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Visiting Kennedy Space Center With Kids: Babies, Toddlers and Older Children

From key attractions, entertainment and food and drink, to practical info on timings and getting around, if you’re visiting Kennedy Space Center with kids, this guide will help you plan your day.

We’ve just returned from an amazing space-themed trip to Florida! As well as two incredible days at Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex, we were also lucky enough to catch a rocket launch from New Smyrna Beach and spend a couple of days exploring the Space Coast. A holiday based around rockets and beaches… what’s not to love?!

Kennedy Space Center with kids
This guide will help you plan a day at Kennedy Space Center with kids

Our son Cooper had just turned one when we embarked on this journey. He took the 9-hour flight from London Heathrow to Orlando in his stride, kicked the jetlag quicker than us, and seemed excited by the change of scene. We were too, after all we’d left behind a chilly 10 degrees Celsius in London (50 Fahrenheit for my US readers).

Rocket Garden with a stroller
Exploring the Rocket Garden with a stroller

The highlight of our trip was our time at the Kennedy Space Center. After developing a fascination with space travel during childhood, I’d always wanted to visit. I’m happy to say that it didn’t disappoint.

In this post I’ll be sharing my tips on visiting Kennedy Space Center with kids. While Cooper may be heading from being a baby into the toddler era, I’ll also be giving some information on how to visit with older children too. It’s such an inspiring place to visit with school age children, and will no doubt supercharge their passion for science and engineering.

Saturn V
The Saturn V is huge

Tips For Visiting Kennedy Space Center With Kids: How To Plan A Family Day Out

Why should you visit Kennedy Space Center?

We all grew up learning about space. I was always fascinated by stories of rockets zooming through the air, men landing on the moon and all the space research that has been undertaken in more recent years on the International Space Station. The latest images of galaxies and stars taken on the James Webb Telescope are enough to blow anyone’s mind!

So, when I had an opportunity to immerse myself in this fascinating and mysterious world at Kennedy Space Center, I couldn’t wait! Some of you may be reading this post thinking we’re mad for visiting with our one-year-old, but honestly, we all got something out of the experience.

I got goose bumps as we walked through the Rocket Garden. Seeing the giant rockets up close gave me such a thrill. There were some really moving films as part of the Atlantis and Heroes & Legends experiences too. I left feeling so inspired by what these brave astronauts have achieved.

Exploring the Rocket Garden
Exploring the Rocket Garden in the Florida sunshine

As for Cooper? Well, he might not have a full understanding of the world yet, but a lot of the experiences had sensory elements. He loved pressing buttons, looking at the lights and crawling around Planet Play. While screen time is limited at home, he got to watch some amazing videos at the complex!

There’s a quote I’ve seen which says ‘why travel if they won’t remember it’. I think there are so many reasons. All of these experiences are helping to build his character and personality. They’re showing him the world; that it’s a big place with lots of people and different ways of doing things. I’m hopeful that these worldly experiences are encouraging him to be a thoughtful, understanding and adaptable child. And if nothing else, maybe he’ll grow up aspiring to be an astronaut!

Cooper's rocket outfit
I loved Cooper’s rocket outfit!

Navigating around the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex

As a quick overview, the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex is divided into these distinct areas:

Gateway: The Deep Space Launch Complex featuring Spaceport KSC

  • This area is dedicated to space exploration now and in the future. There’s a chance to see some of the latest technological innovations, space suits, and learn more about Artemis – the next mission to visit the Moon.
  • Spaceport KSC is the name for four interactive movie experiences, Cosmic Wonders, Daring Explorers, Red Planet, and Uncharted Worlds. Forget the rides at Walt Disney World, these impressive simulators will make you feel like you’re visiting deep space!
Enjoying the Gateway complex
We really enjoyed learning about future space travel in the Gateway complex

Space Shuttle Atlantis Exhibit

  • This area focuses on the space shuttle, which flew 33 missions between 1985 and 2011. As well as some exciting video content telling the story of the shuttle, you get to see the actual space shuttle! When the huge curtain raises up and you see Atlantis in front of you, you’ll be amazed.
  • There’s lots of information on the International Space Station, the Hubble Telescope and practical exhibits on things like how astronauts eat, go to the toilet and sleep. I really enjoyed this section.
  • It’s also where you’ll find the Shuttle Launch Experience – an incredible simulator which gives you an idea of what it was like to fly on Atlantis. Space travel has never felt closer!
Atlantis at Kennedy Space Center with stroller
Outside Atlantis at Kennedy Space Center with Cooper in the stroller

