Florida’s fun and sun is great, but most of us want a more filling vacation, one that has more attractions than just shopping, Disney characters, and the beach. If you are one of those people, a terrific attraction to consider is the space-related adventure you’ll have at Kennedy Space Center. It doesn’t matter if you’re not really interested in space travel and rocket-ships; I wasn’t particularly thrilled with these things when I visited, but the excitement Kennedy Space Center provides proved to be an unforgettable fascination. The only big obstacle is the security issues that have become so much more important in recent times. Take care to cooperate with guards and make sure not to bring anything that could pose a problem. By complying with security standards before entering Kennedy Space Center, you will save yourself tons of trouble later on.
Kennedy Space Center lies across the East Coast near Cape Canaveral, Florida, and is easily accessible from well-known Florida cities like St. Augustine and Orlando. You can also get here from the popular I-95. It’s wise to have an itinerary before arriving or you will be wandering around and wondering what to do next. Kennedy has a lot to offer and you don’t want to miss out on any of it. If you’re only looking for the attractions that are unlike anything else, don’t forget to stop by “Astronaut Encounter.” A real live astronaut graces the stage to answer queries. If you’re lucky, there will be photo ops afterwards where your child (or you!) can get pictures taken with the astronaut in question. Find out if your trip will coincide with a particular encounter.
The Rocket Garden is one of the most interesting things you will see at Kennedy. This is actually what it sounds like; a “garden” filled with huge rockets, noses pointing to the sky. It is a very unique sight and a wonderful photo spot. Relatively near the garden you will see a big piece of metal that resembles a decorative steeple in an old church. This is actually an engine from Saturn V F-1. As you walk along there will be tons of places to snap a memorable photo, and to stop and explore. Murals and historical information are scattered across the grounds as you enter the complex. Many of the exhibits are indoors in various multimedia rooms and museum areas.
One of the strangest attractions at Kennedy is one that I am not sure still exists. People lined up to take a picture of an astronaut in a head-to-toe space suit. The “suit” was moving, but no one had any way to know whether there was actually a person inside or not!
You can board a special bus and take a trip to some Space Center buildings most visitors don’t normally get to see. Kennedy is also home to theaters and interactive programs that give the illusion of actually being part of space exploration. If you find yourself getting hungry while visiting Kennedy Space Center and expect to wait hours to pick up fast food, fear not! There are some great restaurants here. One of the best recommendations is to make reservations for a special meal where you can actually eat with one of Kennedy’s astronauts! This is guaranteed to be a time you’ll never forget, and one that kids will store in their memory banks forever. If you don’t plan to be visiting at a time when this is possible, another great restaurant is The Orbit. This, in my opinion, is a terrific place to eat. Instead of the regular boring sit-down, the food is constantly revolving, and you get to grab what you want as it goes past.
Check out the Astronaut Memorial for a somber yet fascinating side-trip. It is a huge mirror that reflects the names of the casualties of space travel. One thing visitors usually don’t expect to see at Kennedy is alligators! Yes, when you stop by one of the small ponds in the area, you will probably see gators lounging in the sun. What would be a trip to Florida without seeing scaly creatures? It seems out of place for a NASA administration, but kids will love it.
You should be able to find anything your heart desires in Kennedy Space Center’s gift shop. Two levels chock-full of all kinds of souvenirs and oddities, it is a space-lover’s heaven. From “normal” offerings like t-shirts and plush, to more unique things such as space blankets, if you leave Kennedy empty-handed it is by your own choice! For those who like jewelry, there are even tiny rocket-ship necklaces to show off your love for the Space Center.
By Lacie R. Schaeffer