Kennedy Space Center Guide for First-time Visitors
Since 1968, John F. Kennedy Space Center has served as NASA’s primary launch center for human spaceflight. Today, the center not only launches space shuttles, but also allows visitors to learn and explore. For those new to this historic site, here’s a Kennedy Space Center guide to ensure a successful trip.
Kennedy Space Center Guide: What to Expect and Popular Activities
Where Is Kennedy Space Center?
Kennedy Space Center is located in central Florida on Merritt Island. The attraction sits east of Orlando and south of Daytona near Titusville.
Major cities and states within an eight-hour drive include: Atlanta, Georgia; Charleston, South Carolina; and Montgomery, Alabama. However, people in Jacksonville, Tampa and Gainesville, Florida, will reach the attraction in less than three hours. Can’t make a long drive? Just fly into one of the major cities and drive to Kennedy Space Center.
Getting Here and Parking
Visitors who drive should note this attraction sits on federal property. Observe all speed limits and other traffic signs, as violations result in heavy fines. Drivers should also have a valid driver’s license, car registration or rental registration, and proof of insurance.
The on-site parking complex welcomes motorcycles, all automobiles and oversized vehicles including RVs. Pricing depends on vehicle size, but most guests park for around $10 per vehicle.
Things to Do and Mission Zones
Kennedy Space Center offers all ages fun things to do. The complex is divided into mission zones designed to educate and inspire guests. At heroes and legends, meet NASA pioneers and see the astronaut hall of fame. Behind the Gates gives everyone an up-close look at launch sites and working facilities. Other mission zones include Race to the Moon, Atlantis Space Shuttle, and NASA Now and Next. In addition, many attractions are included with a general admission ticket.
No Kennedy Space Center guide is complete without discussing Rocket Garden. This must-see section features rockets that pioneered America’s space exploration. Some rockets measure as tall as over 200 feet and some have spent time in space.
Several NASA space projects are representing at the garden, including Gemini, Mercury and Apollo. For the best experience, book a guide tour to learn about each rocket’s technology, importance and contribution to the space program.
Kennedy Space Center Tours
After exploring Rocket Garden, schedule a inside tour. These activities allow guests to learn about the facilities and meet active astronauts preparing for missions.
For example, Kennedy Space Center Explore Tour lasts two hours and showcases vehicle assembly building and historic launch complexes. Fly With an Astronaut and Astronaut Training Experience provide a glimpse into what it takes to become an astronaut. Those with more time should dine with an astronaut, which includes chef-prepared buffet lunch and selfie options.
When planning, consider visiting during a live space shuttle launch. These special events occur throughout the year when visitors can watch rockets launch, meet astronauts, make lifelong memories.
Dining and Shopping
After learning about space and taking lots of photos, spend time dining and shopping. Kennedy Space Center has restaurants on the grounds, so it’s easy to find something good to eat. Cafes and grills provide sit-down options and offer menus tailored to dietary needs. Or grab something quick from the food truck and snack stands.
After eating, shop for NASA gear and space memorabilia. The complex has a gift shop, which ranks as the largest store dedicated to space and NASA. Browse shirts, rocket models, space food, hats, toys and other fun collectibles. In addition, guests can get autographs from astronaut of the day at the Space Shop.
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