When most people think of the Space Coast, they think of Cocoa Beach, but its southern neighbor Melbourne is equally worthy of your time. This coastal city is home to some of the most beautiful Florida beaches and a couple of unique downtowns. After living here for ten years, I have a lot to share about things to do in Melbourne, Florida
If you are in Orlando or West Palm and looking for a day trip, Melbourne is one of the best places to go. Cocoa Beach and Titusville might have the popular Kennedy Space Center attraction and waterfront restaurants, but Melbourne is perfect for exploring. Here is my take on all the best things to do in Melbourne, Florida.
Nature Things To Do In Melbourne, Florida
I find this to be the less touristy area of the Space Coast, and because of this, there is a lot more natural to see. Here are seven nature things to do in Melbourne, Florida that I recommend doing.
1. Kayak through the Giraffe Enclosure at the Brevard Zoo
The Brevard Zoo is probably the best-known attraction in the area. I think it’s one of the most unique zoos around and there’s a lot you can do here for any age!
Some of my favorites are feeding the giraffes, kayaking through the enclosure, and doing a kangaroo walkabout! There are a lot of hands-on exhibits and even a swimming pool as well! Those seeking extra thrills can try the Treetop Trek, which includes climbing and zip-lining. If you are local, you may want to consider the annual pass so that you can try everything they have to offer!
2. See Nesting Turtles on a Turtle Walk
Every summer, hundreds of turtles come to the beaches of Brevard County to lay their eggs. If you are here from June through August at night, you may get a chance to see them! The Sea Turtle Preservation Society hosts turtle walks where you can learn all about the turtles and get a few glimpses of them. If you are especially lucky, you might see some sea turtles hatch! I have still yet to experience that in person, but I have seen a few hatchlings.
3. Look For Dolphins on a SUP Eco Adventure
One of my favorite things to do in Melbourne, Florida is paddleboard. If you have done it before, it is pretty easy to rent a board and take it on the ocean or intercoastal. However, I think it is the most fun to take an eco-tour, especially if you haven’t been before!
I went on a SUP Eco Adventure at Honest John’s Fish Camp a few years ago and still have wonderful memories of it. We saw a few dolphins and learned a lot about the area from the two tour guides. Whether you are visiting or a local, everyone should take this tour once!
4. Take a Scenic Hike Through Turkey Creek Sanctuary
If you like hiking, there are half a dozen excellent trails here. In fact, one of my favorite free things to do in Melbourne, FL is visit Turkey Creek Sanctuary where you can walk two miles on the boardwalk. There are so many cool things to see here including manatees, alligators, and birds. There also is a butterfly garden at the beginning, where you can enjoy the peaceful scenery.
5. Go To The Beach
Obviously, you will want to spend some time at the beach while you are here! The beachside is broken up into multiple different towns, but for the purposes of this post, I will consider everything from Sebastian Inlet to Patrick Air Force Base part of Melbourne.
For quiet and tranquil beaches, I recommend going south. Coconut Point Park and Juan Ponce de Leon Landing beach are both hidden gems in Melbourne, Florida with free parking and bathrooms.
For a beach park with a few more amenities, Spessard Holland and Paradise Park are good options with free parking. Spessard Holland has a surprisingly good food stand called Billie’s. Paradise usually has a food truck as well, in addition to a playground and volleyball courts.
A lot of people like James H. Nance Park in Indialantic, but it’s the only place where you have to pay for parking. If you want to take your dog to the beach, Canova Beach is the only dog-friendly beach in Melbourne.
As you go north, I prefer going all the way to Patrick Air Force Base and going to a secluded beach. 2nd Light and Hangar’s beach are both very quiet, although they do not even have restrooms. Other public beaches that have restroom facilities on the north side are Hightower Beach and Pelican Beach. I have to say, I usually prefer the south, because the northern beaches in Melbourne, Florida have some rocks.
6. Bike Through The Ritch Grissom Memorial Wetlands
Even though the beach is the main nature attraction here, the wetlands are another biologically diverse spot worth exploring. The Ritch Grissom Memorial Wetlands is a 200-acre spot home to many birds, gators, and other creatures. You can drive around, but I prefer to take a leisurely bike ride or even a walkthrough.
7. Go Fishing At Sebastian Inlet
The Sebastian Inlet State Park is a beautiful spot just south of Melbourne with all sorts of ways to explore. You can wade in the inlet, check out the museum, or even camp here! If you want to go fishing somewhere in Melbourne though, this is one of the best spots. There are two long jetties that are perfect for fishing or just admiring the views. Make sure to get a saltwater fishing license before you go!
Active Things To Do In Melbourne Florida
With such beautiful weather most of the year, it’s no surprise that there are plenty of activities to do. A lot of these involve nature, while also breaking a bit of a sweat. Here are my favorite active things to do in Melbourne, Florida.
