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Honest Kennedy Space Center Review + Expert Tips (2024)

Whether you’re a Florida resident or just visiting, one of the lesser talked about attractions is the Kennedy Space Center.

Everyone seems to focus on Disney and Universal, while missing out one of the most fascinating attractions in all of the US – the Kennedy Space Center.

This is truly where the magic happens when it comes to the American Space program.

Countless astronauts have blasted off from their launchpads, and history has been made thanks to NASA’s work (and now private companies) at the center.

In this Kennedy Space Center review, we’re talking all about the visitor complex where you can get up close and personal to giant rockets, retired shuttles, and hear from astronauts about the day to day experience up in space.

As we’ll talk about later, the KSC is located about an hour’s drive away from Orlando (the main hub of tourist attraction in Central Florida), but that journey is well worth it for anyone who has ever dreamed of walking in the footsteps of the explorers who have raced to the moon, landed rovers on Mars, or discovered new planets.

Kennedy Space Center

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Practical Tips for KSC

Below are some of the more need-to-know tips about the Kennedy Space Center.

  • Address : Space Commerce Way, Merritt Island, FL 32953, USA
  • The Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex is a full-day experience (mostly self-guided)
  • KSC is typically open every day except Thanksgiving and Christmas Day, and the hours are typically 9am to 5pm
  • Bring lots of sunscreen and check out my Florida packing list to make sure you are actually prepared for a day in the sun

Kennedy Space Center

Is Kennedy Space Center Worth It?

Before you go on reading about the Shuttle Launch experience or astronaut talks or any of the amazing things that the Kennedy Space Center offers, the main question on your mind might be, “Is the Kennedy Space Center worth it?”

While it’s close to some beaches, it is a commitment to visit from Orlando if that’s where you’re based on your vacation, and in the late 90s and early 2000s, KSC was not necessarily known for its quality.

It was fun, but maybe not a full day experience.

Kennedy Space Center

Nowadays, in 2023, a lot has changed at the center and the Kennedy Space Center is not only completely worth it, but should be a must-do on your Florida bucketlist.

Who Should Go to the Kennedy Space Center?

Who is the Kennedy Space Center for?

Is it too advanced for small kids?

Too many kiddie activities for adults?

Luckily, Kennedy Space Center is for everyone.

Genuinely, everyone.

Kennedy Space Center

For adults, there are plenty of fascinating space-themed exhibits.

For kids, there are interactive games and an awesome play area and IMAX movies.

For the teens, there are some cool simulators and the general awe of standing under a space shuttle.

You don’t need to know much about space or NASA’s missions to visit Kennedy Space Center , as they do a great job of explaining everything and helping you get immersed in this incredible world of spaceflight.

Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex Overview

The Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex is located within Kennedy Space Center. Kennedy Space Center itself is where all of the American rocket (and past shuttle and other) launches takes place.

The Visitor Complex is very much for-visitors, so you aren’t being given extra security access to some of the more important NASA buildings (as if!), but you do get to see them from the outside, and NASA has built out the visitor section with plenty of artifacts, preserved mission control rooms and space mobiles, and other information so you can learn about what they do without getting in the way of the astronauts about to launch.

The park is big enough to take up a whole day, but not so massive that it’s hard to get around, so you don’t have to worry about getting lost like you might at some of the bigger Disney theme parks.

Walking through the entrance is an experience unto itself, where you’ll see one of NASA’s launch countdown clocks used until recent years, as well as the beautiful “EXPLORE” letters.

Kennedy Space Center

Once you’re in the park, the first area is the Heroes and Legends exhibit, which has a movie intro and then takes you into the Astronaut Hall of Fame.

Kennedy Space Center

It’s worth it to take a quick look inside, but it isn’t the best that KSC has to offer.

Kennedy Space Center

Further on you’ll find the Rocket Garden, which is exactly what it sounds like and is one of the best chances at the center to get really up close to some of the most famous rockets in NASA history.

Kennedy Space Center

Keep walking and head to the right and you’ll find the hub of Kennedy Space Center, including Mission to Mars (an exhibit all about how NASA is trying to both take humans to Mars and learn more about this mysterious planet), as well as the Universe theater where they hold astronaut talks and some movie showings throughout the day.

Kennedy Space Center

Under the awning there are plenty of tables to sit and enjoy your lunch, as well as entrance to the Kennedy Space Center store, which we’ll cover later.

Kennedy Space Center

You’ll also find some really cool exhibits, including interactive walkway exhibits where you step on the tiles to make energy, as well as International Space Station memorabilia and the iconic NASA logo over the rotating Earth.

Kennedy Space Center

Follow through to the Bus Launch area, which will take you on the Kennedy Space Center bus tour that we’ll cover in a minute.

Kennedy Space Center

Or, keep heading through the awning and you’ll find the IMAX center (seriously worth seeing one of their IMAX movies – this is NASA, they’ve got the original space footage!) as well as the kid’s play area called Planet Play which they basically won’t want to leave.

Kennedy Space Center

You’ll pass some restaurants and bathrooms and arrive at the far corner of the park where the Atlantis exhibition and Space Shuttle Experience is found.

Kennedy Space Center

The Atlantis exhibition is for anyone who has ever wondered what it would be like to see a space shuttle up close.

Kennedy Space Center

While the shuttle program is no longer active, the spirit of the shuttle and all of the innovations it brought to NASA are celebrated in this fantastic and large exhibit.

Kennedy Space Center

There’s a brief movie as you enter, and then the doors open and you see Atlantis right in front of you, no longer in space but showing off here on Earth.

Kennedy Space Center

Throughout the exhibit there are fun kid-friendly interactive activities to see how well you could pilot the shuttle, as well as a replica of the space station made out of clear plastic tubes for toddlers and children to crawl in.

Kennedy Space Center

There’s also a fun slide to take you from the top to the bottom (but there are also stairs, don’t worry).

Kennedy Space Center

Adults will love the sheer amount of information about the shuttle, including exhibits on its boosters, how the shuttle is transported to the pad, and how it lands.

Kennedy Space Center

On a more somber note, there is a memorial for the two shuttles lost during the program: Challenger and Columbia. Each astronaut on these missions are celebrated and remembered, and there is a piece of wreckage of each that has been recovered.

Kennedy Space Center

It reminds you of the dangers of space flight and of the absolute bravery of each astronaut who pushes the boundaries to go beyond for the advancement of humankind.

Kennedy Space Center

Within the Atlantis building is the Shuttle Launch Experience, which we’ve dedicated its own section to below.

Kennedy Space Center

The final section of the park is the Apolo/Saturn V center, which we have included as part of the bus tour review since you can’t walk to it from within the park and must take the bus transportation.

Shuttle Launch Experience

One of the most popular things for KSC to advertise with on commercials is the Shuttle Launch Experience. They promise that you’ll feel what it’s really like to get on a shuttle and launch into outer space.

Kennedy Space Center

The reality is that the simulator at Disney’s Epcot, Mission Space, is far more intense than the Shuttle Launch Experience, but that means the experience is more family-friendly here.

No backpacks or purses can be taken on board, so you use the free lockers provided and then get in line and weave your way up to the entrance. Staff members should be able to tell you how long the wait is, but we only waited 10 or so minutes on a week day.

Kennedy Space Center

You’ll experience a prelaunch briefing, then get strapped into your seats for around an 8 minute experience where the simulator tips you so you are “laying” on your back in your seats, and then it’s off to space!

If the line is short enough, everyone should do it just to say they’ve done it, but if it’s relatively long, it’s really only worth doing if you have kids who will definitely enjoy themselves.

You do feel some “forces” on you and the simulator will shake and rattle around, but somehow I doubt this is actually how the astronauts feel!

Kennedy Space Center Bus Tour

The KSC bus tour and Apollo/Saturn V center is the crème of the crop for what the visitor complex has to offer (the Atlantis exhibition is a close second).

It’s also included with the price of your ticket!

Kennedy Space Center

The traditional bus tour is usually about an hour experience that takes you throughout the Kennedy Space Center complex, including launch pads, the famous vehicle assembly building, and to landing facilities and the Cape Canaveral lighthouse.

Kennedy Space Center

Unfortunately, as of January 2022, the full bus tour is not operating due to COVID-19 and there is no clear date of when this will be brought back.

However, a shortened bus tour that takes about 20 minutes will take you from the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex out to the Apollo/Saturn V center, and along the way you will see the Vehicle Assembly Building and some launch pads.

Kennedy Space Center

To get to be roaming around NASA’s grounds with your bus driver is truly an experience of a lifetime for many who can look out to the launch pads and imagine a rocket blasting off or finally get a feel for just how massive the Vehicle Assembly Building is (it had to fit a whole Space Shuttle!)

Kennedy Space Center

Once you get to your destination, the Apollo/Saturn V Center, you take a self-guided tour through this fantastic exhibit which includes everything from information on the moon landings to an actual Saturn V hanging over your head for you to get a real sense of scale.

Kennedy Space Center

There’s a fantastic “experience” where you get to see the original Mission Control room for the first crewed Apollo V mission, and there are memorials to astronauts who lost their lives during missions during this time.

Kennedy Space Center

If the Atlantis exhibition is NASA’s more recent past, then the Saturn V/Apollo center is its real history, taking you back to a time when landing on the moon sent shockwaves around the world and rockets and capsules were much less advanced than they are now.

Kennedy Space Center

You can even walk across one of the arms to get to the rocket that actual crews walked across on the launch pad.

Kennedy Space Center

When you’re finished with this area (you could spend a solid couple of hours here, but there is a lot of other park to see so about an hour to an hour and a half should be good), you hop back on the next waiting bus which takes you directly back to the Visitor Complex.

Astronaut Talks, Events, and Movies

In between all of the exhibits, the Kennedy Space Center puts on a daily schedule of events that ranges from the IMAX movies to talks and Q&A sessions from astronauts (you would be surprised how many astronauts you’ve never heard the names of who just want to give back and share about their experiences at KSC).

Kennedy Space Center

These are well worth going to, and for many the highlight of the day as you can take some time to cool off in a dark theater or lecture hall and actually hear from the people who know spaceflight best.

Food at the Kennedy Space Center

There are no waiter-service restaurants at the Kennedy Space Center, but there are a few sit-down restaurants where you order and then get your food and find a seat.

If you’re out at the Saturn V/Apollo Center, Moon Rock Cafe has some options including chicken salads and pizzas.

Kennedy Space Center

Back at the visitor complex, Orbit Cafe is probably your best bet with the most options like pulled pork, burgers, pizza, salads, and more.

Kennedy Space Center

There’s also the Red Rock Grill (again, more of the same), which wasn’t open during our visit.

Kennedy Space Center

None of the food is gourmet, but it’s not bad for theme park food.

You can bring your own lunch in, however, which is what we’d recommend if you’re visiting from somewhere where it’s easy to pack your own lunch.

The snacks at KSC are definitely the real treat, with everything from hand-dipped ice cream to Dippin Dots to everyone’s favorite “astronaut” food (ie, dehydrated food that really should only be eaten if you’re in outer space, but many kids find fun to try).

Kennedy Space Center

Kennedy Space Center Store

Space lovers will be happy to know that the Kennedy Space Center store is two storeys full of memorabilia, T-shirts, mugs, toys, and so many space-themed items that your Christmas shopping for the year can basically be done all in one go.

Kennedy Space Center

It’s not just tacky stuff, either (though they do have things like shot glasses and bottle openers), but some really cool merchandise like flight jackets that can make you feel like you’re really a part of something.

Kennedy Space Center

There’s also a store out at the Saturn V complex if you end up spending more time out there.

