Planning a Central Florida beach vacation? Splash around the Atlantic Ocean while checking out all the best things to do in Cocoa Beach. Nestled along Florida’s Space Coast, Cocoa Beach offers visitors all the sun, sand, and surf that the Sunshine State is famous for. The oceanfront city is known for its pristine white-sand beaches, warm weather, and laid-back atmosphere.
Whether you’re on a honeymoon or a family vacation, Cocoa Beach offers a multitude of fun and family-friendly tourist attractions. Slip on your flip-flops and spend the day digging your toes into the soft sand around Cocoa Beach Pier and Lori Wilson Park. Or slide up to nearby Cape Canaveral to learn about NASA’s space programs at the world-famous Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex.
Ready to discover what to do? Plan your Space Coast vacation with this guide to the best places to visit in Cocoa Beach, FL.
Best places to visit in Cocoa Beach, FL
Cocoa Beach Pier
Love beach vibes and entertainment? Start your Cocoa Beach tour at Cocoa Beach Pier. Built in 1962, this historic fishing pier stretches 800 feet into the Atlantic Ocean. For most visitors, it sits atop the list of the top tourist attractions in Cocoa Beach.
Westgate Cocoa Beach Pier teems with restaurants serving fresh seafood from the Atlantic. You’ll also find laid-back bars to enjoy cold drinks to blissful sea views.
The oceanfront around Westgate Cocoa Beach Pier is a popular spot for surfers to hit the waves, too. Book yourself a surfing lesson for a crash course on how to ride the swells. (Or just watch riders tame the Atlantic while sipping a cocktail from shore.)
If you’re looking for beach gear or a memento of your beach getaway, slip into the boutiques and gift shops around Westgate Cocoa Beach Pier. You’ll find everything from beach apparel at Tropical Threads Boutique to hand-crafted souvenirs at The Pier Shop.
Lori Wilson Park
Need to experience more of Cocoa Beach’s seaside pleasures? Kick back by the shore or go for a splash at Lori Wilson Park. Located in the Seacrest Beach neighborhood, this luscious beach park is one of the top-rated beaches near Orlando.
Visit Lori Wilson Park to spend the day playing on the volleyball court or hanging out at the spacious pavilion, picnic tables, and barbecue grills. Or enjoy nature on a walk over the park’s sand dunes or on the 3,155-foot boardwalk through the maritime hammocks.
Thanks to its shallow waters, Lori Wilson Park is the perfect place to rent a surfboard and learn how to surf or enjoy a relaxing swim. The park is also manned by full-time lifeguards, making it a great spot for kids to submerge in the Atlantic.
Lori Wilson Park is in the heart of Cocoa Beach and is perfectly suited for get-togethers and larger family gatherings. Both parking and admission are free.
Ron Jon Surf Shop
Branded as the World’s Largest Surf Shop, the Ron Jon Surf Shop is your one-stop for all your Florida beach essentials. Whether it’s surfing, skating, or swimming, this 52,000-square-foot emporium covers all the bases.
Ron Jon’s Cocoa Beach flagship store is fully stocked with surfboards, bodyboards, and its one-of-a-kind logo wear. Even if you’re not interested in shopping for beach gear, the world-famous surf shop is worth a visit. It’s the perfect place to grab a souvenir or two for the folks back home.
Just a few blocks north, you can also book yourself surfing lessons at the Ron Jon Surf School. Both private and group lessons are available with their experienced surfing instructors.
Historic Cocoa Village
Colonized in the mid-1800s, Historic Cocoa Village has emerged as one of the Space Coast’s premier shopping and entertainment districts. The village is chock-loaded with atmospheric boutique shops, antique stores, art galleries, and charming gourmet cafes.
Catch a show at the Cocoa Village Playhouse before stopping in to admire the Porcher House. At the historic home, you’ll feast your eyes on 20th-century classical revival architecture at its finest.
Follow your historic sightseeing with a walk through nearby Cocoa Riverfront Park. If you time your visit right, you might even catch some live music at the park’s amphitheater.
Historic Cocoa Village is located on the Florida mainland, 20 minutes from Cocoa Beach’s barrier island.
Florida Surf Museum
Florida’s Space Coast has long been one of the most popular centers for North American surf culture. Explore its history at the Florida Surf Museum. Located within the Ron Jon Surf Shop Complex, this famous surfing museum is one of the world’s most important tributes to the sport.
