A couple looks at the map while taking a road trip through the Space Coast

The Great Space Coast Road Trip

One may think that Florida’s Space Coast is all about beaches, beaches, beaches, and rockets. But don’t be fooled!  There’s a lot going on here. The Space Coast is 1,016 square miles, making it larger than the nation of Samoa and one-quarter the size of Rhode Island.  

You may be wondering what makes the Space Coast tick? What is it about this place that drives people to visit (or better yet live, work and retire here?)

Why would someone leave a perfectly good, frigid, snow-drenched home located near a slushy winter road for half the year? Leaving behind their friends, church, dentist, and doctors. So, in the spirit of these last years before we are forced to endure soulless autonomous self-driving cars with curated maps, I am offering visitors a Great Space Coast Road Trip, helping you get acquainted with the area.

It’s roughly 150 miles and about three hours to finish. Once completed, this road trip will introduce you to nearly every corner of the Space Coast. And, yes, you can say to your friends, “I’ve truly visited the Florida’s Space Coast from one end to the other. I am ‘one’ with the Space Coast.”

Start here: The Beaches through North Florida's Space Coast

We’re starting in Cocoa Beach, the epicenter of space history and astronaut frolicking. This leg takes you from the beaches into the space age areas of the Space Coast.

  1. Head north on A1A from Cocoa Beach through Cape Canaveral. A1A merges with State Road 528. Head west to exit 49 (SR 3 / North Courtenay Parkway).
  2. Turn right on exit 49 and take Route 3 north for about 10 miles. Turn left on to Space Commerce Way. You’ll drive past the new Blue Origin building and the new Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex entrance. Launches and booster landings are happening almost weekly, so follow the SpaceCoastLaunches.com for the current schedule.
  3. Continue west on Nasa Parkway, and then north on U.S. 1 to-and-through historic Titusville, Mims and Scottsmoor for 18.5 miles. These are among the earliest places early people settled around here.

Along the way:

  • Blue Origin Rocket Factory: This is Blue Origin’s second facility. It’s amazing! Unfortunately, this is not open to the public to tour, but you can get a good look at it as you drive by.
  • Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex: Here you’ll see the new entrance that welcomes you to the visitor complex. If you don’t have plans to visit, make sure you add it to your list. They are constantly making upgrades and adding new things to see.
  • Historic Downtown Titusville: By this point in your road trip, you may start to get hungry. On your way to the downtown area, you will see tons of options to stop at. And if it’s later in the afternoon, Playalinda Brewery Hardware Store makes for a great pit stop.

North Space Coast through the South End of Merritt Island

Take a quick left on West Main Street in Mims, State Road 46. You’ll be looking for I-95 signs.

  1. Slip under the interstate and look to your left for North Carpenter Road. Head south for about six miles.
  2. You’ll T-bone into Fox Lake Road. Take a left turn and drive for under a mile.
  3. Take a right onto Highway 405 and head south – through a commercial area – and drive for just over a mile to Highway 50.
  4. Go right on 50 and drive through farming country, past the St. Johns River, continue on 50 when it becomes Colonial Drive, where you’ll pass alligator farms and Christmas, Florida. Keep driving west.
  5. At about 10.3 miles you’ll run into Taylor Creek Road, where you’ll take a left. You’ll pass the Tosohatchee Wildlife Management Area Drive at about 3-miles, and at about 5.3-miles you’ll run headlong into Highway 520 [yes, this is the SAME 520 that goes right to Cocoa Beach if you’ve had enough of this grand tour].
  6. You’ll take a left on 520, and drive past a water treatment plant at 6-miles [always a highlight of my trip] and the St. Johns River again at just over 10 miles. At 15.25 miles you’ll run into our beloved stretch of I-95, where you’ll finally take a right and go south.
  7. Drive almost 13 miles and get off at the Pineda Causeway, exit 188.  Take the Pineda Causeway east 4.5-miles and get off at County Road 3 (Merritt Island/Tropical Trail exit.)
  8. Take a right. The Indian River Lagoon will be to your right – for 4.5 miles past some very fancy homes with nice views.
  9. At the end of this road you’ll have no choice but to take a left onto Banana River Drive for about half a mile. Look to your right and you’ll see a yacht basin and then you’ll drive over Mathers Bridge.

