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16 Amazing Things To Do In Cocoa Beach

From surfing, dining and shopping, to wildlife and rocket launches, there are plenty of amazing things to do in Cocoa Beach in Florida.

After an incredible two days exploring Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex, we drove 40 minutes to Cocoa Beach. This area is known as Florida’s Space Coast. With Cape Canaveral and Cape Kennedy so close, when there’s a rocket launch scheduled, you’re guaranteed to feel every boom and see every spark from here!

Westgate Cocoa Beach Pier
Westgate Cocoa Beach Pier

I’m sure many visitors will do as we did, and combine a trip to Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex with some beach time. Beaches and rockets? I mean, what’s not to love?! It’s a great combo! To be honest, after two days getting deep into science and technology, we were ready for a few days of relaxation on the coast.

What a coastline it is! Cocoa Beach has a pristine white sandy beach which goes on for miles and miles. It’s nicknamed the “East Coast Surfing Capital”, which is hardly surprising when you hear that this is the hometown of 11-time surf champion Kelly Slater! I saw this love of surf reflected in a lot of the town’s beachwear stores and chilled out cafes.

While some Florida beach towns are all about the sand, sea and surf, I discovered there are some great Cocoa Beach attractions too. There’s the top-rated Wizard of Oz Museum, with its plethora of amazing memorabilia and immersive digital art experience. If you’re visiting as a family, I’d recommend a trip to the Museum of Dinosaurs and Ancient Cultures.

Cocoa Beach Pier
Cocoa Beach Pier

Meanwhile, if you’re as fascinated by wildlife as I am, book onto a boat tour around the mangroves, where you’ll hopefully spot some bottlenose dolphins, manatees (depending on the season) and a range of wild birds.

Coming up in this post, I’m going to share the best things to do in Cocoa Beach. So, whether you’re planning a couple of days before or after visiting Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex, Walt Disney World or Universal Studios, perhaps you have a day free before a cruise from Port Canaveral, or you just fancy a beach break, I hope these recommendations come in handy!

The Very Best Things To Do In Cocoa Beach

Have a beach day

If you’re visiting Cocoa Beach, then a stroll on the soft white sand, a bit of relax time and a dip in the ocean has to be top of your list. Cocoa Beach has 6 miles of Atlantic Ocean beaches, so picking a spot might be a challenge.

Cocoa Beach view
Our beach day in Cocoa Beach looked like this

For a bit of buzz, I’d recommend the area around Westgate Cocoa Beach Pier. It can get busy, but sometimes it’s nice to feel like you’re part of the action. Plus, you’ll have access to the pier’s restaurants and bars, restrooms and a car park.

Westgate Cocoa Beach Pier
Westgate Cocoa Beach Pier is a popular area for beach goers

If you’re looking for a wilder and more secluded spot, head to Lori Wilson Park. Here, you’ll find boardwalks, natural mangroves and picnic areas. We loved this spot. It’s much quieter and more relaxed than the built-up areas of Cocoa Beach.

To be honest though, Cocoa Beach is vast and has room for everyone! Just find a spot you like, switch off and relax! The Florida sunshine will always make you feel good.

Cocoa Beach
There are lots of parts of Cocoa Beach to choose from

Visit Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex

It’s hard to put into words how amazing I found our two-day trip to Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex. Every kid grows up with a fascination about space, and mine has definitely continued over the years.

Outside Atlantis at Kennedy Space Center
Outside Atlantis at Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex

Seeing real life rockets up close, hearing from astronauts who have been to space and learning about the future of space travel (hello Artemis missions….), it’s just mind blowing! If you visit Cocoa Beach or Orlando any time soon, definitely add a trip to the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex to your plans. You won’t regret it.

For lots of top travel tips, don’t miss my guide to visiting Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex.

Under the Saturn V Rocket
Under the Saturn V Rocket

Enjoy sunset cocktails on Westgate Cocoa Beach Pier

After a busy day at Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex, we arrived in Cocoa Beach and drove straight to the pier. Stretching for 800-feet, this pier is one of the most iconic spots in Cocoa Beach. While there are a few restaurants and vendors dotted along the pier, the most famous is Rikki Tiki Tavern.