Kennedy Space Center

How to Get to Kennedy Space Center

Kennedy Space Center is on the east coast of Florida, about 50 minutes to an hour from Orlando in good traffic.

The easiest way to get there is to rent a car and drive, but if you’re visiting Orlando and you don’t have a car, there are day trip options from Orlando to the Kennedy Space Center .

In fact, it’s one of the best day trips from Orlando , full stop.

The best tour of the Kennedy Space Center from Orlando is this one (you will be self-guided when you arrive at the Kennedy Space Center, like other visitors, but you can add-on the transportation from Orlando that would be near impossible or prohibitively expensive otherwise if you don’t have a car of your own).

Best Kennedy Space Center Tour from Orlando

Need transportation to the Kennedy Space Center from Orlando? The best tour option is here .

Parking at Kennedy Space Center

Parking at Kennedy Space Center is plentiful, but is an extra $10 per car ($5 per motorcycle) on top of your ticket price.

Kennedy Space Center

Kennedy Space Center Tickets

Kennedy Space Center is one of those places where the ticket price on the day costs just as much as online, so really the only benefit to buying online is so you don’t have to stand in line at the ticket booth (which, honestly, is a great reason, but I’m just saying if you forget to do that then you can still purchase them there).

Kennedy Space Center

For adults, the cost is $57 per person, and for children it’s $47.

If you do want to buy online, you can buy tickets here .

If you’re looking for Kennedy Space Center discounted tickets, the best places to check out are buying them via Undercover Tourist here, or if you’re a military member, you get discounted entrance.

You can also buy multi-day entrance for $82 per adult where you can come buy as many times as you want during the year, so if you’re local or planning on coming back, it’s not too much more expensive to add this on.

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The Family Voyage

Complete Guide to Visiting Kennedy Space Center: Tips & Tricks

This post contains affiliate links, for which I may earn a commission if you make a qualifying purchase.

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The Kennedy Space Center is likely already on your list if you have an interest in all things space, especially if you’re traveling to Orlando with kids and seeking a hands-on experience. 

For Florida travelers with a more passing interest, it can still be a great visit. It can help you develop a greater appreciation for what it takes to run a successful space shuttle program and the bravery and ingenuity involved with planning for a safe, effective space launch.

Our family had an amazing time checking out the Kennedy Space Center, which was the perfect way to mix things up in between Walt Disney World and Universal Studios .

Pro tip: Get your discounted Kennedy Space Center tickets here and bundle them with your rental car for huge savings!

In this guest post, space enthusiast Brian of Travel on the Reg will share his best tips for Kennedy Space Center to make the most of your visit! He’ll share the best things to do at the Kennedy Space Center and how to plan your next trip there with this complete guide to the Florida space site. I took lots of fun photos on our family trip to Kennedy Space Center, and you’ll see those throughout this article since I haven’t gotten to use them elsewhere!

And now over to Brian…

Where is the Kennedy Space Center?

The Kennedy Space Center is on Merritt Island in central Florida. It’s not really a city but an unincorporated area. The area is most well-known for being a NASA launch site as home to the Launch and Landing Facility (LLF), previously known as the Shuttle Landing Facility (SLF).

Merritt Island is also home to the Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge. That means you may be able to spot some bald eagles on your way to the entrance, and if you opt to stay nearby you’ll want to build in time for a visit on a different day. 

NASA actually works with the refuge to make sure any decisions they make about shuttle launches, expansions, and changes to the existing footprint keep the wildlife habitat in mind.

Why was the Kennedy Space Center built in Florida? 

The Kennedy Space Center was built in Florida for a few reasons:

  • Florida is closer to the equator than most other U.S. states, so rockets and shuttles launched from here use less energy to get out to where they’re going. In this case, where they’re likely going is outer space.
  • Florida is on the East Coast. Anything launched from here gets a boost from the Earth’s eastward spin vs. similar efforts out of the West Coast.
  • It’s close to the Atlantic Ocean. Any debris coming off the shuttles and rockets will fall into the water rather than in developed areas. Potential explosions, while rare, are also safer over the water.

One of the virtual astronauts you’ll meet while checking out the exhibits at the Kennedy Space Center will give you more details about the benefits of KSC’s location!

The complex is one of 10 NASA field centers around the United States, but it’s arguably the most well-known whether you’re a nerd for space exploration or a more casual observer. That’s what makes it such a popular stop on Florida trips or bigger road trips through the South .

How close is the Kennedy Space Center to Orlando? 

The Kennedy Space Center is 44 miles from Orlando. Drive time on that depends on where you’re coming from in Orlando, but expect it to take about an hour with light traffic. You’ll definitely want to rent a car for the trip!

Orlando is pretty notorious for heavy traffic as it’s Florida’s hub for all the fun, so it’s always best to give yourself extra time, especially if you have any timed activities while you’re here.

Is Cape Canaveral the same as the Kennedy Space Center? 

Cape Canaveral is adjacent to the Kennedy Space Center, but it’s not the same thing. Both are part of what’s known as the Space Coast. That’s not a reference to alien activity , but a nod to the spaceports located here.

The confusion may be related to the Cape Canaveral Space Force Station, a facility that also serves as a missile and rocket launch site for the U.S. Space Force.

To confuse you further, the Cape Canaveral program has also been known as the Cape Kennedy Air Force Station and the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. It’s all the same.

Tips for Visiting the Kennedy Space Center

undercover tourist kennedy space center

Here are a few things you need to know before visiting the Kennedy Space Center:

  • Tickets for Kennedy Space Center are available online. Buy them ahead of time to save a lot of money! 
  • If you’re only buying general admission tickets, the cheapest discount Kennedy Space Center tickets are available through aRes Travel . Alternatively, you can pay just a few dollars more per ticket but score a huge discount on your rental car through Undercover Tourist when you bundle them together – that can save you hundreds of dollars.
  • Ticket enhancements sell out. Book well ahead of time if you know when you’re visiting if you want to do any of the more immersive activities while you’re there.
  • Parking is plentiful, but expect to pay a fee of $10 upon arrival.
  • You can bring food and bottled drinks (just avoid glass) into the space center. Snacks are encouraged. The pricing inside is what you’d expect out of a theme park-style experience.
  • If you don’t bring in food, there are quite a few options once you’re inside. Just expect the upsell. We spent about $25 on lunch that included a serving of fries, a veggie burger, chicken fingers, and two drinks.

How much time do you need at the Kennedy Space Center? You need at least 5-6 hours of time at the Kennedy Space Center to see the highlights. Add more time if you’ve purchased any enhancements.

I highly recommend you get there as early as possible. The center opens at 9am but the gates open at 8:30am. We arrived around 9:30am and met a long line of cars at the entrance. We were parked, past security, and in line for the bus tour just before 10am.

What is the best way to visit the Kennedy Space Center? The best way to visit the Kennedy Space Center is to download the app before you go and plot out your day.

This is basically the Disney World of space. You don’t want to go into this blind, as that may mean you run out of time to do the things that you really wanted to do. 

The app allows you to favorite things you need to see and view highlights by location on their Kennedy Space Center map. 

There are two locations you’ll be exploring on your visit, by the way, and one is only accessible by the Kennedy Space Center bus.

Best Things to Do at the Kennedy Space Center

We spent a full day at the Kennedy Space Center and still didn’t get to every nook and cranny while we were there. I do think we explored the complex quite well, though, so I’m going to share everything with you in the order we did it.

What should you do first at Kennedy Space Center? The first thing you should do at the Kennedy Space Center is explore the Apollo/Saturn V Center. You’ll get there on a bus tour from the main visitor complex.

Kennedy Space Center Bus Tour

undercover tourist kennedy space center

The Apollo/Saturn V Center isn’t accessible on foot. To get there, you’ll need to take the bus tour, which is included in your regular admission ticket. 

Access the bus tour at the main visitor complex from NASA Central. (Check out the map on your app or follow signage throughout the park.) If you hit the IMAX theater you’ve gone too far.

You don’t need to pre-book anything, but the park only got more crowded as the day went on. This is why I’m telling you to start with the bus tour.

undercover tourist kennedy space center

On your bus tour, you’ll drive by the Vehicle Assembly Building, or VAB. You can’t enter the building, but it’s impressive nonetheless. It’s over 500+ feed in every dimension and looks like a massive cube of concrete!

This is where the largest components of NASA’s space program are assembled, including space shuttles and the Saturn V. You’ll learn all about it on your bus tour, so take the earbuds out and listen up.

Apollo/Saturn V Center

undercover tourist kennedy space center

Upon arrival at the Apollo/Saturn V Center, you’ll be ushered into a room as a whole bus group for an informative video, then to a second room to watch the Apollo 8 launch. 

The simulation comes complete with vibrating seats, and the spectacle was one of my favorite bits from the day.

After this, you’ll be dumped out into the main room, dominated by the Saturn V. The powerful rocket was an essential piece of the success of the Apollo program. 

undercover tourist kennedy space center

If you’re new to all of this, the Apollo program was the space program responsible for the first moon landing and subsequent missions to the moon. The last flight through the program was Apollo 17 on December 19, 1972.

The Treasure Gallery is on one side and where you’ll find expected treasures, in this case, artifacts of the Apollo program. You’ll also see an exhibit on the Hubble Space Telescope while you’re here. Seriously, there’s a lot to see, so take your time.

undercover tourist kennedy space center

While you explore the exhibits, you’ll hear a call to head to the Lunar Theater. Follow the call. You can always return to the exhibit spaces later, as those aren’t timed. The theater is where you’ll get to see the dramatics unfold around the Apollo 11 launch. 

The last exhibit at the Apollo/Saturn V Center is Ad Astra Per Aspera, a memorial to the astronauts who lost their lives on a test rehearsal of the first expected moon launch on Apollo 1. Three crew members lost their lives that day: Gus Grissom, Ed White, and Roger Chaffee.

undercover tourist kennedy space center

We spent about two hours at the Apollo/Saturn V Center before reboarding the bus. You can check out the launching pads outside before you go. If you’re hungry, stop into Moon Rock Cafe for a snack or lunch.

To get back to the boarding station, exit through the main gift shop. Don’t miss the Moon Tree Garden on your way out. You’ll see a statue there of the Apollo 11 astronauts in a lovely green space of trees that are direct descendants of seeds that were taken to the moon.

Read that last bit again to get blown away once more.

Space Shuttle Atlantis

undercover tourist kennedy space center

As you leave the bus back at the main visitor center complex, you’ll be close to the entrance of the exhibits dedicated to the Space Shuttle Atlantis. Your visit there will start with video clips about the Atlantis program. 

You’ll likely need to wait for a few minutes for the first round of visuals, but we only stood in line for about 10 minutes. 

undercover tourist kennedy space center

For a more in-depth education on the space shuttle once you’ve made it past the video clips, timed tours run by a center guide are included with your ticket. 

One of the more sobering exhibits in the main exhibit space is Forever Remembered, a tribute to the crews of the Challenger and Columbia disasters. That exhibit includes personal items from the crew members and pieces from both shuttles.

The main exhibit space is where you’ll access the Shuttle Launch Experience, a simulation of the shuttle’s ascent into orbit. This is also included with your admission, but expect a wait to get inside. You can’t bring bags with you, but there are locked cubbies available for storage right next to the experience.

If you’re traveling with young children who don’t make the height requirement — you have to be 44” tall for the simulator — there are additional astronaut training simulators on the same level. It’s fun even watching kids try to achieve their mission objective on the simulators.

Journey to Mars: Explorers Wanted

undercover tourist kennedy space center

Explore attractions like NASA’s plans for Mars and how to get yourself into the next round of NASA hires in this building dedicated to deep space exploration. 

