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Florida's Space Coast

Experience out-of-this-world vacation options.


Kennedy Space Center Shuttle Landing
Courtesy of NASA
Only a few miles east of Orlando, Florida's Space Coast offers out-of-this-world vacation options – drive your car on the world's most famous beach and surf the waves of the Atlantic Ocean, satisfy your need for speed at a world-class racing facility, cruise the seas from one of the world's busiest ports before heading to Disney World, or encounter real astronauts and tour the center of the nation's space program.

Of course, that isn't all, nature enthusiasts can enjoy eco-tour getaways that may include birding, photography, kayaking and canoeing, star gazing, and wildlife festivals.

Daytona Beach

Matthais Day purchased a couple thousand acres of land on the Halifax River in 1871. It is reported that although he couldn't keep up the payments on the land, people incorporated and named the area after him. By the turn of the century, Henry Flagler had bridged the Halifax River and was forging his railroad southward. The hotels and boarding houses built along the way filled with beach lovers and Daytona gained national attention as a resort – a designation it enjoys to this day.

Early in the new century, what started as a standoff of new-fangled automobiles on the hard-packed beach sand, became a regular occurrence and a world-class racing complex was built in the mid-1950s, and in 1959 the first Daytona 500 was held at the new facility. Today Daytona International Speedway, and its tourist attraction neighbor, Daytona USA, draw thousands of racing fans annually.

As it looks today, the world's most famous beach – 23 miles long and 500 feet wide at low tide – is lined with luxury resorts devoted to seaside pleasures and fun-filled pursuits. The area was known for years as the nation's "Spring Break Capital," and still is a popular destination for the college crowd. Bike Week brings thousands of cyclists roaring into town and down the beach, but the area also has a softer, quieter side. It is the new home to the Ladies Professional Golf Association and great year-round golf courses. Visitors can take in top performers, including the London Symphony Orchestra and popular artists, appearing at the Peabody Auditorium or the Ocean Center.

Daytona is located along Florida's East Central Coastal region and is an equal distance of about 55 miles east from Orlando as it is south from St. Augustine, and is accessible by Interstates 4 & 95. Hwy. A1A runs down the length of the coast and through Daytona skirting the shoreline of the Halifax River. Access to the beach is by bridges from the mainland and daytime driving and parking is permitted along 16 miles of hard-packed sand.

There is no place like it in the universe – a gateway to Florida's past and future – home to some of the most threatened and endangered species as well as the world center of space exploration – a place where nature lives in amazing harmony with technology.

The race to space brought jobs, industry and tourists to the same area where now space museums exist next to wildlife refuges and natural seashores boast some of Florida's finest beaches.

Canaveral National Seashore

This barrier island of 24-miles of unspoiled beach offers a blend of plant, animal life, and abundant recreational activities — boating, fishing, canoeing, surfing, swimming, hiking, horseback riding, and backcountry camping.

Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge

This buffer zone between NASA's space quest is open to the public except during pre-launch and launch operations. It provides a diverse habitat for migratory birds and natural wildlife as well as environmental, educational, and recreational opportunities to the public.

An observation tower, hiking trails, and a seven-mile auto tour route offer plenty of opportunities for nature photographers and birders to practice their crafts.

Cape Canaveral

This barrier island turned launch site of America's space program is home to NASA and the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex where you can follow America's exploration into space through interactive exhibits, movies and tours. The second largest multi-day cruise ship port is located nearby at Port Canaveral where you can set sail to a variety of tropical destinations.

Cocoa Beach

One of the best beaches on the East Coast and where surfers come to ride the waves, Cocoa Beach is home to in infamous Ron Jon Surf Shop. Explore historic Cocoa Village – a restored brick-walk village in downtown Cocoa where you'll find specialty shops.

Getting There

Florida's Space Coast runs from just south of Ormond Beach to Vero Beach. It is easily accessible by Interstate 95 and Highway A1A – running north and south along the coast – and coming from the west, Highway 92 into Daytona and Highway 192 into Melbourne.

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