The Space Coast has become an ever-growing family travel destination. I can definitely see why! In itself the Space Coast offers various attractions to traveling families, but it’s also perfect for a weekend getaway or stop over after a few days of theme park hoping.
The coast around Kennedy Space Center is unlike any other in the United States because it is protected and pristine for the most part, but also home to a lot of activity created around the space program. Still, all you have to do is drive around Kennedy Space Center, or ride in one of their tour buses, and you’ll see everything from alligators to manatees to sea turtles roaming around. The fact that water is everywhere, coastal inlets and rivers abound, makes the area around Kennedy Space Center a great place to vacation and explore by boat.
If you enjoy kayaking or canoeing, or want to give it a try, consider extending your vacation to include a trip that takes you paddling around Kennedy Space Center.
Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge
The Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge consists of almost 150,000 acres, both on land and water. It makes up a lot of different types of environments, which makes it a great place to both canoe or kayak. Start out at any of the public launches and paddle to the area you most want to see– dunes, marsh, coastal beaches, or estuaries. If you love observing wildlife, head over to the entrance to Haulover Canal where families of manatees enter and leave the canal to eat.
Spruce Creek in Port Orange
Spruce Creek is unique because of its blackwater makeup, made so by the tannic acid that seeps out of the swampland vegetation. You can paddle through cypress swamp, all the way out to the Bay. Do this paddle if you want to see how different the coast of Florida can be in both vegetation and wildlife diversity.
Cape Canaveral National Seashore
Cape Canaveral National Seashore is a national treasure, and a recreation paradise. You can easily go from land to water, portaging over sand dunes, or stay in your boat the entire time. To enter the national park, you need to pay a fee per car, but after that you are free to enjoy your time here till the park closes at dusk.
Canoe, Kayak or boat around the protected lagoon where you can view almost empty beaches, left to the birds, or view the wild manatees that hang around the Eldora State House. It is important to remember that even if you are in a man powered boat, you need to steer clear of these animals and avoid disturbing or harassing them. Bring your own gear, or rent from one of the many outfitters you can find in Daytona before driving out.
If you are looking for an inland option, between Orlando and the Space Coast, the Econlockhatchee River is divided up into great options for all levels of skill. Try any one of the three sections of the river that are established for putting in, depending on your skill.
If you are looking for a challenge, start nearest Titusville and paddle towards Orlando, where you will have a stronger current and lots of twists and turns in the river. Put in at Oviedo for a slightly less exciting, but still visually interesting run. The easiest part of the river is the last section before you hit Orlando and go from uninhabited regions to an urban setting. The flow of the river is slower here and the land lies flat.