Sit in on the “Explorers Wanted” talk led by a very enthusiastic staffer before checking out the different rovers in the exhibit space. High-five the spaceman walking around the building. Don’t miss the Mars Rover Vehicle Navigator outside the building. 

Astronaut of the Day

undercover tourist kennedy space center

Every day, veteran NASA astronauts make themselves available for autographs and question-and-answer sessions at the Kennedy Space Center. 

We upgraded our ticket to include Chat With an Astronaut, and I highly recommend you do the same. It’s pricey at $50/person, but if you’re at all interested in a more personal experience at the Kennedy Space Center, this is a great way to do that.

Our Astronaut of the Day was Don Thomas. I got to ask him who his favorite astronaut was — it’s Neil Armstrong, by the way — over a selection of wine, cheese, and other snacks that blew the rest of the park’s food options out of the water.

Yes, you can drink at this event, but there are sodas and water available if you’re not indulging.

The Q&A is open to kids, too, and I must say that the kids at our session asked some very intelligent questions. 

Seriously, it was a great time. You also take home a NASA patch and autographed photo to remember the day, on top of any to-go snacks you want for the rest of the afternoon.

Book this ticket enhancement ahead of your visit. There are two sessions per day at 10am and 2pm, but the 10am was sold out during our visit. There is limited seating for the chats. We probably only had around 20 participants during our booked time, which made for a very intimate experience.

Note: The daily astronaut guests also make themselves available for big presentations in the larger theater space.

Gateway: Deep Space Launch Complex

undercover tourist kennedy space center

One of the newest exhibits at Kennedy Space Center is the huge Gateway: Deep Space Launch Complex. This area highlights (far) future innovations in space travel and exploration and includes recent commercial ventures. There are plenty of interactive stations downstairs and four simulator “rides” upstairs offering different journeys into deep space – the lines can be long for these since they’re really popular and keep in mind the 39″ minimum height.

Space Mirror Memorial

This memorial from the Astronauts Memorial Foundation is worth a quick visit to pay your respects to NASA’s fallen heroes. It’s beautifully done on polished black granite. 

You can also see much of the park from here, including the tips of the rockets within the Rocket Garden, our next stop.

Rocket Garden

undercover tourist kennedy space center

The Rocket Garden is an outdoor exhibit of, you guessed it, giant rockets. Tours are available throughout the day as part of your general admission, but you can also just read the signage available if you haven’t timed things right. 

The Delta II is my personal favorite because of those shark teeth. 

This is likely the most photographed section of the park, so I hope you get a sunny day to capture all of the rocket magic.

Heroes & Legends

The Heroes & Legends is dedicated to big names in space travel and what it takes to make a hero. Your entrance is timed to this one, but it’s all included in your general admission.

You’ll watch two short videos once you’re inside. One was a little disorienting, as it was one of those that include lots of moving visuals happening all around you. 

You’ll then be dropped into the main exhibit space that details the heroic qualities required of astronauts and more clips from former astronauts on their personal NASA experiences. The last exhibit is the U.S. Astronaut Hall of Fame.

Additional Activities at the Kennedy Space Center

undercover tourist kennedy space center

If you only have one day at Kennedy Space Center, the highlights above with the optional enhancement of an astronaut chat will make for an excellent day. With more time, you can add more enhancements to your ticket or explore more attractions at the Kennedy Space Center.

Families with kids can easily fill up full two days here if they truly take their time. Here are a few additional ideas for making that happen.

IMAX Building Space Movies

IMAX movies at the Kennedy Space Center are included with your regular admission. You’ll need to pay extra for the obligatory snacks and drinks before you have yourself a seat. 

Films run about 40 minutes and are typically narrated by some cool cats, like Sir Patrick Stewart’s Journey to Space .

Planet Play

Planet Play is a kiddie playground with space-themed educational opportunities for the little ones. Kids can climb a wormhole and slide through an asteroid field…under the supervision of parents, of course.

Astronaut Training Experience (ATX)

Treat the space lover in your life to this immersive experience where they’ll learn more about what it takes to live and work on Mars. The full program takes up to five hours to complete, so this is truly for someone with several days dedicated to the Kennedy Space Center.

If you just want a taste of the simulations involved, you can also book ATX Training Stages, a piecemeal approach. None of these were available during our visit, but we were eyeing the Microgravity Simulator.

Mars Base 1

Mars Base 1 is another immersive NASA experience that will set you up for success if you ever find yourself on the Red Planet. This one requires even more time. Expect to spend up to seven hours managing the Base Operations Center on Mars with other rookie astronauts.

Where to Stay Near Kennedy Space Center

There are a few area hotels in Titusville and Merritt Island, the closest towns to the Kennedy Space Center. Hotels on Cape Canaveral are another option – it’ll take you about 20 minutes to drive around the cape to the visitor’s center. Be mindful not to book a hotel too close to Port Canaveral on the day of a major cruise ship departure, as morning traffic can be intense in that area.

Cocoa Beach is about half an hour away, and driving from Orlando will take about an hour. If you’re planning to visit theme parks and spend only one day at Kennedy Space Center, you may as well just base yourself in Orlando the entire time – be sure to check out the Hyatt Regency Grand Cypress review .

Need specific recommendations? Here are a few hotels with easy access to the Kennedy Space Center:

  • Hyatt Place Titusville/ Kennedy Space Center ~10 minutes from KSC *This top-rated Kennedy Space Center hotel starts at just 6500 points per night when you transfer from a Chase Sapphire credit card
  • Cape Crossing Resort & Marina ~15 minutes to KSC, located on Merritt Island
  • Hampton Inn Titusville/I-95 Kennedy Space Center ~20 minute drive to KSC
  • Hampton Inn Cocoa Beach/Cape Canaveral ~30 minutes to KSC but walking distance to the beach

Is the Kennedy Space Center worth going to?

undercover tourist kennedy space center

The Kennedy Space Center is worth going to for a primer on space exploration history and its many interactive experiences. If you time things right, you even have an opportunity to meet real astronauts. 

I was certainly impressed and wouldn’t mind a return to check out The Deep Space Launch Complex is, a new planned exhibit there. I’d even plan a visit around a space launch, especially if it was run by NASA’s Artemis program. 

This one is a must for even casual fans of all things outer space.

Check these reputable sources for discounted tickets:

Planning your trip to Florida

undercover tourist kennedy space center

Check out more awesome places to explore on your trip to Florida:

  • Transportation From MCO to Port Canaveral
  • Fantastic Things to do in Orlando With Tweens
  • Disney All-Star Music Resort Reviews: A Repeat Visitor’s Inside Scoop
  • Hyatt Regency Grand Cypress Review: Is It As Good As You’ve Heard?
  • 25 Essential Tips for Universal Studios Orlando
  • 25 Tips for Disney World That Won’t Make You Crazy
  • Hyatt Regency Sarasota Review: Family-Friendly Fun
  • Fun Things to do in Sarasota with Kids: A Delightful Weekend Getaway
  • Attainable Bucket List Item: Swim With Manatees in Crystal River, Florida
  • Hyatt Regency Coconut Point Review: A Weekend Getaway Wrapped in a Bow
  • Things To Do In Miami With Kids

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Kennedy Space Center Discounts and Deals

LAST UPDATE: 3/29/24

Kennedy Space Center is located near Cocoa Beach and Cape Canaveral, about one hour’s drive from Walt Disney World and very near Disney’s Port Canaveral cruise terminal. It’s a fascinating place to visit and also adds an educational element to a Florida vacation! Check below for the latest Kennedy Space Center discounts, coupons, and offers .

If you need tickets to Kennedy Space Center and other Orlando area attractions , it’s worth checking out the available multi-attraction ticket discounts to see if they can save you extra money. Be sure to compare the final cost of a multi-park pass to the combined cost of the individual tickets; the best deal varies depending on the specific attractions and the discounts that are currently available.

All offers are subject to change without notice. Always call ahead and confirm before driving out of your way to take advantage of a particular offer! 

Kennedy Space Center Gate Prices

Kennedy space center ticket discounts, discounts on multi-attraction tickets that include kennedy space center, hotels near kennedy space center.

Please note: Kennedy Space Center charges a $5.60 processing fee per online order.

1-Day Admission is $80.25 per adult (age 12 and up), $69.55 per child (age 3-11), $74.90 per senior (age 55 and up), including tax. This date-specific ticket includes 1-day admission to Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex.

2-Day Admission is $95.23 per adult (age 12 and up), $84.53 per child (age 3-11), $89.88 per senior (age 55 and up), including tax. This date-specific ticket is good for 2 visits, both admissions must be used within 6 months of the selected date. 

Atlantis Annual Pass  is $159.43 per adult (age 12 and up) and $128.40 per child (age 3-11) including tax. The Atlantis Annual Pass includes a year of unlimited admissions to Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex, FREE parking each visit, 10% off admission for up to 6 accompanying guests per visit, discounts on food and retail and more.

Cosmic Club Family Annual Pass is $462.35, including tax. The Cosmic Club Family Annual Pass includes a year of unlimited admissions to Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex for 2 adults and up to 4 children (age 3-11), FREE parking each visit, 10% off admission for up to 6 accompanying guests per visit, discounts on food and retail, 10% off Camp Kennedy Space Center, Front of Line access for Planet Play (the new indoor, interactive play area for ages 2-12) and more.

Parking is $10.70 for cars, $16.05 for RVs, $5.35 for motorcycles, tax included.

  • Kennedy Space Center Specials & Discounts

Discount Tickets from Undercover Tourist

Aaa ticket discounts.

  • United States, Puerto Rico & US Virgin Islands Teacher Pass

Military Ticket Discounts

  • University of Central Florida Ticket Discounts

Go City Orlando Pass

Kennedy space center visitor complex specials & discounts.

You can sometimes find special offers on the Kennedy Space Center site . When we know about them, we will list them here.

Undercover Tourist , a reliable, authorized ticket broker, sells Kennedy Space Center tickets at a significant discount . This vendor often has the best deal overall.

A great source for Kennedy Space Center tickets is Undercover Tourist , a highly reliable ticket broker that sells substantially discounted Kennedy Space Center tickets (and other Florida attraction tickets). Undercover Tourist’s prices include tax , so be sure to account for that when comparing prices. If you’d like to know more, take a look at  why we recommend Undercover Tourist .

  • Save money on Kennedy Space Center tickets from Undercover Tourist!  Scroll down to the Sightseeing section to see  Kennedy Space Center tickets.

Have some time before you need your tickets? Undercover Tourist offers its best deals on tickets exclusively for MouseSavers Newsletter subscribers. These special prices are not available to the general public and are not published here on MouseSavers.com. They are provided ONLY through a “secret” link in the monthly newsletter. They also run special sales on a few tickets in a Hot Deals newsletter once per month and they sometimes include Kennedy Space Center tickets. If you want to see those special sales you’ll want to subscribe to the Hot Deals alerts as well.

  • Subscribe to the FREE MouseSavers Newsletter . The newsletter comes out on the 15th of each month (or the next business day) and we do not send out the “secret” link separately from the newsletter, so please plan ahead.

Each AAA (Auto Club) region has a different ticket policy. Not all regions carry discounted Kennedy Space Center tickets; regions that do carry the tickets may offer various promotions, which will come and go. You can only purchase tickets online through your own local club. You can generally purchase in person at any AAA club location throughout the USA by showing your card, but you’ll want to make sure the club in question has tickets in stock.

Auto Club South offers AAA members a discount on Kennedy Space Center admission when purchased in advance either in person or online. Note that it can take several days for Auto Club South tickets to be delivered via email – call ahead to check before you head to Orlando.

