Trying to find great activities and attractions on the Space Coast? Our guide to the best things to do in Cocoa Beach, Florida is all you need to plan the perfect trip!
If you’re on the hunt for the perfect beachside escape in the Sunshine State, look no further than Cocoa Beach, Florida. Nestled along the Atlantic coast, this delightful little town is bursting with a myriad of things to do in Cocoa Beach, promising sun-soaked adventures, a dash of history, and some coastal charm that’ll have you hooked from the moment you set foot on the sandy shores.
First things first, Cocoa Beach is the ultimate haven for beach lovers and surf enthusiasts. With its warm, inviting waves and consistent swells, it’s no wonder they call it the “Surf Capital of the East Coast.”
You can’t miss the iconic Ron Jon Surf Shop, a vibrant, colorful emporium of all things beachy. But the adventures don’t stop there. For those seeking a deeper connection with the surf culture, the Florida Surf Museum is a hidden gem that dives into the history and art of riding the waves in this coastal paradise.
And if you’re looking to mix a bit of history and local flavor into your trip, a visit to the historic Cocoa Village and a jaunt to Merritt Island for some wildlife encounters should definitely be on your radar.
So, grab your flip-flops, sunscreen, and sense of adventure, and let’s dive into all the fantastic things Cocoa Beach has in store for you!
Table of Contents
- The Best Things to Do in Cocoa Beach
- 1. Get Some Beach Time
- 2. Visit the Banana River Aquatic Preserve
- 3. Stroll Along Cocoa Beach Pier
- 4. Visit Ron Jon Surf Shop
- 5. Go on a Boat Tour
- 6. Visit The Dinosaur Store
- 7. Go Surfing
- 8. Visit the Surf Museum
- 9. Go Kayaking
- 10. Enjoy the Kennedy Space Center
- 11. Go Fishing
- 12. Take In a SpaceX Launch Viewing
- 13. Visit Lori Wilson Park
- 14. Observe Manatees at Manatee Sanctuary Park
- 15. Wander Around Cocoa Village
- 16. Spend Some Time at the Brevard Zoo
- 17. Enjoy the Seafood
- 18. Take a Tour of Port Canaveral
- Where to Stay in Cocoa Beach
- Wrapping Up
The Best Things to Do in Cocoa Beach
Here are 18 of the best things to do in Cocoa Beach!
The best way to get around is to rent a car and explore on your own! We recommend Rental Cars, which has the largest range of vehicles for the best value on the market.
1. Get Some Beach Time
Cocoa Beach’s pristine sandy shores, lapped by the gentle waves of the Atlantic Ocean, beckon travelers to indulge in the quintessential beach experience. Whether you’re seeking relaxation, aquatic adventures, or a sun-kissed escape, the beachfront of Cocoa Beach has it all.
Stretching for miles, this coastal paradise offers sunbathers a place to soak in the Florida sun, while surfers ride the Atlantic swells in what’s often dubbed the “Surfing Capital of the East Coast.”
Beach volleyball enthusiasts gather to test their skills on the soft, powdery sand, and families build sandcastles and frolic in the shallows. With the sound of seagulls overhead and the smell of salt in the air, Cocoa Beach’s beachfront epitomizes the essence of a coastal getaway.
Read Next: Check out all of these great things to do in Florida.
2. Visit the Banana River Aquatic Preserve
Banana River Aquatic Preserve is a hidden gem nestled within Cocoa Beach’s natural beauty, offering a serene escape into the Florida wilderness. Visitors can embark on a kayaking or paddleboarding adventure along the winding waterways of the Banana River Lagoon, where mangrove-lined channels and crystal-clear waters create a picturesque backdrop.
As you paddle through this aquatic paradise, keep an eye out for the diverse wildlife that calls this preserve home, including manatees, dolphins, and a variety of bird species. Exploring the Banana River Aquatic Preserve is not only an opportunity for outdoor enthusiasts to connect with nature but also a chance to experience the ecological wonders of the region beyond the beaches.
It’s just one of the many ways to appreciate the natural beauty and diverse offerings of Cocoa Beach, making it a must-do activity for travelers seeking a deeper connection with the coastal environment.
3. Stroll Along Cocoa Beach Pier
The Cocoa Beach Pier stands as a historic and vibrant focal point of Cocoa Beach’s beachfront scene, offering a delightful array of experiences for visitors. Stretching out into the Atlantic Ocean, the pier welcomes guests to stroll along its wooden planks, with the shimmering ocean below and panoramic views of the coastline.
Here, you can dine at waterfront restaurants like Keith’s Oyster Bar or the Boardwalk Bar, savoring fresh seafood and tropical drinks while enjoying the sea breeze and live music. The pier also features souvenir shops, fishing opportunities, and even surfing lessons for those looking to catch some waves.
