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How to Spend a Long Weekend on Florida's Space Coast

How to Spend a Long Weekend on Florida's Space Coast | CosmosMariners.com

Even though I live in a pretty mild climate--coastal South Carolina isn't exactly known for its polar vortex winters--I still get antsy for sunny skies and white sand beaches in those colder months. Every year about this time, I threaten to my husband that I'm moving somewhere warm (preferably next to an ocean) so I don't ever have to go to bed with freezing cold toes again.

Every time, he talks me down, and I'm back to dreaming about 80 degree weather 12 months out of the year. This year, I decided to preempt my usual mid-winter blues and head down to Florida's Space Coast where, in the middle of January, it was a balmy 82 during my stay.

If you're looking for a quick Florida break that's lightyears away from the theme parks of Orlando, I can't recommend the Space Coast enough. It's got beaches for those who want to relax, plenty of museums for the traveler who can't sit still, and some incredible galleries for the art lover to peruse. Here's how to spend a long weekend on Florida's Space Coast, get some much needed sunshine, and prepare yourself for those last few weeks of winter back home!

Friday

Arrive and breathe in that delicious salt air. If you're coming by car, Melbourne, Cape Canaveral, and Cocoa Beach are just off of I-95. If you'd prefer to fly, Orlando International Airport is only about an hour away.

Since its a major vacation destination, you'll be spoilt for choices on where to stay, but I loved the homey feel of Tuckaway Shores Resort in Indiatlantic. Whether you're looking for a quiet, locally owned place like Tuckaway Shores or a larger resort with lots of amenities, it will be waiting for you to arrive.

How to Spend a Long Weekend on Florida's Space Coast | CosmosMariners.com

Settle into your hotel room before heading back out for dinner in Melbourne's historic downtown area. You've got everything there from the carb-tastic goodness at Island Pasta Company to Irish food and music at Meg O'Malley's to Spanish tapas at Calilou. Finish your meal with a tasty treat from Guilty Pleasures Bakery before heading over to the Henegar Center for the Arts or to Painting with a Twist.

Saturday

Don't stay out too late since you've got a full day ahead of you! Enjoy your coffee as you watch the gorgeous morning break over the Atlantic.

How to Spend a Long Weekend on Florida's Space Coast | CosmosMariners.com
Watching the early morning fog roll in over the Atlantic
Grab a quick bite to eat on your way north to the Kennedy Space Center, which is well worth six or eight hours of your time. The center has an incredible (and almost overwhelming) number of things to do, so pace yourself. Don't miss the informative bus tour where you can see the massive launch pads and the Saturn V exhibit that's only accessible via the KSC buses.

How to Spend a Long Weekend on Florida's Space Coast | CosmosMariners.com

Budding astronauts will love the meet-and-greet sessions with former space explorers, while the youngest visitors can blow off steam in the Play Dome. Don't miss the Atlantis exhibition or a chance to walk through the Rocket Garden.

All of that exploration and learning will surely build up an appetite, so head over to Dixie Crossroads in Titusville, where you'll be able to load up on their generous portions of seafood, steaks, and salads.

On your way back to your hotel, do a little shopping at the Ron Jon Surf Shop (if you drove in on I-95, you saw billboards for it for at least a hundred miles!): yes, it's filled with kitschy trinkets and t-shirts, but it's a Cocoa Beach institution. And, for those visiting surfers, you can find everything you need from a new board to wax and leashes to board bags.

Sunday

After everything you did on Saturday, you deserve some downtime! Relax by the beach this morning: the Space Coast boasts 72 miles of oceanfront property, so you're bound to find a sandy spot to set your beach chair. If you're feeling adventurous, rent a surfboard and try your hand at riding the waves. If you'd rather soak up the warm Florida sun, you'll be in good company there as well.

How to Spend a Long Weekend on Florida's Space Coast | CosmosMariners.com

Once you've gotten some vitamin D (or is it vitamin sea?!!? I'll be here all week, folks.), it's time to head out for a leisurely brunch in the Eau Gallie Arts District. This area used to be a separate town, but it voted many years ago to incorporate into Melbourne.

Recently, there's been a fantastic push to revitalize this former downtown into a space of its own, so you'll find plenty of places to eat including Squid Lips and the Eau Gallie River Crab House. Linger in the Arts District to see some of the colorful building murals, peek into a few of the art galleries, or sit by the Eau Gallie River for a spell.

How to Spend a Long Weekend on Florida's Space Coast | CosmosMariners.com

Once you've indulged your creative side, hop back in the car for the short ride to the Brevard Zoo. Although it's not a large property, the Brevard Zoo is quite well done.

How to Spend a Long Weekend on Florida's Space Coast | CosmosMariners.com

Get up close and very personal with some friendly critters in the Paws On petting zoo section, where kids (or grown ups, if you're so inclined) to touch an alpaca, goat, and horseshoe crabs. Head over to the Expedition Africa exhibit to feed a giraffe and learn more about the Grevy's Zebra and Southern White Rhino.

How to Spend a Long Weekend on Florida's Space Coast | CosmosMariners.com
Hello, giraffe!
Don't forget to pack a bathing suit if your toddler loves water like mine does: Toddler Flats is a mini-water park in the middle of the zoo.

If you're interested in seeing the zoo from a different perspective, try one of their tours: you can go kayaking by the animal habitats, take a ten-minute train ride to see the camels, or swing through the treetops in the Treetop Trek Aerial Adventures.

How to Spend a Long Weekend on Florida's Space Coast | CosmosMariners.com

Monday

Before you leave the warmth and beauty of the Space Coast, take one more dip in the ocean or hotel pool. On the way out of town, you might want to grab a slice of pie at Joan's Perfect Pies in the Eau Gallie Arts District or an ice cream cone from one of the many huts along A1A. What a sweet ending to your Space Coast weekend!

If you've got one more day:

There really is more to do on the Space Coast that you can cram into a single day, so if you're looking for even more to see and do, here are a few suggestions.

  • Go hiking in the Canaveral National Seashore Park.
  • Support the local clothing and accessories stores in downtown Melbourne with some retail therapy.
  • Eat your way through the Eau Gallie Arts District on the fourth Sunday of each month when the Daily City Food Truck Bazaar is in town.
  • Take an airboat ride through the Everglades.
  • Enjoy Sunday afternoon tea aboard the Indian River Queen paddlewheel boat.
  • Learn more about America's military past at the Valiant Air Command Warbird Museum.
  • Have fun learning at the Brevard County Museum of History and Natural Science
  • Watch a rocket launch if you're lucky enough to visit during one.
  • Learn about science, technology and nature at the new Exploration Tower.
  • Walk along the Westgate Cocoa Beach Pier


Disclaimer: I was provided with media passes to both the Brevard Zoo and Kennedy Space Center in order to facilitate this review. As always, all opinions are my own. 

Have you visited the Space Coast? What would you be the most excited to do?
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