(BPT) - Step outside. Is it cold, windy and gray? Snowy even? Yep, those are sure signs winter is upon us. The bright leaves of autumn have faded, the pumpkin-flavored beverages are starting to wane, and the kids already are developing a serious case of cabin fever. But there’s a remedy for all this gloom. Winter’s bitter cold is the perfect excuse to head south with the family for a quick vacation getaway.
Florida’s Space Coast, where it’s decidedly warmer, has something for everyone. From rockets launching into outer space to unforgettable seafood and more, the Space Coast is an affordable and worthwhile escape, even for just a weekend. So, if the onset of winter isn’t sitting well with you, take next Friday off, book your tickets or gas up the car, and get ready to experience these Space Coast attractions and activities. They’ll turn up the heat!
1. Explore the final frontier. As you might have guessed, the Space Coast got its name because it is home to both the Cape Canaveral launch complex and NASA’s Kennedy Space Center. Here, rockets operated by SpaceX and others still regularly blast into the heavens. A day at the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex will bring you up close to one of the legendary Apollo command modules that orbited the moon, as well as the last Space Shuttle orbiter to fly. You’ll learn about the history of the NASA program and maybe even see a rocket launch! It’s an interactive journey that will inspire the entire family.
2. Hang loose at Ron Jon Surf Shop. You’ve seen the iconic shirts and the ubiquitous roadside billboards, but nothing can really prepare you for a visit inside Ron Jon’s flagship store in Cocoa Beach. With more than 52,000 square feet of merchandise space, it’s like nothing you’ve experienced at the shore before. You’ll find everything to outfit your beach-bum vacation lifestyle, and maybe a few items that will fit in back home, too.
3. Get into vacation mode with a “pre-cruise” outing. In the heart of the Space Coast is Port Canaveral, the busiest passenger cruise port in the world. Because this is the spot where millions of people begin their cruise vacations each year, numerous entertainment venues, spas, restaurants and more are located in the area, to help all the “pre-cruisers” get ready for life at sea. You don’t need to actually have a cruise booked to enjoy all that’s offered in this bustling port — just an appetite, a sense of adventure and maybe some extra energy.
4. Embark on a zoo adventure like no other. At the Brevard Zoo, you can kayak past exotic animals, feed a giraffe, zip line over the treetops and get an eyeful of hulking rhinoceros. With a wide array of animal species on hand and a variety of fun activities and educational opportunities available, this unique facility is set up to be more of an adventure than a walk-through.
5. Enjoy the fresh air. Its sunshine and mild temperatures make the Space Coast perfect to visit at this time of year. For those who like to be outside, there is a healthy range of options. You can spend an afternoon bird watching in nearby wetlands, walking along the beach (and enjoying the ocean breeze), or even fishing along the shore or on one of the many inland bodies of water.
Visiting the Space Coast is an affordable, easy way for you and the family to escape the cold for a weekend and, with so much to do, you’ll probably decide you need to book a longer stay the next time around.
(BPT) - When it comes to outer space, there is much to wonder over and dream about. Where else are there such colossal challenges paired with the infinite possibilities of discovery? For stargazers, dreamers and those who believe anything is possible, Florida has the perfect vacation spot for experiencing that sense of cosmic adventure, and letting your imagination run wild. Just zoom in on a certain strip of Atlantic seaboard known as the Space Coast — your portal to “the final frontier.”
Here, there is ample opportunity to get an up-close look at space exploration. Of course, The Space Coast is home to the Kennedy Space Center, located in the middle of the Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge along the Atlantic shore, where NASA has captivated the hearts and minds of Americans with its launches of manned spacecraft and other vessels sent off to explore our solar system.
There’s so much on the Space Coast for space enthusiasts to take in, including close encounters with space vehicles, the opportunity to watch a rocket launch, and the chance to hear dramatic stories told by America’s astronauts. Use this guide to start planning your adventure to the Space Coast.
Witness a roaring rocket launch
A few weeks before heading for the Space Coast, it’s essential to check the latest rocket launch schedule at spacecoastlaunches.com, so you can seize the opportunity to witness an actual, thundering liftoff. The website also offers plenty of suggestions for catching an excellent view of the launch action coming out of the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. (You even might be able to get a preview by tuning in for live launch coverage at spacecoastlaunches.com/watch-live.) Just know this: A roaring rocket launch is an experience that can’t be fully appreciated until it is seen — and felt — in person.
Get an astronaut’s perspective
Without a doubt, those who are named to NASA’s Astronaut Corps belong to an elite group. Still, not all who are accepted end up on a space flight. Asking real astronauts about their experiences in the program or talking with those who have flown on a space mission is a can’t-miss opportunity for any space fiend. During your visit to the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex, be sure to block out some time for one of the daily question-and-answer sessions with a real astronaut.
Get an up-close look at the Mars Rover
There’s been renewed optimism lately about a manned mission to Mars — and with it, much speculation that the person who will first set foot on the Red Planet may already have been born. The crew that makes the voyage to Mars will need a vehicle rugged enough to safely traverse the planet’s challenging, rocky landscape. At the same time, the machine must be designed to function as a mobile laboratory. At the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex, you’ll have the chance to view an astonishing, otherworldly concept vehicle called the Mars Rover. And while you’re on-site, the expansive “Summer of Mars” exhibit will show you what it will take to accomplish the next big space mission.
Experience Exploration Tower
From the observation deck atop Exploration Tower at nearby Port Canaveral, you can take in a panoramic view of the bustling cruise-ship harbor below and the awe-inspiring launch facilities of both the Kennedy Space Center and the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. Here, you’ll find it easy to appreciate our past space achievements, as well as the possibilities that lie ahead. The seven-story Exploration Tower also happens to be a great spot to view rocket launches; after liftoff, stick around and check out the many exhibits that take you through a sweeping history of Port Canaveral and how it influenced exploration of the Americas and beyond. For more details, visit explorationtower.com.
Soak in the history
Before and during your Space Coast trip, take time to absorb the rich history of the Kennedy Space Center. After all, this is where America began its journey to the moon and launched the era of the space shuttle. The space center facilities house hundreds of scientific spacecraft designed to help us learn about the galaxies and our universe. Search for Cape Canaveral history on nasa.gov, where you can listen, watch and learn all about the fascinating missions and the extraordinary men and women who made them possible.
Time to stop dreaming about your space-themed vacation adventure, and start planning. You'll discover plenty of helpful information on visitspacecoast.com.
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