Kennedy Space Center Bus Tour including Apollo/Saturn V Center

  • For this experience you board a 15-minute coach tour around the NASA site, learning more about the buildings you see around you, including the ginormous Vehicle Assembly Building. This is where they assemble the rockets. To give some perspective, just one star on the flag on the building is 6 feet wide! That blew my mind. You’ll also realise the scale of the entire site – it’s vast, and mostly green. Something I found quite surprising considering rockets blast off from here every few weeks.
  • The Apollo/Saturn V Center focuses on the race to the moon with the Apollo missions. Many of us have heard the story of the Apollo moon landing in 1969. This was when Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin became the first humans to set foot on the Moon’s surface, reaching there on Apollo 11. To be honest, I didn’t know about the other missions, so it was great to have such a section of the attraction dedicated to this.
  • You also get to see the Saturn V rocket. Every human who stepped foot on the Moon launched from Kennedy Space Center in a Saturn V rocket. To this day, it’s the largest rocket ever flown. It’s just so vast – you could never gauge the scale until you’re standing underneath it.
Under the Saturn V Rocket
Under the Saturn V Rocket

Heroes & Legends featuring the U.S. Astronaut Hall of Fame

  • This inspiring zone tells the stories of famous astronauts and NASA’s dedicated workers. There’s an incredible film, that is guaranteed to give you goosebumps!
  • Inside the Astronaut Hall of Fame, you can learn about the US astronauts in more detail.

Rocket Garden

  • We took a tour of the Rocket Garden, which was a quick and informative way to learn about the rockets. These are free and take place across the day.
  • Just wandering around this zone is a great experience. The largest is the Saturn 1B, which is turned on its side. Also in this area is the Mercury-Redstone 3 rocket, on which Alan Shepard completed the first U.S. human space flight in 1961.
  • The Rocket Garden is an iconic photo spot too, where you’re guaranteed to snap some great photos of your kids living their space dreams!
Saturn 1B in the Rocket Garden
The enormous Saturn 1B in the Rocket Garden

IMAX Theater

  • The movies may vary depending on when you visit, but during our trip we watched Deep Sky. This film shared the story of NASA’s James Webb Telescope, showcasing some of the amazing images it’s captured and the journey the team went on to get them.

Universe Theater

  • This theatre hosts live events and talks throughout the day. It’s where you’ll find the shows for children, as well as talks by veteran NASA astronauts and Mission Briefings.

Journey to Mars

  • This exhibition focuses on NASA’s plans to explore deep space, including Mars and the Moon. There are some Mars rover vehicles on display, as well as plenty of interactive games.

Planet Play

  • This is a really fun and fully-immersive multiple-story play area for children.
Planet Play games
There are lots of games for kids in Planet Play

As you can see, there’s a lot to do! While some of it may be more suited to adult visitors, there’s one big question I’m going to answer straight away…

Should I buy a one or two-day ticket?

When you start thinking about your trip to Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex I’d urge you to study the map and have a good think about what you want to see and do. It’s not on the scale of Walt Disney Land or Universal Studios in Florida, but there’s definitely more than you can fit into a day trip.

Kennedy Space Center
Kennedy Space Center entrance gates

If you can, I’d recommend spending 2-days at Kennedy Space Center. If I was visiting with my partner we may have got around quite a lot of the park in one day, but I still think it’d be a stretch. Adding kids into the equation adds time to everything, especially if they need to let off some steam in Planet Play for a while!

Having two days at the park meant we could take our time, save a few key attractions for day two, catch a few of the talks and not feel stressed out by the idea of missing something important. It’s only a few dollars more for the 2-day ticket, so it’s a bit of a no brainer.

Child-friendly itineraries for Kennedy Space Center

Depending on how many days you’ll be spending at the space center, I’d recommend popping together an itinerary before you visit. If you have kids of different ages, you (adults) might want to tag team for some of the day, so that you can fit everything in.

Here are two suggestions of itineraries that you might like to follow, with rough timings included.

