To beat winter blues, start planning for outdoor adventures on Florida’s Space Coast
With winter having kept most of us cooped up indoors, the idea of getting away to somewhere warm and sunny is coming more into focus for many.
Luckily, the current downtime does provide families an opportunity to start planning their upcoming vacations – trips to more-hospitable locales offering plenty of energizing fun and a much-needed change in the weather.
“Planning your vacation now is a great way to find budget-friendly deals. It also helps you beat the winter blues by giving you something to look forward to,” said Eric Garvey, Director of Florida’s Space Coast Office of Tourism. “For families, couples and adventurers who love to have fun outdoors – from sports and recreation to exploring nature – the Space Coast is an out-of-this-world destination.”
The Space Coast’s plentiful beaches are a magnet for surfers and other water sports enthusiasts from parts far and wide. Many of them stop first in Cocoa Beach (known as the surfing capital of the East Coast) to visit the flagship Ron Jon Surf Shop – a 52,000-square-foot store featuring an eye-popping selection of surf boards, swimming attire and other surf-brand apparel. And at the nearby Ron Jon Surf School, anyone can arrange a surfing lesson or rent a stand-up paddleboard.
For nature lovers, the options are as broad as the horizon. The 140,000-acre Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge is home to at least 1,500 species of plants and animals, including alligators, manatees and a wide variety of birds. If the time of year is right, guests can take guided nighttime walks to observe sea turtles as they lay their eggs. In addition, both Merritt Island and Cocoa Beach offer nighttime “bioluminescence” kayak tours, allowing you to get close to some of the glowing creatures inhabiting the region’s myriad waterways.
A paradise for birds, the area hosts the annual Space Coast Birding & Wildlife Festival in January each year, which combines some serious birding activities with entertainment, unique dining experiences, special events and more.
Coming soon, Titusville will be the starting point for a Coast-to-Coast Bike Trail that pedals through the region’s vibrant wildlife areas and historic sites. This Coast-to-Coast Trail will connect Canaveral National Seashore on the Space Coast with St. Petersburg on the Gulf Coast, a distance of about 250 miles.
To really get your adrenaline pumping, Brevard Zoo’s Treetop Trek features five aerial obstacle courses that whisk guests above parts of the zoo and through lush Florida landscapes. You can zip line, climb, crawl and careen your way through the courses, which accommodate various skill levels and provide a bird’s-eye perspective of the facility’s wild animals. On certain dates, nighttime zip lining also is available.
Renowned for its ties to the U.S. space program, the Space Coast is one of the few places one can personally witness a breathtaking rocket launch. Come see, hear and feel one of the most dramatic events on earth. Rockets carrying satellites into orbit or transporting cargo to the International Space Station blast off periodically throughout the year. A launch schedule is available at www.SpaceCoastLaunches.com.
To learn more about Florida’s Space Coast and plan a spring or summer getaway, head to www.visitspacecoast.com.
BOUT FLORIDA’S SPACE COAST
Florida’s Space Coast is a family friendly destination located 45 minutes east of Orlando. Encompassing Cocoa Beach, Melbourne and the Beaches, Port Canaveral, Titusville, and Palm Bay, it is home to the world’s second-busiest cruise port and 72 miles of beaches (the longest stretch in the state), as well as 190,000 acres of wetlands and waterways full of habitat found nowhere else. Florida’s Space Coast is home to NASA’s Kennedy Space Center, where rockets still soar into orbit.