Less than a one-hour drive from Orlando, a variety of space and beach-themed experiences await couples wanting to spend the day doing something a little out of the ordinary. We've put together an itinerary highlighting the best of the Space Coast for a space-themed date day to remember. Read on for tips and to learn about a new space-themed rooftop bar!
Updated July 2022 by Dani Meyering
1. Explore Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex
Start your day bright and early at The Kennedy Space Center (KSC). The KSC is a hub for exploration and NASA knowledge well worth the price of admission. During your visit, you can take a tour of KSC by bus, see the Vehicle Assembly Building (VAB), learn how rockets are transported to the launch pad, experience blast-off in the shuttle launch simulator, walk amongst rockets, see the Space Shuttle Atlantis up close, watch mind-boggling IMAX films, and meet an astronaut.
And now with the future of space travel looming, and the Space Coast as the epicenter of that future, you can learn about what's coming. Soon astronauts will return to the moon. The Artemis missions will get us there. And from the moon, soon comes the exploration of Mars. There are new exhibits that showcase the future of space exploration.
If you've got kids along for the ride, save some time and energy for the new Planet Play area. This indoor play area is multiple floors of fun for kids. On the second floor there is a small selection of Florida craft beer and wine that can be enjoyed in a small lounge area overlooking the play area.
As nice as it would be to relax together while the kids played, you've got to keep a keen eye on the kids while in Planet Play. It could be easy to lose track of the little astronauts if you're not careful.
First time visitors will definitely be in awe of the sheer amount of exhibits and information, which are so extensive it's difficult to see everything within operating hours. Plan to arrive right when the complex opens at 9am so you don't miss anything.
Artemis Mission Manual Scavenger Hunt
Summer of Artemis Block Party
Kennedy Space Center
August 5 – 7, 12pm – 4pm
In NASA Central (outside Journey To Mars and the Space Shop). Each day, find a DJ spinning some dance-worthy tunes and hosting some fun activities appropriate for the entire family. Also, keep an eye out for some street performers at 1:00, 2:00, 3:00, and 4:00 PM. This event caps off the Artemis Mission Manual Scavenger Hunt, available July 01, 2022 – August 07, 2022
Included with Kennedy Space Center admission.
Stop by the Information building just before entering Kennedy Space Center to pick up your Artemis Mission Manual Scavenger Hunt. The Artemis Exploration Stations can be found in the following attractions:
- Heroes and Legends
- Journey to Mars
- Planet Play
- Outside LEGO® Build to Launch
- Space Shuttle Atlantis®
- Apollo/Saturn V Center, via KSC Bus Tour
Note: We were invited by Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex to check out all the exhibits and the Artemis Mission Manual Scavenger Hunt in July 2022.
2. Toast the Space Coast at The Space Bar
Kennedy Space Center Visitors Complex has a nice selection of dining options that are good for a casual lunch. But save room for drinks and dinner just down the road at The Space Bar. Just ten minutes away from Kennedy Space Center is The Space Bar, a space-themed rooftop bar.
The Space Bar is a hot spot to watch a rocket launch on the Space Coast, but the space themed cocktails and awesome food make it worth a visit anytime. During our recent visit to Kennedy Space Center we stopped at The Space Bar on our way back to Orlando. Since it is so close to the Space Center it made for a perfectly relaxing way to end the day.
The Skyrockets in Flight is like a sweet margarita, without the tang, and is garnished with a Rocket Pop popsicle. The Space Shuttle cocktail is a heavy hitter with Woodford Reserve Bourbon, Aperol, Amaro Nonino, and fresh lemon juice. Its burnt orange color reminded me of the Space Shuttle's tank.
The Space Bar Nachos are a must! Every single chip in the pile received a generous amount of delicious toppings like queso blanco, braised short rib, and more. Vegetarian options are also available like the Brussels Sprout Bowl and Mediterranean Sandwich.
The Space Bar is located at the Courtyard by Marriott Titusville. Parking is free and there is an elevator just before the lobby that takes you straight to the rooftop bar. You do not need to be a guest of the hotel to eat and drink at The Space Bar, and with it being less than an hour from Orlando, it is worth it!
Important note: There is a $10 cover charge/admission fee for guests during rocket launch periods, for those that are not staying at the hotel. No cover charge applies to hotel guests – room key is required.
Note: Our meals and drinks were complimentary and hosted by The Space Bar.
3. Watch a rocket launch on the Space Coast
After a day spent at the KSC, everything will certainly come full circle as you watch a rocket launch in real time. Although you may be able to spot a launch from your backyard in Orlando, making the trek to the space coast for a nighttime launch is a must-do.
When it comes to choosing a viewing venue, the Cocoa Beach Pier offers a clear view. The beach also offers great rocket launch views year-round. Pack a blanket, pick a spot in the sand, and snuggle with your date as you marvel at the sky. Vew a full list of rocket launch viewing venues. You can also check out our tips for viewing a rocket launch like a local.
While witnessing a rocket launch, it's hard not to imagine the many astronauts who once launched into space from Cape Canaveral. It combines for a memorable and surreal experience that every Floridian should have at least once.
4. Visit the Cocoa Beach Pier
After you've absorbed all the space knowledge you can handle, take a short 30-minute drive to the Cocoa Beach Pier. Located on Meade Avenue in Cocoa Beach, the pier is an iconic landmark home to a number of bars, restaurants, and shops. Plan to arrive just before sunset for gorgeous views; the East coast sunsets are definitely photo-worthy. With a tropical cocktail in hand, fix your eyes on the ocean to watch dozens of surfers, or drift your gaze skyward.
The pier is an ideal spot to refuel before heading back to Orlando. Pelican's Bar & Grill is a great indoor option with floor to ceiling windows, offering a beautiful panoramic view of the ocean. The menu is extensive and includes many seafood favorites, such as the lobster roll served on a toasted, buttery bun, and spicy shrimp tacos. The beer-battered fries are out of this world!
While planning your visit, check the rocket launch schedule. The pier offers one of the best vantage points for watching a rocket launch.
5. Go Bioluminescent kayaking under the stars
If you're unable to catch a rocket launch, an evening spent bioluminescent kayaking is an equally illuminating experience. This leisurely, 2-hour guided tour launches in the evening, when the water is aglow with bioluminescent organisms. Placing your hand or paddle in the water will instantly create a blue glow around you.
While the bioluminescent organisms are fascinating, the tour also offers incredible views of the night sky. Watch for passing meteors or a view of the Milky Way, or simply drift along with the current while enjoying the stars. Tours are offered almost every month of the year, but June-October is best for bioluminescence.
BONUS IDEA: Only in Florida can you experience this! Head out to the Brevard Zoo on the Space Coast for a kayaking experience you cannot find anywhere else. The Brevard Zoo is the only zoo in the country to offer guided kayaking tours around an animal exhibit.
Ready for more Space Coast fun? Head here: