Space Coast Florida Travel Guide

I have spent months putting this Space Coast, Florida travel guide together, because as a local resident, I really want to showcase this area of Florida! Cocoa Beach has been a travel destination since the space program started, but it is not the only reason to visit this east coast area. I truly think there are some of the best beaches in the state here, in addition to a whole host of other activities to enjoy.

Space Coast Florida Ultimate Travel Guide

Melbourne, Cocoa Beach, Palm Bay, and Titusville are the main cities that make up the Space Coast, and each have their own unique feel. For a beach trip, stay in Cocoa Beach if you like to be in the center of the action. Melbourne Beach is better if you prefer a more secluded area. The Space Coast is less than an hour and a half drive away from Orlando, so it makes for a great side trip after some exhausting theme parks days. Read on to find out everything you can experience on the Space Coast.

Things To Do on Florida’s Space Coast

Here is a sampling of my favorite things to do around here. Whether you are an adrenaline junkie or a little more laid back, there is something for everyone. For a multi day trip, I would plan for one day either at the Kennedy Space Center or Brevard Zoo, one day on an outdoor excursion like paddleboarding or a nature walk, one day exploring a downtown area and plenty of beach time in between! If you are going be sure to check out my Fall Things To Do Guide, and if you go around Christmas, you may spot some Surfing Santas!

Space Coast Florida Ultimate Travel Guide
  • Blast Off at The Kennedy Space CenterYou can’t visit the Space Coast without learning why it’s called that! Check out this part attraction, part museum where you can find out about space travel in the past and what’s coming in the future.
  • Experience Bioluminescence from a kayak – The Space Coast is one of the few places in the world you can see the water light up at night with bioluminescence! Take a kayak tour so you can see it for yourself.
  • Find Your Wild Side at the Brevard ZooVisit the only zoo in the country where you can kayak through the wildlife exhibits. This immersive zoo features more than 900 animals, a zip lining course and a Kangaroo walkabout.
  • Paddle with Dolphins and Manatees on a SUP Eco Tour – If you prefer to see animals in a more natural habitat, then head to the Indian River where the dolphins and manatees live. My favorite spot is down in secluded Melbourne Beach where Fernando and Dina will lead you through the mangroves on a paddle board!
Space Coast Florida Ultimate Travel Guide
  • Appreciate the Arts at the Eau Gallie Arts DistrictThis town square is the spot of frequent food, beverage and cultural festivals. Even if there’s not a festival going on, you can enjoy walking around and seeing the colorful murals painted by many local artists.
  • Hang ten after a lesson from the Ron Jon Surf Shop – Cocoa Beach is one of the best spots in Florida for surfing, so a visit here is the best time to try it! You are guaranteed to stand-up after an hour lesson.
  • Enjoy a luxury picnic on the beach – For a unique meal on the beach, have Picnic by the Water arrange a luxury picnic for you! They provide the seating, table, food and drinks and you can enjoy the beautiful ocean views!
  • Take a Stroll on the Cocoa Beach Pier – Be surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean on this pier perfect for fishing from, watching dolphins or getting a bite to eat.
  • Experience Nature’s Wonder on a Turtle WalkIf you are visiting from May through September, head to the beach at night for an amazing sight. Hundreds of turtles flock to this area to nest and if you are quiet enough, you can watch them crawl on the beach and lay their eggs.
  • Shop and Eat at Downtown Melbourne – This is where the locals go for dinner, drinks and to check out boutiques. There’s plenty of restaurants and shops to choose from, as well as some stunning views of Crane Creek and the Marina.
  • Get Your Green Thumb on at Rockledge Gardens – Check out this local garden where you can see a variety of native flora, take a class on maintaining plants or even do some goat yoga!
Space Coast Florida Ultimate Travel Guide
  • Relax in the Sun – The Space Coast has 72 mile of lush coastline which means there are tons of free parks to enjoy the beach. My favorites are Spessard Holland, Jetty Park, and Lori Wilson Park, but you really can’t go wrong with any of them!
  • Take an Airboat Ride – Get up close and personal to Florida wildlife (including alligators) on an adventurous airboat tour of the swamps.
  • Explore Cocoa Village – This historic area is full of specialty shops to find the perfect souvenir. You can also get a great meal here and visit some bars and breweries all while being by the water.
  • Climb High at Adventure HQAll ages will enjoy this community hub that has rock walls, a ninja warrior course, an escape room and a backyard where you can play cornhole, shuffleboard and more!
  • Play a round of golf – The Space Coast is home to over a dozen sprawling golf courses and driving ranges for all abilities. You can go on for deals on local courses! If your long game isn’t great, then check out the beachside mini golf courses including Lighthouse Cove mini golf.
  • Visit a Nature Trail – You can find over a dozen different nature trails to hike through for some scenic Florida views. My favorites are the Viera Wetlands, the Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge and the Turkey Creek Sanctuary. These places are especially popular for birding.

For more ideas for things to do, check out my guides to Cocoa Beach and Melbourne!

Space Coast Florida Ultimate Travel Guide

Places to Eat on The Space Coast

The Space Coast is home to a large assortment of fantastic local dining. I find it to be a much more affordable area for dining compared to Orlando and Palm Beach, but just as delicious. Fresh seafood is a frequent find, as well as southern style cooking and authentic Cuban eateries. I have eaten at every restaurant on this list (and reviewed most, see the hyperlinks) and I am confident they will not disappoint any visitors!

  • Mustard’s Last Stand($)– Hot dogs with the craziest toppings imaginable.
  • El Ambia Cubano ($)– Cuban Café with classics such as Cuban coffee, Cubano sandwiches and tender pork, rice and beans.
  • Café Surfinista ($)– Beachside café with healthy breakfast and lunch options.
  • Backwater($)– The best brunch spot in town where you can make your own pancakes at your table. Look for the teal truck at breweries and local events or find them on their Facebook page.
Space Coast Florida Ultimate Travel Guide
  • The Bearded Chef Food Truck ($)– The ultimate foodie spot where everything from mac and cheese to fried rice is served with a twist.
  • Tiny Turtle ($) – Caribbean Puerto Rican fusion restaurant with an adorable turtle theme in Cocoa Beach.
  • Chez Quan’s ($) – Asian Latin fusion serving up delicious rice dishes in Melbourne.
  • Umami Restaurant Sushi & Bar ($$)– Inventive sushi rolls and fine Japanese dining.
  • Coasters Pub & Biergarten ($$)– Gigantic burgers and crispy onion rings at a biergarten.
  • The Mansion ($$)– Rooftop dining featuring American favorites with a tropical twist.
  • Mangetsu ($$) – Korean BBQ spot in Downtown Melbourne known for delicious bibimbap and sushi.
  • 4th Street Fillin Station ($$) – A lively outdoor biergarten with affordable and unique bar food.
  • FM Pizza Oven ($$) – The best pizza spot in town with any type of wood fired flatbread you desire!
  • La Crepe ($$)– A French café with savory and sweet crepes.
Space Coast Florida Ultimate Travel Guide
  • The Cottage Irish Pub ($$)– A cozy pub with Irish specialties so good you forget your in Florida.
  • Brix Project ($$)- Brewery and gastropub with a selection of unique eats as well as classic bar favorites.
  • Cryderman’s Barbecue ($$) – By far the best barbecue you can find on the Space Coast, located in both Downtown Melbourne and Cocoa Village.
  • Third Culture Kitchen ($$)- Urban fusion fare with small plates, tacos, baos and more.
  • Rising Tide Tap and Table ($$)- Shareable american favorites and are large local beer selection.
  • Village Biergarten Restaurant ($$)- Outdoor German biergarten with live music and bavarian specialties.
  • Jazzy’s Mainley Lobster ($$) – A classic beachside seafood spot with lobster rolls, fried fish and sandwiches.
  • Nomad Cafe ($$) – A farm to table spot in Downtown Melbourne
  • Cedar’s Café($$)– An intimate Lebanese spot with the best hummus you can find and all sorts of salads and wraps to go with it.
  • Ocean 302 ($$)– Trendy spot with craft beer and unique flatbread pizzas.
  • Florida’s Fresh Grill ($$$) – Award winning seafood and steakhouse, along with delicious key lime pie.
  • Yellow Dog Café($$$)– Romantic spot on the water with fresh seafood.
Space Coast Florida Ultimate Travel Guide
  • Crush Eleven ($$$)– Handcrafted cocktails and foodie creations in Downtown Melbourne.
  • Ember & Oak ($$$) – A new restaurant in Downtown Melbourne focusing on fine cuts of meat and share plates.
  • The Fat Snook ($$$)- Sister restaurant to Crush Eleven which focuses on seafood dining in an intimate setting.
  • Trend Kitchen ($$$)- Exotic, gourmet dining which uses techniques like sous vide cooking and aerating.

Check out my Best Restaurant Guides to Melbourne and Cocoa Beach for more in depth reviews!

Space Coast Breweries

The Space Coast has a growing brewery scene and you can get any type of beer you like here! You can find my full Ale Trail guide here, but these are my favorite ones to grab a brew at.

  • Intracoastal Brewing Company – This Melbourne brewery is a local favorite which a huge outdoor terrace and a wide variety of flavorful beer.
  • Hell ‘n Blazes Brewing Company – Come to Downtown Melbourne for this gorgeous taproom complete with lots of games.
  • Playalinda Brewing Co.Titusville’s only brewery has two locations. There is a small spot downtown and as well as a larger restaurant off of US 1.
Space Coast Florida Ultimate Travel Guide
  • Dirty Oar Beer Company – This Cocoa Village Brewery has some of the craziest beer creations, including fun flavors like a sour patch kids beer!
  • Beachfly Brewing Company – One of the many newcomers located in Indian Harbor where you can get some refreshing beer in a surf shack setting.
Space Coast Florida Ultimate Travel Guide

Getting There and Around

If you want to fly to the Space Coast, you have two options. You can either fly into Orlando Airport and drive to the Space Coast or fly into the much smaller Melbourne airport. I often enjoy traveling through MLB because it’s size makes it a very easy airport experience. However, you almost always have a stop in Atlanta or Charlotte, which may mean a long layover. If you are staying on the Northern area of the Space Coast, Orlando Airport might be the same distance away and a lot less expensive to fly into.

Space Coast Florida Ultimate Travel Guide

I almost always recommend getting a rental car for visiting the Space Coast. It’s a pretty vast area so you will want a car to explore. The Kennedy Space Center alone is pretty far from the main area and would be an expensive Uber ride. If you really want a car free vacation, you could possibly Uber from the airport to either of the Bed and Breakfasts mentioned below and then simply walk or bike or Uber to restaurants in the area. I think most would find that limiting though.

For a day trip to the Space Coast, it is only an hour and a half east of Orlando, north of West Palm Beach and south of Daytona Beach. I would recommend driving down early so you have time to enjoy a few activities before heading to one of the downtown area for dinner.

Hotels on the Space Coast

The Space Coast has all sorts of hotels from different chain’s on the beach to cozy bed and breakfast’s. I find those to have the most character and give the full Space coast experience. However, if you want to use points, stick to the beachside chain’s, as the ones in town are more aimed at business travelers.

Space Coast Florida Ultimate Travel Guide
  • Uncle Scotty’s Airbnb’s – Uncle Scotty has a variety of Airbnb’s all over the coast where you can experience the Space Coast to the fullest. The River House is my favorite, as you can stay right on the river for easy kayaking and sunset views. If you are looking for a fun and exciting weekend with friends, this is the place to stay!
  • Hotel Melby – If you want to stay in Downtown Melbourne and be close to the beach, this hotel is perfect. Not only is there a rooftop bar and waterfront views, but Crush Eleven and Hell n’ Blazes are less than a five minute walk away. I recommend this spot for anyone who likes to be in walking distance to restaurants and bars and a chic atmosphere.
  • Port D’Hiver Bed & Breakfast – This Bed and Breakfast is the best spot for a romantic beachside vacation. They are renowned for their gourmet breakfast and large private porches. They are also right across the street from one of the nicest beaches on the Space Coast! If you are traveling as a couple, this is my top recommendation.
  • Four Points Sheraton Cocoa Beach – For a beachfront stay, the Four Points Sheraton puts you right in the middle of the Cocoa Beach action. You can pay with Marriott points and you are next door to the famous Ron Jon Surf Shop. This hotel is perfect for a family vacation.
  • Crane Creek Inn Waterfront Bed & Breakfast – If you want to be close to Downtown Melbourne, than this Bed and Breakfast would be perfect. Not only is there a large pool and waterfront views, but Crush Eleven and Hell n’ Blazes are less than a five minute walk away. I recommend this spot for anyone who likes to be in walking distance to restaurants and bars.
Space Coast Florida Ultimate Travel Guide

Those are just the highlights, but I am still discovering new things to do and see every day on the Space Coast. I always share my recent finds here, so check back for more!