Kid playing in Rocket Garden
Visiting Kennedy Space Center with kids? They’ll love playing in the Rocket Garden

One-day itinerary for visiting Kennedy Space Center with kids

9am: Arrive at the Kennedy Space Center, purchase Space Center tickets if you haven’t already, stop by the Visitor Center and familiarise yourself with the park area
9.15 – 10.15am: Visit Gateway: The Deep Space Launch Complex
10.15 – 11am: Enjoy 1 or 2 of the Spaceport KSC experiences (depending on height restrictions and wait times). Child swap is available here if not all meet the height restrictions.
11 – 12pm: Walk through the Rocket Garden and try to see one of the pop-up shows
12 – 12.45pm: Lunch at Orbit Café
12.45 – 2.45pm: Kennedy Space Center Bus Tour including Apollo/Saturn V Center
2.45 – 3.15pm: Planet Play
3.15 – 4.30pm: Space Shuttle Atlantis, including the Shuttle Launch Experience depending on height restrictions.
4.30 – 5pm: Heroes & Legends Exhibition
5pm or 6pm: Center closes (hours change by month)

Two-day itinerary for visiting Kennedy Space Center with kids

Day 1

9am: Arrive at the Kennedy Space Center, purchase Space Center tickets if you haven’t already, stop by the Visitor Center and familiarise yourself with the park area
9.15 – 10.15am: Visit Gateway: The Deep Space Launch Complex
10.15 – 11.15am: Enjoy 2 of the Spaceport KSC experiences (depending on height restrictions and wait times). Child swap is available here if height restrictions are an issue (more on that below).
11.15 – 11.30am: Walk through the Rocket Garden
11.30 – 12pm: Planet Play
12:20 – 12.30pm: Meet a Space Person for a photo
12.30 – 1.15pm: Lunch at Orbit Café
2 – 2.45pm: Chat with an astronaut (extra charge)
3 – 4pm: It’s A Matter of Fact Show
4– 4.30pm: Try Space Dots (ice cream balls)
4.30 – 5pm: Visit the Space Shop (the world’s largest shop dedicated to space!)
5pm or 6pm: Center closes (hours change by month)

Kennedy Space Center shop
You can buy very cool kids outfits at the Kennedy Space Center shop

Day 2

9 – 11.30am: Kennedy Space Center Bus Tour including Apollo/Saturn V Center
11.30 – 12.30pm: Watch IMAX Movie
12.30 – 1.15pm: Lunch at Space Bowl Bistro
1.30 – 2.30pm: All Systems Are Go Show
2.30 – 3pm: Planet Play
3 – 4.30pm: Space Shuttle Atlantis with the Shuttle Launch Experience (if tall enough)
4.30pm onwards: Heroes & Legends  
5pm or 6pm: Center closes (hours change by month)

Interactive games at Kennedy Space Center
One of the interactive games at Kennedy Space Center

Is it worth visiting Kennedy Space Center with a baby?

If you’re considering visiting with a baby or toddler, you might be questioning if it’s worth it. We did it and I can say it definitely is! We also saw so many other parents with children under the age of 3, with the youngest being just a few months old.

The site is very accessible, children under 3 are free, and with a child napping for part of the day, you’ll be able to enjoy lots of the attractions! You might find yourself tag-teaming with your partner a little, so you can both enjoy some of the adult activities. There are also options like ‘child swap’ available, so you can manage your time efficiently.

Heroes and Legends
Exploring the Heroes and Legends area

What is there specifically for children at Kennedy Space Center?

There are a few attractions which are specifically designed with kids in mind.

Planet Play

The top one is the incredible play area Planet Play. Think of it as a space themed soft play playground, with tonnes of interactive elements. There are games to play (ball shooters, puzzles, jumping , match the constellations), as well as lots of cool climbing apparatus. The highlights are the big slides and nets you can climb through. I wished I was a bit younger so I could have a go!

Toddler games in Planet Play
Cooper enjoyed playing with the children’s games in Planet Play

Planet Play is really well designed, and there’s even a small area just for babies and toddlers. Cooper enjoyed playing here. It was quieter than the main zone and had a few things that were at a low height for him to reach. I also took him to some of the older zones and he enjoyed looking at the lights and crawling around the digital floor with the constellations on.

Toddler at KSCVC
Toddler interacting with the screen at KSCVC

The website suggests Planet Play is for 2–12-year-olds, but there really wasn’t a strict lower age limit. In fact, the toddler zone said it was for kids from age 1-3. You can leave your stroller by the entrance and there’s also an adult seating area where you can chill out while your kids run around.

Toddler area in Planet Play
There is a Toddler area in Planet Play

Planet Play is an absolute must if you’re visiting Kennedy Space Center with kids. No doubt they’ll want to burn off some energy, so definitely allow time for one or two visits in your day.

Cooper in Planet Play
Children visiting Kennedy Space Center will love Planet Play

Atlantis Slide & ISS Explore Space

Within the Atlantis building, you’ll find a really fun slide, which is ideal for bigger kids as well as adults! The slide takes you from the top floor to the bottom, telling the story of how Space Shuttle Atlantis lands on a runway. It features a steep 22-degree angle, and gives you a fun adrenaline rush (perhaps a little fraction of how the astronauts felt!)

