Plan your mission to Kennedy Space Center: Guide to getting the most out of your day

Don’t miss out on trying some freeze-dried ice cream

ULA's Delta II rocket joined the Rocket Garden at Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex on March 23, 2021. (Image credit: ULA) (WKMG 2021)

MERRITT ISLAND, Fla. – One of the perks of living in Florida is that you are never too far away from something to do. Theme parks are practically right in your backyard, Kennedy Space Center sits right along the coast and the beach is never more than 60 miles from anywhere in the state.

Whether you’re just visiting or have lived here your whole life, people typically gravitate toward experiences such as these.

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If you’re looking for an out-of-this-world thing to do today, Kennedy Space Center is a great option. Here is a list of the must-do things to get the most out of your day on the Space Coast.

Heroes and Legends

  • Upon entering the visitor center, the Heroes and Legends complex sits directly to your left making it the perfect place to start your stellar day.
  • This attraction highlights astronaut pioneers who have made an impact in our exploration of space. Look at artifacts like a Redstone rocket, Sigma 7 capsule and get a close-up look at a Gemini 9 capsule.
  • The Astronaut Hall of Fame is a great way to get an overview of all that you’re going to see and experience throughout your mission.

Rocket Garden

  • Definitely be sure to visit the Rocket Garden. It won’t be very difficult to miss as the Saturn 1B rocket towers over practically everything at a whopping 223 feet tall.
  • This is listed as one of the most photographed attractions at Kennedy Space Center and is estimated to take 20 minutes out of your day. It sits just to the left of the Heroes and Legends building and highlights rockets from the Mercury, Gemini and Apollo missions.
  • All nine rockets displayed hold historical significance: Saturn 1B flew the first crewed mission in the Apollo program, Juno 1 held the first American satellite, and Mercury Red was the first crewed launch vehicle in the U.S. which also, interestingly enough, carried a chimpanzee named Ham into space. That’s just to name a few.

NASA Now + Next Zone and Gateway Complex

  • This deep space launch complex is the most recent addition to the KSC Visitor Center and features visionary designs which are paving the way for human deep space travel.
  • Travel to Mars on a deep space mission, try on astronauts’ gloves and take a close-up look at capsules such as Orion EFT1, which will play an essential role in returning humans to the moon.
  • If you want to get to everything in the NASA Now + Next Mission Zone, you will need to space out about two and a half hours.

Behind the Gates

  • The bus tour is included with the price of admission. It gives voyagers the opportunity to view restricted areas of Kennedy Space Center and its working space flight facility. Give yourself a minimum of 30 minutes as you do have to catch a 15-minute bus ride back to the visitor center after the tour concludes.
  • If you’re looking for an even more in-depth tour, you do have the option to pay an extra $25 and take the KSC Explore tour. This tour allows you to explore multi-user space ports and make stops along the way to take photos of the Vehicle Assembly Building and Launch Complex 39. You will need about two hours for this tour.

Space Shuttle: Atlantis

  • The Atlantis space shuttle should absolutely be the next stop you take. Once your tour bus drops you back at the KSC Visitor Center, head over to the Shuttle Program building.
  • Here, you can view a full-size shuttle displayed as if it were floating through space and just undocked from the International Space Station, as well as an astronaut training simulator which teaches future voyagers how to pilot a space shuttle.
  • Visitors can also head to the Hubble Space Telescope Theater to see how astronauts overcame obstacles while putting the famous telescope in orbit.

There are also numerous restaurants across the complex with a great atmosphere for you and your crew to grab some lunch.

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Rachel joined in September 2022.