The Kennedy Space Center is among the premier attractions in all of Florida, and arguably, on the entire East Coast!
Located less than an hour’s drive east of Orlando, the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex should definitely be part of your Central Florida vacation.
The Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex is an educational and inspiring destination with something of interest of everyone in the family. A visit here makes for a day well spent!
Check out our helpful guide for visiting the Kennedy Space Center, packed full of ways to save on admission, tips for visiting, other nearby attractions, and much more.
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Tips for Visiting the Kennedy Space Center
- Get a handle on the layout of the Kennedy Space Center. The Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex is the centerpiece of the sprawling Kennedy Space Center, which also includes the shuttle runway, the assembly building and launch pads. It can help if you orient yourself with a map prior to your visit.
- Dress comfortably for the Florida weather. Much of what you’ll see is in air conditioned facilities, but you will spend some time outdoors viewing exhibits. In summer, dress in light clothes with layers. Always remember to wear comfortable shoes, as you’ll be doing a good deal of walking.
- Check the launch schedule. Even though the shuttle program has ended, there are still frequent launches of unmanned rockets from the Space Center. By checking the launch schedule ahead of time you can anticipate the size of the crowds you may face during a launch and make sure you have tickets ahead of time.
- Do a little homework. Doing some research prior to your visit can really enhance your experience. You are visiting an area where significant events in world history took place. It is an area where heroes were made and where people gave their lives for the sake of space exploration. A little preparation will make your experience even more inspiring.
- Allow enough time for your visit. There is a lot to see and do here. Don’t try to rush your visit into a couple of hours. Plan your visit and take your time to take in the sights and history.
- Plan on grabbing something to eat during your visit. The Kennedy Space Center is pretty isolated on Merritt Island. You’ll likely want to plan on eating at least something at the Visitor Complex.
Best Times to Visit
Depending on your preferences, visiting when a launch is scheduled may be the best time to visit or the worst time to visit. Launch days at the Visitor Complex provide some exceptional views but also bigger crowds.
The Space Center will adjust its hours by a small margin on launch days to accommodate the larger crowds who make the visit.
Off season in this part of Florida is generally January and February and September through late November. Crowds are thinner, the humidity is down, and the weather is generally cooler in the off-season. Plus, hotel rates are lower and restaurants are also quieter.
Florida is known for its brief showers during summer afternoons, but don’t let this discourage you from visiting the Kennedy Space Center. There are plenty of indoor exhibits to explore while the weather passes.
Because the Kennedy Space Center experiences its peak visitor period during the middle part of the day, arriving early is a good idea, especially in-season.
What to Do There
There is so much do to and see here that we’re sure you and your family will have a great visit.
Here are a few of our favorite things to do!
One of the most notable exhibits at KSC is the Rocket Garden. You’ll get to walk up to and around the bases of actual rockets that were used throughout the space program.
Rockets are mounted upright with the exception of the largest, a Saturn IB, which is mounted sideways.
Space Shuttle Atlantis℠ Exhibit
The not-to-be-missed Space Shuttle Atlantis Display brings you up close and personal with an actual space orbiter, left in the condition it was in following its last flight.
Housed inside an impressive 10-story, 64,000-square-foot facility, this is the Kennedy Space Center’s newest exhibit and has attracted massive crowds in recent months.
Shuttle Launch Experience®
The Shuttle Launch Experience is a unique attraction designed with the help of astronauts, NASA experts, and attraction-industry leaders. It’s intended to simulate what it feels like to be a part of a space shuttle launch, and is definitely a must-see part of the Kennedy Space Center.
The attraction has four simulators, each accommodating 44 “passengers.”
Kennedy Space Center Bus Tour
Base admission to Kennedy Space Center includes a bus tour that departs every 15 minutes.
These air conditioned coaches will take you from the Visitor Complex past some of the most iconic sights of the Space Center, including the famous countdown clock that ushered in so many historic flights.