The exhibits at the Florida Surf Museum ride through the entire history of surfing. You’ll learn all about the sport’s pioneers through informational and tactical exhibits, including rare surfboards. Of course, you’ll also get the low-down on Kelly Slater, one of the world’s most famous surfers and a Cocoa Beach legend.
Banana River Aquatic Preserve
Want to experience the Space Coast’s nature beyond its beaches? Scoot over to the Banana River Aquatic Preserve. Located in Brevard County between Merritt Island, Cape Canaveral, and the Cocoa Beach barrier island, the coastal aquatic preserve is one of the coolest places to see in Cocoa Beach.
If you’ve got a day to spare, you’ll love the chance to kayak, skiff, canoe, or rowboat through the mangroves of the Thousand Islands. To add more nature to your itinerary, explore the marshes at Ulumay Wildlife Sanctuary. Several parks and boat ramps around Cocoa Beach provide easy access to the aquatic preserve.
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Wildlife enthusiasts will find plenty to keep them busy, too. Banana River Aquatic Preserve is home to the Atlantic Coast’s largest pelican rookery and a large number of diamondback turtles. You’ll also spot countless manatees flocking to the preserve year-round.
Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex
No matter what’s brought you to Cocoa Beach, don’t miss out on a visit to the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex. Located on Merritt Island, this top Cocoa Beach tourist attraction walks visitors through the history of American spaceflight.
Easily accessible from Orlando and Daytona Beach, the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Center invites visitors of all ages to explore America’s famed space exploration programs. Enjoy the interactive exhibits and stand nose-to-nose with the actual Space Shuttle Atlantis.
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Your admission includes many of the center’s most popular exhibitions and attractions. You’ll need to pay a little extra for the Astronaut Training Experience® (ATX) and to access the restricted areas of NASA’s Kennedy Space Center. For space fans, though, it’s a must!
Cape Canaveral Lighthouse
Standing strong since 1858, The Cape Canaveral Lighthouse is located inside the Cape Canaveral Space Force Station. For history buffs, the historic lighthouse is one of the coolest places to go in Cocoa Beach.
As it’s located in an active military area, the Cape Canaveral Lighthouse is only accessible via an official tour. Docent-led tours lead visitors through the lighthouse, supplying an interesting history lesson along the way. You’ll also get to check out Cape Canaveral’s historic and current launch complexes as well as the Mercury and Apollo memorials.
Cocoa Beach Brewing Company
Built up a thirst while touring Downtown Cocoa Beach? Indulge in a cold one at the Cocoa Beach Brewing Company. Located on North Atlantic Avenue in the heart of the beach town, this microbrewery offers a wide range of traditional craft beers and seasonal beers on tap.
The family-owned and operated Cocoa Beach Brewing Company occupies one of the oldest buildings in Cocoa Beach. Built in the 1930s, the former Navy house is the perfect spot for the four-barrel brewhouse.
Order one of their finest craft beers and chill out in the Beer Garden behind the brewery or sit at the bar and mix it up with locals.
UPDATE: The Cocoa Beach Brewing Company is now permanently closed.
Manatee Sanctuary Park
Located in Cape Canaveral, Manatee Sanctuary Park is one of the top Cocoa Beach points of interest for nature lovers. The 10-acre park centers around a boardwalk along the Banana River and a half-mile fitness trail. As the name suggests, the sanctuary serves as a protected habitat for manatees.
Though there’s no guarantee that you’ll see manatees on your visit, they’ve been known to pop up on occasion to eat the grass on the riverfront. Sightings of dolphins, ospreys, turtles, and waterfowl are common at this riverfront beauty.
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Excellent for a daytime trip, Manatee Sanctuary Park offers visitors covered pavilions, grills, and rentals of basic kitchen amenities. For a little active fun, burn some calories at the exercise stations or challenge a friend to a game at one of the four horseshoe pits.
If you happen to find yourself at Port Canaveral, plan to stop by the Exploration Tower. From the tower’s 7th-floor observation deck, you’ll experience a 360-degree panoramic view of the cruise ships at the port, the Kennedy Space Center, and the Jetty Park Pier.
On its seven floors, Exploration Tower features over 5,000 feet of interactive exhibits detailing Port Canaveral’s history. If you happen to visit the tower during a rocket launch, you may be able to check it out from one of the observation decks for a view unlike anywhere else in Port Canaveral. (Call ahead as it’s not open for all launches.)