United States, Puerto Rico and US Virgin Islands Teacher Pass

United States, Puerto Rico and US Virgin Island K-12 teachers can get an Educator Study Pass that provides complimentary access to the Visitor Complex and KSC’s Educator Resource Center (ERC). To be eligible for this teacher’s resource, educators must bring one of the following items to Will Call: an active teaching certificate from the United States, Puerto Rico or US Virgin Islands; a badge with a photo that shows the title Teacher or Educator for K-12; or a letter on school letterhead, dated and signed by the principal listing the name of the teacher, stating they are an educator at the school. Call (855) 433-4210 for details.

Active and retired military receive special discounted pricing to Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex when purchasing tickets through their participating ITT/MWR office.

Active military receive $5 off adult and child admission when presenting a valid military photo ID at the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex Ticket Plaza. Discounted military tickets can also be purchased in advance online on the Kennedy Space Center site, but you will need to use ID.me to verify that you are eligible. 

Active military also receive a 10% discount on merchandise and food when presenting their ID inside the Visitor Complex.

There is also a discount for military on Armed Forces Day (3rd Saturday in May).

University of Central Florida – Kennedy Space Center Ticket Discounts

Students, faculty and staff at University of Central Florida can purchase Kennedy Space Center tickets at a significantly reduced rate. There is a limit of 2 tickets every 30 days. Tickets can be purchased through the SGA Ticket Center located on the first floor of the Student Union. Be sure to buy in advance because they do sell out at times. Thanks to Amanda for info.

If you’re planning to visit the Kennedy Space Center, Legoland , and more, you may want to consider a Go City Orlando Pass . Very good discounts are frequently available, and MouseSavers.com readers get $10 or more in additional promo code discounts on these multi-park passes! These passes can save you a lot of money, and eliminate the hassle of buying all of your tickets individually. For more details and pricing just click on the pass name.

Go City Orlando Pass Discounts

Go City Orlando Pass is an all-inclusive pass that allows you to visit as many attractions as you want within a set number of days (usually 3 to 7 days). You pay one discount price for the number of days you choose. These work well if you are visiting at least two major attractions plus some less expensive attractions. The more attractions you visit, the more you save.

  • Go City Orlando Pass includes admission to  50 Florida attractions  and comes in 2-, 3- and 5-day increments. If you want to fit in as much as you can using one simple pass for one price, consider this all-inclusive pass. Extra discounts are frequently available and MouseSavers readers get an extra discount off their purchase with a special promo code! This pass includes Kennedy Space Center ,  Legoland , Boggy Creek Airboat Tour, WonderWorks Orlando, Lion Country Safari, The Wheel at ICON Park, Gatorland, and more.

Read reviews of hotels that are convenient to Kennedy Space Center.

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A Self-Guided Tour of Kennedy Space Center: 1-Day Itinerary

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A Self-Guided Tour of Kennedy Space Center: 1-Day Itinerary travel, north-america, florida

Planning a trip to Kennedy Space Center can be a bit intimidating. There is a lot to see and do within the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex at Cape Canaveral and it can be tough to decide where to go first, the best way to see the top attractions, and even what things you should see and do and what things might be best left for a future visit. This self-guided tour of Kennedy Space Center will help you plan your itinerary and maximize your visit.

The first time I visited Kennedy Space Center, I didn’t have a plan… We just wandered around, in and out of the various buildings. That’s a perfectly fine way to visit if that’s your style, but you will probably miss out on a lot of things, and you won’t necessarily hit things in the best possible order.

On subsequent visits, I had a better plan this time around. Not only in terms of what I wanted to see and do (things I missed the first time) but also in what order I wanted to see and do them.

This self-guided tour of Kennedy Space Center will give you a plan of attack and order of operations for your visit that will maximize your time and provide the greatest insight into the U.S. space program and its more than 70 years of history.

A Self-Guided Tour of Kennedy Space Center: 1-Day Itinerary travel, north-america, florida

In my opinion, it makes the most sense to explore the space program and Kennedy Space Center in a more or less chronological fashion. This means learning about Mercury and Gemini before you learn about the Apollo missions, for example. The Mercury and Gemini programs were the stepping stones that led up to Apollo, after all. The lessons learned in each of those programs culminated in Apollo, and lessons learned there led to the Space Shuttle, and so on.

A Self-Guided Tour of Kennedy Space Center: 1-Day Itinerary travel, north-america, florida

The problem is that those programs are spread out across different buildings and even areas of the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex, meaning that you don’t necessarily just want to go from one building to the next in order.

Gaining a greater understanding of the history of human space flight is important! We are living in the most exciting time for space exploration since the 1960s and a visit to Kennedy Space Center will help you appreciate all of that even more.

Let’s jump into how to plan your visit to Kennedy Space Center with this suggested itinerary.

Planning a Day at Kennedy Space Center

The majority of visitors will be coming from the Orlando area, and Kennedy Space Center is located about a one-hour drive from there. The Visitor Complex opens year-round at 9 am and I suggest planning to arrive at opening time.

You can save time by purchasing your tickets online in advance. Tickets for adults  are currently $57 each.

Skip the Line and Buy Your Tickets Now

But you don’t need a reservation for the park unless you are planning on doing the add-on enhancements like chatting with an astronaut or the training stages (for an additional fee on top of an entrance ticket).

A Self-Guided Tour of Kennedy Space Center: 1-Day Itinerary travel, north-america, florida

Closing time varies depending on the season, but is either at 5 or 6 pm, meaning you have 8-9 hours at Kennedy Space Center. You can easily fill all that time here. So let’s get into our self-guided tour of Kennedy Space Center and your itinerary for the day.

Kennedy Space Center Attractions Map

Be sure to scroll around, zoom in and out, and explore for a better idea of the Kennedy Space Center attractions, including insight into where the launch pads are, the bus route to the Apollo Center, and much more.

A Self-Guided Tour of Kennedy Space Center: 1-Day Itinerary travel, north-america, florida

Rocket Garden

Just inside the entrance of the Visitor Complex stands the imposing Rocket Garden where you will find real versions of some of the most famous rockets in space flight.

The rockets are primarily from the early days of the space program but also feature some more modern ones, as well.

A Self-Guided Tour of Kennedy Space Center: 1-Day Itinerary travel, north-america, florida

There are guided tours of the Rocket Garden at different times throughout the day, including one just after the park gates open. I would suggest hopping on this one!

The guided tour of the Kennedy Space Center Rocket Garden lasts about 15-minutes and will share with you some of the key developments and progress in manned space flight from the earliest days up through the Saturn IB rocket.

You will also find massive rocket motors and the (tiny) capsules of the various programs which you can crawl inside to experience.

https://www.kennedyspacecenter.com/

Doing the Rocket Garden first allows you to explore the earliest days of rockets (ballistic missiles) and manned spaceflight, plus it is all outdoors so it is best to do it before the Florida sun starts beating down on you.

Rocket Garden Time: 15-30 minutes

Heroes & Legends

Right beside the Rocket Garden, you should backtrack and head up the ramp to the relatively new Heroes & Legends building. This building explores some of the qualities needed by those early-day astronauts to strap into the top of a retrofitted missile and blast off into space.

A Self-Guided Tour of Kennedy Space Center: 1-Day Itinerary travel, north-america, florida

The Heroes & Legends exhibit is among the newest additions to Kennedy Space Center and includes many very well-done exhibits, including interactive displays and attractions. You will learn a lot here about the astronauts involved in Mercury and Gemini, including their personal lives and what lead them to be part of the space program.

Don’t miss the Mercury mission control room, the Redstone rocket hung overhead, and Mercury and Gemini capsules on display.

A Self-Guided Tour of Kennedy Space Center: 1-Day Itinerary travel, north-america, florida

The Heroes & Legends exhibit highlights Mercury and Gemini in greater detail, using some of the rockets you just saw in the Rocket Garden like the Mercury-Redstone, Mercury-Atlas, and Gemini-Titan rockets.

The Mercury 7 program sent six astronauts (flying solo) into space intending to reach orbit. Gemini sent up two astronaut teams with various space travel goals in preparation for Apollo, including spacewalks, docking procedures, and more.

A Self-Guided Tour of Kennedy Space Center: 1-Day Itinerary travel, north-america, florida

You can make a brief stop at the Astronaut Hall of Fame near the end of the exhibit, or save it for later in the day if time allows.

  • Heroes & Legends: 1 hour

Apollo / Saturn V Exhibit

After learning all about Mercury and Gemini, let’s take the lessons learned and head to the Apollo program! The Apollo / Saturn V building at Kennedy Space Center is located in a separate area, accessible via a short bus ride.

A Self-Guided Tour of Kennedy Space Center: 1-Day Itinerary travel, north-america, florida

Head straight to the bus area and board for a short guided tour of Kennedy Space Center to otherwise inaccessible areas. On the bus route, keep your eyes open for the Mercury-Redstone rocket soon after leaving, the SpaceX operations area (more on them later), and the VAB (Vehicle Assembly Building) where projects like Artemis (to return to the moon) is being worked on.

You will arrive at the Saturn V exhibit and be guided through a multi-room video introduction that is quite impressive. This tour or entrance will eventually lead you directly under the massive engines of a Saturn V booster hanging the length of the building… A mind-blowing sight to see the size and scale of the rocket that took humans to the moon.

A Self-Guided Tour of Kennedy Space Center: 1-Day Itinerary travel, north-america, florida

There are numerous exhibits and rooms around the perimeter of the building that explore more of the various Saturn V flights culminating in the landing on the moon with Apollo 11.

A Self-Guided Tour of Kennedy Space Center: 1-Day Itinerary travel, north-america, florida

There are somber reminders of the dangers as well, at the exhibit of Ad Astra Per Aspera detailing the tragic deaths of three astronauts: Gus Grissom, Ed White, and Roger Chaffee, in a fire on the launchpad. The first Americans to die for space exploration, and not the last.

A Self-Guided Tour of Kennedy Space Center: 1-Day Itinerary travel, north-america, florida

Be sure to step outside the building to see Launch Pad 39A and B, the launch pad of so many major milestones in space flight, with lots more to come in the future!

Adjacent to the building is also the Banana Creek viewing area where you can see rocket launches which are becoming increasingly frequent (about once per week). If you are visiting on a launch day, you might want to save the visit to Apollo / Saturn V to coincide with an hour or two before launch.

Click here to check out the Kennedy Space Center launch schedule.

If you’re following the suggested itinerary, you may want to grab lunch here at the Moon Rock Cafe or at the Orbit Cafe back in the main visitor complex area. Either way, you will want to grab the bus back.

Apollo /Saturn V exhibit time: 1-2 hours

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Space Shuttle Atlantis

After taking in the history of Mercury, Gemini, and Apollo, we are ready to embark on a new and exciting chapter of human space flight with the introduction of the Space Shuttle! The Space Shuttle Atlantis exhibit is located adjacent to the drop-off area for the Apollo bus.

The Space Shuttle marks the most lengthy period of space flight, with 30 years of service, over 100 missions, and more than 300 astronauts flown.

A Self-Guided Tour of Kennedy Space Center: 1-Day Itinerary travel, north-america, florida

The ability to partially reuse a spacecraft (the shuttle is a glider that is reusable, but the rockets themselves were not) marked a huge turning point in space flight systems and set some of the groundwork for what we have today.

Inside the Space Shuttle Atlantis exhibit, you will find the actual Space Shuttle Atlantis after one of the most impressive reveals you will ever see. Seeing the scale of the Atlantis up close and personal is another mind-blowing experience.

A Self-Guided Tour of Kennedy Space Center: 1-Day Itinerary travel, north-america, florida

The age of the Space Shuttle is a whole new era that introduced the International Space Station (ISS) still flying overhead and was instrumental in the launch (and repair) of the Hubble Space Telescope which fundamentally changed our conception of the universe.

