When you’re planning your next Florida beach vacation, look no further than Cocoa Beach for all the adventure it packs! Whether it’s for a quick weekend getaway or a ten-day tour, there are tons of things to do at Cocoa Beach, Orlando for families. You can de-stress at one of the closest beaches to Orlando, watch a rocket take flight, or golf amid alligators, among many other things that we go over below. So what are you waiting for? Keep reading because your beach paradise awaits!
How to get to Cocoa Beach from Orlando
Situated only about 60 miles from Orlando, Cocoa Beach is one of Florida’s most popular vacation destinations on the east coast. Considering all your options on how to get to Cocoa Beach from Orlando? The cheapest and simplest way to get there is by car. Just take the FL528 East highway and follow the signs until you enter town in about an hour.
If you don’t own a car or are visiting Orlando from out of town, consider renting one from a car rental service. While it may seem costly initially, you will soon see how having a car to drive around Cocoa Beach can end up making your travels more convenient and affordable for the family.
If you’re planning to take a bus to Cocoa Beach from Orlando, hop on the rally bus at the Greyhound Bus station. This option takes roughly five hours to get to your destination so is not the most ideal way to reach Cocoa beach from Orlando and one we don’t recommend.
Airport closest to Cocoa Beach
There are also plenty of shuttle options from the airport closest to Cocoa Beach, Orlando International Airport. Another option, if you want a more comfortable ride, is to hire a taxi from the airport right into town.
Campgrounds in and around Cocoa Beach
Camping at Cocoa Beach’s famed campsites is a must-do if you’re vacationing with your family!
Jetty Park Campground is one of the most famous campsites in Cocoa Beach and is a great place to camp in a tent with your family by the ocean. The beautiful and remote private beach at the campsite is ideal for stargazing and the fishing pier has stunning views of the Atlantic at night. It’s truly something else to watch your kid’s exhilaration when they spot fishes and sea turtles in the ocean here! Airboat rides near cocoa beach offer the same experience but better so ask around in the vicinity about those.
Another great choice is the Manatee Cove Campground, which is about a fifteen-minute drive from Cocoa Beach. This campground is located on the banks of the Banana River, away from the city and tourist crowds. The large camp area boasts enough space for plenty of tents and RVs with enough privacy for each family. Here’s a secret tip: arrive before dusk to catch the sunset here. It’s supposed to be absolutely breathtaking.
Sonrise Palms RV Park and Manatee Hammock Campground are two other campgrounds near Cocoa Beach that are highly rated and worth checking out.
A word of advice for fellow parents? Carry bug repellant, a first aid kit, and blankets along!
If you’re not up to camping during your stay, don’t worry because there are a number of beachfront hotels in Cocoa Beach that you can check out for accommodations that range from low-cost motels to opulent resorts. Some of Cocoa Beach’s well-rated hotels include the Sea Aire Motel, the Hilton Oceanfront, and the Discovery Beach Resort.
Best Restaurants in Cocoa Beach
Appease your appetite by trying out some new delicacies at the best restaurants in Cocoa Beach. It has everything from fast food to excellent grills to keep your tummy happy and will likely become your family’s go-to spot when hunger strikes during your trip.
Florida’s Bar and Grill is a fantastic local restaurant to visit if you’re craving seafood. The coconut shrimp and seafood fritters are menu favorites, and the fresh catch sandwiches are loved by kids.
Taco City is a southwestern cuisine restaurant that has been serving customers delicious food for over 40 years. Aside from the lip-smackingly good enchiladas and tacos, people also visit this joint for the spectacular oceanfront sunset view it provides. Order one of their platters to sample different snacks on their menu while basking in the golden hour light!
Flavors of India delivers true north and south Indian cuisine if you’re looking for something hot and savory. Their secret in-house ground spices are used in all of their mouth watering dishes. Order their buffet that costs roughly ten bucks if you plan to stay on budget.
Are you worried about your vacation food binge going straight to your belly? Don’t sweat it, Cocoa Beach offers plenty of food options for the health-conscious parent. The Green Room Cafe serves organic food and takes its customers’ dietary needs into consideration by offering vegan and gluten-free alternatives. They also have a well-curated kids menu with everything your child loves, from peanut butter sandwiches to cheesy quesadillas.