The Exploration Tower itself is a fascinating Central Florida architectural landmark. From its marine life sculptures made from 100% recycled materials to a large-scale interactive map exploring Central Florida’s past and present, the tower has plenty to keep you occupied.
Cocoa Beach Skate Park
Got young skateboard enthusiasts in your travel party? Bring them over to Cocoa Beach Skate Park. Built at the local high school, the popular skateboarding park offers an impressive flow bowl, concrete curves, sharp inclines, and stairs for performing tricks and flips.
The skate park also holds periodic events to introduce children to the sport. If you time your visit right, you may even see some highly accomplished skateboarders or catch a high-level competition here.
The public park is well lit and open 7 days a week until 9 pm.
The Dinosaur Store
Located on the West Cocoa Beach Causeway, the family-friendly Dinosaur Store is one of the city’s must-see for kids. The store hosts incredible collections of authentic fossils, ancient artifacts, and larger-than-life skeletons.
Despite the name, the Dinosaur Store is more than just a shop. Kids will love playing among the interactive exhibits in the Adventure Zone. The fun and educational Adventure Zone offers families everything from a Movie Cave to Reptile Run, home to 27 live animals. For a dash of extra fun, take a spin on The Nile Raft Ride or pan for unique finds at the Fossil and Mineral Panning exhibit.
The Dinosaur Store is also home to the Museum of Dinosaurs & Ancient Cultures. Visit the Hall of Dinosaurs on the second floor for a glimpse of life-sized dinosaur skeletons housed in their reconstructed natural habitats.
On the third floor, be sure to pop into Ancient Cultures. The exhibit mezzanine hosts hundreds of genuine relics from China, Egypt, Mesoamerica, and Africa. Most popular are the replicas of King Tutankhamen’s Tomb and the Terracotta Soldiers, two of the world’s most important archeological finds.
Liberty Bell Museum
Can’t make it to Philly to see America’s most famous bell? The Liberty Bell Museum in nearby Melbourne, FL, is the next best thing. The museum is home to a one-ton replica of the famous bell by Whitechapel Bell Foundry in London, who cast the original Liberty Bell in 1751.
The Liberty Bell Museum pays homage to U.S. military veterans with its Military Awards and Decorations display. Browse the exhibits of historical weapons, uniforms, photos, artifacts, and models denoting the myriad time periods in American history.
Acting as the base for Honor America’s education, the museum features periodic exhibitions focusing on patriotic service. Entry to the Liberty Bell Museum is free.
One of the top tourist spots in Melbourne, FL, the Brevard Zoo is more than just a zoo. Kayak tours, train rides, aerial adventures—and much more—are some of the reasons to visit this popular attraction.
The open-air habitats at Brevard Zoo are home to almost a thousand animal species from around the world. Feed and interact with the beautiful animals in a safe and healthy environment and get a feel of their natural habitats.
Plan on spending the whole day here. Even though the Brevard Zoo is not large, there’s plenty to see and do. Enjoy a fun day out with the family touring the treetop walkways, zip-lining through the shrubbery, or kayaking through the wetlands.
Poking out on the tip of Merritt Island, Playalinda Beach is one of the most beautiful beaches on Florida’s East Coast. This 24-mile-long sandy beach sits within the Canaveral National Seashore, a U.S. national park. Mostly undeveloped, Playalinda Beach has a tranquil atmosphere that’s perfect for a day out of the city.
The untouched shores of Playalinda Beach surround the Kennedy Space Center. You can catch the closest and best views from there on launch days. The shores are also perfect for shelling; if you’re a shell collector, you’ll be sure to snatch some unique finds.
Playalinda Beach is also one of the most beautiful surfing spots in Central Florida. It’s relatively empty on weekdays and not overly crowded on weekends. It’s ideal for surfers of any experience level, thanks to its breaks and sandy bottom.
Best places to stay in Cocoa Beach for sightseeing
Located steps away from the Atlantic, these lodgings provide some of the city’s best value. All suites include a kitchen for a full self-catering stay. Guests will enjoy private beach access and free WiFi.
Also offering excellent value, the Hampton Inn sits within steps of many of the city’s top sightseeing spots. Guests will delight in a host of superb amenities, including an outdoor pool, free WiFi, and a daily breakfast buffet.
If you’re traveling with kids, you’ll hardly find a better place to hang your hat than this lovely resort. These all-suite lodgings offer guests plenty of space and in-room amenities, including full kitchens and seating areas. Kids will love cooling down in the outdoor pool with a selection of free-to-use water toys and sporting equipment.