Along the way:

  • Wilderness
  • Alligator Farms
  • More wilderness
  • Nice homes
  • Yachts

Melbourne, Melbourne Beach, and back west

  1. At the next intersection of Banana River Drive, take a right at South Patrick Drive.
  2. You’ll cross over Florida State Road 518 and continue south through a nice residential area on North Riverside Drive.
  3. You’ll cross over U.S. Highway 192 at about 4.5-miles and continue south for a total of 6.3-miles until you can’t go any further without taking a left onto Ocean Avenue in Melbourne Beach.
  4. After about half-a-mile on Ocean Avenue you’ll find yourself yet again to A1A [that’s the same A1A that you were on in Cocoa Beach].
  5. Head south again with the Atlantic Ocean to your left. Drive 25-miles south
  6. Take a right turn on FL 510 for 2.5 miles where you’ll cross the Indian River Lagoon again [this time in the other direction] and find yourself on U.S. 1. You’re not on the Space Coast at this moment, but you’ll head north on U.S. 1 back into Brevard County.

Along the way:

  • Beautiful river and ocean views
  • Nice homes

South Inland Area north through Downtown Melbourne

Take a right on U.S. 1 and drive another 25-miles through Sebastian, Roseland, and Micco. The Indian River Lagoon will be to your right.

  1. At about 25-miles north of FL 510, keep your eyes peeled for Melbourne. Take a left onto East New Haven Avenue at the fringes of Downtown Melbourne.
  2. Drive 500 feet or so, and you’ll cross over the railroad tracks.
  3. Park your car and stretch your legs.
  4. Have a beer at one of the many bars available.

Along the way:

  • Old riverside Indian River Florida
  • Great views

North to Historic Cocoa Village

Continue on New Haven Avenue [also called 192] for about 4-miles and take a right onto Wickham Road [you’ll pass Melbourne Square Mall at about 3-miles].

  • Continue north on Wickham Road for 4.5-miles, take a right at Post Road. You’ll see our local state college to the right, Eastern Florida State College.
  • Continue east 1.5-miles to U.S. 1 [also called North Harbor City Boulevard] and take a left at the light.
  • Travel 13.5-miles to U.S. 1 and State Road 520, take a right, and find yourself a place to park in Historic Cocoa Village. There’s a newer brew pub here, so don’t be bashful. I’m not saying you should have ANOTHER beer, but they are available here.

Along the way:

  • Wickham Road business corridor
  • Eastern Florida State College Main Campus
  • Indian River Lagoon
  • Historic Cocoa Village

East across Merritt Island, the rivers, and back to Cocoa Beach

Continue East on State Road 520, across Merritt Island Causeway, through the Merritt Island business district, over the Banana River Lagoon, past Cape Canaveral Hospital, and finally 7.3 miles later you’re back home in Cocoa Beach on A1A [also called North Atlantic Ave.]

Along the way:

  • Indian River Lagoon
  • Banana River Lagoon
  • Cape Canaveral Hospital
  • Cocoa Beach
  • Atlantic Ocean

End here

You have seen more of the Space Coast in a four-hour drive than most residents see in their entire time here. You can tell your friends you’ve seen the north, west, east and south ends of Florida’s Space Coast and pieces of everything in between. You can regale them sightings of big space buildings, alligators, big expensive homes, yachts, and big stretches of wilderness. You have seen it all.

An illustration of a robot family on a road trip on Florida's Space Coast


Space Coast Visitors Guide Cover Image

Vacation Planner for Florida’s Space Coast

The official Space Coast Vacation Planner Guide is now available. There are two ways to get yours: