Even if science was not your strongest subject in school, there’s something undeniably appealing about humanity’s quest to explore outer space. Kennedy Space Center, on Merritt Island, Florida, is brimming with inspiring stories of space missions and makes rocket science accessible to the masses.
Just a short drive from destinations like Orlando and Cocoa Beach, Kennedy Space Center makes a great day trip for families on vacation. As a bonus, it’s so exciting that kids won’t even realize they’re learning! There’s an impressive amount of things to do and see there, so I’ve put together 5 tips to get the most out of your visit.
Plan for A Full Day
There is so much to do and see at Kennedy Space Center, so plan on arriving right at 9 a.m. when it opens. With two IMAX theaters, an astronaut memorial center, a bus tour, the Space Shuttle Atlantis experience and plenty of hands-on learning experiences, you could easily stay for a full day and not even get to everything.
Kennedy Space Center allows you to bring small soft-sided coolers into the complex, so feel free to pack snacks and water to help keep your family’s energy and spirits up. If you need something more substantial, there are multiple cafés and restaurants on site to grab a meal.
Buy Tickets Online
You might want to consider buying your tickets online ahead of time and printing them out so you can skip the lines and go straight to the turnstiles at the entrance. This is especially recommended if you want to do any of the add-on experiences or tours, since there’s a chance they could sell out if you wait too long.
Plan for The Biggest Attractions First
In addition to buying tickets in advance, do your research and map out a plan of action so you can pack as much as possible into your day. The Kennedy Space Center Bus Tour that is included with your general admission ticket will take about 2 hours, so plan your day around that time block.
On the tour, you’ll drive all around the Kennedy Space Center complex with opportunities to see a real launch pad and vehicle assembly building. You’ll end up at the Apollo/Saturn V center where you’ll get to learn about the Apollo missions to the moon and see the Saturn V—the largest rocket ever flown.
Back at Kennedy Space Center, the other most time-consuming experience will be the Space Shuttle Atlantis exhibit. It starts with an informational and inspiring video that shares the history of how the Atlantis was made. After the video, you walk into a room where the Atlantis itself is on display in all its splendor.
After admiring the Atlantis, walk around the center and discover hands-on exhibits where you can learn more about life in space, crawl through a replica of the International Space Station, and ride the Shuttle Launch Experience.
I always thought Kennedy Space Center was for families with older kids who could really appreciate the history and science involved in space exploration. Now that I’ve had a chance to visit with 3 small kids, I see that any age group can find something to enjoy there.
If you have young children, you know that they want to touch and climb on everything in sight. Kennedy Space Center has plenty of opportunities to do so. Walk through the Rocket Garden where you can admire and even climb in rockets like Mercury, Gemini and Apollo.
Let your little astronauts get some energy out on the Children’s Playdome, which even has a mini playground for toddlers. Meanwhile, Journey to Mars: Explorers Wanted offers plenty of hands-on exhibits for kids, as well as shows and presentations about the future of space exploration.
Learn from Astronauts
When else are you going to have the opportunity to hear a real live astronaut talk about his or her experience in space? The Astronaut Encounter is a chance to ask someone who has lived in space your burning questions.
If your kids are extremely interested in space exploration or have ambitions to become an astronaut, it would be worthwhile to pay for Lunch with An Astronaut, an add-on experience that includes a chef-prepared buffet lunch.
Kennedy Space Center is truly a bucket-list destination that will get your kids dreaming about outer space and all the possibilities open to them. It’s definitely worth a visit for families with kids of any age. Check out the Kennedy Space Center website for more trip-planning information and ideas.
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