards, drop by the 2010 Boards & Waves Expo April 17-18 at the Cocoa Expo Sports Center.
In the center of the Space Coast lies a cultural hotspot: the historic city of Melbourne. Home to art galleries and antiques shops, restaurants and cafes, this city also serves up an array of festivals and events.
On the second Friday of every month, don dancing shoes for Melbourne Main Street’s Friday Fest, a free, family-style street party. Listen to music and munch on freshly prepared fare. Arts & Indulgences Walk is another cool event featuring the latest art exhibits and food and drink.
Also in Melbourne is the Eau Gallie Arts District, or EGAD! Spend a day popping into art studios and shops or explore the Brevard Art Museum, a visual arts museum that hosts exhibitions, collections and educational programs. On Saturdays, score fresh produce at the farmer’s market in Eau Gallie Square.
Finish your trip in picturesque Cocoa Village. At Ulysses’ Prime Steakhouse, feast on jumbo sea scallops and stuffed filet mignon. Stroll over to The Historic Cocoa Village Playhouse, a former silent movie theater, and enjoy a ballet or musical. Man of La Mancha opens in May.
Afterward, drop by Vault Martini Lounge & Restaurant, where, depending on the evening, you can hear live jazz or sing karaoke.
Whether soaking in the arts or in the sun, the Space Coast is a premier destination on Florida’s east coast.
This article is brought to you by the Space Coast Convention & Visitors Bureau. For more information on traveling to the Space Coast, visit www.space-coast.com.