Day Trip from Orlando To Kennedy Space Center

Today, I’m going to be taking you somewhere special and magical. No, not to Disney (though that is pretty magical). I’m taking you to a place that holds a real-life magic – a magic twisted from science and engineering. I promise not to get too technical (I’ll try really hard, but it is very difficult for this nerd) and this isn’t rocket science. Okay, I lied. This is rocket science, but not the kind you are expecting. Have you guessed where we are going yet? No. Alright. I’m taking you to the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, a little day trip from Orlando. Are you ready? Here we go.

The entrance is a long white building flanked on a concrete path. Pockets of palm trees are interspersed, rooting the Florida feel. But as we walk towards the entrance, we can see the nose cones of the rockets, peeking from behind. It’s almost alien looking, like something from a vague fantasy. One that I’ve only ever seen on television and in movies. But here we are, just moments away from seeing the giant frames first-hand. The words EXPLORE are blocked over the entrance, in a bright sky blue. I’m so excited. Can you tell? Is it obvious? Wait, don’t answer that.

As we head into the visitor center, we grab some admission tickets. This little complex doesn’t take more than a day to explore, so be sure to pick up a daily admission ticket. Don’t bother taking a map. The maps here are the most touristy of tourist maps. If we try to follow them, we are just going to be scratching our heads and hunching over the page, twisting and turning a colourful sheet, trying to figure out where we are going. It’s easier to walk by ourselves. Is that okay? But don’t shy away from picking up the Daily Schedule. The Daily Schedule has all the information from astronaut appearances to IMAX timings.

Let’s start by boarding the KSC bus. The bus departs every fifteen minutes from the visitor complex and transports us to the Apollo/Saturn V Center. The marshy Florida landscape skates by in this twenty minute drive. It is important that we go to the Apollo/Saturn V Center early because otherwise it gets too crowded.

In this Day Trip from Orlando...I'm taking you to the Kennedy Space Center. Look at that awesome blue logo painted on one of Florida's most recognizable landmarks.

We take a turn into the Firing Room theater, where we are set in the zone of the Space Era. Here, Kennedy and the US’s passion for putting a man on the moon and exploring space spirals vividly to life. We fall into the Cold War era, where Sputnik threatens US’s superpower status.  The virtual tour is guided by a former launch controller, so it feels like we are listening to memoir cross guide.  Right outside, is the jaw-dropping Saturn V moon rocket. Just to give you a little perspective, this monstrosity is the size of a football field! Ridiculous, huh? For Apollo 13 fans, like me (I’ve seen that movie way too times), you can even see James Lovell’s spacesuit. Ah, fangirl moments.

Day Trip from Orlando : SaturnV/Apollo Center

Next stop, the Lunar Theater, an immersive 3D theatrical movie experience where the fear of Russia tornadoes towards us. As we exit, we enter the Apollo Treasure’s Gallery. Here, we can see Alan Shepard’s spacesuit and a bit of his lunar module, the Kitty Hawk. Alan Shepard is the most underrated astronaut in the Apollo 11 Mission, so I was excited to see a commemoration to him. I always felt that he was overshadowed by Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin, because they actually stepped on the moon, but that doesn’t make him any less of an important astronaut. I’ve always believed that exploring space is a like a stage performance, just because we know the names of the actors doesn’t mean that the makeup artists and costume designers aren’t essential. The Kennedy Space Center captures that idea perfectly (I apologize in advance for the rant).

Looking for a day trip from Orlando? Check out this amazing space shuttle at the Kennedy Space Center.

Now, I normally don’t like to take you to cafes or restaurants within any museums or attractions. They are always overpriced, but today, we are kind of forced to eat inside the Kennedy Space Center. I suggest the Moon Rock Cafe, near the moon rock exhibit. The moon rock is as small as a pebble and situated in a tiny glass case, but don’t be afraid to touch it! It’s a fun, interactive experience. As for the cafe, try the Cuban sandwich, which is perhaps the best from the limited menu, but bring your own lunch, if you can. Just outside the cafe, you can even see an expansive view of Launch Pad 39B.  Oh, I almost forgot the time! Let’s catch the bus back to the main center. Shall we?

Since I want to be Mark Watney, without being Mark Watney, we’re going to check out the Journey to Mars. This is a theater presentation followed by some multimedia exhibits that really get into the logistics of running a mission to the red planet. We can see prototypes and sample exhibits of food that might grow on Martian soil. Unfortunately, the whole lab wasn’t filled with potatoes, but I’m okay with a non-potato diet (if you are registering a quizzical expression, read the Martian.)