Don’t miss out on the Space Shuttle Launch Experience which gives you a bumpy ride to space and even the illusion of weightlessness upon arrival. There are numerous exhibits about the shuttle and related technologies throughout the building, and also be sure to check out the memorial to the 14 astronauts who died in the Challenger and Columbia accidents, along with some wreckage from both vessels. Another reminder of the dangers.

A Self-Guided Tour of Kennedy Space Center: 1-Day Itinerary travel, north-america, florida

The space shuttle itself was retired in 2011 after 30 years of service, and the United States sat idle for nearly 10 years, unable to launch U.S. astronauts from U.S. soil, instead having to buy seats from the Russians to launch from Kazakhstan just to reach the International Space Station… But that was all about to change.

Space Shuttle Atlantis time: 1-2 hours

Gateway Launch Complex

Finally, back near the Rocket Garden at the entrance to Kennedy Space Center is the newest addition, the Gateway Launch Complex. This exhibit takes us into modern times and even explores some possibilities for the future…

Here you will find some space-flown hardware including a SpaceX Falcon 9 first-stage booster, a SpaceX Dragon Capsule, an Orion Capsule, and some other space hardware like the Boeing Starliner Capsule, Sierra Space Dream Chaser, and concepts for new space station elements.

A Self-Guided Tour of Kennedy Space Center: 1-Day Itinerary travel, north-america, florida

It was, of course, the SpaceX Falcon 9 that brought Americans back to the International Space Station from U.S. soil with their first manned flight in November 2020, more than 9 years after the last Space Shuttle flight, and certainly one of the few bright spots in the dark days of the pandemic.

These are the reusable boosters that return to earth, landing upright with engine ignition. It has happened so many times now (some individual boosters have more than 13 landings) but it still seems like CGI or magic every time, especially when they land out at sea on a giant barge. The Falcon 9 is still only partially reusable, and the next step is fully reusable rockets.

In terms of the future, there are some proposals for space station capsules and flight here, as mentioned, plus four different interactive experiences where you can take off to Mars, Trappist-1, and other destinations.

Who knows what the future holds for space flight? Well, after today, you’ll have a pretty good idea of our progress, how we got there, where we are today, and what the future could hold.

Gateway Launch Complex time: 1-2 hours

Tour of Kennedy Space Center Itinerary

  • Rocket Garden: 15-30 minutes
  • Apollo / Saturn V: 1-2 hours + 30 minutes for bus shuttle (15 minutes each direction)
  • Lunch: 1 Hour
  • Space Shuttle Atlantis: 1-2 hours
  • Gateway Launch Complex: 1-2 hours
  • Recommendations to fill any extra time below

These five exhibits on this tour and itinerary of the Kennedy Space Center will fill your entire day but there are still more things to see… These five destinations or exhibits are the most important, not only in terms of the history of space flight but also the most impressive and complete exhibits at Kennedy Space Center.

A Self-Guided Tour of Kennedy Space Center: 1-Day Itinerary travel, north-america, florida

Visiting the exhibits in this order will take you on an in-depth tour of American spaceflight. Here is a recap of the programs along with some notable accomplishments and a timeline.

  • Alan Shephard first American in space (1961)
  • John Glenn first American to orbit the earth (1962)
  • Gordon Cooper with 22 orbits (1963)
  • Ed White with the first American spacewalk (1965)
  • Neil Armstrong performed the first manned docking in space (1966)
  • Neil Armstrong first man on the moon (1969)
  • Apollo 17 the final voyage to the moon (1972)
  • Bruce McCandless first untethered spacewalk (1984)
  • Hubble Space Telescope launched into orbit (1990)
  • Eileen Marie Collins was the first woman to command a Space Shuttle mission (1995)
  • First crew abroad at the International Space Station (2000)
  • SpaceX Dragon capsule docks with ISS, the first private spacecraft (2012)
  • SpaceX Falcon 9 lands the first stage of an orbital booster for the first time (2015)
  • U.S. Astronauts travel from U.S. soil again to the ISS on a SpaceX Falcon 9 (2020)

The plume of a pre-dawn Falcon 9 launch

Tip: Read the book Into That Silent Sea & In the Shadow of the Moon before you go to gain better insight into the early days of the space program and a better appreciation for everything you will see here.

If you have more time that you want to utilize, I’d suggest budgeting a little more time on the period of most interest to you, whether that is the Space Shuttle, Apollo, or early Mercury/Gemini programs.

If you want a break, I’d suggest working in an IMAX movie after lunch or in the afternoon — check out the app or pamphlets at the entrance for a schedule. There are also massive gift shops if you want a NASA or SpaceX t-shirt (the best one is at the main plaza).

You can also finish out the day by visiting Journey to Mars, the Space Memorial Mirror, the Nature & Technology exhibit, or the U.S. Astronaut Hall of Fame if you bypassed it earlier while visiting Heroes & Legends. These are all secondary exhibits, in my opinion, and should be left for the end of the day or included in future visits.

I hope that this suggested itinerary and schedule of Kennedy Space Center prepare you for an incredible day at one of my favorite places in Florida. I’m adamant that Kennedy Space Center is not just a stopover to include on an Orlando family vacation, but an incredible destination in its own right.

The experience is even more incredible if you can time it with a scheduled rocket launch from Kennedy Space Center. Unmanned launches are a pretty regular occurrence these days, so your odds are good! But even if you can’t make a launch, the visit to Kennedy Space Center is 100% worth it and I try to return periodically to absorb even more details and insights about space exploration and to explore new additions to Kennedy Space Center.

Be sure not to miss my guide on things to do at the Kennedy Space Center with more details about each exhibit and the highlights you can’t miss at each spot, plus thoughts on where to stay in Titusville and other necessary trip planning help.

Tips to Book Your Trip Now & Save Money

Book Your Flight Book a cheap flight with Momondo , they’re my favorite search engine. Or better yet, start travel hacking so you can fly for free. Another great search engine is Skyscanner .

Book Your Accommodation Book cheap accommodation in advance. For hostels I recommend HostelWorld , for hotels I use Booking.com or Hotels.com , and for apartments or longer stays, I use Airbnb . I like to check reviews on TripAdvisor prior to reserving.

Don’t Forget Travel Insurance This is easy to overlook but SO important. It will help protect yourself from illness, injury, and theft while traveling. VERY important. And be sure to read my article about international travel insurance for more details

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Looking for the Best Companies to Save Money With? Check out my budget travel resources page for the best companies to use when traveling. I list all the ones I use and recommend to save money when I’m on the road.

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Plan a Trip to Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex 

So, you’re coming to Florida! The Sunshine State of the south has plenty of Orlando attractions for you to enjoy, with the most popular being the Kennedy Space Center.  

Today, we’ll be taking a deep dive into the history of the center, its location, how to get there, and more. So if you’ve ever needed a one-stop guide to the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex, bookmark this page! 

Our #1 Kennedy Center Tour from Orlando has plenty to offer, including transportation and a tour guide included. All you have to do is show up on time and we’ll do the rest. So, without further ado, let’s look at the five steps to planning a trip to this awesome complex.

1. Where is the Kennedy Space Center, Florida?

Located on Merritt Island, the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex is just under an hour’s drive east of Orlando. Driving is the fastest way to get to the center and, if you’re like most of our guests, you’ll either hire a car or let us do the driving for you on our bus tour.

The Center has gone through many names before its current one, having first opened for public visitors in 1963. Popularity soared since then and now it’s a worldwide attraction that has been visited by more than 42 million people!

undercover tourist kennedy space center

2. How Much is Admission to the Kennedy Space Center?

One-day tickets for adults and children cost $75 and $65 respectively. Senior citizens can visit the complex for $70. There are also parking fees for different vehicles. For a more in-depth look at the Kennedy Space Center’s ticket prices, including FAQs about admission, you can visit their website . 

If you choose to travel with Real Florida Adventures, our tour prices start at $135 and include admission, roundtrip transportation to your hotel, and a dedicated professional tour guide for your small group. Your tour guide will accompany you for the entire trip and answer any questions.     

undercover tourist kennedy space center

3. What Can I Do at the Kennedy Space Center?

In short, quite a lot! There are plenty of activities for kids and adults alike at the center, which makes the hours fly by. We always recommend a full-day tour. The Gateway exhibition space is packed with real spacecraft and technologies used by NASA throughout history and now.

With continually updated exhibitions, some of the things you can look forward to in the center include a gravity-defying Shuttle Launch Experience, the Heroes & Legends Center that gives you a history of the space race greats, the epic IMAX theater, and more.

For full details of what your ticket includes, take a look at our #1 Kennedy Center Tour . 

undercover tourist kennedy space center

4. When Should I Visit the Kennedy Space Center, Florida?

The Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex is open a whopping 365 days a year! The complex opens at 9 am EST and closes at 6 pm and you’ll want to spend every minute learning and enjoying the center! 

As you may know, if you’ve visited Florida before, there are seldom rainy days but if there are thunderstorms or showers on your trip, the center is the perfect place to spend the day. There are parts of the complex that are indoors and outdoors, suiting the Sunshine State perfectly!

undercover tourist kennedy space center

5. Who Can I Meet at the Kennedy Space Center, Florida?

In addition to the knowledgeable staff working at the center, visitors can also opt to Chat With an Astronaut ! If you’ve ever dreamed of going into space, now is your chance to talk to someone who has! From dehydrated food to cabin life, these space heroes will answer all your questions.

Check out our tour page for further information and more details of the tour, including itineraries, snack and meal options, and further details of what the interaction entails. There is also a presentation from the featured astronaut full of juicy biographical information and space facts.

undercover tourist kennedy space center

Bonus Round: FAQ About Kennedy Space Center

Does kennedy space center sell out.

The visitor complex at KSC is huge, so they have ample capacity to handle the many tourists who visit on a daily basis. For this reason, daily admission entry to the visitor complex rarely, if ever, sells out. However, we always advise booking your KSC tickets prior to visiting as it gets your day off to a seamless, hassle-free start. Better yet, our  #1 Kennedy Space Center Tour  covers all your needs, including return transportation and a local expert tour guide.

How Many Launch Pads Does Kennedy Space Center Have?

Kennedy Space Center has two launch complexes comprising four launch pads. At the time of writing, only two pads are active. Of the other two, one is inactive while the other is under lease with SpaceX, who plan to use it for Starship launches. It’s worth noting that there are more launch pads in the area. However, these belong to Cape Canaveral Space Force Station.

How Much Did it Cost to Build Kennedy Space Center?

There are plenty of Amazing Facts About Kennedy Space Center . Unfortunately, it’s more difficult to put a single value on how much it cost to build. The federal government already owned the land before construction began, and much of the essential infrastructure linking to the site was already in place.

Then you need to factor in that the original structure has been revised, expanded and upgraded over more than 50 years now. As if that’s not enough, the building work involved many contracts, usually with aerospace companies. These companies then subcontracted work to hundreds of other firms and component manufacturers. However, we can present some figures that help to add some context.

The Spaceflight Committee authorised the creation of a visitor centre at Kennedy Space Center in 1965. At the time, this cost $1.2m. But for an insight into the grander scale of the money spent, we can look at the investment in Project Apollo. Between 1960 and 1973, the United States spent approximately $25.8b on this project. Adjusted for inflation, that’s equivalent to $257b.

A Brief History of Kennedy Space Center’s 50 Years?