Whether you’re looking for a romantic sunset dinner, a leisurely walk with stunning ocean vistas, or a lively evening of entertainment, the Cocoa Beach Pier offers a little something for everyone and remains a quintessential stop on any Cocoa Beach vacation.
4. Visit Ron Jon Surf Shop
Ron Jon Surf Shop, a Cocoa Beach icon, is a must-visit destination for both surf enthusiasts and casual tourists alike. As the world’s largest surf shop, it’s not only a retail haven for surf gear, apparel, and souvenirs but also an emblematic part of the local culture.
The vibrant atmosphere and surf-centric decor make it a fun place to explore, even if you’re not a surfer. While at Ron Jon’s, you can shop for everything you need to hit the waves or find stylish beachwear to embrace the laid-back coastal vibe.
It’s also an ideal spot to get recommendations and insights about other things to do in Cocoa Beach, as the friendly staff are often keen to share their local knowledge, pointing you toward the best surf spots, beachfront restaurants, and nearby attractions.
5. Go on a Boat Tour
Embarking on a boat tour in Cocoa Beach Florida is one of the most captivating things to do in Cocoa Beach, offering visitors a chance to immerse themselves in the area’s rich marine and natural beauty. These boat tours, whether along the Indian River Lagoon or the Banana River, provide a unique perspective on Cocoa Beach’s ecosystem.
You can expect to encounter a diverse array of wildlife, from playful dolphins and graceful manatees to a multitude of bird species. Knowledgeable guides often accompany these tours, offering insights into the local ecology and history, and enhancing the experience.
After a boat tour, you can continue your exploration of Cocoa Beach with activities like lounging on its pristine beaches, surfing the waves, or dining at seaside restaurants, ensuring a day filled with memorable experiences in this coastal gem.
Read Next: Visit Cocoa Beach as part of an epic Florida road trip!
6. Visit The Dinosaur Store
The Dinosaur Store in Cocoa Beach Florida is a captivating destination that transports visitors into the prehistoric past. This unique museum and store is a haven for dinosaur enthusiasts and curious minds of all ages.
Inside, you’ll find an impressive collection of dinosaur fossils, replicas, and interactive exhibits that offer a hands-on learning experience about these ancient creatures. From towering dinosaur skeletons to fossils and meteorites, the Dinosaur Store allows you to journey back in time, exploring the fascinating world of paleontology.
It’s an excellent educational stop for families, and it adds a distinctive touch to Cocoa Beach’s list of attractions, showcasing the diversity of experiences available in this coastal paradise, where adventure, science, and history come together in a memorable way.
7. Go Surfing
Surfing in Cocoa Beach is not only an exhilarating watersport but also a defining feature of this vibrant coastal town, making it a must-try activity among the many things to do in Cocoa Beach. Known as the “Surf Capital of the East Coast,” Cocoa Beach boasts consistent waves that cater to surfers of all skill levels.
Beginners can take advantage of local surf schools that offer lessons, while seasoned surfers can rent boards and ride the waves at their own pace. The laid-back beach culture, warm Atlantic waters, and sandy shores create the perfect setting for surf enthusiasts to catch a wave and soak up the sun.
After an invigorating day on the water, Cocoa Beach beckons with a range of other activities, such as sunbathing, exploring the iconic Cocoa Beach Pier, enjoying fresh seafood at waterfront restaurants, and taking in spectacular sunsets over the Atlantic Ocean, ensuring an unforgettable experience in this coastal paradise.
8. Visit the Surf Museum
Visiting the Florida Surf Museum is one of the lesser-known but highly enriching things to do in Cocoa Beach Fl for those interested in the history and culture of surfing.
This museum pays homage to the sport of surfing and its deep-rooted connection to Cocoa Beach. Inside, you’ll find fascinating exhibits showcasing vintage surfboards, memorabilia, and the evolution of surfing in the area. It’s a unique opportunity to gain insight into how this coastal town became known as the “Surf Capital of the East Coast.”
After exploring the museum, you can continue your Cocoa Beach adventure with activities like catching waves at the beach, strolling along the iconic Cocoa Beach Pier, or indulging in fresh seafood at waterfront restaurants, making for a well-rounded and enjoyable visit to this coastal gem.
Read Next: Check out other great places to visit in Florida!
9. Go Kayaking
Cocoa Beach kayaking excursions offer a unique and immersive way to explore the natural beauty of the Thousand Islands area, making it one of the standout activities in Cocoa Beach. Nestled within the Banana River Aquatic Preserve, this picturesque maze of mangrove islands and winding waterways provides a perfect setting for kayaking adventures.
Guided tours are available for those who want to learn about the local ecosystem and spot wildlife like manatees, dolphins, and a variety of bird species. For the more independent traveler, renting a kayak and paddling at your own pace is also an option, allowing you to discover hidden coves and serene waters on your terms.