Be sure to catch an Astronaut Encounter, hosted by a real life astronaut multiple times daily.
Over 30 of the 500 men and women who have been in space make presentations throughout the year.
You’ll get to see their individual perspective on the space program, and learn about what it was really like to be a part of the NASA family — now and in the past!
Immerse yourself in the NASA experience with a visit to the IMAX Theater and catch “Eyes on the Universe: NASA’S Space Telescopes,” the newest and only 3D 4K resolution show at the KSC Visitor Complex.
Take time to reflect at the moving Astronaut Memorial, a tribute to those that made the ultimate sacrifice in space exploration.
Known as the Space Mirror Memorial, it is located just behind the IMAX Theater.
Children’s Play Dome
If the kids still have energy to burn, then a visit to the Children’s Play Dome is in order. It’s a unique space-themed playground designed for young explorers.
There is something for everyone at the Kennedy Space Center. It is well worth the short drive to the Space Coast if you are planning a vacation in Central Florida.
A Little History
The Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex had extremely humble beginnings, starting with just a few displays on card tables in a trailer in 1964. During that time, self-guided car tours were allowed on Sundays and were limited allowed on site from 1 pm to 4 pm only.
In spite of those limitations, a quarter of a million vehicles made the tour that year.
In 1965, $2 million was authorized to build a more permanent visitor’s complex, called Spaceport USA.
By 1969, attendance reached 1 million annually.
In 1971 an additional $2.3 million was invested.
In 1995, Delaware North Companies was selected to operate the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex.
Today, the complex is completely self-funded, using no government or taxpayer funding.
Under the management of Delaware North Companies, The Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex has made major improvements in recent years, making it even more attractive to families.
Major recent improvements include The Shuttle Launch Experience, which opened in mid-2007. This 44,000-square-foot, 60 million dollar attraction puts visitors through a simulated shuttle launch.
In June of 2013, the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex celebrated the grand opening of the Space Shuttle Atlantis Display. This amazing facility houses the actual Atlantis Space Orbiter as it would appear in flight.
- Ron Jon’s Surf Shop – This is the largest surf shop in the world and the flagship store of the famous Ron Jon shops. This impressive 52,000-square-foot store is open 24 hours a day along the shores of Cocoa Beach, south of the KSC. Even if you’ve never thought about surfing, this remarkable store is worth a visit when in the area.
- The Cocoa Beach Pier – The historic Cocoa Beach Pier has been updated and upgraded with shops, dining and drinking options, and even a game room. Walk out and grab a fishing rod or just sit and enjoy a cold beverage. You just may catch a cruise ship or two coming in or out of Port Canaveral.
- The American Police Hall of Fame and Museum – Located in nearby Titusville, this attraction features classic police cars and motorcycles, hundreds of police badges from around the world, and even the costume from the film Robocop. Police officers are admitted free with ID.
Places to Eat Nearby
- Shiloh’s Steakhouse – People love the steaks and seafood and the great atmosphere. They also appreciate the family- friendly prices. Shiloh’s is located at 3665 S Washington Avenue in Titusville, across the NASA Parkway Bridge.
- Dixie Crossroads – Here is a seafood restaurant with a southern flair. Famous for its corn fritters, Dixie Crossroads has a fun, relaxed atmosphere you are sure to enjoy. You may even catch some live entertainment in the Gazebo. You’ll find Dixie’s at 1475 Garden Street in Titusville.
- Steve’s Family Diner – Nothing fancy here, just good comfort food in big portions. Famous locally for the fried chicken, but you’ll find everything from onion soup to burgers and Greek salads. Steve’s Family Diner is at 2900 S. Washington Street in Titusville.
Save on Tickets with a Go Orlando Card
Remember, the Go Orlando® Card is the best choice for maximum savings and flexibility, which includes Kennedy Space Center tickets, plus admission to your choice of other top attractions.
Save up to 55% on top museums, tours, and activities vs. paying at the gate. Visit multiple attractions for one low price.