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Homeschooling allows some travel flexibility that we fully take advantage of.  Living in Houston gives us access to Johnson Space Center but we wanted to go to Kennedy Space Center.  So, we took a road schooling adventure by taking a long weekend trip to Cape Canaveral, Florida for a little space fun.  For our long weekend, we spent 2 full days at NASA and one day exploring the wildlife around NASA at the wildlife refuge and national seashore. Our original intention was for 2 behind the scenes tours from NASA Kennedy Space Center.  However, one got canceled due to a launch of a SpaceX rocket.  This meant we were going to be lucky enough to see a launch in-person.  We immediately jumped at purchasing tickets to watch the SpaceX launch from the Banana Creek Viewing Area at KSC.  Our son took his very first video of a rocket launch.  Although our 3-hour Early Space tour was canceled, we thoroughly enjoyed our 2-hour KSC Explore Tour.   If you are planning a trip to NASA be sure to check out the extra tours because you will see more of KSC and the neighboring airforce base.  The only way to see the Air Force Space & Missile Museum on the airforce base is via the 3-hour Early Space tour.  It is possible to watch rocket launches away from NASA, however, the 2 paid viewing locations on NASA are the closest.  You will have to check the NASA website for upcoming launches as they can get added last minute, like the one we saw, and they can get rescheduled for a number of reasons.  If you are a family really into space, it will take you more than 8 hours to see everything at NASA KSC, not counting the extra tours that we did.  Cape Canaveral is definitely a great place for exploring space and nature.  We have plans to visit additional NASA sites in the future.  Keep exploring!

Here is the list of places we visited:

  • Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex Check their website for discounts and offers as well as the latest space launches scheduled (they have one scheduled for Dec 4th). Space Commerce Way, Merritt Island, FL 32953
  • Manatee Sanctuary Park (free, not guaranteed to see them but a protected sanctuary for them, public park open daily) 701 Thurm Blvd, Cape Canaveral, FL 32920
  • Manatee Cove Park (8-5, public park, hit/miss on seeing the Manatees) 4905 N Tropical Trl, Merritt Island, FL 32953-7617
  • Exploration Tower ($6.50 per person, 10-5) 670 Dave Nisbet Drive, Port Canaveral, Florida 32920
  • Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge (daily 8-4, $10 per vehicle, but free if going to National Seashore or with annual national park pass)  From I-95, take Exit 220 (Titusville, State Road 406 Exit). Drive east on SR406, also known as Garden Street. Continue east on Garden Street for 4 miles and travel over the Max Brewer Causeway Bridge. The Refuge begins at the east side of the causeway.  To reach the Visitor Information Center, continue 4 miles past the Refuge entrance (remain to your right at the fork in the road) and the Visitor Center entrance sign will be on your right. GPS coordinates to the Visitor Center are 28.641467 and -80.735842 or Latitude 28 38′ 29.28″ N, Longitude 80 44′ 9.03″ W.  There is an additional wildlife refuge called St. Johns National Wildlife Refuge.
  • Canaveral National Seashore ($15 per car, free with annual national park pass) GPS COORDINATES (Lat/Long) for Playalinda Beach Entrance Station: 28.6450, -80.683 and for Apollo Beach Entrance Station: 28.9368, -80.8302. Canaveral National Seashore is located along Florida’s East coast in both Volusia & Brevard counties. To access Apollo Beach, take I-95 to exit 249, then go east until it turns into A1A. Follow A1A south to the park entrance. To access Playalinda Beach, take I-95 to exit 220. Go east through Titusville on Garden Street, continue east and follow the signs.  An alternate route is to go via Merrit Island National Wildlife Refuge.

Here is the list of alternatives we had in case of bad weather:

  • Valiant Air Command Warbird Museum (9-5, adults $20, students $10) 6600 Tico Rd, Titusville, FL 32780-8009
  • American Space Museum & Space Walk of Fame (run by former NASA employees, $10 adults, $5 students, Mon-Sat 10-5, closed Sunday)  308 Pine Street Titusville, Florida 32796