Cocoa Beach kayaking is not only a great way to get up close to nature but also an excellent opportunity to immerse yourself in the serene, off-the-beaten-path side of Cocoa Beach Florida beyond its famous beaches and surf culture.
10. Enjoy the Kennedy Space Center
The Kennedy Space Center, located near Cocoa Beach on Merritt Island, is a must-visit attraction for space enthusiasts and curious minds alike. This iconic spaceport is not just a launch site for NASA missions but also a captivating visitor complex that offers an immersive experience into the world of space exploration.
Visitors can explore fascinating exhibits, touch a moon rock, witness the awe-inspiring Space Shuttle Atlantis, and even meet astronauts. Additionally, if your visit aligns with a scheduled rocket launch, watching a spacecraft take off into the heavens is a truly unforgettable experience.
The Kennedy Space Center is a place where history and the future of space exploration come together, making it an educational and awe-inspiring destination for anyone visiting Cocoa Beach and Florida’s Space Coast.
11. Go Fishing
Fishing in Cocoa Beach is not just a pastime; it’s an integral part of the area’s culture and one of the quintessential things to do in Cocoa Beach. With its prime location along Florida’s east coast, this coastal town offers a wealth of fishing opportunities, from surf fishing along its pristine shores to deep-sea fishing adventures in the Atlantic.
Anglers of all skill levels can cast their lines in pursuit of a diverse range of fish species, making every fishing excursion an exciting and potentially rewarding experience. Whether you choose to fish off the Cocoa Beach Pier or venture out on a charter boat, the chance to reel in impressive catches like redfish, snook, tarpon, and more is always on the horizon.
After a successful day of fishing, you can explore the many other activities Cocoa Beach has to offer, from dining at seafood restaurants to taking in the natural beauty of the area’s beaches and wildlife, ensuring a well-rounded and enjoyable visit to this coastal gem.
12. Take In a SpaceX Launch Viewing
Watching a SpaceX launch from Cocoa Beach Fl is a thrilling and unforgettable experience that allows visitors to witness the marvel of space exploration up close. SpaceX, the private aerospace manufacturer founded by Elon Musk, frequently conducts rocket launches from the nearby Kennedy Space Center.
To get the best view of a launch, check the launch schedule in advance and choose a suitable viewing spot along the beach or designated areas that offer unobstructed views of the launch site. As the rocket blasts off into the sky, the ground trembles, and the sight of the fiery ascent is awe-inspiring.
The anticipation and excitement of a SpaceX launch make it a unique and exhilarating activity for space enthusiasts and travelers looking to witness the incredible feats of modern technology while in Cocoa Beach.
13. Visit Lori Wilson Park
Lori Wilson Park, situated along the picturesque coastline of Cocoa Beach Florida, is a hidden gem among the array of things to do in Cocoa Beach. This oceanfront oasis seamlessly blends natural beauty with recreational opportunities.
With its pristine sandy shores, the park invites sunbathers, swimmers, and beachcombers to soak in the Florida sun and enjoy the inviting waters of the Atlantic Ocean. For nature enthusiasts, well-maintained nature trails meander through the native dunes and coastal vegetation, providing a serene backdrop for a leisurely stroll or birdwatching.
Families will appreciate the park’s picnic areas, pavilions, and playground, making it a perfect spot for a beachfront picnic or a day of fun with the kids. Lori Wilson Park’s proximity to the heart of Cocoa Beach makes it an easily accessible and enjoyable part of the vibrant coastal community, offering a diverse range of activities for travelers of all interests.
Related: Consider visiting Cocoa Beach as a day trip from Orlando!
14. Observe Manatees at Manatee Sanctuary Park
Cocoa Beach Manatee Sanctuary Park, nestled amidst the natural beauty of Cocoa Beach, is a tranquil escape and a unique addition to the list of things to do in Cocoa Beach. This sanctuary not only offers a serene setting for relaxation but also a captivating opportunity to connect with the local wildlife, particularly the gentle manatees.
Visitors can explore the park’s educational center to gain insights into manatee conservation efforts and the fascinating biology of these aquatic mammals. The park features a viewing deck overlooking the Banana River Lagoon, providing an ideal vantage point for observing manatees in their natural habitat.
As part of Cocoa Beach’s commitment to environmental awareness and protection, the Manatee Sanctuary Park adds depth to the diverse range of activities available in this coastal town, emphasizing the importance of preserving the region’s natural treasures while providing an enriching experience for tourists and residents alike.
15. Wander Around Cocoa Village
Historic Cocoa Village, nestled near Cocoa Beach, is a charming and historic district that offers a delightful blend of things to do, making it a must-visit destination for those looking to explore the cultural side of the area.
This quaint village features a collection of unique shops, boutiques, galleries, and restaurants, making it an ideal spot for leisurely strolls and browsing for souvenirs or one-of-a-kind gifts. The village also hosts various cultural events and festivals throughout the year, providing opportunities to immerse yourself in local art, music, and community spirit.
