Things to Do

Why your Orlando Vacation Deserves a Space Coast Side Trip

Cocoa Beach Pier

Cocoa Beach IS Orlando’s Closest Beach

In the time you would be waiting in line to get on Rise of the Resistance you could already have your toes in the sand and a tiki drink in your hand on Cocoa Beach.

Orlando vacations are so much fun! Between the theme parks, the food, and the resorts it’s a packed vacation. But, we all know all the hustle and bustle of the city can be overwhelming, and if you go to Florida without feeling the waves splash on your toes, did you really even go?  Every Orlando vacation deserves a Space Coast Side trip. Once you learn why, all your future Florida vacations may just be a Space Coast getaway with an Orlando trip penciled in.

Eat Waterfront in Port Canaveral

Port Canaveral is one of the first things you see when you hit the Space Coast from the Beachline. And the perfect excuse to stretch your legs. The 45-minute drive from the airport or hour-long drive from the theme parks isn’t long, but you absolutely deserve a reward! For a culinary experience head into Rising Tide Tap & Table here you’ll find scratch recipes, a creative menu, and a beer, wine, and cocktail list that will impress everyone at your party. For some of the best and most lively waterfront dining you’ll find, stop in at Rusty’s Seafood and Oyster Bar, Grills Seafood Deck & Tiki Bar, or Fishlips Waterfront Bar & Grill. Each of these restaurants has its own charm and you’ll find your perfect one by just checking out the decor and live music inside. Have a seat on the deck for fresh, Florida seafood in a casual setting. See cruise ships come and go, rocket boosters and drone ships pass through, and spot wildlife like dolphins and pelicans snap up their lunch as well. You can head over to Exploration Tower to get a panoramic view of the port, nearby Kennedy Space Center, and the Atlantic Ocean.

Explore Cocoa Beach

surfer in cocoa beach

Image by @metro_digital_imaging

As you travel down the A1A you’ll go through the City of Cape Canaveral and Cocoa Beach. These quaint beach towns are filled with boutique shops, incredible dining experiences, and fun events happening every weekend. From the Westgate Cocoa Beach Pier to Downtown Cocoa Beach you’ll find miles of beach to comb, beach rentals to lounge on, and surf shops to grab any hats, suits, or sunscreen you may need! If you’re feeling up to it, find a surf lesson. If the waves of Cocoa Beach are good enough for 11-time World Champion surfer, Kelly Slater, why not give them a shot? There are also tons of fun non-beach activities kids will love too. Go Kart Racing at Beachside Grand Prix is perfect for teens, the Dinosaur Store and Museum of Ancient Cultures will have little ones busy all day! And of course, there’s nothing like fresh-scooped ice cream and a round of mini-golf at Lighthouse Cove!

Rocket Launches

Launch from the Beach Cherie Down Park

The Space Coast is America’s Gateway to Space. With more launches going off than ever before the chances of you seeing this incredible display of innovation in engineering are very high. Check out our launches page for a launch schedule to see if one meets up with your Orlando vacation and plan to head over to see it go off! We have tons of amazing viewing locations that are easy to get to and will make your trip one you remember forever.

Launch Viewing Locations 

The Food!

seafood platter from Q's Crackin Crab

Image by Q’s Crackin’ Crab

The Space Coast is home to some of the finest food you’ll find in Florida! From fresh seafood at Q’s Crackin’ Crab to the Caribbean-styled menu of The Tiny Turtle and the Old Florida options at the Cocoa Beach Fish Camp Grill there’s something for everyone here on the Space Coast. Check out this Top Dining in Cocoa Beach Blog to find flavors well worth the drive from Disney!

Top Dining in Cocoa Beach 


In the Summer the Intracoastal waterways of the Space Coast illuminate with an out-of-this-world natural phenomenon called bioluminescence. If you are planning an Orlando Vacation from July to September you NEED to head to the Space Coast for a nighttime guided kayak tour to experience this. Tours booked during the new moon get you the most glow for your row; however, even under the full moon, the blue-green light is impossible to miss. It’s simply mind-blowing and the stuff dream vacations are made of!

There are so many reasons why your Orlando Vacation deserves a trip to the Space Coast, and all it takes is a quick drive to learn why. Once you’ve experienced some of the best, find a hotel and stick around for a while! There’s nothing like seeing a sunrise on the beach! See you soon!

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