If you’re looking for beautiful beaches, great surf, and easy access to outer space? Then look no further than Cocoa Beach, Florida. Close enough to hear the rumble of the rockets on Florida’s Space Coast, a visit to Kennedy Space Center adds some extra excitement to any trip!
Popular with surfers, Cocoa Beach has great waves and strong surf culture. A trip to the Ron Jon Surf Museum should be on the list for surfers and beach lovers alike. It is also the closest city to the fast-growing Port Canaveral – making it the perfect place to spend a few days before or after a cruise.
To help you plan your trip, we put this list of the top 15 things to do in Cocoa Beach to make the most of your time here in the Space Coast.
1. Kennedy Space Center
At Cape Canaveral Gateway, visitors have the chance to visit the famous Kennedy Space Center. Since December 1968, this has been NASA’s main launch site for human space travel. The center features videos, images, and interactive exhibits connected to space flight.
The history and the flow of the tour are really well crafted. It is recommended to start with the Apollo bus first, then learn about the history of the US space program and watch stunning IMAX films. You can purchase tickets online in advance here.
Guests get the chance to walk under a Saturn V rocket. There is a shuttle simulator where visitors can attempt to fly and even a virtual moonwalk experience! Great for space enthusiasts as well as families. Kennedy Space Center caters to both, and it is easy to spend an entire day here.
- Address: Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex, Space Commerce Way, Merritt Island
- Purchase tickets online here
- Kennedy Space Center Trip with Transport from Orlando
2. Kayak Thousand Islands Looking for Manatees etc.
The Thousand Islands area is a spectacular spot for kayaking enthusiasts. The 338-acre site is a preservation area and maintains the wildlife habitat. This means it is a great location for bird-watching and manatee spotting.
We went on this tour, and highly recommend it.
Kayak through mangrove tunnels and stop at a sandy beach to relax. You might even be able to paddle with the manatees and bottlenose dolphins. A wonderful way to spend time in nature that will impart amazing memories.
Some of the best moments are at sunset when the colors start to change. A thrilling and energetic activity that gets the muscles and mind moving.
To access this part of Banana River, go to Ramp Road, which is south of Minuteman Causeway. Of course, if you are hiring your kayak, the company will take you there. With lots of kayak rental companies in the area, it is highly recommended to shop around.
3. Cocoa Beach Pier
Originally known as the Canaveral Pier, this landmark was first built in 1962. Throughout the years, it has seen many changes but remains a favorite with locals and tourists.
In 2014 local businessmen injected a significant amount into renovating the pier. Since then, it has become one of the top things to do in Cocoa Beach. Housing bars, shops, and restaurants it is also a great spot for fishing. We really like to visit during lunch.
- Address: 401 Meade Ave, Cocoa Beach
4. Exploration Tower
This architecturally impressive landmark can be found on the east coast of Florida at Port Canaveral. The Exploration Tower is dedicated to teaching through fun learning. There are seven floors of exhibits and interactive activities which focus on the local area. Rocket launches are also viewable that take place at the Kennedy Space Center. With two observation decks, visitors can put what they learn into effect.
The amazing space-related photography is simply stunning and absolutely awe-inspiring. There is also a gift shop for all your souvenirs. Further to this, there is a café as well as an auditorium. However, this wonderful attraction is currently closed for maintenance work until early 2023. Please phone or check their website for updates on the work in progress.
- 670 Dave Nisbet Drive, Port Canaveral
5. Historic Cocoa Village
Well-known for its quaint and old-fashioned Southern charm, historic downtown Cocoa Village is a must-visit in Cocoa Beach. This cobbled-stoned town with its caringly restored historic buildings is both delightful and enchanting. There are great shopping, eating, and recreational opportunities throughout this town.
Settled in 1860, this riverfront community has continued to thrive and prosper since then. The charm and welcoming nature of the residents will leave you glowing. There are clothes and book shops, arts and crafts stores, galleries, and antique shops.
The restaurants serve up traditional Southern soul food with a touch of spice. With over a dozen eating establishments, you will be able to find something for every appetite. A wonderful spot for families and is recommended for everyone visiting the area. To learn more about Cocoa Village stores, events, restaurants, and more, click here for their website.
- Address: Historic Cocoa Village Main Street 434 Delannoy Ave, Cocoa Beach
6. Take a Surfing Lesson
With some of the safest coasts for surfing, arranging a lesson is very easy to do. Many surf schools in Cocoa Beach offer one or two-hour lessons. We recommend this one-hour private lesson. Groups can be catered to as well, which makes the rates more reasonable.
No matter whether you are an absolute beginner or a novice, shop around, and there’s sure to be a surf school that fits your needs. So go grab a wetsuit and a board and ride some waves!
7. Eat Fresh Seafood and Enjoy the View at Coconuts On The Beach
Coconuts On The Beach is the only true beach bar/restaurant in Cocoa Beach. With a covered tiki deck, guests are treated to superb service with great seafood. With live performances from the area’s local artists, the music flows regularly.
The food ranges from creamy clam chowder to freshly caught fish and seafood dishes with specialty dishes like salmon in caper sauce or twin lobster tails. Click here to see the menu. We also start with the bangin’ shrimp appetizer, pictured above.
The food is phenomenally fresh and cooked to perfection by the chefs. Nothing better than eating good food and sharing a drink in a friendly, welcoming environment. Sit on the deck and admire the view of the Atlantic. On our last visit, we came for happy hour and stayed for the sunset and dinner, and it was the perfect ending to our day in Cocoa Beach.