We are going to walk a little further to the Atlantis Exhibit. The mammoth space shuttle, the Atlantis, is held here, and we can look at the space shuttle from all angles. Unlike in other space museums, like the Udvar-Hazy, you aren’t limited to viewing from a set number of perspectives. Now, if we want to sink a little deeper into the whole Star-Trek-vibe, we can hop onto the Shuttle Launch Experience. I didn’t really have the stomach for this since I was a little nervous (I’m not really one for rides), but I did hear many good things about it. I guess, you will just have to see for yourself.

In this Day Trip to Orlando, come and see the Rocket Gardens! This picture doesn't do the gardens enough justice, but they are so beautiful in the afternoon and night.

I know that it has been a long day, but we still have one more stop. The Rocket Garden. The Rocket Garden is best seen in the afternoon, when the blank white canvases of the rockets penetrate the flaming sky. We can climb and saunter around the rocks, gasping at the sunsets as brilliant lights illuminate the darkened sky. Now, there is still so much you can do, from viewing IMAX movies to brunching with an astronaut, but I’ve given you a rocket-sized frame of what you can see. So, go on ahead and explore!


Did you enjoy this little day trip from Orlando? Have you ever been to the Kennedy Space Center? Tell me, in the comments below!

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  • Reply
    February 3, 2016 at 3:53 AM

    I went here when I was a kid and fully intended to take my kids for a visit when we went to Florida last February. We had just had a new baby, and I completely underestimated how difficult traveling with a little one can be. We ended up nixing the space center. We go to Florida fairly often because we have family there; so hopefully we will do this on our next visit. Thanks for sharing

    • Reply
      February 3, 2016 at 4:16 AM

      Yes, you should totally head up there the next time you visit! It can tough to travel with small children, but fortunately the KSC doesn’t have many long lines, unlike theme parks, which is great when you have kids in tow.

  • Reply
    The Traveling Gals
    February 3, 2016 at 8:25 PM

    Great photos! I went there when I was younger and I’ve been thinking of going back because it is such a neat place!

    • Reply
      February 4, 2016 at 1:30 AM

      Thanks! You should definately go back! The first time I went, I was around eight, so I my mind was pretty much tuned to the track of “awesome space-stuff” but now that I’m older, I see the Kennedy Space Center with a new perspective!

  • Reply
    Girl Gone London
    February 3, 2016 at 10:48 PM

    This is the best write up on the KSC I’ve read. I grew up in Orlando and just took my English fiance there last year (who has never been exposed to the space program like I had) and he cannot stop talking about it to this day. Also gorgeous pictures. 🙂

    • Reply
      February 4, 2016 at 1:38 AM

      Awww…thanks! That is so sweet of you! I didn’t even think of going until I found out that it was only a day trip from Orlando! I’m so glad I did, though. KSC is an amazing example of how large a part of American culture the space program was!

  • Reply
    Barely Vegan
    February 4, 2016 at 12:31 AM

    what an awesome blog. I definitely want to travel more. Your website is very inspiring 🙂

    • Reply
      February 4, 2016 at 1:41 AM

      Thank you so much for the lovely comment! Comments like yours motivate me to keep my website going! If you ever need any recommendations of where to go on a certain budget, you can always contact me! I would be happy to help!

  • Reply
    ratisha goyal
    February 4, 2016 at 1:39 PM

    stupendous post! loved every bit of it. already waiting for your next post. 🙂

    • Reply
      February 4, 2016 at 2:10 PM

      Thank you so much! I’m glad you liked it! I should have a new post coming out tomorrow (fingers crossed)!

  • Reply
    The Boozy Backpacker
    February 13, 2016 at 5:57 AM

    Really enjoyed your post <3 It's nice to see people/bloggers promoting experiences that actually enrich a person. (Not that I'm one to throw stones, since my life revolves around cute dogs and beach cocktails…But still…)

    • Reply
      February 13, 2016 at 2:26 PM

      Haha, thanks! I’m a complete nerd, through and through, so I can’t help but go to places that are very STEM orientated or have major historic value 🙂

  • Reply
    Hung Thai
    March 5, 2016 at 12:31 AM

    An an aeronautical engineer, I thank thee for making a trip to see spaceships and things.

    • Reply
      March 5, 2016 at 4:22 AM

      Awww…I’m glad you appreciate it. I’m a huge tech nerd, so I love all things engineering related 🙂

  • Reply
    Nichole Beamer
    June 3, 2016 at 2:07 PM

    FANTASTIC photos! Great article, too. I come from a NASA family so it’s nice to see people taking an interest in the history of the space program. Two thumbs up, lady!

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