Visit the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex in Cape Canaveral

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Thinking about visiting the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida? There’s so much to see and do and learn about at the Kennedy Space Center. Tour the launch pad areas, see the massive Saturn V rocket, learn about the history of the space program, and about the exciting future of space travel in this country.

Covid-19 UPDATE: Because of COVID-19, the Kennedy Space Center is limiting admission for guests, requiring face masks both indoors and outdoors for all guests over 2 years old. Please visit the Kennedy Space Center website before your trip for updated information.

Rocket Garden

Thank you to the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex for providing 4 complimentary general admission tickets to Kidding Around to help facilitate this review. Additional tickets for family members were purchased by the writer. The opinions in this review are those of the writer.

This article contains Stay22 affiliate links.

Things to Do at the Kennedy Space Center

The Astronaut Hall of Fame, Astronaut Training simulator, Apollo mission control, the Space Shuttle Launch Experience, guided tours and so much more. There’s really more to do at the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex than you can do in one day. But, there are definitely some not to miss places to visit if you only have one day to spend, and if you don’t want to pay for experiences beyond your general admission ticket.

Here are the NOT TO MISS exhibits and things to do at the space center. All of the things to do below are included in general admission.

Rocket Garden

One of the first things you’ll see when you enter the Kennedy Space Center is the rocket garden. While you will see flowers and plants in this garden, the primary thing sprouting from the ground here are rockets. They tower impressively over head. Each rocket is labeled with name and information about the missions where it was used. There are also a few capsules on the ground for guests to climb inside.

Free (with admission) tours of the rocket garden are available at times throughout the day. You’ll be able to grab a list of tour times from admission or will call when you enter the park. I highly recommend catching the rocket garden tour if you are interested in the rockets. The docent was very knowledgeable about the history of the rockets and had amusing stories to tell, as well.

The tour docent is amplified and audible from anywhere in the rocket garden, making it easy to follow little ones around the garden and still hear the speakers.

Launch Pad

Kennedy Space Center Bus Tour

Apollo/Saturn V Center: Race to the Moon has reopened, and requires a transportation reservation to visit. Visit the Kennedy Space Center Website to make a reservation.

Do not miss the bus tour of the launch pads. This general tour is included with your admission. You’ll board an air-conditioned bus for a tour that lasts roughly 40 minutes. You’ll see a number of the center’s launch pads as well as the buildings where rockets are stored and constructed. We got an excellent look at the massive crawlers that move the rockets from the buildings to the pads and the massive gravel roads the crawlers use to get around. You’ll learn about the history of the launch pads, see where the moon missions launched, and also where the new Space X missions are happening.

Apollo/Saturn V Center

The other reason not to miss this bus tour is that it’s the only way to see the Saturn V rocket up close. The bus tour ends at the Apollo/Saturn V center where you’ll find the huge rocket on display. Here you’ll be able to reach in and touch a moon rock, get a look at the moon rover, and see Alan Shepard’s Apollo 14 capsule. You’ll learn all about the history of the missions to the moon through interesting memorabilia and artifacts.

You’ll find restrooms, a cafe and a gift shop also at the Saturn V Center. Plan for roughly an hour and a half at this part of the space center, more if you’re really interested in the Apollo moon missions. When you’re done at the Saturn V Center you can hop back on a bus and it will bring you back to the main part of the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex.

Note: There is a really great documentary on Disney+ National Geographic about the Apollo program. It outlines all the missions in a clear and easy to understand way, with great footage of launches and mission control. This documentary was helpful for my kids to see before we went to the space center so they had some background knowledge before seeing all the artifacts on display.

Saturn V Rocket

Journey to Mars: Explorers Wanted

Another not to miss section of the space center is the Journey to Mars. My kids had also watched the National Geographic documentary on Spirit and Opportunity also on Disney+. Spirit and Opportunity are two amazing rovers that landed on Mars and sent back never before seen images of the surface of Mars. Like robot geologists, the rovers gathered information on the rocks and make up of the surface of Mars and sent it back to Earth. You’ll find a rover like Spirit and Opportunity on display at Journey to Mars, along with Curiosity, the rover that followed.

The presentation in Journey to Mars: Explorers Wanted will give you an idea of what’s on deck for the space program and encourages kids to be explorers and think about someday traveling to the stars themselves. Kids and adults will also enjoy some of the computerized simulators in this array of exhibits where they can try their hand at landing and piloting space craft.

