Kennedy Space Center, Florida

One unique stop along the Florida coast is Kennedy Space Center. While still an active NASA site, they’ve built up an extensive visitor center with a solid day of things to see. Between the fascinating NASA history, amazing technology, cool videos, and fabulous exhibits that include actual space shuttles and moon rocks, both adults and kids will be delighted!

The Logistics

Location: The Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex is located about 1 hour east of Orlando, or 3 hours north of Miami, on Cape Canaveral. It’s a nice day trip if you’re near Disney World.

Cost:

Regular Admission: $57 for Adults(12+) and $47 for Children(3-11), best to buy in advance.

Parking: $10

You can also purchase various Add-On Enhancements, though we didn’t.

Getting There: Since there’s no public transit, it really is best to drive. Though there are tour bus companies that stop there.

Our Experience

With a 9am opening time and pre-purchased tickets, we timed our drive to arrive a few minutes early. This worked quite well.

The Bus Ride to the Apollo/Saturn V Center

On arrival, we followed advice to go straight to the line for the bus tour to the Apollo/Saturn V Center. Given that their was no wait, it seemed like a solid choice!

After choosing some of the last seats on the bus, our bus tour began! Our driver was a retired operations technician and had a lot to say about his time at Kennedy Space Center. Apparently, he loved it so much that he decided to stick around and give tours.

One unanticipated part of the drive was seeing the wildlife along the waterways – the boys loved seeing the alligators. The driver pointed them out. The right side of the bus seemed to work better for this.

As we got closer to the Apollo/Saturn V Center, we were able to see the shuttle launch viewing area as well as a few of the more important buildings. It would be a lot of fun to visit the Kennedy Space Center on the day of a launch!

Apollo/Saturn V Center

As soon as you enter, you will spot the gigantic Saturn V rocket, which is the type of rocket that took Neil Armstrong to the moon!

As you wander around, you will have the opportunity to see the Lunar Module 9, which was the vehicle that Neil Armstrong used to land on the moon, as well as other space craft.

In addition to learning all about the history of how humanity made it to the moon, you can also touch a real moon rock!

After we had our fill of viewing the rockets and reading the history of the Apollo program, we headed towards the Lunar Theater to watch a short video about the first moon landing.

The Bus Ride Back to Atlantis

Once we had our fill of moon history, we hopped back on the bus. Rather than a talk from the bus driver, they had a video for us to watch. It was interesting, but it was a distraction from being able to look out the window and look for alligators.

Lunch

By the time we got back and off the bus, it was a little after 11am. While it was a little early for lunch, we knew that our next stop was also likely to take another two hours, so we went ahead and sat in the Orbit Cafe for lunch.

Space Shuttle Atlantis

After lunch, we headed towards the second major attraction: the Space Shuttle Atlantis.

In this area you can learn all about how space flight was transformed! The costs of building a single use space shuttle were staggering, so there was a push to make the expensive space shuttles as reusable as possible. The Atlantis was designed to take off like a rocket and land like a glider.

One of the highlights in this area is the Shuttle Launch Experience. I was somewhat concerned about how my back would do, so only Jeremy and the boys took a ride. The conclusion was that it was “quite bumpy.” I probably would have been fine, but you never know.

You can also watch an interesting video at the Hubble Space Telescope Theater, pretend you are an astronaut at the Astronaut Training Simulators, climb around in a space station, and swish down a reentry slide.

I still remember sitting in my elementary school classroom, watching the Challenger attempt to take off. What a tragedy! The Forever Remembered: Challenger and Columbia Memorial is in this area, quite well done, and worth a visit.

Astronaut Ice Cream

The boys wanted some ice cream, so we stopped for some Dippin’ Dots. Unfortunately, this prevented us from arriving early to the IMAX Journey to Space show that we wanted to see and the theater was full by the time we got there. Oops.

Rocket Garden and Hall of Fame

While we waited for the next show, we decided to stop by the Rocket Garden and Hall of Fame.

The Hall of Fame started with a Heroes and Legends movie, but by the time it finished, we were in danger of missing our next IMAX show, so we rushed through the interesting looking exhibits at the end.

The IMAX Theater

If possible, you should make time to see the shows at the IMAX Theater. We didn’t time things quite right, so were only able to see Astroid Hunters, but we found it to be quite interesting! Just make sure you show up at least 10 minutes early or you will risk being denied entry, as we were earlier in the day.

Journey to Mars

As we saw other sights, we stopped by the Mars Rover exhibit, but I think we forgot to go inside the Journey to Mars area! Oops!

Nature and Science Center

At this point, everyone was feeling quite tired and we decided we had seen enough. On the way out, we stopped by the Nature and Science Center to use the restrooms and were delighted by the small exhibit showing animals from the Wildlife Refuge located on the Kennedy Space Center property. One of our kids tried to convince people that this was a wild alligator:

On our drive out, we spotted the real thing! We weren’t quite sure what the bird was thinking, but it appears that the alligator wasn’t hungry.

In any case, the next time you travel to Florida, try to visit the Kennedy Space Center!

More from Adventures of the 4 JLs

MORE FROM FLORIDA: THIS TRIP

MORE FROM FLORIDA: A PREVIOUS ROAD TRIP

MORE FROM THE SOUTH/SOUTHEAST

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s