When you’re ready to explore more of Florida, use Cheryl Rodewig’s tips for a 3-day space coast road trip. It’s the perfect extension to a weekend on Amelia Island. Come along as our guest writer, Cheryl, shares her advice for a road trip that includes Titusville, Cocoa Beach and Melbourne, Florida.
Florida has its fair share of coastline, but there’s nothing quite like the Space Coast — the 72-mile stretch on Central Florida’s eastern shore.
Tourists flock here to watch rocket launches and visit the Kennedy Space Center while outdoor enthusiasts hit the trails, beaches and wildlife sanctuaries. It’s the combination of space-age tech and unspoiled nature that makes this destination a little different, an easy U.S. road trip thanks to the different cities along the route.
3-day Space Coast road trip itinerary
Here’s your active Boomer guide for a Florida space coast road trip that fits perfectly in three days.
Day 1: Titusville
Ride a bike
You can hit the trails beginning at the Welcome Center downtown. If you need to rent a bike and helmet, Space Coast Bike Tours delivers wheels anywhere in the area.
They do stress-free biking tours, too, meaning level paths, water and snacks provided. And there’s no shaming if you opt to ride the rest of the way in the van.
I didn’t have time for a tour, but I can vouch for the comfort of their new fleet of hybrid bikes. For a great ride, start at the Welcome Center and head 3 miles north along the waterfront to Chain of Lakes Park. On the way, stop by Space View Park, a walk of fame for astronauts.
Stop for lunch
For lunch, a picnic is a must. Sunrise Bread Company, a downtown favorite for sandwiches and pastries, has all you need. Make sure to try their fresh bread.
Bread is what they’re famous for — particularly the sweet cranberry orange walnut flavor. If you need a rest, enjoy a granita or iced latte upstairs amid the murals before heading to the park to dine al fresco.
Visit the seashore
Extra time in the afternoon? Explore the Canaveral National Seashore. This protected shoreline is the longest stretch of undeveloped beach along Florida’s east coast, just 20 minutes from downtown Titusville.
Enjoy Space and Steaks at Shiloh’s
Finish off your day with a blast — by watching a rocket launch off the coast. Check the schedule in advance to plan your trip. This is one of those once-in-a-lifetime experiences.
Even if there’s no rocket show, waterfront dining is the way to go. Shiloh’s Steak & Seafood, directly across from the space center, is more than the best seat in town for launch night. Waterfront views complement indulgent entrees, from mahi mahi risotto to chargrilled sirloin to a whole suite of grown-up mac and cheese. Grab a table on the back patio at dusk when the sky turns pink and relax.
Boomer Travel Tip
Start your Titusville hotel search with us.
Day 2: Cocoa Beach
Here it is, the classic Florida vacation destination — Cocoa Beach. Get ready for a busy day!
Explore the beach or learn about space
For the most touristy activities on this barrier island, you can fill your day with visiting Exploration Tower at Port Canaveral; the 52,000-square-foot flagship Ron Jon Surf Shop; and the famous Cocoa Beach Pier.
The pier is a great place to grab a cold drink and watch surfers. Arrive after 5 p.m. on weekends for free parking.
The Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex is nearby if you decide to do a space day instead of a beach day. See inside a shuttle, experience a simulated launch, and more.
Experience night kayaking the Banana River
If you were lucky enough to catch a launch the previous evening, how can you possibly top that? By experiencing a launch into the great unknown yourself — a kayak launch, that is.
My favorite night on the Space Coast was spent kayaking Banana River followed by dinner at a beachy grill that locals rave about.
The kayaking trip by Fin Expeditions was designed for all skill levels. Our guide gave us a quick how-to before we headed out on the river and into the mangrove tunnels. It ended with a still, spectacular sunset, interrupted only by dolphins in the distance.
Celebrate at LONG Doggers
If you choose an evening kayaking trip, have a restaurant lined up nearby. You’ll be hungry.
Long Doggers, which has locations all along the Space Coast, is less than 10 minutes away. It’s one of those something-for-everyone eateries. You go for the epic hot dogs and tacos but end up tempted by the rest of the menu.
I suggest their summer salad for something lighter — the mango salsa and key lime dressing are refreshing. The soba noodle shrimp bowl, with just the right balance of richness (fried plantains and shrimp) and zing (Hawaiian poke sauce) is another delicious option
They also have a gluten-friendly menu and a solid lineup of craft beers and wines. A sign posted on the patio sums it up: “Drink sensibly, but get weird.”
Boomer Travel Tip
Discover where to stay at Cocoa Beach.
Day 3: Melbourne
Like Titusville, Melbourne was bitten by the mural bug. The walkable district has a half dozen outdoor paintings, from geometric designs to the obligatory but adorable sea turtle.
Enjoy lunch and manatee viewing
Stop in for lunch at Sassy Granny’s, a fellow Boomer who has fans as far flung as Qatar. Everything’s homemade and served in an eclectic cafe featuring art and games.
Granny is beloved for smoothies like her green best-seller, chock full of kale, spinach, cucumber, collards, and tropical fruit. It’s lightly sweet, the veggies adding a bright contrast to the fruity blend.
Afterward, take a stroll down Crane Creek Promenade, a manatee observation area. Or spend the afternoon at the Brevard Zoo and nearby Linear Park, a bikeable boardwalk.
Winding Down With Pizza, Art, and Boomer Trivia
After mural-hopping, biking and hobnobbing with wildlife, it’s time to relax. The Avenue Viera, a shopping plaza just a couple miles up the road, makes a convenient spot. There are plenty of restaurants to choose from plus a central fountain, ample outdoor seating and regular concerts
For a romantic dinner, try 28 North. The decor is trendy, the vibe is laid-back elegance, and the menu is locally sourced. (The name comes from Brevard County’s latitude.)
For a more casual crowd-pleaser, head next door to Pizza Gallery and Grill. The gallery in the name is no joke. The restaurant has art on the walls and even the tables.
You can pick up an artsy souvenir or simply admire the creativity while you dig into food that’s just as inventive. I’m talking pizza toppings from sriracha to sauerkraut.
Order a gourmet pie or flatbread to savor their incredible crust. If you can, visit on a Tuesday for their weekly Boomer trivia!
Boomer Travel Tip
Check out where to stay in Melbourne.
After this fun, 3-day Space Coast road trip, you might be ready for another adventure. Continue driving south to start your Florida Keys road trip or head north instead for fun in St. Augustine, a couple hours up the coast.
Note: Florida’s Space Coast assisted with my stay, but all opinions are my own.