Kennedy Space Center Florida

One of Florida’s most popular attractions, the Kennedy Space Center in Orlando will be a highlight of your holidays to Florida. This isn’t your typical day out; this is a unique experience that’s perfect for curious minds and future space cadets. A visit takes you on a journey through the stratosphere and lets you explore the epic history of the U.S. space program.

The whole family can enjoy activities that are both interactive and inspirational, with the chance to meet a veteran astronaut, marvel over the Space Shuttle Atlantis and watch a rocket launch, before your very eyes.

Visit the IMAX® cinema to watch 3D films and learn about life up in space, or explore the exhibits that showcase hundreds of exciting artefacts. Spending a day here will definitely feel ‘out of this world’.

Getting here

You’ll find the Kennedy Space Center about a 50-minute drive from Orlando. While there aren’t any public transport services to get you there, tour operators in Orlando offer bus trips, or you can make your own way by car. You’ll need to pay a small fee to gain access to the parking lot.

The center is open seven days a week, 365 days a year, making it an ideal place to visit whenever you decide to take your Florida holidays. It’s recommended that you get there early to make the most of your day. Doors open at 9am, but closing times vary according to the seasons, so check ahead to make sure that you get to spend as much time as possible seeing everything on offer.

Tickets can be bought at the door or ordered online. Booking through the website might help you avoid the queues for the ticket office, but you won’t get any discounts. If you’re travelling with any hardcore space enthusiasts, there are upgrades available including special tours, dine with an astronaut and even a chance to take part in the astronaut training experience.

Things to see

There are plenty of attractions for the whole family at the Kennedy Space Center. Diehard space fans might want to keep an eye on the official website, as it offers details of when you can go and experience the thrill of watching a live rocket launch. Dates are listed on the site and, from a safe distance, you and your family could be experiencing the ground-shaking rumble as a rocket leaves its launch-pad and blasts into the sky. Night launches are particularly spectacular, but even a daytime launch is a jaw-dropping sight.

The closest you can get to experience what life is like among the stars is to take part in the shuttle launch experience. You’ll ride a module into a shuttle’s payload bay, before learning what to do in an emergency and just how the fuel tank is filled. However, the real excitement comes when you strap yourself in and experience how it feels to blast off and break free from Earth’s gravity in a simulation.

If that’s grabbed your attention, make sure you book tickets for Atlantis. This is the space shuttle that launched in 1985 and is now home to more than 60 hands-on exhibits. Inside Atlantis, you’ll be able to learn more about how astronauts live in space, and even take part in a simulation, where you’ll feel as though you’re piloting, docking and landing the historic shuttle for real.

Don’t forget to snap a selfie in front of the iconic NASA insignia, or with a real-life astronaut at a live presentation. Stroll around the Rocket Garden and measure yourself against the size of the giant rockets from NASA’s previous Mercury, Gemini, and Apollo programs. For a trip down memory lane and to see where American astronauts are remembered and honoured, visit the Hall of Fame.

Snacks and souvenirs

Even earth-bound astronauts need to refuel, and there are four restaurants where you can enjoy a leisurely lunch. If the astro-nuts in your group haven’t got the time or patience for a sit-down meal, there are three snack stands where you can grab a light bite and then move on to the next attraction. People with special dietary requirements are well catered for, so vegetarians, coeliacs and the health-conscious needn’t go hungry.

You won’t want to leave the Kennedy Space Center Orlando empty handed either, so visit ‘the world’s largest space shop’ and use up that leftover spending money on some space-related gifts. For that extra special souvenir take home from your Florida holidays, try and get a dedicated autograph from the astronaut of the day.