This is part of a series of driving tours I will present in the next few months with an emphasis on Florida’s natural beauty, historic architecture, and attractions.
Most people vacation in Orlando, Daytona Beach, or Central Florida visit the John F. Kennedy Space Center off FL 405 by traveling east from Orlando on the Beachline Expressway (toll) or coming north or south via Interstate 95.
With more interactive exhibits, a space ride, the Astronaut Memorial, and such amazing spots as the massive Vehicle Assembly Building (VAB) and giant rockets, the NASA attraction is a wonderful family attraction. The fact that you could have a real astronaut as a guide is even more amazing to me.
Cape Canaveral is a massive bird sanctuary and if open, I would drive south along Cape Canaveral Air Force Station and stop at their Air Force Space and Mission Museum. Exiting Gate 1 will take you to A1A and 528 a mile away from Port Canaveral.
Port Canaveral has some recreational facilities and restaurants but the star of the port are the Disney berths. Even if you are not taking a cruise to the Bahamas, the Disney Cruise Terminals when any ships are in port is an attraction.
From there you can take an oceanway tour down US A1A as far south as you wish – to Sebastian Inlet or Vero Beach. Most people like to stop off at historic Cocoa Beach Pier, which has restaurants, gift shops, nearby motels and resorts, and hopefully a great view of surfers if the Atlantic is active.
Few people can resist stopping at the main store of Ron Jon Surf Shop with all its ocean-going equipment. The clothing sections will satisfy those who stay on the beach. The area is starting to look like the largest outdoor sports mall in Florida with nearby Cocoa Beach Surf Company and Oceansports World, huge shops.
If you don’t have enough time to journey south on A1A, you can drive west to the mainland to Historic Cocoa, with a famous theater, the headquarters of the Florida Historical Society, and nice restaurants and shops.
South of Cocoa Beach on A1A is Patrick Air Force Base. This must be a serviceman’s dream location with its beach cottage rentals, marina, golf course, and location to the family amusement parks.
Driving north US1 in Melbourne you are close to the Indian River Lagoon, perhaps the least appreciated body of water in Florida. It is the most biodiverse lagoon ecosystem in the Northern Hemisphere. It is 156 miles long and only four feet in average depth. It combines saltwater and freshwater.
Along you drive you will probably note this is a great place for a fishing and boating vacation (boat or kayak) on the riverside and swimming and surfing in the Atlantic. There are also five state parks and four Federal wildlife refuges on the Indian River/Banana River lagoon complex.
If you love architecture: you can drive off US1 whenever you want to look at some expensive riverfront homes with their neat docks and wharves. Historic buffs may wish on another trip to explore Indian River Drive in Titusville where the mansions go back to the 1890’s.
Off FL 509 is the Brevard Zoo, one of Florida’s three best small county museums with over 400 animals and great educational programs. ALL in all, Brevard County is a vast vacation spot.