Known to most as a cruise, cargo, and naval port located 45 minutes east of Downtown Orlando, 27 miles from Melbourne Airport, Port Canaveral is set in the heart of the Space Coast. While some consider it a mere starting point for their cruise trip or a quick stop on the way to Orlando’s theme parks, we’re here to tell you that Port Canaveral has a lot to offer.
Whether you have just a few hours or a whole day to spend, there are plenty of fun things to see and do near the port. Our comprehensive list of things to do near Port Canaveral Orlando will show you that there’s never a dull moment when there are both action-packed and casual places to visit with your entire family!
Things to do Near Port Canaveral: Attractions
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Nothing says vacation madness like summer in Florida, and Port Canaveral offers some of the most amazing experiences outside amusement parks. Here’s our list of the top attractions to visit while touring the Space Coast.
Manatee Sanctuary Park
Need a break from theme parks? Say no more! Watch the sunset over the tranquil waters of the Manatee Sanctuary Park after a lovely afternoon spent in the sun. While you might not always catch a glimpse of the shy sea cow, there are always seabirds, squirrels, waterfowl, dolphins, and ospreys to watch out for.
Perfect for families with younger children, the park has a playground, a short walking path, and exercise stations to burn energy. Later, refuel at the picnic area with some snacks, or unwind with a book from the lending library.
The Wizard of Oz Museum
Follow the Yellow Brick Road for a short trip to the magical Wizard of Oz Museum. Click the heels of Dorothy’s iconic red shoes, brave the terrible tornado, and wander the poppy fields to Emerald City. The museum has unique curios like comics, maps, collectibles, and posters that pay tribute to the film.
While definitely a blast from the past for adults, little ones will have fun in the kid’s room that’s full of dolls, illustrated books, and hand puppets. They make a great way to introduce them to the enchanting world of Frank Baum. Art lovers are in for a lovely surprise as the museum also offers an “Immersive Van Gogh-style” experience that is sure to leave you spellbound.
Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex
If your kids have hundreds of questions about outer space, head to the Kennedy Space Center (KSC) for the answers. Edutainment is the name of the game with so much to see, do, and learn at the interactive exhibits scattered across the Mission Zones.
Grab a picture at the world’s biggest rocket, chat with an actual astronaut, blast off in the Shuttle Launch Experience, and stroll through the Rocket Garden. A day at the KSC is bound to be an out-of-the-world experience for the entire family, with each moment packed with fascinating details about the space program.
While older kids get a taste of space with the Astronaut Training Simulators, young ones can uncover the marvels of the planets at the Planet Play zone.
Watch the ocean come alive with living lights at the Banana River Lagoon, the natural habitat for bioluminescent marine life. Between July and October, take a guided tour to learn about the local flora, fauna, and history. A clear-bottomed kayak ride on the river offers spectacular views of the magnificent glow below.
Take in the stars above and below as you drift along through the night. Bring older kids and teens on the night ride of their lives to view manatees, dolphins, and bioluminescent waters with swimming fish leaving trails of light behind them. Reminiscent of fireflies in the sky, this mystical light show in the water is a must-see experience!
Golf N Gator
Play golf, pan for gems, ride a go-kart and hold a live alligator all on the same day at the Golf N Gator! It’s a wild par-tee at the two 18-hole putt-putt courses, where Floridian gators lazily drift past as you swing your shot.
For speed-freaks, dash around on the Mario Kart-esque rides for a chance to top the leaderboard. If Indiana Jones is your idol, take your family on a treasure hunt for fossils, gemstones, and relics. And when you’re done for the day, take a selfie while cradling a small gator in your hands for the ultimate vacation souvenir.
Things to do Near Port Canaveral: Best Places to Eat
Embark on a tour of the local culinary flavors that will primarily include seafood straight from the fishing boats of Port Canaveral. Fresh catches and rejuvenating beverages are the perfect way to end the day as you repose on the waterfront. Listed below are all the places you’ll want to visit to indulge your heart’s deepest gourmet desires!
The Florida Key Lime Company
The dream destination for those with a sweet tooth, The Florida Key Lime Company is as unique as it comes. It’s a must-stop for those on the way to Cocoa Beach and the cheek-puckering tartness of the key lime pie here is sure to leave you drooling for more.
Key lime pies aside, the store also offers Florida-themed foods and locally sourced treats like ice cream, sweets, various confections, craft beers and wines, and a vast selection of hot sauces. There are gorgeous murals inside and out, fish swimming under the floor, and tons of funny novelty items to pick out for friends back home. The main highlight, however, remains Florida’s first deputy alligator, Sweetie.
Rusty’s Seafood and Oyster Bar
Dine outside on Rusty’s deck that overlooks the ocean for incredible views of the sunset, massive ships in port, fishing storks, and playful dolphins. A treasure on the water to eat, relax, and grab great food, the atmosphere is laid back and casual.
Guests can revisit seafood favorites or try something new in the restaurant. Either way, the dishes will be plentiful and delicious. Enjoy the breeze and be serenaded by the live band as you feast on mouthwatering food and dreamy drinks. Try not to be jealous of your kids scarfing down their food off of their souvenir frisbee plates – they go home with you!
