Watching the ships go by at Jetty Park

Watching the ships go by at Jetty Park

Happiness Is Just Around The Corner: Extend Your Orlando Vacation on Florida’s Space Coast

Located 45 minutes from Orlando, Florida’s Space Coast is the closest opportunity for Orlando visitors to take in all the wonder of the Atlantic’s beaches. With more than 70 miles of pristine beaches, my family truly enjoys time in any of the cities along the Space Coast – Cocoa Beach, Melbourne & The Beaches, Port Canaveral, and more!

One year, our Disney vacation did not even include Orlando; we booked an eight-day cruise on the Disney Magic® cruise ship and enjoyed all the magic of Disney on the water. But before we embarked on our journey, we had to check out what the area around the port had to offer.

Port Canaveral is not the only “port of call” on Florida’s Space Coast vacation to-do list, though. We rented much smaller boats – kayaks – and paddled around Cocoa Beach’s Thousand Islands in search of dolphins, manatees (it was their off-season, but we were optimistic), and beautiful blue-eyed marine fish. The fish were abundant and attracted plenty of dolphins, which seemed quite familiar with kayaks. It was great exercise as we paddled our way to both hiking trails. My son is studying different ecosystems at school and had asked me only last month what mangroves were, so we were thrilled to be in the midst of them!


Our youngest asked if we would see any wild animals. I considered The Brevard Zoo, which is a must-see, but thought if she wanted to see true wild animals, we should opt for the Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge, located outside the city limits of Titusville. The Visitor’s Center gave us a guide to assist in viewing as many wild animals as possible in a day, and we were able to take in Florida’s true natives – the plants and animals that abound in the wild. I fell in love with the great variety of skinks while my husband, the amateur ornithologist, grabbed his binoculars and surveyed the native birds. Florida’s Space Coast borders two distinct climate zones, temperate and sub-tropical. Because animals are generally specific to certain climate zones, this area boasts more than its share of unique species.

Our next venture led us to an unbroken stretch of beaches along the Atlantic Ocean. My husband and I relaxed while our children built sandcastles encrusted with the myriad of shells along the shoreline. A dip in the ocean cooled us from the sun’s rays, and we walked on a breathtaking stretch of beach gazing at the water as the waves seemed to break forever. The peace of Florida’s Space Coast removed all our cares.

Our vacation was over much too soon, but we are returning next year to visit the Canaveral National Seashore. We want to time that trip to coincide with the manatees returning from the estuaries and baby turtles hatching. My husband wants to take in a few rounds of golf while I peek through all the hidden treasures of local shopping in Cocoa Village. We are so excited we discovered Florida’s Space Coast; what a welcome change from the long lines and overcrowded venues in Orlando!