Pier on Cocoa Beach
Pier on Cocoa Beach

This cute tiki bar is right at the end of the pier and serves food and drinks, accompanied by the most breath-taking sea views. We sipped on tropical Miami Vice cocktails as the sun started to set. It was such a perfect Florida experience; I’d urge you to do the same!

Cocktails at Rikki Tiki Tavern
Cocktails at Rikki Tiki Tavern

Go on a boat trip around Cocoa Beach’s Thousand Islands

If you’re interested in wildlife, this boat trip is one of the top things to do on the Space Coast. We hopped on a cruise with Cocoa Beach Dolphin Tours and explored the natural mangroves of the Banana River Lagoon. Our tour guide was passionate about nature, and was always pointing out birds and wildlife along the route.

On a boat tour in Cocoa Beach on the Banana River Lagoon
On our boat tour in Cocoa Beach on the Banana River Lagoon
Pelicans in Cocoa Beach
Spotting pelicans in the trees in Cocoa Beach

Obviously, there are no guarantees you’ll see any of the famous creatures from the area, but were lucky enough to spot some bottlenose dolphins and even a few manatees (the season had just begun). There were also lots of opportunities to see birds up close, including pelicans, osprey, cormorants, anhingas (snake birds) and herons.

As an extra, I really enjoyed the peaceful nature of the cruise. It was lovely just watching the world go past and appreciating the fabulous riverside houses and gardens too!  

Riverside houses on the Indian River Lagoon
Pretty riverside houses on the Indian River Lagoon

If we’d had more time, I would have loved to book a Cocoa Beach kayak tour. We saw a few people exploring the mangrove tunnels, seeing the wildlife up close and enjoying the tranquillity of Indian River Lagoon from their own little boats. It looked magical!

The Cocoa Beach Kayak Tour is one of the most popular things to do in Cocoa Beach
The Cocoa Beach Kayak Tour is one of the most popular things to do in Cocoa Beach
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Shop for beachwear at Ron Jon Surf Shop

Every time I visit Florida, I always love the shopping scene. The colourful prints and summer style – I wish I could wear clothes like that all year around. If only the weather in London was a little warmer!

We were excited to visit Ron Jon Surf Shop in Cocoa Beach. It’s officially the largest surf shop in the world, and when you step inside, you’ll be amazed by just how vast it is! Here, you can buy anything fro branded tees, rash guards and surfboards, to cute dresses, flip-flops and kids clothing.

Ron Jon Surf Shop Cocoa Beach
Ron Jon Surf Shop is one of the top Cocoa Beach attractions
Ron Jon Surf Shop
Ron Jon Surf Shop is the largest surf shop in the world

I really loved the womenswear on sale. There were lots of familiar brands such as Roxy, Quiksilver and Billabong. However, I really fell in love with the Ron Jon brand. After a long session trying 8 items on, I finally left with a colourful sweatshirt bearing the Ron Jon logo. Yep, I’m bringing the Florida surf style back to chilly London!

Outside Ron Jon Surf Shop Cocoa Beach
Outside Ron Jon Surf Shop Cocoa Beach

Learn about the region’s surf history at Florida Surf Museum

If you’re visiting Ron Jon Surf Shop, I’d recommend you pop across the street to their rental store. Inside here you’ll find the Florida Surf Museum.

Florida Surf Museum
I enjoyed learning more about Cocoa Beach’s surf history at the Florida Surf Museum

This is a small, free museum, which gives a great insight into the history of surf in this neighbourhood. While Kelly Slater may have put Cocoa Beach on the map, there are plenty more amazing surf stars who have graced these shores too.

Go for a healthy lunch at The Surfinista

I mentioned that the surf vibes can be felt throughout Cocoa Beach. Well, for a lovely chilled lunch experience, with a big side of surf, I’d recommend visiting The Surfinista. This café has a focus on healthy food, which after several days in Florida, we were certainly craving!

