Cocoa Beach and the Space Coast: Kennedy Space Center and More

    By Jill Martin

    I've been using up lots of vacation time already and it's barely July, but my sons and I drove up to Cocoa Beach to explore Florida's Space Coast for our last video of the season (my contractual year!). Once again, we loaded up the mini van, and even brought along two of my nieces, Samantha and Christine. What a blast, literally!

    We needed a place big enough to hold all of us, and we wanted to stay on the beach, and Royal Mansions Resort on Cape Canaveral was the ticket. These are condo-style, fully furnished accommodations and free continental breakfast is included and served in the clubhouse every day. And on Fridays, they even have adult happy hour. And the beach is right there - just walk along the beautiful wooden boardwalk right to the Atlantic. Gorgeous! I would stay here again in a heartbeat - loved it!

    Right around the corner from the resort is an area known as The Cove. They have several restaurants and you can see boats, dolphins and cruise ships! We brought home a cooler of smoked fish, conch and sausages from Smokehouse Foods. Fantastic! And if you go to The Cove, check out Grills Seafood Deck. Great menu, very reasonable and they have a very pleasing kids' menu.

    For the video, our first stop was Kennedy Space Center. I hadn't been here since Dustin was little (he's now 12) and I was excited to introduce my little one to America's Space Program. We jammed in as much as we could in one afternoon, from the shuttle launch simulator to the Mars Rover and the Rocket Garden to the Saturn V Rocket. I have to say, the Saturn V gave me goosebumps. What a humbling experience. This is a must-see. The 8-minute film will enlighten and make your heart swell with pride. Touching a moonrock was a highlight for the boys.

    Next stop was driving over the Banana River to Cocoa Beach to their world famous Pier. This place jets out 800' over the water and is home to shops, restaurants, and bars. Folks fish right off the pier, on the day we were there, Flounder was the hot bite. Rentals (rods/bait) are available right onsite. You do have to pay a few bucks to walk out on the pier but it's definitely worth every penny. Plus, you can watch the surfers ride the waves as you relax and enjoy the breeze. My girlfriend Michele who lives in the area met us here. She also has two boys about the same ages as mine so that was big fun for everyone.

    Now, this may surprise you, but we ended our day at a surf shop. Not just any surf shop—we're talking Ron Jon's—and this one in Cocoa Beach is the largest Ron Jon's on the planet! The kids loved this place! They were looking at everything from toys to surf boards and clothing to boogie boards (yes, we took one home and it's floating in the pool right now - on sale for $9.99). 

    We loved exploring the Space Coast - especially just taking a slow drive along A1A, right along the beach. It's no wonder Jimmy Buffett has written songs about this thoroughfare. Take your family to the Space Coast! And let me know if you loved it as much as we did.