POPULAR CITIES IN CENTRAL EAST FLORIDA
Cape Canaveral is the home to the Kennedy Space Center, the hub of the nation’s space program. You can learn all about the fascinating world of Space Travel here and even visit launch pads.
Cape Canaveral is located midway between Jacksonville and Miami along Florida’s Space Coast, it offers fine beaches, an increasingly popular cruise ship port, the nearby Brevard Zoo as well as great restaurants. Also near the space center is Canaveral National Seashore, 24 miles of undeveloped beach with 1,045 plant species and 310 bird species.
Cocoa Beach and Melbourne
Well known for its family-friendly charm, Cocoa Beach & Melbourne are located in the Southern part of Florida’s Space Coast. Melbourne, also known as The Harbor City, offers a wide range of activities for the whole family. Cocoa Beach is considered by many as the surf capital of the world and Ron Jon Surf Shop stays open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. There is also an Easter Surf Festival, centered at the Cocoa Beach Pier, and is one of the longest-running events in the United States.
Sunny beach days await or on the water by jet ski or boat. Sign up for surf lessons or take an adventurous ride on a guided nature kayak tour. Get in touch with your artistic side and visit a local museum or theatre show and experience the culture of Melbourne, Florida first hand. Whether you’re planning a girls’ weekend, romantic getaway, or family vacation, this destination has a lot to offer.
Prior to 1959 the Daytona 500 was raced right on the beach and around the paved highway A1A, the races have moved to the Daytona International Speedway, but you can still drive right on the beach because of it’s smooth compact sand. Besides racing there are a million reasons why Daytona should be on your vacation destination list. There is an abundance of arts, culture and history, shopping, golfing, and sports events – all for you to explore!
The southern part of Daytona features the Ponce Inlet plenty of activities, shopping and dining options for the whole family. The inlet is also home to the tallest lighthouse in Florida, the Ponce Inlet Lighthouse and Museum. Open for tours, the lighthouse also hosts special events throughout the year. While you’re here, learn about the wonders of sea life at the Marine Science Center or go for an aquatic adventure with Ponce Inlet Watersports.
New Smyrna Beach
Considered by many as the art capital of Florida, New Smyrna Beach is home to many Artists and Art Galleries, exhibits at the Atlantic Center for the Arts and a collection of galleries, including one where you can learn the art of glass-blowing (Galleria Di Vetro). Flagler Avenue and historic Canal Street offer many galleries and boutiques amid restored buildings.
With the ocean on one side, the Intracoastal Waterway on the other there are many water activities for the entire family including scuba diving, fishing, surfing, and boating. There are 17 miles of white sand beaches to relax and enjoy as well as some of the best restaurants in the State
The town of Merritt Island is located on Florida’s largest island, which is also home of NASA’s Kennedy Space Center, although space shuttles are no longer launched from the site it is still a major tourist attraction. The Island is also home to the 140,000-acre Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge the refuge shelters and protects many of Florida’s treasured species including bald eagles, manatees and alligators.
Between the ancient Ais Indian burial mounds (which can be spotted across the island and on property of Kennedy Space Center), abandoned ghost towns, archaeological dig sites and plantations, Merritt Island overflows with historical significance, said Layne Hamilton, manager of the Merritt Island Wildlife Refuge, and was once pegged “the most historically significant landscape in the Southeast.”
Merritt Island is one of the best spots on the Space Coast to dip into the Indian River Lagoon. Kayak and boat ramps are scattered around the island and provide access to mangrove islands, wildlife sanctuaries, and conservation areas. Hop an eco-tour and finish out the day at one of the incredible waterfront tiki restaurants.
Ormond Beach is located just north of Daytona Beach along Florida’s Atlantic Coast, Ormond is like a first-class resort area with a small-town feel. John. D. Rockefeller was of the town’s earliest settlers. Ormond Beach is a great place to enjoy a myriad of water activities. Ormond Beach visitors can also enjoy a variety of cultural and recreational events offered throughout the year – and the pleasures of its historic downtown along Granada Boulevard.
Ormond became popular for wealthy people seeking relief from northern winters during the Floridian tourism boom following the Civil War. The St. Johns and Halifax Railway arrived in 1886, and the first bridge across the Halifax River was built in 1887. John Anderson and James Downing Price opened the Ormond Hotel on January 1, 1888. Henry Flagler bought the hotel in 1890 and expanded it to accommodate 600 guests. It would be one in a series of Gilded Age hotels catering to passengers aboard his Florida East Coast Railway, which had purchased the St. Johns & Halifax Railroad.
Port St. Lucie
Port St. Lucie, located less than an hour north of Palm Beach in the heart of Florida’s Treasure Coast. Port St. Lucie is truly an “old Florida gem” with St. Lucie’s 21 miles of uncrowded and pristine beaches where nearly half the coastline is public preservation where visitors enjoy more public beach access points per square mile than any other coastal community in Florida.
St. Lucie is a vibrant arts town and is home to many great Floridian artists from sculptors to painters. Downtown Fort Pierce is where the performing and visual arts are a great activity to enjoy or discover new artists at the city’s art gallery located in the MIDFLORIDA Credit Union Event Center.
The historical area of Downtown Fort Pierce, that was once an old fishing village that is now home to many beautifully restored facades a stunning waterfront and many great restaurant options
The City of Sebastian was first incorporated as the Town of Sebastian in 1924, Sebastian is nestled between Vero Beach and Melbourne along the Indian River Lagoon, considered North America’s most biologically diverse estuary. It is recognized as the home of Pelican Island, the first designated wildlife refuge in the United States and is also known for its unspoiled beauty, diverse fishing – from world-class bass fishing to deep-sea fishing adventures.
Sebastian is also known for the rare antiquities that have washed up on its shores. A shipwreck from the 1715 Spanish Plate Fleet left many treasures along Sebastian’s coast, and many treasure hunters continue to search the shoreline for other artifacts. The picturesque riverfront adorned with dockside restaurants serving fresh catches and marinas harboring fishing and sightseeing boats. Great art galleries, visit treasure, historical and art museums, go beachcombing for treasure or just cruise the Indian River Lagoon National Scenic Byway.
Coastal Living Magazine recently awarded Stuart the prestigious “America’s Happiest Seaside Town”. Stuart is known as the “Sailfish Capital of the World,” gateway to the Gulf Stream. Stuart’s pristine landscaped streets and astonishing skyscraper-free views helped it to be named “The Most Beautiful City” by America in Bloom as well as as one of the “Top Ten Beach Towns in Florida” by the Huffington Post.
There are many working studios and art galleries, antique shops, and museums that add to the small town charm. Residents and visitors alike are invited to experience the local culture at the weekly Green Market, and the weekly Rockin’ RiverWalk Music Series. It takes place in a beautiful outdoor setting along the St. Lucie River.
Adventurers wanting to get back to nature will find an array of outdoor options in the area, including kayaking, hiking, biking and birding options or discovering the pristine and often deserted beach at St. Lucie Inlet Preserve State Park.
Titusville is considered one of the Space Coast’s most treasured areas. With great beaches, planetary explorations and award winning restaurants this town is a great place for a family vacation. One of the only areas in Florida where you can view rocket launches with a front row seat from Space View Park. A great place to see wildlife is at the Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge. The refuge was established in 1963 and home to a wide array of wildlife from bobcats to the critically endangered Florida Scrub Jay, the refuge is a relaxing time in Florida’s native environmental past.
There are great restaurants in the downtown district and afterwards you can take an airboat ride. These take anywhere from 30 minutes to a couple of hours and provide a scenic look at a of Florida’s Space Coast. There are a lot of good options around Titusville for such a time, but Airboat Rides at Midway, just to the west of town, is one of the best.
A treasure hunter’s dream is located here on the Sea Grape Trail, coins and other treasures have been found from the shipwrecked 1715 Spanish fleet. Ocean Drive provides a great beachside row of restaurants and shops. With many beautiful, un-crowded beaches to choose from, you can find the perfect spot for your beach day at the Atlantic Ocean.
Vero has a vibrant Arts & Culture scene including galleries, museums, theatres and more. There are plenty of fun family options in Vero Beach. The Vero Beach Museum of Art’s permanent collection features Andy Warhol, Dale Chihuly and a sculpture park. Riverside Theatre adds professional entertainment to the mix, and McKee Botanical Garden resurrects the tropical landscape of the original McKee Jungle Gardens built in 1929. The garden’s Bamboo Pavilion was built in Colombia and reassembled onsite with a roof thatched by local Seminole Indians.