Just an hour from Disney World, this old beach town located on what's known as the Sunshine State's Space Coast has pretty beaches and lots of opportunities to view wildlife. Plus, it offers easy access to Cape Canaveral and the Kennedy Space Center — making it just right for families who need a little surfside downtime after hitting the theme parks. For more on Cocoa Beach, click here.
From birds to butterflies and bobcats to alligators, Florida wildlife watching can be terrific at nearby Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge.
While you're there
Head to the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex and let your budding scientist or space traveler tour NASA's launch control center, visit the Astronaut Hall of Fame, or even have lunch with a veteran NASA astronaut who's been around the world and back—literally. Later, schedule a family surf lesson with the capable instructors at the Ron Jon Surf School, then swing by Ron Jon's iconic Cocoa Beach surf shop, open seven days a week, for beach gear and souvenirs. At sunset, check out the manatees, dolphins, and shore birds on one of Island Boat Lines's eco-cruises.
Where to stay
The Inn at Cocoa Beach offers spacious, affordable oceanfront rooms that start at $165 a night, breakfast included. There's a pool, too!
* All hotel prices are approximate.
Don't miss the chance to dig into fried rock shrimp, catfish, or local mullet at Dixie Crossroads, a family-owned seafood restaurant in nearby Titusville. "They make the best corn fritters in the world," says native Floridian Johnny Molina, 11. "And they let you feed the fish and turtles in the pond outside before and after dinner." Parental bonus: Kids 12 and under eat for just $2.99, dessert and beverage included.
If you like this destination, and are interested in a variety of other travel spots, feel free to visit the following websites:
You will find travel information for a number of agencies including Bureau of Land Management, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, U.S. Forest Service, U.S. Army Corps, U.S. Fish & Wildlife, National Park Service, and Bureau of Reclamation.