Written by: Lia Moreno and Julian Fenn
01/21/2013 3:37 PM
On the east coast of Florida, only 45 miles away from Orlando, about halfway between Miami and Jacksonville, lies the John F. Kennedy Space Center (KSC). It is home to two launch pads, one of the world's longest runways and the nation's third largest building, the Vehicle Assembly Building. Since 1962, this site has witnessed a lot of America's space program and is still engaged in mankind's quest to conquer space. Notable missions launched from the KSC include the Space Shuttle and Apollo missions and the deployment of the Hubble Space Telescope, but there were of course many others. When the Space Shuttle program ended in 2011, the KSC reached its 50th anniversary on preparing new missions and continuing its educational efforts.
The KSC offers a great day out for both adults and children with multimedia displays, hands-on exhibits, IMAX films, spacecraft and artifacts, face-to-face encounters with astronauts and bus tours of launch pads and other restricted areas. As there is so much to see, we've come up with our list of the best things to do.
When to Go
You can go year round, however the best time is between December and April when the weather is around mid-70s to low 80s. In the Summer it averages in the 90s and it's also the busiest time of year. Hurricane season runs from June to November, so best to avoid that too if possible.
How to Get There
From Jacksonsville on Interstate 95
Travel South along I-95 to Exit #215 (SR 50). Turn left (east) onto SR 50, then turn right (east) on to SR 405 and follow the signs for Kennedy Space Center. You will travel approximately 11 miles on SR 405. Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex is located on your right.
From Miami on Interstate 95
Travel along I-95 to Exit #212 (SR 407). Head east/north on SR 407 until it dead ends into SR 405. Turn right (east) on SR 405 and follow the signs for Kennedy Space Center. You will travel approximately nine miles on SR 405. Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex is located on your right.
From Orlando on State Road 50
Travel east on SR 50 until you pass under the I-95 overpass. At the next intersection, turn right (east) onto SR 405 and follow the signs for Kennedy Space Center. You will travel approximately 11 miles on SR 405. Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex is located on your right.
How Long Should the Trip Be?
We recommend one full day at the Kennedy Space Center and half a day at the US Astronaut Hall of Fame. If you have two full days then also spend a half day at the Astronaut Training Experience.
What to See and Do
Day One - Kennedy Space Center
Day Two - US Astronaut Hall of Fame and Astronaut Training Experience
$10 to park your car and $15 for an RV. General admission is $50 per adult and $40 per child (ages 3-11) plus tax. The center opens at 9 AM and closes at 5 PM.
Admission includes IMAX space films, all exhibits and shows, the Kennedy Space Center Bus Tour and the U.S. Astronaut Hall of Fame if used within seven days.
It is advisable to check the launches and landings schedule beforehand, either to plan your trip accordingly or to be aware of the possibility of viewing such a special and unique event during your time in the area.
Knowing a little about the attractions will help you decide which ones are best for you and your family. For instance, some tours and attractions may not be suitable for young children who could get bored or tired, and others may be absolute musts for teenagers and space-enthusiasts, such as the ATX program or the Shuttle Launch simulation. What's more, you can also consider other space-related facilities in the area, such as Brevard Community College's Planetarium and Observatory or the U.S. Space Walk of Fame Museum in Titusville, and there are many other types of attractions nearby such as amusement parks, zoos, National Parks, and of course the beaches. Florida does know how to keep visitors entertained.
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