Looking for a healthy lunch in Cocoa Beach? Head to The Surfinista
Looking for a healthy lunch in Cocoa Beach? Head to The Surfinista

A lot of the items on the menu here are vegetarian and vegan. There’s also a signature menu of avo toasts to choose from. We picked The Sayulita, which was topped with crushed avocado, pico de gallo and a spicy cashew aioli. We also tucked into a tasty poke bowl, which was topped with seaweed, edamame beans and generous chunks of raw tuna.

After you’ve eaten, don’t miss a quick browse of the surf store. I really liked the t-shirts here!

Challenge your friends or family to a game of crazy golf

Macca and I have a long-standing battle on the crazy golf course! So, when we spotted the amazing courses at Lighthouse Cove Adventure Golf, it was game on! There are two 18-hole courses to choose from: Paradise Falls and Lost Lagoon. We decided to play both, and agreed that Lost Lagoon was a little more challenging.

Lighthouse Cove Adventure Golf
Lighthouse Cove Adventure Golf is a really fun activity in Cocoa Beach

This is also one of the most popular things to do in Cocoa Beach with a family. We saw plenty of parents coaching their kids on how to hold the golf club, then watching as their little ones beat them!

Once you’ve finished, you can celebrate with an ice cream from 3 Scoops Ice Cream Parlor. There are 24 flavours to pick from, so good luck deciding.

Follow the yellow brick road to The Wizard of Oz Museum

Did you grow up loving watching Dorothy and co in The Wizard of Oz? Despite being a little dark at times, it’s a film I adored as a child. The Wizard of Oz Museum in Cocoa Beach is a celebration of much more than the iconic Judy Garland film.

It features more than 2,000 items of memorabilia, from signed books, puppets and costumes, to collectibles such as teapots, Trolls and board games. I hadn’t even realised that author Frank Baum wrote 14 books in the Oz series, which was then continued by another writer.

Ruby Slippers at the Wizard of Oz Museum
Ruby Slippers at the Wizard of Oz Museum

There are some amazing items from the 1939 film here too, including props, movie scripts, autographs and one set of Dorothy’s famous ruby slippers!

One of the most impressive parts of the museum is the immersive room. This digital art experience features key moments from the Oz tales, brought to life through 3D graphics.

You can literally follow the Yellow Brick Road or walk through the field of poppies to the Emerald City. One of my favourite scenes involved the witch looking through a telescope, and viewing some of the amazing images from space captured by the James Webb Telescope.

The Wizard of Oz immersive room
The Wizard of Oz immersive room

As with some of the other digital art exhibitions around the world, this one also features a few scenes bringing Van Gogh’s art to life. We all loved this part of the museum. Even my one-year-old son was fascinated by the projections on the floor and walls.

Check out the murals in Cocoa Beach

I’m always in awe of how colourful the streets are in Florida. From pastel coloured houses to bright artworks, it’s a vibrant state. I absolutely loved spotting the murals and artworks around Cocoa Beach. Even the giant plant pots were decorated with colourful paintings.

Murals in Cocoa Beach
Looking for fun things to do in Cocoa Beach? How about checking out the murals
Art in Cocoa Beach
Colourful plant pots inCocoa Beach

We just missed the Space Coast Mural Festival (which takes place in March), but I spotted on Facebook that there are some beautiful and quirky new murals around the area.

Go for coffee at a speakeasy

I’m a huge fan of secret spots, and this really does feel like one! You could pass Cloud Parlor Speakeasy Café a million times and not really notice it, but step inside and you’ll be transported to a secret world!

Cloud Parlor
Cloud Parlor is a speakeasy style cafe! A hidden gem in Cocoa Beach

Once inside the building, you press a button which opens a bookcase. Head through and you’ll be in a super cool café and cocktail bar. We visited for coffees in the morning, something Cloud Parlor takes very seriously. There’s a vast menu of coffee and kava options. I can imagine it’d be a vibey night spot too, if you’re looking for something a little stronger.  