It’s impossible for us to give the kind of deep insight that a historical landmark like Kennedy Space Center deserves. However, some of the key points in its first half-century of existence include:

  • September 1961  – NASA, along with the Army Corp. of Engineers, start negotiations for the acquisition of 80,000 acres of land to become home to “a large space vehicle launch facility”.
  • July 1962  – Launch Operations Center, what we know as KSC today, officially activated by NASA, giving the burgeoning launch site the same standing as other agency field centres.
  • July 1963  – Construction of the enormous Vehicle Assembly Building starts.
  • July 1969  – The 36-storey Saturn V rocket launched Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins into space and the history books.
  • December 1972  – The 11th and final Apollo mission launches. To this day, it is the most recent human expedition beyond Earth’s orbit.
  • January 1986  – The Challenger disaster shocked the world and ground all shuttles for almost 3 years.
  • February 2003  – The Columbia disaster grounded the shuttle fleet for another 2-and-a-half years.
  • Now  – Shawn Quinn, director of Engineering at Kennedy Space Center sees unlimited potential for NASA’s future.

While that wraps up our virtual visit to infinity and beyond, we have plenty of other unforgettable day trips from Orlando for you to explore and enjoy. There’s always something to do in Florida for families, solo travelers, friends, and partners! Which day trip will you take first? 

If you’re ready to visit space, get in touch ! Our team has been showing visitors around Florida for years and we can’t wait to welcome you to the Sunshine State. We never tire of finding new and interesting things to share with visitors alongside iconic landmarks.

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Home » Home » WATCH: Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex Unveils New Kennedy LED Spectacular Entry Experience

WATCH: Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex Unveils New Kennedy LED Spectacular Entry Experience

By Steve Wilson  //  October 19, 2023

Steve Wilson and Terry Spain cover this exciting event

WATCH : Steve Wilson and Terry Spain were at the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex to cover the unveiling of the new Kennedy Entry Experience, an exciting enhancement to the entrance plaza. The LED spectacular features a 3,000-square-foot video display that tells the story of NASA: past, present, and future, with attention-grabbing technology that makes images appear to leap off the screen.

undercover tourist kennedy space center

BREVARD COUNTY, FLORIDA – Terry Spain and I were at the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex to cover the unveiling of the new Kennedy Entry Experience, an exciting enhancement to the entrance plaza. The LED spectacular features a 3,000-square-foot video display that tells the story of NASA: past, present, and future, with attention-grabbing technology that makes images appear to leap off the screen.

undercover tourist kennedy space center

The inspiring six-minute video sets the tone by featuring former President John F. Kennedy’s famous “We choose to go to the Moon” speech as well as iconic artifacts guests will encounter during their visit, moments in history that changed space exploration forever, and glimpses into the future. In addition to featuring custom immersive content, live-input video, wayfinding, and event advertising, the Kennedy Entry Experience is also integrated into the emergency system to alert park guests of inclement weather events.

The video is replayed throughout the day.

undercover tourist kennedy space center

After the unveiling, I spoke with the Chief Operating Officer of the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex, Therrin Protze. I asked him about the excitement surrounding the video. He told me, “It’s a dream come true. We have talked about this for three years and to make President Kennedy’s speeches come alive and watch the past, present, and future come alive in a 3D fashion, I think it’s a pretty great experience for our guests.”

undercover tourist kennedy space center

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

undercover tourist kennedy space center

Steve Wilson was born in DeRidder, Louisiana and grew up in both New Orleans and Macon, Georgia.  He moved to Brevard County in 1984 and retired from local government as the Community Advocate/Assistant to the City Manager with the City of Rockledge in 2018.

Among the awards and accolades Steve has received over the years are 15 + year Rockledge Little League volunteer, Brevard Public School Jefferson Award Recipient, Rockledge High School Raider Booster Award 2001, 2006, City of Rockledge Employee of the Year 2006, Rockledge Kiwanian of the Year 2006-2007, City of Rockledge Quality Public Service Award 2008, 2012, 2017, Rockledge Kiwanis Citizen of the Year 2012-2013, Space Coast Sports Hall of Fame – Sportscasting 2015, Rockledge High School Leadership and Service Award 2016, Central Florida Humanitarian Award 2017, Space Coast Inspiration Award – 2018 and Space Coast Sports Hall of Fame – Lifetime Achievement – 2020.

Wilson is especially proud of is chairing two fundraisers in support of pediatric cancer research through the St. Baldrick’s Foundation in honor of Merritt Island resident Julie Spurlock that raised over $25,000.00.

He has been a partner, along with Orville Susong, for the past 24 years with the Friday Night Locker Room, a broadcasting team that covers and reports on a wide variety of local events that are of significance to the residents of the Space Coast and beyond. Their mission is to promote youth sports, support first responders and law enforcement personnel, and showcase community and charitable events that are produced by our nonprofit partners in central Florida.

The Friday Night Locker Room has awarded hundreds of sports achievement plaques to Brevard County student-athletes over the years. They have also awarded more than $18,000 in academic scholarships to Brevard County high school seniors.

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18 Unique Things to Do Near Cape Canaveral on the Space Coast (2024)

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If you're heading to Florida's east side of the state, a visit to the Space Coast should be on your must-visit list. There is plenty to do and see there, and we're happy that we can share unique things to do near Cape Canaveral with you.

You'll have a blast as you enjoy a fun-filled weekend or weekdays, spending time at a space complex, dining at waterfront restaurants, browsing the items for sale at the largest surf shop in the world, and doing things like seeing Space Coast monuments and unusual museums.

This post is broken down into things to do that pertain to space and air travel, things to do if you like the ocean and beach, and additional unique things to do near Cape Canaveral.

Disclosure: This post has affiliate links, meaning we may earn a small commission if you click the link and proceed with a purchase at no cost to you . We thank the Space Coast for hosting our visit. We truly only recommend experiences, hotels, products, and services we personally use and believe in.  As Amazon Associates, we earn from qualifying purchases.

Unique Space and Air Travel Things to Do Near Cape Canaveral

➜ 1. visit kennedy space center.

No vacation in the area is complete without a visit to the famous Kennedy Space Center (KSC). If you've been in the past, it's worth another trip there as new things to do and experience periodically emerge. I hadn't been to KSC in over a decade, and wow, it blew me away! Dan had never been, and he was in awe of it too.

You need an entire day to see all that Kennedy Space Center offers if not two.

That said, if you only have a few days in the area, be sure you leave time for all the other unique things to do on the Space Coast that we mention here, and opt for the one-day pass to KSC. If you have more time, you may want to consider the two-day pass to KSC.

undercover tourist kennedy space center

You can learn about the space missions (past and present), see IMAX films about space, take a tour of the Kennedy Space Center property on coach buses that also educate visitors about the Merritt Island Wildlife Refuge where KSC is located, and even sign up for additional experiences like meeting an astronaut.

You can buy tickets onsite or ahead of time for a chance at discounted tickets on Undercover Tourist , a reputable ticket website.

🚀 Secure Discounted Tickets to Kennedy Space Center and Head Directly to the Gate

➜ 2. Stop by the American Space Museum and Walk of Fame

In a little building that almost looks like someone's renovated home is a museum worthy of a visit. The American Space Museum and Walk of Fame greatly supplemented our time at Kennedy Space Center. (To clarify, they are not owned by the same companies or people.)

We recommend going to Kennedy Space Center first, then visiting the American Space Museum. If you can't get to Kennedy Space Center at all or beforehand, it's still worth visiting this small museum that shares so much about space travel.

undercover tourist kennedy space center

What's different about the American Space Museum?

While Kennedy Space Center provides an overarching view for visitors to understand the purpose of various space missions, we felt that this museum in nearby Titusville really gave those missions a human connection. It tells the story of the people behind the missions and delves deeper into the physical items that supported them all.

One example is some Florida license plates on display, which have a graphic of the Challenger space shuttle on them. Fees from these license plates went towards benefitting the Astronaut Memorial Fund after the disastrous accident that cost the Challenger astronauts their lives.

Another example is a small Snoopy doll on display. This museum explains how Snoopy became a temporary mascot for NASA during its early years, which is something we did not learn about at KSC.

What Else You'll See and Learn at American Space Museum

As we mentioned, we learned different things here than we did at KSC. For example, at KSC we learned that the first living being sent to space was a Chimpanzee named Ham. (Ham survived the Mercury space flight and lived out the rest of his life at the North Carolina Zoo after a few years at the Washington DC Zoo!)

But we didn't learn what his name, “HAM” stood for until we read about it at the American Space Museum, or learned that he was rewarded with banana pellets for successfully accomplishing tasks in space training. This Space Coast museum even has one of Ham's banana pellet treats on display!

There are several rooms to explore at the American Space Museum. Interesting things we saw and interacted with include handprints in bronze of six of the original seven astronauts (including Neil Armstrong), one of the original space command center station setups, the huge computers used to record data in the 1960s, and a Women in Space gallery.

In the Women in Space Gallery, we learned about Wally Funk. She was an astronaut during the 1960s. Learning about her helped our minds bridge the gap between space travel back in the 60s and present-day missions in the 21st century.

In 2021, she bought a $200,000 ticket to space with Blue Origin. She crossed the 100km Karman line, the internationally recognized line at the edge of space, making her the record holder for the oldest woman in space at age 82.

American Space Museum Founding

As the “legend” goes (also known as: the story told to us by one of the employees at the museum), in 2001, a local Space Coast physician went to California. Here, like many visitors to the west coast , he saw the Hollywood Walk of Fame. This gave him the idea to create something similar for the space missions closer to home.

He called for people who worked on the missions to come forward so he could add their names to the monuments and memorials that would make up the Space Walk of Fame and Space View Park. When these people came forward, they also brought him memorabilia from their space jobs.

He wanted to display these things for the public to see – and that’s how the museum started. Everything you will see in the museum has been donated.

There's also a beautiful mural in the parking lot next to the museum that's worth a photo stop that shows the wildlife of Florida, even if it doesn't showcase space.

Plan to spend approximately one hour at this museum.

undercover tourist kennedy space center

Gift Shop at the American Space Museum

If you are interested in purchasing some space-themed gifts while you're in town, this is a good place to do it. They sell NASA calendars, t-shirts, hats, space mission patches, and dehydrated space ice cream.

Perusing the gift shop does not require museum entry.

⬇︎ Don't miss any unique things to do on the Space Coast! Download our Free Printable Checklist!

Don't miss a single unique thing to do on the Space Coast! ​ Download our free printable checklist that will help you plan your vacation like a champ.

➜ 3. stroll along space view park and see the space mission monuments.

Space View Park is just a few blocks from the American Space Museum. Monuments tower above the ground into the horizon commemorating several missions to space: Mercury, Gemini, Apollo, and the shuttle launches.

There is also an “In the Line of Duty” monument that remembers workers and astronauts who lost their lives during the space program.

We parked in Veterans Memorial Park off of Broad Street and easily walked to the monuments. The first monument we visited was Mercury. When we viewed it, we were facing the Indian River, looking out to the launch pads at Kennedy Space Center on Merritt Island.

undercover tourist kennedy space center

➜ 4. Visit the Valiant Air Command Warbird Museum

Speaking of transportation, whether to outer space or the skies above, if you like air travel consider visiting the Valiant Air Command Warbird Museum.

The museum is mostly run by volunteers and veterans. Inside, you'll find 53 planes from various wars and missions, including WWI, WWII, and the Korean War. These airplanes are in pristine condition; many are restored onsite.

A lot of these airplanes still fly and are taken out a couple of times a month.

There are three categories of planes in the Warbird Museum:

  • Airplanes on loan (one example is an Air Force jet on display)
  • Some have been purchased by the museum, so they own them. For these planes, if it can fly, they fly it. If it's unable to fly, it’s for display only.
  • Privately owned airplanes that park at the museum hangars and allow the museum to show them off. The owners are obviously allowed to fly these planes if the planes are in flying condition.

undercover tourist kennedy space center

We've been to similar museums around the United States but didn't know several things that our guide, veteran Ron, informed us about. One such thing is that all planes for the Navy have wings that fold for storage purposes.