Atlantis slide
Atlantis slide

There are safety restrictions for many attractions, and for this one you must be 38 inches tall (97cm / 3.2 ft). It’s easy to meander down the ramp if you don’t fancy the steep slide.

Within the Atlantis area you’ll also find an area of tubes you can climb through, replicating the small areas of the International Space Station. 

Are there shows for children at Kennedy Space Center?

There’s some great entertainment aimed at younger visitors. Each day, the Universe Theater hosts a show that’s specifically for children. When we visited this was called It’s a Matter of Fact. This educational show brings science and space to life through a range of really fun experiments. Kids will get to see liquid nitrogen in action, and interact with the hosts throughout.

I also saw they run a puppet show called All Systems Are Go!, but sadly it was taking a break during our visit. I’m sure younger visitors, such as our little Cooper would have loved that one though, so take a look at the daily schedule when you arrive (or check the app before visiting).

The other thing we loved during our 2-day visit to Kennedy Space Center, was the number of pop-up events! Crew members would appear at various spots (e.g. the outdoor stage, inside the Gateway Complex) and demonstrate various science experiments. They were always really fun hosts, interacting a lot with the children watching. It really brought science to life, even for us adults!

Is there a minimum height for any attractions at Kennedy Space Center?

You’ll be pleased to hear that the majority of the space center is accessible for all: babies in strollers, little ones toddling around, bigger kids, adults and those with disabilities. I was really impressed by how easy it was to get around. However, with some amazing simulators and experiences, there are a few height restrictions to be aware of. It might even be worth measuring your little ones before the day, (if you think they’re on the cusp) just to manage expectations.

Spaceport KSC entrance
Spaceport KSC entrance

There are four awesome Spaceport KSC experiences within the Gateway Complex. These are a style of simulator where you are strapped into a one-row theme park style ride, with a huge film in front of you. Cue motion, wind in your face, music and amazing visuals. It really does feel like you’re flying around space! There’s are four experiences to choose from (or you can try to get through all of them): Cosmic Wonders, Daring Explorers, Red Planet, and Uncharted Worlds. My favourite was Red Planet, where it really does feel like you’re flying to Mars and landing on the surface!

To ride on the Spaceport KSC experiences you’ll have to be a minimum height of 39 inches (99 cm / 3.2 ft)

Within the Space Shuttle Atlantis building you’ll find the Shuttle Launch Experience. This is an incredible simulator where you feel like you’re zooming to space on the shuttle! You’re strapped in and spend a lot of the ride on your back (gravity / pressure… it’s just the way things are in space!). I loved this experience and I’d definitely recommend it to families visiting Kennedy Space Center. You have to be a bit taller for this one, with a minimum height of 44 inches (112 cm / 3.6 ft).

Inside the IMAX building you’ll find HYPERDECK with its VR experience MISSION MOON. This multisensory activity is included in your entrance ticket, but you’ll need to reserve it arrival. For this immersive, virtual reality experience you wear a VR headset and hold a controller. You’re transported into an immersive world, collecting lunar minerals from your rover.

Hyperdeck VR
Hyperdeck VR is great fun

This was one of the most fun activities we took part in. The graphics are so realistic, and there are so many extra effects including wind and heat, adding to the magic of the experience. The HYPERDECK VR experience has a minimum heigh of 46 inches (117 cm / 3.8 ft).

FAQS about visiting Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex with children

Can you take your stroller to Kennedy Space Center?

Yes, and I’d recommend it as there’s a lot of ground to cover. We switched between our baby carrier and stroller throughout the day. You can’t take a stroller on the bus to the Saturn V Center, but there’s a stroller park by the bus queue. It’s not manned, so I wouldn’t leave any valuables on the pram while you’re gone. You can also hire strollers for the day, both at the main complex and the Saturn V complex.

Rocket Garden with a stroller
You can use your stroller at Kennedy Space Center

How does the child swap work?

When we visited the KSC Spaceport area in the Gateway Complex, we saw the words ‘child swap’ on a door. I wondered how this worked, so on day 2 we tested it out.

Essentially, you can queue as a family, but then once you reach the front, one of you can wait in this little room with kids who don’t want to go on the ride or who don’t reach the minimum height requirement. Then, once the first adult has been on the ride, they can swap over and the second adult can go straight to the front of the queue. We used this successfully and thought it was a handy option to curb wait times. Plus, it meant neither of us missed out!