Grills Seafood Deck and Tiki Bar
Located directly on the water in Port Canaveral, Grills Seafood Deck and Tiki Bar is the perfect location to enjoy a fresh meal, cold drinks, and live music with a beautiful view. The Staff at Grills makes sure customers feel right at home, and have the best dining experience possible.
Everything on the menu is fresh and delicious and will keep customers coming back for more. Ask to try the fish of the day if you want the freshest they have to offer. After your meal, enjoy a drink and spend the night dancing to live music on the mini boardwalk, underneath the stars.
Fishlips Waterfront Bar & Grill
Dine inside or outside with a waterfront view, or upstairs at the covered open bar and grill area that overlooks the water. Contrary to its name, the Fishlips restaurant has an extensive menu that caters to all tastes and requirements.
When it’s 70° out with clear skies and a light breeze, the best thing to do is kick back and chow down, as your kids wave at the cruises floating by. Tuck into some of the best portside food you’ll ever try, including an exquisite lobster bisque. Kids under 10 have their own special menu that comes with a drink and dessert.
Afraid you’ll miss out on cheering for your home team on match day? Say no to FOMO and watch your favorite sporting event at the Gator’s Dockside sports-themed restaurant. A haven for sports fanatics, it boasts wide-screen TVs, fun trivia nights, and killer grilled wings. There’s even a kids menu that includes a side, drink, and a snack pack.
The atmosphere is vibrant and loud, making it better suited for families with older kids and teenagers. Drop by for Tuesday dinner and have a Family Night where kiddos eat free for every paying adult. Pro tip: check in with the staff for recommendations and special food accommodations.
Things to do Near Port Canaveral: Best Beaches
The Space Coast has 72 miles of coastline to explore while on a family vacation in Florida. Open all year, some beaches even have showers, public restrooms, playgrounds, picnic tables, and covered pavilions. So grab some sunscreen and a swimsuit and hit the beaches on this list!
Spread across 4.5 acres, Jetty Park Beach is where you go for great views of the cruise ships passing by and front-row seats to rocket launches. This beautiful white sand beach is pristine and not overcrowded, thanks to a nominal entry fee.
Younger kids can have a great time at the playground before cooling off in the water. Lounge chairs and umbrellas are available for rent for those who wish to work on their summer tan. The more energetic ones, on the other hand, will have paddle boarding, kayaking, and boogie boarding to look forward to.
Dads will love the 1,200-foot fishing pier and everyone will appreciate the photographs you’ll get of dolphins, turtles, and exotic fish. The lifeguard station, clean restrooms, outdoor showers, and a nearby campground make this beach completely accessible and family-friendly.
Cherie Down Park
Located midway between the Cocoa Beach pier and Port Canaveral, Cherie Down Park has miles of sandy shores to leave your footprints in. The boardwalk over the dunes leads to the blue waters of the beach. The stunning views are sure to appease your Instagram-obsessed teen, while younger kids are sure to appreciate the chance to try their hand at boogie boarding, surfing, and fishing.
It’s the perfect beach for a picnic as it has several BBQ grills and picnic tables. No matter what your version of relaxing is, Cherie Down Park is the place to go.
Pro tip: Parents will be relieved to know there’s always a lifeguard on duty and free parking too.
Located near the southern end of Harbor Drive, Peacock Beach is a hidden gem for families looking for a fun day in the sun. Take a short stroll through the mangroves to the spectacular white sand beach. The wild peacocks wandering about the neighborhood are guaranteed to be a hit with your tiny adventurer.
Swim, play beach games, or laze in the sun at this beach. Almost never crowded, it is one of the best spots to watch the sunrise and sunset. The downsides to the beach are its limited parking and the absence of bathroom facilities and lifeguards.
Pro tip: Arrive in the early morning during turtle hatching season and you might catch baby turtles being born!
Away from all the chaos and masses of people, this beach is lowkey and quiet. A mere seven-minute drive from Port Canaveral and close to the highway, getting to Float Beach is a breeze as well. Walk along the shoreline, swim, or breathe the fresh sea air.
This beach is the epitome of sitting back and relaxing. So bring a large beach towel and a picnic basket to watch the sea kiss the sand. Bring a pair of binoculars for kids to watch for birds and rockets.
Drive about 20 minutes south from Port Canaveral to play beach games, build sand castles, swim, or simply hang out on the clean shores of Cocoa Beach. The flat sandy coast with big rolling waves is the perfect place to test your bodyboarding, skimboarding, and surfboarding skills. Younger kids can hunt for seashells as the area is filled with shells of different colors. Cocoa Beach is also one of the closest beaches to Disney World.
Rent beach items like chairs, boogie boards, surfboards, and umbrellas as you settle under the Florida sun. Parents should heed warnings from patrolling lifeguards and keep a close eye on their children as the area is prone to rip tides.
Pro tip: Lori Wilson park offers easy access to the beach, and has free parking, and restrooms.
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