Another thing was that you can know the purpose of a plane from the letter before its numbers. For example, “F” is for a fighter plane, and “C” is for combat. You may even have a plane with “FA” meaning it's a dual-purpose Fighter/Attack plane.

There was a great tie into the space program at the Warbird Museum when we saw a shuttle chase plane on display.

More Unique Planes You'll See at the Warbird Museum

You'll see so many interesting airplanes at the museum, which span decades of history.

Some especially unique planes on display include:

  • C-47, which flew in Normandy and Berlin. It is still flown three times a month.
  • The only flyable P-82 in the world. Only two were ever built and they have one of them! This incredibly rare “Twin Mustang” plane from 1949 is one of the most unique airplanes we've ever seen. It's also for sale if you have $12M to spend on it!
  • Nose cone of a B-52 that you're allowed to go in with a museum guide.

Set aside at least an hour and a half for the museum.

What's Unique about the Valiant Air Command Warbird Museum in Titusville

Not only can you see the planes here, but you can also touch them. No stanchions are partitioning off the planes from a visitor's touch.

It was cool to be able to feel the cloth around cloth-clad planes, for example, to understand what our guide told us about how bullet holes don't affect them during combat because of the material. If you're a tactile person like me, this is a valuable part of the experience.

Another unique thing about the museum is that you can watch the planes being restored and repaired. One of the three hangars is dedicated to this purpose. If you're lucky, you may even get to see a plane take off or land on the runways in front of the hangars behind the buildings.

We noticed that there was a disco ball hanging from the ceiling in one of the three hangars; we learned that you can rent space here for events. They've hosted everything from graduations to weddings!

undercover tourist kennedy space center

➜ 5. Watch a Space Launch

If you are on the Space Coast, it's worth looking to see if there's a space launch while you're there. There are many areas where you can easily see across the river toward Merritt Island, where Kennedy Space Center launches take place.

We first saw the launch schedule when we checked into our awesome space hotel, the Courtyard Marriott in Titusville. Then the bartender clued us into a very useful free app that shares space launch information called “Next Spaceflight.” The app has a website too.

You'd be surprised by how many mini launches surround the “bigger” ones that are more likely to make the news.

Here are three great places to watch space launches along the Space Coast:

The Space Bar

This is the best place to watch a launch if you ask us. It's located on the top floor of the Courtyard Marriott in Titusville, which is also the best place to stay on the Space Coast .

You'll be close to the comforts of things like a bar with food (including appetizers, entrees, and desserts), near bathrooms, enjoy free parking, and not have to wrestle with crowds. It's also inland, so you won't have to deal with driving over bridges and such to get there and subsequent traffic to leave the island after the launch.

What's more, is the cool space-themed cocktails they have at The Space Bar!

If you stop by the front desk, you'll be able to pick up a complimentary diagram that shows you the location of various launch pads in the distance, including who they belong to (like if it's one of NASA's versus SpaceX).

➜ Book at Stay at the Courtyard Marriott in Titusville, a Tastefully Themed Space Hotel ✨

Red, white and blue Rocket Pop in a pint glass with a margarita.

Veterans Memorial Park

Another great place to watch shuttle launches with free parking is Veterans Memorial Park. This is where the monuments to space missions are located in Titusville, which we mentioned above.

Here, at the waterfront park, you'll see clear views across the river towards Merritt Island, where the launches take place.

undercover tourist kennedy space center

Cocoa Beach

When we walked onto the sand by downtown Cocoa Beach, we noticed that it's an excellent place to watch a space launch! There is a clear view across the shore, over the water towards Kennedy Space Center's launch pads.

undercover tourist kennedy space center

Kennedy Space Center

If you can get tickets to a launch event at Kennedy Space Center, it's sure to be amazing. Sometimes they specially sell tickets to launches, like for Artemis I, and have different tiers of tickets to purchase.

The tiers vary based on the viewing location (the closer it is to the launch pad, the more expensive the tickets are) and includes things like a commentary on what's happening during the launch prep and liftoff.

You might also get lucky with a daytime launch that you can see from within the complex, which is already included in Kennedy Space Center tickets .

While seeing a launch from Kennedy Space Center will get you closest to the launch site, if many people are expected to drive there to see the same launch, you'll want to consider traffic into/out of the island depending on your schedule.

If you don't want to deal with traffic, we recommend one of the other three launch viewing areas, listed above.

undercover tourist kennedy space center

Unique Waterfront and Ocean Things to Do Near Cape Canaveral

➜ 6. watch the cruise ships sail away as you dine at port canaveral restaurants.

We happened to have gone to Rising Tide Tap & Table at around 5:15pm in Port Canaveral. Not only was it happy hour time (who doesn't love happy hour?), but it was the perfect time to hear the horn of a nearby cruise ship blow before it slowly sailed away a few minutes later.

We were so glad we were sitting on the restaurant's outside deck, where we had a perfect view of MSC Divina as she sailed out from Port Canaveral.

undercover tourist kennedy space center

The food, beer selection, and drinks are great at Rising Tide. Expect to spend about $20 to $30 per entree, depending on your order. They have large portions, so if you're game to split one dish between two people, you may want to consider doing so.

We very much liked what we got: the Ahi tuna entree and their version of fish and chips. Try the local beer on draft too; it's especially refreshing on a hot Florida day.

undercover tourist kennedy space center

➜ 7. Go Deep Sea Fishing

If you like to be on the water on a small boat that you can fish from, not just on the shore looking at the ocean, then signing up for a deep sea fishing experience is a must on the Space Coast.

➜ 8. Go Kayaking by Day to See Marinelife

If kayaking is more your style than a motorized boat ride out to sea, and you want a chance to see more dolphins and manatees than search for fish, sign up for a guided kayaking tour.

By day, you can paddle out to see the manatees and dolphins that live in Florida's warm waters, depending on the season. These two-hour afternoon tours leave from just north of Kennedy Space Center.

➜ 9. Kayak by Night to See the Water Glow

You'll get a totally different kayaking experience at night if you sign up for a bioluminescence kayaking tour , one of the most unique things to do in Cape Canaveral.

If you've never done this before, you'll be in awe of the glowing water as you paddle and “excite” the microbes that illuminate the water in the dark. It's really fascinating!

The tour leaves from Banana River Park and lasts approximately two hours, beginning around 8:00 pm.

🐠 Book Cocoa Beach Experiences Here 🐬

➜ Head to Cocoa Beach

There are several things to do and see near Cape Canaveral in Cocoa Beach, a well-known area of Florida's Space Coast.

➜ 10. See the Impressive Murals in Downtown Cocoa Beach

We recommend getting breakfast or lunch downtown and walking around before or after seeing the colorful, huge murals in downtown Cocoa Beach. It's fun to do any time, including before sunset at the end of the day.

undercover tourist kennedy space center

If you want to grab breakfast in the area, we recommend Cafe Surfinista or Java ‘N Juice Cafe .

Walk around to see the murals near Minutemen Causeway (the main street downtown), many of which are painted during the annual Space Coast Mural Festival .

Afterward, grab a drink and some food at one of the local establishments, like The Tiny Turtle , or nearby Long Doggers , just a short drive away.

undercover tourist kennedy space center

There is also easy beach access by Coconuts on the Beach in downtown Cocoa Beach if you want to put your toes in the sand or the ocean.

Downtown Cocoa Beach has limited street parking without meters and additional street parking with meters.

➜ 11. Visit Cocoa Beach Pier

Another fun area in Cocoa Beach is its pier. It's currently owned by Westgate Resorts and has a long history dating back to the 1960s.

The pier opens at 11:00 am every day. You can have a drink at one of the bars here, shop at the little gift shops, and head to the end of the pier for a view above the ocean. There's a cute little bar at the end of the pier too.

Parking is either $15 cash at a monitored lot, or you can find metered parking on either side of that lot for $3.50 an hour. With some patience, we were able to grab a spot there.

You don't have to visit the pier to sit on the public beach, though walking on the pier is fun thing to do in the Cape Canaveral area. It's an entertaining spot to people-watch and enjoy a sunny day on the Space Coast. (Don't forget your reef-safe sunscreen !)

undercover tourist kennedy space center

➜ 12. Take a Surf Lesson

A cool thing to sign up for in Cocoa Beach is a one-hour surf lesson if you're feeling sporty.

Dip into the Atlantic ocean with a pro who can teach you how to duck dive, surf the waves, and simply enjoy being one with the ocean for a little while.

➜ 13. See the Space Coast from Up Above on a Helicopter Tour

If you want to view the area from above, looking down, book a helicopter tour with Cocoa Beach Helicopters . The reviews are great, and pricing starts at just $19.99, with optional upgrades.

➜ 14. Learn About Surfing History at the Florida Surf Museum

If you want to learn a little about how the area, including Cocoa Beach and Sebastian Inlet, tie into the history of Florida's Space Coast , head to the Florida Surf Musem. You'll find it inside the rental building of Ron Jon Surf Shop. The small museum is free and explains a little bit about the area's surf culture.

It can't be more than 1,000 square feet, but various photos and news clippings are displayed. You'll certainly learn a thing or two.

You can even see Kelly Slater's first big paycheck from a competition in Treatles, CA, in September of 1990. The oversized check, which was likely used for a photo opp, was for $39,600 and “signed” by Body Glove.

Slater's first big win trophy, which was awarded at Pipeline, is also on display. It's a large clay vessel that was glued back together after it broke during shipping and was thrown to the curb for trash. Slater's neighbor, Sean O’Hare, put it back together. He also founded the museum.

We learned that the Space Coast used to be known as the “Platinum Coast,” thanks to an enlarged hand-drawn map that ran in Surfing Illustrated magazine that is on display. It's dated 1965.

The Florida Surf Museum is free to enter when the building is open from 9:00 am to 8:00 pm, every day.

Set aside around twenty to thirty minutes to go through the small museum. There are restrooms inside the building.

➜ 15. Shop at the Space Coast's Most Famous Surf Shops

If you like to shop, you're a surfer, or someone who likes water sports, you must stop by two famous shops in Cocoa Beach: Ron Jon Surf Shop and Cocoa Beach Surf Company.

undercover tourist kennedy space center

Ron Jon Surf Shop: The Largest Surf Shop in the World

Ron Jon is currently the largest surf store in the world; it's 52,000 square feet. Here, you'll find anything you can imagine for surfing. We also saw the biggest and best selection of sandals we've ever seen from brands like Havaianas, Reef, Van, BillaBong, Toms, Teva, Under Armour, Rainbow, and more.

They also have a ton of sunblock (including a whole “ Baby Bum ” section for baby suncare), boogie boards, and surfboards. They have an entire section for children's apparel and kids' sunglasses, areas for adult shopping, and towels. You will even find a limited amount of NASA-themed space gifts.

We loved seeing some of our favorite ocean items that give back:

  • 4ocean bracelets, made from recycled plastic
  • Pura Vida bracelets , founded in Costa Rica with proceeds benefitting various charities around the world

There is a restroom on the second floor of the shop.

undercover tourist kennedy space center

Cocoa Beach Surf Shop

This store is next to Ron Jon Surf Shop. The two share a free parking garage behind the shops.

Cocoa Beach Surf Shop has some of what Ron Jon carries (not all of it – the store isn't as big even though it's has two levels) but we noticed they also have a lot of Cocoa Beach-themed gifts, like what you might find in boardwalk souvenir shops.