1. See the Water Glow in the Dark on a Bioluminescence Tour
I’ve talked a lot on the blog about how the Space Coast is one of the few places in the world you can experience bioluminescence. For optimal results, you should probably head up to Titusville to see it, but there are a few spots in Melbourne to find it too.
We took a tour with Paddling Paradise once and went to Satellite Beach to paddleboard through bioluminescence. It was a bit fainter there, but still noticeable! It depends on the time of year, so if you get the chance in Melbourne, definitely take it!
2. Play a Game of Golf By The Ocean
There are a lot of places to golf on the Space Coast, but Spessard Holland is my favorite course. It’s in Melbourne Beach and you get beautiful coastal views! If you prefer mini-golf, there are only a few places around here, with Andretti in Palm Bay and Lighthouse Cove in Cocoa Beach being the main choices.
3. Do Yoga On The Beach Or At A Brewery
For an extra peaceful yogi experience, head to the beach Saturday’s at 8 AM for practice there. There is usually one going on at the James Nance beach and it is donation-based. Check out this page to make sure it’s happening!
Melbourne is actually a big yogi town, so there are other cool places to do yoga here too! The Yoga Garden is a super relaxing spot in EGAD, but I especially enjoy Namaste for One More every Sunday at Intracoastal Brewery.
4. Take An Airboat Ride through the Swamp
Believe it or not, you do not have to go to the Everglades to see gators from an airboat! If you go just west of Melbourne, you can experience a true Florida swamp. There are a few places you can get an airboat ride including Camp Holly, Airboat Rides Melbourne, and Swamp Donkey. They offer daytime tours, sunset tours, and even night ones where you get a headlamp to look for creatures!
5. Go Zip Lining, Go-Karting, and Take a Ropes Course at Adrenaline Warehouse
This is probably one of the best things to do in Melbourne, Florida when it is raining. There are only a handful of indoor activities in Melbourne, so head to Adrenaline Warehouse for all the excitement you could want indoors. They offer go-karting, zip-lining, laser tag, a ropes course, and an arcade. All ages will have a blast here!
6. Explore a Nature Trail
In addition to the picturesque wetlands mentioned above, there are a couple of other natural areas in Melbourne good for hiking. The Turkey Creek Sanctuary is probably the most well-known one and there are about two miles of trails to check out. In addition to birding, you might see some manatees, gators, and tortoises.
For a beachside home, check out Coconut Point Sanctuary which is about a mile long trail. There is also Erna Nixon Park which has an elevated boardwalk through the forest. Occasionally, they have a moonlight stroll here complete with live music and surrounded by live oaks.
7. Go For a Run at a Brewery
Running is another sport that is pretty popular around here. There are weekly running clubs almost every day of the week! Currently, you can go to Oars and Paddles Sunday mornings, Long Doggers Indialantic on Monday nights, Hell ‘n Blazes on Tuesday nights, and Intracoastal Brewing on Wednesday nights. Check out Space Coast runners for more info on these group runs. They are always a great way to run with a group and often get a beer after!
If you like races, we have plenty of those too. The Running Zone has a fun series of 5ks, including the Ghostly Gecko and the Run for the Gecko. Other races I don’t miss include the Turtle Krawl 5K and the Eye of the Dragon 10k. Here’s a list of upcoming events so you can start training for one!
8. Go Bowling
This isn’t the most exciting thing on the list, but I did want to include bowling in case you are looking for something else on a rainy day. You can go to either Shore Lanes or Bowlero for a few hours of bowling and drinks!
Cultural and Artsy Things to do in Melbourne, Florida
Despite not being a bit city, there’s still a big appreciation for art and history in Melbourne. Though we do not have a ton of museums, you can learn a lot about Florida and more! For an authentic Melbourne experience, check out some of these artsy or cultural things to do in Melbourne, Florida.
1. Take a Mural Art Tour through The Eau Gallie Arts District
If you like art, the Eau Gallie Arts District is the number one place to go! Not only do they have a variety of colorful and creative murals, but there are also art galleries and creative shops. I love coming here to walk around, admire the murals and galleries and then grab a drink at one of the many bars here!
2. Explore The Historic Rossetter House Museum
Close by to the Eau Gallie Arts District, you can visit a historical museum. The Rossetter House has been around since 1908 and is on the National Register of Historic Places. It was built by a family with a long Florida legacy. You can tour this historic house for $8 and find out more about what life was like 100 years ago in Melbourne, Florida.
3. Check Out the Shops and Restaurants in Downtown Melbourne
Downtown Melbourne is another historical spot in town that also has a lot going on now. You can come here for shopping and dining or enjoy a romantic stroll by the harbor and riverside. Other sites to check out include the Henegar Center built in 1919, the Green Gables House, and even Hell ‘n Blazes brewery. This brewery is located in a building that burnt down multiple times before turning into a bank! They left the old bank vault for a little slice of history.
4. See A Show At The King Center
Over by the community college, EFSC, you can enjoy concerts, plays, and more at the King Center. This venue being so small is actually a perk because you get such an intimate experience. I never expected to be so close to the stage at a Ben Folds concert when he came to this venue a few years ago! Keep an eye out for bands or comedians you love, because seeing them here is an amazing experience.