Mars Rover- Spirit and Opportunity

Shuttle Atlantis

There’s a rich history of 30 years of shuttle space travel on display at the home of Shuttle Atlantis. Enter the building at the full scale replica of boosters used to launch Atlantis into space again and again. Follow with quests through two video presentations telling the story of Atlantis and then see this magnificent shuttle in person.

On display with its cargo doors flung open, you can see where satellites and space station modules were stored and carried into space. You’ll also be able to see the arm used to move equipment from the shuttle to the station or into space.

The building showcases other artifacts and exhibits that tell the story of the shuttle program and the space station. Kids can climb through a mock up of modules of the space station. There’s also a section geared towards kids with a climber, giant slide and hands on exhibits.

Don’t miss the Space Flight Simulator, a fun ride that simulates what it feels like when the space shuttles launch! It’s included in your admission and the entrance is on the bottom floor of Atlantis.

Shuttle Atlantis

Kids Play Area

Next to the Rocket Garden is a small kids play area for children ages 3-12. They have climbing structures, slides, and other things to entertain kids who may need a short break from all the history!

The area is nice and shaded with benches and picnic tables so it’s a great spot for everyone to rest up before hitting the rest of the visitor complex.

Nature and Technology

This building is across from the Rocket Garden and has some neat exhibits about the local wildlife and history of the area. The Kennedy Space Center works with the local environment to make sure they are protected while on-going research projects are happening. They even created a wildlife sanctuary near the Space Center, which would explain why we saw so many hawks, falcons, and other birds on the way into the complex.

There are also exhibits here that talk about the early settlers to this particular area of Florida and the Native Americans that inhabited South Florida.

It’s a fun spot for kids especially since the wildlife are numbered and kids can try to find all of them throughout the exhibit.

Where to Eat at the Kennedy Space Center

You’ll find a cafe in the main section of the visitor complex and at the Saturn V Center. You’ll also find food stands around the park for things like ice cream and drinks, and a Starbucks near the line for the bus tours. Our family opted to grab some drinks and treats at Starbucks to go with the snacks we had brought, rather than purchasing a full lunch. The Starbucks items were priced like regular Starbucks items.

You can bring in water bottles, snacks and even lunch if you prefer. Coolers can only be the small soft-sided variety and no glass can be brought into the center.

Want to Go?

General Admission: You’ll save money if you purchase tickets online in advance. Single day tickets start at $47 for kids and $57 for adults. Parking is $10 per car.

Many packages with add on experiences are available. You can view and purchase Kennedy Space Center tickets and packages here.

Nearby Cocoa Beach

Visiting the Kennedy Space Center can certainly take most of the day but if you’re looking for something else to do in the area, Cocoa Beach is close by.

You can visit the famous Cocoa Beach Pier, which has restaurants, small shops, and fishing. It’s a blast to watch the surfers off the pier try to catch the waves. The beach is right there as well, which you can easily visit.

Cocoa Beach Pier

As of October 2020, guards were taking temperatures to enter the pier and face masks were required.

There are also lots of restaurants in Cocoa Beach plus tons of beachwear shops with swimsuits, clothes, beach toys, jewelry, etc.

The Manatee Sanctuary Park in Cape Canaveral is a small spot to rest with a playground and boardwalk along the Banana River. Manatees usually show up mid to late fall and stay through early spring.

Where to Stay Near the Kennedy Space Center

As an Airbnb Associate Kidding Around earns when you book through this link.

Cape Canaveral, Florida
Cabana Cottage

Cabana Cottage in Cape Canaveral is just a 5 minute walk to the beach and a short drive to Kennedy Space Center. Our family had a great view of a rocket launch from the beach near this house. The home features a private, heated pool, putting green and game room. Golf clubs and beach supplies are provided!

Cabana Cottage Airbnb in Cape Canaveral, Florida, Photo Credit: Airbnb
  • 4 bedrooms, 2 baths
  • Sleeps 10
  • Private pool and putting green
  • Pool table
  • 5 minute walk to beach
  • Bikes and beach cart
  • Book Cabana Cottage on AirBnb

Have you visited the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex?

About the Author
Maria Bassett is a former school orchestra teacher, turned homeschool mom. She and her husband homeschool their 3 sons and 1 daughter, who range from 4th grade through 9th grade. Believing children learn best when they are engaged and having fun, this family loves to take their homeschool on the road, around Greenville and beyond.

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