Whether you’re interested in shopping for artisan goods, enjoying live entertainment, or savoring a meal at a cozy restaurant, Historic Cocoa Village offers a charming and relaxed atmosphere, ensuring an enjoyable outing for visitors of all interests.
16. Spend Some Time at the Brevard Zoo
Brevard Zoo, located just a short drive from Cocoa Beach in Melbourne, Florida, is a family-friendly destination that combines education, conservation, and entertainment. This zoo offers a diverse collection of animals from around the world, allowing visitors to embark on a global wildlife adventure.
From giraffes and rhinos to jaguars and lemurs, the zoo showcases a wide range of species in spacious, naturalistic habitats. In addition to animal encounters, Brevard Zoo offers interactive exhibits, a kayak tour through a lush wetland environment, a zipline adventure, and a splash park for kids.
By visiting the zoo, you not only get the chance to see exotic animals up close but also support their conservation efforts, making it a worthwhile addition to your Cocoa Beach itinerary.
17. Enjoy the Seafood
Savoring fresh seafood at Cocoa Beach’s waterfront restaurants is a culinary delight that perfectly complements the coastal ambiance of this charming town. Cocoa Beach Fl boasts a vibrant dining scene, and when it comes to seafood, there are several exceptional options to choose from.
One of the standout seafood restaurants is “The Fat Snook,” known for its innovative seafood dishes and elegant atmosphere. Another beloved spot is “Fishlips Waterfront Bar & Grill,” which not only offers delicious seafood but also stunning views of the Banana River from its deck.
For a more laid-back experience, “Jazzy’s Mainely Lobster” is a local favorite, serving up lobster rolls, clam chowder, and other New England-style seafood classics. These restaurants, among others, ensure that indulging in delectable seafood is a must-do activity while visiting Cocoa Beach, promising a memorable culinary experience by the sea.
Port Canaveral, often referred to as “The Gateway to the Space Coast,” is a bustling and dynamic destination that adds a unique flavor to the Cocoa Beach experience. As one of the busiest cruise ports in the world, it’s not only a hub for maritime activity but also a captivating place to explore.
Visitors can enjoy watching massive cruise ships depart on their voyages, providing a sense of adventure and wanderlust. The area around Port Canaveral is dotted with waterfront restaurants serving fresh seafood and offering stunning views of the harbor. Additionally, the port is a launch site for rockets and spacecraft, providing an opportunity to witness space history in the making.
Whether you’re dining, watching rocket launches, or simply taking in the maritime ambiance, Port Canaveral is a fascinating and multifaceted destination that adds depth and excitement to your Cocoa Beach Fl visit.
Where to Stay in Cocoa Beach
These are 3 of our top-recommended places to stay in Cocoa Beach.
High-End Luxury Hotel: Hilton Cocoa Beach Oceanfront
While not as exclusive as some other luxury resorts, the Hilton Cocoa Beach Oceanfront offers a high level of comfort and service. The hotel features oceanfront rooms with private balconies, multiple dining options, a pool area, and easy access to the beach.
It’s a popular choice for travelers seeking a more affordable luxury option with a great location
La Quinta Inn is a budget-friendly yet family-friendly option in Cocoa Beach. It offers clean and comfortable rooms, a continental breakfast, a swimming pool, and pet-friendly accommodations. It’s a great choice for families on a budget who still want a pleasant stay near the beach and Port Canaveral.
Budget Hostel/Hotel: Motel 6 Cocoa Beach
Motel 6 is a well-known budget hotel chain that offers affordable rates. The Cocoa Beach location provides comfortable rooms, an outdoor pool, and a pet-friendly policy. While it may not offer luxury amenities, it’s a practical choice for budget-conscious travelers.
As we bid farewell to the sunny shores of Cocoa Beach, it’s clear that this coastal gem is an adventurer’s dream come true. From riding the waves at the “Surf Capital of the East Coast” to delving into the rich surf culture at the Ron Jon Surf Shop and the Florida Surf Museum, the list of things to do in Cocoa Beach is as diverse as it is thrilling.
But Cocoa Beach isn’t just about the beach – it’s a place where you can reconnect with nature at Lori Wilson Park, where pristine landscapes and wildlife encounters await. And don’t forget Merritt Island, a natural wonderland where you can witness the untamed beauty of Florida’s wildlife.
Cocoa Beach is a destination that combines the best of coastal relaxation, water sports, and cultural exploration. Whether you’re a surfing aficionado, a nature lover, or simply seeking some laid-back beach time, this charming town has something for everyone.
So, pack your swimsuit, grab your surfboard, and get ready for an unforgettable adventure on Florida’s Space Coast – Cocoa Beach awaits with open arms and endless possibilities.
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