How to Make the Most of your Rocket Launch Experience
See a Launch and So Much More
Seeing a rocket launch on Florida’s Space Coast is a bucket list item for so many people. It doesn’t take much to see a rocket blast off into space from here either, thanks to newcomers to the space industry. SpaceX, NASA, and ULA are sending up more rockets from the Space Coast than any other spaceport in the world; however, a launch is never guaranteed.
If you’re coming to the Space Coast to see a rocket launch, it’s a good idea to have a plan in case the launch is scrubbed. Rocket launches, especially crewed launches, will only count down if everything is perfect. It’s not uncommon for a launch to scrub minutes, or even seconds, before its scheduled attempt.
But, there’s no need to worry, this is the Space Coast! There’s plenty of space-oriented activities to make your Rocket Launch Experience one you’ll remember forever - even if the rocket never leaves the launch pad. Check out our list of must-dos to make the most of your Space Coast rocket launch experience.
Launch Console App
First, make sure you download our Launch Console app for a current launch schedule and launch update notifications. With 24 hour and 5-minute launch notifications, a live stream of the launch, and even a compass to make sure you’re looking in the right direction, it’s a great app to utilize on a rocket launch getaway!
Finding the best place to view one of the Space Coast’s spectacular launches isn’t difficult, you can see a launch from anywhere on the Space Coast. Using this interactive map, you can filter out locations from NASA-suggested viewing spots, prime spots for night launch viewings, hotels with great views, and other popular and unexpected viewing locations. Check out the map, see where you’re staying, and find a great launch viewing location that’s perfect for you!
This map also includes some amazing and unique launch viewing experiences you may have not considered. Did you know you can see a launch from the beautiful waters of the Indian River Lagoon on the Space Coast? Imagine gliding among the manatees through the Thousand Islands Conservation Area as you look up to see a payload heading to the stars! Eco-tour operators like Cocoa Beach Dolphin Tours and DolFun Tours often create special tours for launches. Kayak tours like Fin Expeditions, A Day Away Kayak, and Cocoa Kayaking also offer a launch experience. Sail Cocoa Beach will take you out on a catamaran! Saving this map to your Google Places will also give you an idea of what else is in the area to explore once the rocket has left the atmosphere, or if it stays planted on its pad.
There is no better way to get an immersive and total space experience than coupling your rocket launch excursion with a trip to the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex. Launch viewing packages are an unforgettable experience because you can’t get any closer - you’re mere miles from the launch pads! These packages are available in addition to daily admission and limited in quantity. Make sure you check their website for ticket availability and more information if you’d like to plan your launch experience at the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex.
No launch? No problem. The Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex has plenty of other things to occupy your time and expand your understanding of space flight! It is the only place in the world where you can take a tour of the launch pads, meet veteran astronauts, walk beneath real rockets and shuttles, and even schedule to train in spaceflight simulators. The addition of Planet Play, a multi-story play experience for children ages 2-12, just made the launch experience for your children lightyears better! Your kids will spend hours crawling through wormholes, sliding through asteroid belts, and exploring our solar system while you relax and enjoy a cup of coffee or glass of beer, or wine in an open-view lounge area. Kennedy Space Center is an experience for everyone and definitely a MUST if you’re here for a launch.
If you thought the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex was amazing, just wait until you walk through the doors of The American Space Museum and Space Walk Hall of Fame. Located in Downtown Titusville, across the street from the Visitor Center, is a museum dedicated to preserving the history of Americans in space and the people and programs that helped shape what we know of space exploration today. Filled with artifacts on loan from actual astronauts, rummaged from NASA dumpsters, and estate sales, this small museum offers an eye-opening look at the people that made American space flight possible. It’s a must-stop for anyone who considers themselves a space geek. On top of the incredible artifacts and mementos, this museum includes the Space Walk of fame, where you can see momentous mission memorials. It also happens to be a great place to see a launch!
Consider adding a tour of the Cape Canaveral Lighthouse, which dates back to the 1800’s, and learn more about how this landmark became a beacon for the community and shaped the history of Florida’s Space Coast. While on the tour, you’ll get up-close views of historic launch pads with stories about the missions that launched from those sites, hangars, and other buildings that supported space exploration, as well as a landmark that was the resting spot for the early settlers that built this historic structure. There are plenty of photo ops on this tour so make sure you bring your camera. From this tour, you will also find access to the Sands Space History Center which is a free museum open to the public that chronicles the historic launches that took place on the launch pads of the Kennedy Space Center.
Rockets aren’t the only thing needing to fuel up. For all you foodies that like an out-of-this-world experience, you’ll want to head over to Playalinda Brewing Company: Brix Project in Titusville. This brewery is one of the best on the Space Coast and is just what you need after a day exploring Space attractions! Sit inside or mosey your way outside to the Beer Garden to enjoy an artfully prepared meal and craft brews and cocktails inspired by both space and culture of the Space Coast. Dixie Crossroads is another Space Coast treasure where Southern hospitality meets great food in a casual environment. Enjoy fresh rock shrimp (if you don’t know, you’ll want to find out here!) steak, chicken, and their famous corn fritters for a laid-back, after-launch meal. If you’re looking for a place to eat with a view, Shiloh’s Steak and Seafood is your upscale surf and turf spot for waterfront dining with a direct view for watching a launch from the Mangrove Deck.
Food doesn’t stop in Titusville either. The Cove, at Port Canaveral, is a strip of amazing seafood restaurants, Tiki Bars and Grills, and with the perfect view of a launch. Dine on the fresh catch-of-the-day while you wait for the launch, see cruise ships, dolphins and sea turtles, and even SpaceX boosters and drone ships make their way through the port! It’s an amazing dockside experience perfect for launch days, scrub days, and every day!
Countdown to the Beach
A sure way to enjoy a Space Coast launch experience is right from the beach. By heading to Cocoa Beach to see a launch, you’re right in the middle of one of the most iconic surf towns on the East Coast. Learn to surf, watch a launch. Play mini-golf, watch a launch. Dine at some fabulous restaurants, watch a launch - do you see where we’re going here? You can see a launch from any beach on the Space Coast, so if you’re coming here for rockets, make sure that you consider making it a beach day too!
You can’t go wrong when you plan a Space Coast Vacation, where there’s always room for Space and so much more!
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