Does anything cost extra?

In general, you can just pay your entrance ticket and have an incredible day or two at Kennedy Space Center. However, there are a few extra experiences to consider if you can afford it, or you / your kids are space mad.

Chat with an Astronaut

We booked this experience and loved it. It’s an informal experience where you sit at big round tables, eat some snacks from a buffet, and ask the astronaut anything. Our session was with Tony Antonelli, who was really engaging and inspiring. It never gets boring listening to someone who has actually been to space! There were lots of kids between the ages of 5-12 in the audience, and they loved asking questions about space travel.

Chat with an Astronaut
I’d recommend booking tickets to Chat with an Astronaut

Launch Viewing Tickets

If you’re lucky enough to be in the area when there’s a rocket launch planned, you could book a ticket to view it from NASA itself!

Seeing a rocket launch in Florida
We saw a rocket launch while we were staying in New Smyrna Beach in Florida

Astronaut Training Experience

If we’d had longer, I’d have loved to book one of these experiences. In the special training program, adults and children age 10 and up get the chance to launch a mission, land and walk on Mars, as well as experience microgravity. The VR simulators are incredible, and will really make you feel like you’ve left Planet Earth for a while!

Mars Base 1

This is a special program within the Astronaut Training Experience with a focus on Mars. For this one, you’ll travel to Mars to work for the day at Mars Base 1. You’ll get to harvest plants in the Plant Lab, program robots to optimize solar energy as well as lots of other cool space tasks.

What food is available?

The one thing I’d mark the park down for is the quality of the food. There’s basic fast food, a Starbucks, and a take away bar serving bowls of rice and noodles. None of it felt like top quality food, and there wasn’t a huge variety as you’d find in Orlando’s top theme parks. Interestingly, you can take your own food into the park, so I’d recommend that if you’re a family on a budget. We also took snacks for our one-year-old and were very glad we did.

Space Dots ice cream
Space Dots ice cream – yummy!

The one thing I’d recommend trying are Space Dots! These novelty ice cream balls are really yummy and one pot is easily big enough to share between a family.

Where should I stay if I’m visiting?

We booked a night at the Courtyard by Marriott Titusville Kennedy Space Center. Around 10 minutes by car from the complex, it was an ideal location to maximise our time in the park. The hotel was clean and smart, with a quirky space theme.

Meeting an astronaut at the Marriott
Meeting an astronaut at the Marriott nearby

We loved the astronaut light projector in the bedroom, which made it look like the ceiling was covered in twinkly stars! The rooftop bar was also a great spot. What better spot to watch a rocket launch from.

Where else should I visit?

We sandwiched our time at the space center with a few days on two beach areas: New Smyrna Beach and Cocoa Beach (on the Space Coast).

They’re both close by, but have very different vibes. New Smyrna Beach is a beautiful hippy area, with cute boutiques, art galleries, a surf vibe, lots of outdoor dining options and a beach you can drive on. Smyrna Dunes Park is close by, famous for its boardwalks, pristine beaches and gopher tortoises.

New Smyrna Beach, Florida
New Smyrna Beach is a family-friendly beach town in Florida
Smyrna Dunes Park
Beautiful views in Smyrna Dunes Park

Cocoa Beach is a little more built up, but still has a great beach. I’d recommend a trip to the historic Westgate Cocoa Beach Pier for cocktails, a spot of shopping at Ron Jon Surf Shop (the largest surf shop in the world) and a boat tour to see dolphins and manatees. You can read about the best things to do in Cocoa Beach here.

Ron Jon Surf Shop, Cocoa Beach
The world famous Ron Jon Surf Shop in Cocoa Beach

I hope this guide has helped you plan your time at Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex. If you have any questions, feel free to leave a comment below or send me an email. I hope you have the most amazing family day out.

Find out more about visiting the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex here. Also, a big thanks to VISIT FLORIDA for hosting us on this trip. As always, all opinions are my own.

If you’re looking for information to make the most of your time in the Sunshine State, don’t miss my Florida travel guides:

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kennedy space center with children

With a passion for food, fun and adventure, Chloe is the content creator behind one of the UK's top travel blogs Wanderlust Chloe. From volcano boarding in Nicaragua, to sailing around Sicily and eating her way around Japan, her travels have taken her to some of the coolest spots on the planet. Named Travel Influencer of the Year in 2022, Chloe regularly works with a number of tourism boards, producing inspirational travel content across multiple platforms. Find out more about Chloe here.