By Paula Lewis
See all this historic Space Coast community has to offer.
Hidden in the midst of hundred-year-old majestic oak trees is a riverfront community dating back to the 1860s. Historic Cocoa Village is an enchanting spot on Florida’s Space Coast recognized for being rich with old-fashioned Southern charm and hospitality. This picturesque town on the Indian River banks offers unique shopping opportunities and great entertainment. If you’re planning a vacation to Florida and haven’t determined your destination, don’t overlook this area.
As you walk along the delightful landscaped streets of the village and beautiful restored historical buildings, you will feel the spirit of times past as you listen to the alluring music trickling out of the local gazebo on a regular basis. The smiles and charisma of the people who make up this historic neighborhood will quickly win you over. The local playhouse regularly puts on Broadway musicals and performances. The restaurants have a touch of Southern spice, but with the appeal of comfort cooking. The shopping array is made up of bookstores, gift shops, clothing boutiques, art galleries, antiques shops and craft stores (Travis Hardware is more than 125 years old!). Let’s find out what’s in store at downtown Cocoa Village.
It's All in the Name
Florida’s Space Coast, home to the famous Kennedy Space Center, is known for its adventurous and thrill-seeking side – it’s the only place in the country to blast man into outer space – but it also is a nature lover’s paradise. With 72 miles of unspoiled beaches, it’s the surfing capital of the country’s East Coast. Most of all, it’s recognized for its Southern charm that dates back to the town’s first settlers. Fishermen established the area early in Florida’s history.
According to some historical accounts (though not proven), the town name came about as the result of an old woman’s old-fashioned hospitality. Records dating back to the late 1880s mention a woman who lived along the banks of the Indian River who welcomed sailors stopping along the riverbank with a nice, warm cup of hot cocoa. It was this hospitable gesture that led to the name Cocoa Village, and ever since the name and “good ol’ Southern hospitality” have been linked with this quaint town.
Unique Finds of the Past
Visitors to downtown Cocoa Village can uncover times past with antique finds and unique gifts in many of the shops in town, including a range of art galleries, boutiques and specialty stores.
Begin your hunt at the Antique Emporium of Brevard, which boasts a huge collection of unique vintage items. Whether you are a decorator or just looking for that special gift, you can find it the market. Experienced and friendly staffers are waiting to help you find the treasure you seek. The market has a nice collection of furniture, glassware and collectibles under one roof.
If vinyl music is your thing, Caroline’s House of Records is a treasure hunter’s dream. This vinyl record store has more than 30,000 new and used LPs and 45s in stock, along with record accessories: cleaning products, protective covers, inner sleeves and new, state-of-the-art turntables that download to your computer in mp3 format.
Finally, the Sand & Sea Gifts and Gallery has an impressive assortment of tropical art, with more than six local artists on display, and unique home accents and tropical gifts.
Entertainment on the River Banks
After a long and fruitful day of treasure hunting and artistic discoveries, the evenings bring much-needed entertainment and fun to your vacation.
“Good Food, Good Friends, Good Wine, Great Times” is what Murdock’s Bistro & Char Bar is all about. As you enter through the front door, you will feel like you have been transported back in time. Many of the furnishings, the bar front and the large ornate windows were salvaged from the Brevard Hotel, which used to stand on the nearby riverbank. Murdock’s prides itself on a unique, Southern, eclectic menu and a laid-back atmosphere. This is a place where the locals hang out and “where everybody knows your name.” It offers live entertainment Wednesday - Saturday evenings.
If you’ve ever wanted to experience an authentic British pub experience, head to the Dog ‘n’ Bone British Pub in the village. Go for a game of darts, cribbage, billiards or chess, or simply sit and wet your whistle.
Downtown Historic Cocoa Village is a unique delight. There is something for everyone in this historic spot. Located in the restored downtown area of Cocoa, near Cocoa Beach, it is 20 minutes away from Kennedy Space Center and less than an hour’s drive from Orlando and its world-renowned theme attractions. It is an enchanting Southern experience for the whole family. Renovated historic buildings speak of days gone by and today hold a wide array of art galleries, boutiques, specialty shops and crafts and antique stores. More than a dozen eateries make the village home, and you can regularly enjoy live music performances in the park amphitheater, playhouse or gazebo. Take a stroll along the boardwalks overlooking the peaceful Indian River, and let history lure you into this unique and rare treat.