5. Paint Pottery or A Canvas
If you want to bring out your artsy side, I recommend painting pottery or a canvas in Downtown Melbourne. Get Fired Up is a spot where you can pick some kind of pottery, whether it be a mug or a statue, and paint it however you like. Then the studio will glaze and fire it for you! I have always enjoyed doing this in the past and have been surprised by how well some of the pieces come out.
You can also try painting a canvas at Painting with a Twist, where an instructor guides you through creating a wall-worthy piece of art. Check out the calendar for special theme nights! There’s also Create It!, a studio where you can make your own wooden signs. Instructors are on hand here to help your creativity flourish.
6. Taste Some Beer Or Spirits
There are four different Melbourne, Florida breweries and nine in the Brevard County area. You can grab a flight at any of them and try a few different kinds of beers. Check out my post here to figure out which on to visit!
There are also some great places to experience a guided tasting. The Mansion is one of my favorites. This restaurant also has a cellar where they feature weekly tastings of different spirits and wines. It’s a great way to find out what you like to drink and snack a little too!
7. Take A Cooking Class
For those wanting a cooking experience or just a fun, food-centric night, The Gathering Table offers a variety of cooking classes. Options range from a Night in Tuscany, where you make gnocchi and saltimbocca, to family class, where kids can join in. These trained instructors will teach you how to make delicious food and relax in the kitchen! The best part is the class ends with a meal of the food you made!
Melbourne, Florida Festivals To Experience
In Melbourne, it’s a rare weekend that there’s not some sort of event going on! In addition to First Fridays in the downtowns and weekly farmers markets, there are also quite a few festivals for whatever you are interested in. Here are some of the ones I mark my calendar for every year.
Downtown Melbourne Food and Wine Festival – Mid-November Annually
The Melbourne Food and Wine Festival is the biggest gathering of Brevard county restaurants and bars in the area where you can taste all the food and drinks you want! Every November, you can attend this foodie fest and pay one price for unlimited tastings. The event does get crowded, but it’s a great opportunity to try a lot of local restaurants.
The Rocky Water Brew Fest – Mid-October Annually
If you like craft beer, this is the perfect festival to attend! The Rocky Water Brew Fest happens every October and hosts dozens of breweries from around the state. Not only can you try the local ones, but you can also try some of the best Tampa and Orlando breweries here as well.
Melbourne Art Festival – End of April Annually
To see Downtown Melbourne come alive with art and creativity, you have to visit the Melbourne Art Festival. I love seeing all the different vendor displays of all kinds of art. This free event also includes live music, workshops, a 5k, and food vendors. It’s a great way to support the local community of talented artists and have fun too!
Whiskey in the District – Beginning of February Annually
EGAD also hosts the yearly Whiskey in the District event, where attendees are treated to a variety of rare whiskies and bourbons. This is the best opportunity to try bottles that you might not find in stores. There’s also food and entertainment included in the ticket. It’s a great way to start the year for whiskey lovers!
Botanical Festival – Beginning of March Annually
Another free festival that Downtown Melbourne hosts is the Botanical Fest. This free event is the ultimate place to view and buy a variety of plants, flowers, and more. We usually pick up a few flowers every year and even splurged for a monstera plant this past festival! It is sure to bring out the green thumb in anyone.
Know Before You Go: Things to do in Melbourne, Florida
Brevard County may not be the most well-known area in the state, but there is no shortage of fun things to do in Melbourne, Florida. For locals, I hope this guide helped you find something new to do in your town! For those on vacation, I recommend spending some time at the beach and doing at least a couple of nature or active activities on this list. I also urge you to spend some time at night in either Downtown Melbourne or EGAD and check out the restaurants and bars there! Here are a few other things to keep in mind for your time in Melbourne.
- The best time to visit Melbourne, Florida is November through May. The summers are very hot and you risk having to deal with a hurricane in the early fall.
- There is an airport here that Delta, American Airlines, and a few others fly out of. I prefer to fly to Orlando airport and make the hour-long drive because the prices are better.
- If you are visiting the area, I highly recommend renting a car. Its a large area, and though you can use Lyft/Uber, a rental car is probably cheaper
- There is not a lot of nightlife here, besides Downtown Melbourne. It’s much more of a relaxing town! You can find live music at a lot of bars though.
- If you are looking for a hotel, my favorite hotel is Hotel Melby. It is right in the center of downtown and close to all the best things to do in Melbourne, Florida
Have you been to Melbourne, Florida before? It’s one of my favorite places in Florida! For more ideas of things to do in the Sunshine State, check out my 101 Things to do in Florida Bucket List!
Need help packing for your Florida vacation? Check out my Ultimate Florida Packing Checklist!
If you would like to get a printable bucket list for Cocoa Beach and Melbourne, Florida, Check out my Etsy shop here and get one to download!