Other well-known Cocoa Beach restaurants that are worth a visit include The Tiny Turtle, Pita Paradise, and PizzaVola.
Attractions in Cocoa Beach
Cocoa Beach Pier
One of the best and most beautiful attractions for families on Cocoa Beach is the Westgate Cocoa Beach Pier. Established in the early 1960s and stretching over 800 feet, this pier is a great place to watch NASA’s space launches and take in panoramic views of the Atlantic Ocean. It’s the perfect spot for a lovely walk while enjoying the scenery and experiencing the coastal breeze. Take a couple of photos and show your kids the surfers flaunting their gnarly skills.
If dining with a view is on your list of things to do at cocoa beach, the Pier is home to several restaurants and pubs with spectacular ocean views for you to explore. The world-famous Riki Tiki Tavern is the trendiest restaurant at the Cocoa Beach Pier, offering the best view of the Atlantic while serving some of the finest handcrafted cocktails. Children love the specially curated kids menu.
Lori Wilson Park
How does a day at a beach park that offers everything from surfing to birding trails sound? If you answered “exciting,” then Lori Wilson Park in Cocoa Beach is the place to be. The beachside utopia features over 33 acres of park space and a plethora of activities for all kinds of family fun. Whether you choose to go for a dip, lounge by the coast, or take a stroll through the park, you’re guaranteed a day filled with fun and laughter.
If you want to unwind and relax, visit the hammock area or one of the pavilions. The dedicated picnic area has several tables with a beautiful ocean view. You can also rent a beach chair and sunbathe in the sand to soak up some Vitamin D. If your kids are feeling more active than you are, send them off to work up a sweat at the huge playground while you rest.
Taking your kids to the beach is an experience that never gets old, especially when it’s as pleasant as this one. The waves at this beach are shallow and safe for young kids, ensuring a good time. If you have teens, the gentle waves offer the best opportunity for learning to surf. There are many surf shops by the beach that offer first-hand training if any of your family members are interested in mastering the sport!
When hunger strikes, choose from one of the park’s various eateries, which offer everything from hot dogs to exquisite seafood grills. This park’s parking and admission are both completely free, so if you want to save money, bring a picnic and you won’t have to pay a dime for this outing. It’s one of the best free things to do in cocoa beach!
Kennedy Space Center
NASA’s Kennedy Space Center is a must-visit attraction near Cocoa Beach if you and your kiddos are interested in all things space. Located on Merrit Island, this space center houses unique exhibits that offer valuable insight into space travel and hosts speeches by real-life astronauts that are educational and inspiring. The most exciting part? You get to observe the space shuttle Atlantis and Space V rocket up-close!
Watch your kid’s jaw drop at the Rocket Garden as they witness the stunningly giant rockets from the Mercury, Gemini, and Apollo space programs that have actually been to space! While younger kids love the Planet Play indoor play area, the Journey to Mars and Astronaut training simulators are a favorite among teenagers. The Shuttle Launch Experience is a family activity that allows you to experience what blasting off into space would feel like!
And when you’re tired, soothe your rumbling bellies at the canteen. The astronaut ice cream is a crowd favorite or cool off in the small splash pad.
Plan beforehand and visit the space center on a rocket launch day to view the launch and attend other special events.
Ron Jon Surf Shop
A trip to Cocoa Beach would be incomplete without paying a visit to the legendary Ron Jon Surf Shop. Ron Jon, the town’s longest-running surf shop, is your one-stop destination for all your beach needs.
While it’s true that Ron Jon surfboards are unique, and a must-have for any serious surfer, they aren’t the only reason people visit this shop on Cocoa Beach. Ron Jon Surf Shop is also home to the Florida Surf Museum.
The museum showcases the rich history of surfing and celebrates the most notable stars in the field. With displays featuring some of the most unique surfboards, and tons of photo ops for the whole family, this destination is one that envokes feelings of wonder and awe in both parents and kids alike!
Pick up some souvenirs for friends and family while there. Little ones will definitely enjoy rummaging through the magnets and keychains put up on sale here!
Bioluminescence Cocoa Beach
Ever wonder how it would feel to float amid glowing stars? Well, then you need to experience bioluminescence at Cocoa Beach. As magical as it sounds, we can’t even begin to explain how wonderful it really is!
