A family-friendly guide to the Space Coast by mom, for mom.
By Melissa Richeson
As a mom, I love living here in Brevard County. Having grown up in a cold, northern climate, I appreciate now being able to enjoy the “endless summer” here with my kids. There’s always something to do! Our family has lived in Merritt Island for nearly nine years, which means I’ve watched as my sons’ interests have morphed from toddler activities to middle school adventures. Through it all, we’ve found plenty of ways to spend time together and enjoy the Space Coast to its fullest.
1. The Wonderful Water
Since my boys are basically part fish, our favorite activities usually involve some form of water. The oceans, rivers, splash pads and swimming pools in our area allow us to be active while still staying cool. Kayaking tops our entertainment list, especially when the dolphins and manatees come out to play. Though we typically paddle our own, Calema offers affordable kayak rentals out of Kelly Park. If surfing or boogie boarding is on the agenda, we often choose Cherie Down Beach for its smooth choose surf or Pineda Beach for the best rinse-off showers around. The splash pad in Taylor Park is simple, free fun for my little ones, while their older brothers prefer to toss a football in the nearby fields. And even though our pool at home gets used almost daily, the Aquatic Center in Cocoa Beach is a fun change of pace with its slide, diving board and fountain.
2. The Playful Parks
The fantastic park system in Brevard County provides a never-ending supply of outdoor fun for our family. Merritt Island’s Rotary Park is a great place for playing soccer and climbing trees, and the scavenger hunt available in the nature center is an added bonus. For an afternoon outing, we sometimes like to take advantage of the paved trails at Chain of Lakes Park in Titusville for a family bike ride. My kids consider the gators along the banks a real thrill, and the views from the observation tower can’t be beat. We also like to picnic at Kiwanis Park along Sykes Creek, where the playground is shady and the breeze blows freely across the water. And a hike through the Enchanted Forest in Titusville is an awesome choice for cooler days.
3. The Indoor Interest
While most days here in Florida lend themselves to being outside, rain or heat can send us on the hunt for inside entertainment. My boys are big readers, so the local library is by far one of our favorite places, not only for the books, but also for the scheduled activities. We’re at the library so often, I think they’re going to start charging us rent! Cocoa Village is also awesome with its art studios and community theater, though some significant preplanning is required, obviously. Shore Lanes bowling alley has great summer deals for kids, so that’s often our foul weather go-to. The Space Coast Ice plex gives us just a taste of winter year-round and allows the boys to participate in a skill I used regularly as a northern kid — ice skating. And, of course, my boys love going to Sky Zone in Rockledge, where they offer a variety of trampolines and ninja courses designed for all ages.
4. The Tourist Traditions
Even though we live here, we like to pretend we’re on vacation sometimes. Recently we visited Cocoa Beach Aerial Adventures, an amazing ropes course with levels of increasing difficulty (and height!) that challenged everyone. Then, in true vacation mode, we went out for ice cream afterwards at Twistee Treat. Another favorite is the Brevard Zoo, a popular spot with tourists and residents alike — and for good reason! Where else can you interact with kangaroos, pet alpacas, observe meerkats, ride a train, pretend to be a vet, and feedstingrays or giraffes? The zoo was actually my twins’ firstouting as babies, so it will always hold a special spot in our hearts. We also love to visit Kennedy Space Center during discounted entry days or explore Port Canaveral either on foot or by boat. Finally, nothing says vacation like mini golf, and we think Gator Golf in Cocoa Beach is one of the best around.
I love raising my boys here on the Space Coast, where there are plenty of ways to make memories together as a family. Every activity has the potential to become a new favorite when we get to do it together!