Porpoises can regularly be spotted playing in groups in the surf. A lively party and gathering spot, this bar is recommended for couples and groups of friends.
- 2 Minutemen Causeway, Cocoa Beach
8. Rikki Tiki Tavern
If you have ever visited Cocoa Beach Pier, you would know about Rikki Tiki Tavern. Located at the end of the 800-foot-long promenade sits Rikki Tiki Tavern. Featuring open-air seating, the tavern offers a limited food service along with drinks. The amazing ocean views and sea breeze can be experienced sipping on a cocktail.
Equipped with a thatched roof and tables and seating for 100 guests. Rikki Tiki Tavern is a great place to relax and grab some shade and a drink. It is one of our favorite places in Cocoa Beach for sunset and happy hour.
- Address: 401 Meade Ave, Cocoa Beach
9. Florida Surf Museum
Formerly known as Cocoa Beach Surf Museum, the Florida Surf Museum is a great place. Preserving and documenting everything connected to East Coast surfing, the museum explores the history and evolution of surfing in the area. With historical photographs and exhibits, visitors can lose themselves for hours.
The merchandise is extensive, to say the least – gifts, souvenirs, surfing apparel, and surfboards too. It is easy to get lost for a couple of hours looking at all the exhibits and photos. The Florida Surf Museum isn’t just for those avid surfers. It’s highly recommended for anyone with even a slight interest in the surf scene.
- Address: (Ron Jon Surf Shop) 4275 North Atlantic Avenue, Cocoa Beach
10. Lori Wilson Park
If you are looking for things to do in Cocoa Beach outdoors and in nature, save a day to explore Lori Wilson Park. With three pavilions and a 1000-foot-long boardwalk, the amenities are plentiful. There are outdoor showers, restrooms, drinking fountains, and barbecue grills. A perfect place for a family beachside picnic or cookout. With six dune crossovers and a public volleyball court for the more active.
The Atlantic Ocean is also there for those hardy and brave souls. There are lifeguards year-round, and the surf is gentle enough for all learners. The natural beauty of the hammock and the dunes leave a lasting impression, with ample parking on both the north and south sides of the hammock. The park is dog-friendly and is great for groups and families.
- Address: 1500 N Atlantic Avenue, Cocoa Beach
11. Ron Jon Surf Shop
Trading for over 50 years in Cocoa Beach, this is the oldest surf shop in Florida. Ron Jon Surf Shop has over 52,000 sq ft of dedicated floor space. Packed from floor to ceiling with surfer and other merchandise. Discover the latest surf, swim, skate, and beach essentials for the year. You can also arrange for surf lessons at the shop. Equipment hire is also not a problem and is included in the lesson price.
If you are into water sports of any kind, then Ron Jon Surf Shop is for you. Recommended for all watersport lovers and families looking for surf lessons at reasonable prices.
- Address: 4151 N Atlantic Ave, Cocoa Beach
12. Museum of Dinosaurs and Ancient Cultures
Opened to the public in 2017 with an estimated cost to build of $3.7 million, this museum spreads its exhibits and displays out over two floors. It is privately owned and runs as a not-for-profit organization.
The adventure zone is an area with interactive exhibits for all the family. Along with this, there are mineral and fossil panning workshops and a Nile Craft carnival-style ride that can take up to 6 people. Both of these extra activities are charged with a supplemental fee. Whatever price point is decided upon, visitors will not be disappointed. We highly recommend to families and anyone with an interest in dinosaurs and ancient cultures.
- Address: 250 West Cocoa Beach Causeway, Cocoa Beach
13. The Florida Key Lime Pie Co.
Visitors to this cute little shop are normally surprised by the extravagantly colored interior. Then they are delighted at all the tasty treats that are offered within. As the name suggests, Key Lime Pie can be found here in many forms. Have a slice, on a stick, in a cup or a coconut, or even get a whole pie.
But not only that, there are many more offers to be found. Specialty snacks like alligator jerky, ice creams, and many different hot sauces. Spices, tropical fruit wines, scented candles, and bath salt scrubs are available too. Open seven days a week from 10 am, worth a visit just to taste the samples.
- Address: 102 Dixie Ln, Cocoa Beach
14. Visit the Dinosaur Store
Located in the same building as the Museum of Dinosaurs and Ancient Cultures. This store is free to enter, and you can browse many different gifts and souvenirs, including products like minerals, crystals, and jewelry, as well as educational replicas from space.
Of course, there are also fossilized and replica dinosaur teeth, claws, and bones. For people with a passion for history, a visit is recommended, alongside families with children who will find a visit to the store a great distraction.
- 250 West Cocoa Beach Causeway, Cocoa Beach
15. Golf N Gator
Located at Cape Canaveral, this mini-golf center is a brilliant day out. With two 18-hole courses, players can enjoy a round or two. Both courses track through tropical landscapes with waterfalls, caves, and other features. With bridges and boardwalks crossing the waterways, fish and turtles can be seen.
Even more than that, this is the only outside habitat with alligators. Visitors can feed, hold, and even have a photograph taken with them. Even more than the golf and ‘gators, guests can also visit the ‘mining company.’ Treasure hunt by digging up gemstones, arrowheads, shark teeth, or fossils. Great fun for all the family.
- Address: 6355 N Atlantic Ave, Cape Canaveral