Additionally, perhaps because Four Points Sheraton Hotel is connected to the shop, there is a bar inside with food and drinks happy hour specials from 4:00 pm to 6:00 pm.

undercover tourist kennedy space center

Other Unique Things to Do On Near Cape Canaveral on the Space Coast

➜ 16. visit the wizard of oz museum.

A somewhat unassuming museum stands out in green paint with a blue roof and a yellow-painted, glittery “brick road” leading to its entrance. If you blink, you may miss it. But you'll surely see it if you are looking for it while driving along N. Atlantic Avenue.

Once you're inside, you'll realize there is more to The Wizard of Oz than you ever knew (unless you're an uber fan, of course). You may not know all the treasures inside the museum firsthand, but you will certainly understand them more by the time you leave.

One of the goals of the museum, as described to us by the founder and owner, Fred, is to educate people about The Wizard Oz beyond the movies.

You can even sign up for a personal tour with Fred , which we highly recommend. (Our visit was definitely enhanced with Fred as our tour guide.)

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We didn't realize there are approximately 40 books about the Wizard of Oz until we visited the museum! And the memorabilia inside supports the books, including first edition prints, signed copies on display from the original author, Frank L. Baum, and things like Wizard of Oz puppets and figurines.

Be sure to take a photo with the famous flying monkeys and the Wicked Witch, like Dan did!

There is also a Wizard of Oz immersive experience inside and an artist experience (currently Van Gogh) that will bring you into scenes from the books, like when the Tin Man proposed to the Munchkin girl. (Again, this is a story from one of the 40 books of the Wizard of Oz, not necessarily the movie from 1939 though you'll recognize the famous characters.)

This is an especially wonderful thing to do on a rainy day in Cape Canaveral, Titusville, or Cocoa Beach.

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➜ 17. See the Kelly Slater Statue, an Homage to the Greatest Surfer of All Time

Did you know Kelly Slater is from Cocoa Beach on Florida's Space Coast ? He is heralded as the greatest surfer of all time.

There is a bronze statue of him on a surfboard when you first enter Cocoa Beach, welcoming you into town just after you officially drive in.

From the plaque in front of the monument, we learned that as of 2010, Slater was the youngest and oldest person ever to win world titles in 1992 and 2010 at ages 20 and 38.

Though not impossible, getting to the monument by foot is a little difficult if you want to stop and get out of your vehicle. We parked nearby at the Chevron gas station, filled our car, played the Florida lottery, got some cold drinks, and walked the few steps from the gas station to the brick area where the statue is to see it up close.

➜ 18. Go On a Cruise

While you're planning your trip, why not book a cruise from Port Canaveral ? You can book a cruise on various cruise lines, from MSC to Royal Caribbean, Disney to Norwegian. Choose from cruises anywhere from three days to more than 8 days.

Conclusion for Unique Things to Do Near Cape Canaveral on Florida's Space Coast

We hope this article expands your knowledge of unique things to do near Cape Canaveral. Florida's Space Coast, as it's called, encompasses Titusville, Port Canaveral, Merritt Island, and Cocoa Beach as well. And there's so much to see and do there!

Plan to stay a while, book a space-themed hotel , look up the launch schedule and enjoy the area's extensive options, day and night.

Don't forget to sign up for our free printable download so you can easily check off these cool things to do when you're on the Space Coast (it's helpful for your vacation planning too).

Read this next:

  • Kennedy Space Center Tickets: Info for a Successful Visit
  • 12 Fun Adult Things to Do in Orlando
  • Space Hotel Near Cape Canaveral with Rocket Launch Pads Views

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The Educator Study Pass offers K - 12 teachers throughout the United States of America, Puerto Rico, and U.S. Virgin Islands complimentary access to the visitor complex. To receive the Educator Study Pass, active teachers are required to bring one of the following items* to Will Call, located at the entrance of the visitor complex.

  • An active teaching certificate from the United States, Puerto Rico, or U.S. Virgin Islands
  • A badge with a photo that shows the title Teacher or Educator for Kindergarten - Grade 12
  • Letter on school letterhead, dated and signed by the principal listing the name(s) of the teachers, stating they are an educator at the school.

* Teachers are required to present one of these items to receive the Educator Study Pass. No exceptions will be made.

To learn more about the Educator Study Pass, call 1.855.433.4210 daily 10 AM - 4 PM EST.

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Space Chase! Explore & Learn

Challenge students with engaging questions and fantastic images during three different missions!

  • Space Chase! is available for free in the app stores. Download it before your visit!
  • Begin this educational experience in the classroom or at home with thought provoking challenges.
  • Continue your journey while exploring three main attractions at Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex.
  • Complete a final mission after your visit to further expand your future space explorer’s new knowledge.

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  1. Kennedy Space Center: 2-Day Admission Ticket + KSC Explore Tour

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  2. Kennedy Space Center

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  3. Kennedy Space Center Ticket

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  5. Rocket Garden

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  6. Kennedy Space Center

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  1. Full Tour Rocket Garden Kennedy Space Center NASA

  2. Exploring NASA space shuttle Atlantis

  3. Kennedy Space Center is Amazing! Very unOfficial Travel Guides

  4. NASA's Kennedy Space Center Opens A NEW Exhibit & Ride!

  5. We Had A Galactic Good Time At NASA Kennedy Space Center Taste Of Space Food Event & More Space Fun!

  6. Watching A Falcon 9 SpaceX Rocket Launch At Kennedy Space Center!

COMMENTS

  1. Kennedy Space Center Discount Tickets, crowds, hours

    Save on admission tickets to Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex and enjoy the space program attractions, tours and experiences. Find out how to get adult prices for kids, chat with an astronaut, and more.

  2. Kennedy Space Center: 1-Day Admission Ticket

    Ticket is valid for visits from April 15, 2024 - August 30, 2024. Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex is open daily. Hours: 9:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m. (closing time varies seasonally, check before you go). Chat with an Astronaut experience occurs daily at 10:00 a.m. and 2:00 p.m. At checkout, you will select your date and time for the Chat with an ...

  3. Buy Tickets to Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex

    Purchases of annual passes may be made at the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex℠ front gate or guest services, online or by calling the reservations office at 855.433.4210. Seating is limited at Chat With An Astronaut, and KSC Special Interest Tours are limited and subject to availability. Due to the special nature of these tours, space is ...

  4. Kennedy Space Center Official Guide

    The official Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex app is the essential guide to planning and customizing your visit to America's multi-user spaceport. Download the free app before your visit and enjoy the following enhancements: Plan your day with complete details on the various attractions, exhibits and shows.

  5. Visit Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex at Cape Canaveral

    At Kennedy Space Center, get up close to space shuttle Atlantis, travel to the Red Planet or see a rocket launch, all just one hour from Orlando. ... [Skip to Content] menu. Hotel Packages Cart 0. Tickets 0. menu. KENNEDY SPACE CENTER OPEN: 9 AM to 5 PM. EXPLORE ATTRACTIONS. Park Overview Explore ... VISITOR INFORMATION. Plan Your Visit

  6. Honest Kennedy Space Center Review + Expert Tips (2024)

    Learn why the Kennedy Space Center is worth visiting, who should go, and what to expect from this comprehensive guide. Find out about the exhibits, tours, shows, and tickets for the visitor complex where you can explore the history and future of spaceflight.

  7. Visit Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex at Cape Canaveral

    Trip Advisor user Linda D, February 2020. Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex is operated for NASA by Delaware North and is entirely visitor-funded. Images shown may not represent current operational and safety guidelines. OPEN: 9 AM to 5 PM. At Kennedy Space Center, get up close to space shuttle Atlantis, travel to the Red Planet or see a ...

  8. Your Ultimate Guide To Kennedy Space Center: Tips, Discounts, And

    Undercover Tourist: Save $12 to $25 off gate ticket prices including the GO City All-Inclusive Orlando Pass. A Day at Kennedy Space Center: Suggested Itinerary. Alright, space adventurers! If you're looking to maximize your Kennedy Space Center experience, this itinerary is tailored for families with kids under 12. It covers everything from ...

  9. Complete Guide to Visiting Kennedy Space Center: Tips & Tricks

    KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, FLORIDA, USA - APRIL 27, 2016: Several rockets are exhibited in rocket garden in the visitor complex of Kennedy Space Center near Cape Canaveral in Florida. The Rocket Garden is an outdoor exhibit of, you guessed it, giant rockets. ... Undercover Tourist. aRes Travel. Planning your trip to Florida.

  10. Kennedy Space Center Tickets: Helpful Info for a Successful Visit

    Military tickets are priced at $70 for 12+ guests for the day or $84 for two-day tickets. Children of military families are $60 for the day or $74 for two days. If you have a group or family of two adults and four children (blood-related or not), you may want to consider the "Cosmic Club Family Annual Pass.".

  11. KSC Explore Tour

    Adult: $25 (plus tax) Child: $19 (plus tax) BOOK TOUR. Please note: Please arrive at bus embarkation about 15 minutes before your scheduled departure time. It is not necessary to take the Kennedy Space Center Bus Tour in addition to the KSC Explore Tour. Both tours end up at the Apollo/Saturn V Center. Explore on your own before taking any ...

  12. Kennedy Space Center Discounts and Deals

    Discount Tickets from Undercover Tourist. A great source for Kennedy Space Center tickets is Undercover Tourist, a highly reliable ticket broker that sells substantially discounted Kennedy Space Center tickets (and other Florida attraction tickets). Undercover Tourist's prices include tax, so be sure to account for that when comparing prices.If you'd like to know more, take a look at why ...

  13. A Self-Guided Tour of Kennedy Space Center: 1-Day Itinerary

    Click here to check out the Kennedy Space Center launch schedule. If you're following the suggested itinerary, you may want to grab lunch here at the Moon Rock Cafe or at the Orbit Cafe back in the main visitor complex area. Either way, you will want to grab the bus back. Apollo /Saturn V exhibit time: 1-2 hours.

  14. Plan a Trip to Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex

    One-day tickets for adults and children cost $75 and $65 respectively. Senior citizens can visit the complex for $70. There are also parking fees for different vehicles. For a more in-depth look at the Kennedy Space Center's ticket prices, including FAQs about admission, you can visit their website . If you choose to travel with Real Florida ...

  15. Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex

    AAA Editor Notes. Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex is 10 mi. e. of I-95 on Space Commerce Way. Built in 1967, the modern facility explores the past, present and future of the U.S. space program. The orbiter Atlantis, which flew the last space shuttle mission in July 2011, is at the heart of the center's Space Shuttle Atlantis exhibit.

  16. WATCH: Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex Unveils New Kennedy LED

    Terry Spain and I were at the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex to cover the unveiling of the new Kennedy Entry Experience, an exciting enhancement to the entrance plaza. The LED spectacular ...

  17. Unique Things to Do Near Cape Canaveral on the Space Coast

    Visit Kennedy Space Center. ... You can buy tickets onsite or ahead of time for a chance at discounted tickets on Undercover Tourist, a reputable ticket website. 🚀 Secure Discounted Tickets to Kennedy Space Center and Head Directly to the Gate 2. Stop by the American Space Museum and Walk of Fame

  18. Educator Study Pass

    Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex is operated for NASA by Delaware North and is entirely visitor-funded. Images shown may not represent current operational and safety guidelines. OPEN: 9 AM to 5 PM. Call Us 1.855.433.4210. Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex, Space Commerce Way, Merritt Island, FL 32953

  19. Kennedy Space Center: 1-Day Admission Ticket

    Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex is open daily. Hours: 9:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m. (closing time varies seasonally, check before you go). Chat with an Astronaut experience occurs daily at 10:00 a.m. and 2:00 p.m. At checkout, you will select your date and time for the Chat with an Astronaut add-on experience.