The beaches at Cocoa Beach come alive at night with neon-lit waves between the months of May and November. The best way to experience this first-hand is by kayak, so rent one and watch your little ones be completely mesmerized by the tapestry of stars beneath them.
While boat rentals are aplenty at Cocoa Beach, there are also just as many tourist companies that offer bioluminescence kayaking tours and other cocoa beach tourist attractions. Fin Expeditions is one such reputable company that offers a variety of bioluminescence Cocoa Beach activities. All of them begin at nightfall, and some even involve overnight camping at the beach after the kayak journey. If you want to take your adventure up a notch, opt for a crystal clear kayak for an even more immersive experience!
Don’t be disheartened if you don’t like kayaking or can’t partake due to medical reasons. You don’t have to miss out on this magical experience as there are motorized boat tour packages available as well. While they are more expensive than kayak tours, motorized boats usually sail further out, allowing you to enjoy the “northern lights in water” in a more unique and exclusive way. You might even see a dolphin or a manatee if you’re lucky!
This Cocoa Beach attraction is exactly what it says on the tin! Golf N Gator is a miniature golf course with alligators and birds and is one of the coolest things to do in Cocoa Beach. Have an amusing mini-golf experience with your kids where you get to feed the baby alligators on the course. It’s a must-try as far as experiences go, especially for kids!
If you’re looking for even more action, try go-kart racing for some instant high-octane thrills! The karts at the track offer a power-up accelerator that adds an extra punch of adrenaline.
Cocoa Village is a riverbank village in downtown Cocoa Beach that dates back to the 1800s. Take the day to visit the quaint village and spend time shopping cultural styles and devouring tasty food!
The Cocoa Village walking tour is a delightful way to learn about the area’s history. The guides will also show you some of the village’s unique spots that you would not be able to find otherwise. When you’re ready to ditch the Florida heat, head to the Historic Cocoa Village Playhouse to watch some delightful plays.
Take your kids to the Magic Dove Magic Shop where they’ll witness some mind-blowing magical feats. The shop also hosts a magic club meet-up for kids on Friday nights where they get to learn basic magic tricks so be sure to enquire about that on your visit.
When it comes to food, Cocoa Village also has a good mix of restaurants to explore. Lasting roughly two hours and covering several popular eateries over a two-mile distance, the Village Food Tour offers the chance to sample new cuisines and specialties without stuffing yourself silly at only one place! The guides also offer interesting views on the history of Cocoa Village.
Situated on Port Canaveral, the Exploration Tower is an architectural marvel that offers breathtaking views of the Cocoa Beach coastline and the Atlantic. You will be able to catch glimpses of ships entering and departing the port. If you’re in luck, you might even spot on transporting NASA’s rockets!
Apart from the viewing deck, the seven floored tower provides entertainment for families with presentations, exhibits, a large play area, and gift shops. Be sure to drop by the front desk for a fun little bonus – various complimentary discount coupons for eateries all across town!
The observation deck is also a fantastic spot to view one of NASA’s rockets take off into space. Make sure you arrive early as the deck gets quite crowded on launch days.
The Dinosaur Store
Visiting The Dinosaur Store is one of the best things to do at Cocoa Beach in Florida when you’ve got a mini-paleontologist on board! Family-friendly attractions include a fossil store, two museums, and an adventure zone in the 26,000-square-foot building.
The Hall of Dinosaurs displays authentic fossils and massive cast skeletons from various eras. The replicas of dinosaur habitats and true-to-life dinosaurs will be fascinating for kids to encounter. At the second museum, take a look at genuine artifacts from ancient Egypt, China, and tribal Africa. You can witness the mysterious and mesmerizing King Tutankhamen’s Tomb here.
The adventure zone is a fun-yet-educational environment specially designed for families. It features everything from science stations to arcade games that both kids and adults will enjoy. To add to all the fun, you will also witness more than two dozen live reptiles showcased in the area. Be sure to ride the Nile Raft here – it’s a huge hit!
The museum’s gift shop sells some of the most authentic fossils and crystals in Cocoa Beach. It’s worth a stop even if you are not planning on buying anything.
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