Spot some wildlife at Manatee Sanctuary Park

This lovely park is home to several short boardwalks lining the water’s edge, plus a large pond area. The park isn’t huge, but it packs in a lot of wildlife.

Manatee Sanctuary
Visiting Manatee Sanctuary Park is one of the most fun things to do on the Space Coast

We saw so many turtles swimming around in the pond area here! We also spotted a heron and several ducks. I imagine you’ll be able to spot manatees from the boardwalks during the season too – how amazing would that be?

Try one of the best Key Lime Pies in Florida

If you’re visiting Ron Jon Surf Shop and need a little refuel, how about a delicious slice of Key Lime Pie? We spotted The Florida Key Lime Pie Company‘s store by chance and couldn’t resist!

The Key Lime Pie Company, Cocoa Beach
The Key Lime Pie Company, Cocoa Beach

So, did it live up to it’s own hype?! Yes! It was absolutely delicious. It was tarter than expected, with a really strong zesty flavour. The texture was divine, and there was something so lovely about eating it in the Florida sunshine too!

If you’re looking for souvenirs in Cocoa Beach, the store here sells lots of local foods, including saltwater taffy, hot sauce, gator jerky, craft beer and other key lime delicacies.

Go back in time at the Museum of Dinosaurs and Ancient Cultures

One of the top things to do in Cocoa Beach for kids is visit The Museum of Dinosaurs and Ancient Cultures. With lifelike dinosaur replicas, fossils, and interactive displays, this is a great place to learn about the prehistoric creatures. From towering T-rex skeletons to intricate Mayan artifacts, the museum provides an immersive educational experience for all ages.

There’s an ‘Adventure Zone’ area that is ideal for older children, with a ride, options to pan for fossils and even some reptiles you can see up close. Also, the dinosaur store is open to all, so if you just want to pick up some dinosaur merchandise, definitely stop by!

Enjoy some great meals in Cocoa Beach

If you’re looking for some fun places to dine in Cocoa Beach, I’d recommend visiting Coconuts on the Beach. This beachside restaurant brings all the tiki bar vibes, making it feel like a real tropical escape. The menu is pretty standard Florida fare, with seafood, tacos, burgers, steaks and salads. We thought the seared tuna here was excellent, and portion sizes were very generous.

Coconuts on the Beach, Cocoa Beach
Coconuts on the Beach is a popular restaurant in Cocoa Beach

For another great local experience, how about ordering one of the hot dogs at Long Doggers. There’s a whole menu of super-sized hot dogs, each one topped with enticing ingredients. Whether you want your ‘dog’ slathered with slaw, topped with chillis or layered with melted cheese, you know you’re on to a good thing!

Long Doggers
Long Doggers is famous for its hot dogs

Both of these have that lovely laid back Floridian feel. Expect big family groups, kids playing games at the table, large portions and welcoming hospitality.

I made quite a long list of places to visit for food and drink but we only managed to visit a handful. Here are the others I’d love to return to:

The Fat Snook – Upmarket cuisine and an interesting menu.
Luna – Top-rated fine-dining restaurant near the beach. When we passed it was fully booked.
Beach Shack – A laid back beach bar, often with live music.
Nosh – Top-rated Asian restaurant with excellent sushi and Thai cuisine.
Florida’s Seafood Bar & Grill – One of the best seafood restaurants in Cocoa Beach.
Whisk & Grind – A great local option for breakfast in Cocoa Beach.
Foxtail Coffee – One of the best places to visit for a decent coffee.

See a rocket launch

I can’t guarantee your dates will match up with a rocket launch, but you’re in for a treat if they do! I don’t have photos from a launch in Cocoa Beach, but just before we reached this area we were in New Smyrna Beach, a little way north. It’s a lot further from the space stations, but we still saw one of the Space X launches from the beach. WOW was it incredible!! To learn about space one day at Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex and then experience it live? It’s one of the most memorable experiences on my travels yet.

rocket launch in Florida
I loved seeing this rocket launch while we were staying at New Smyrna Beach in Florida

If there’s a launch planned at Cape Canaveral or Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex while you’re in Cocoa Beach, some of the top places to watch from are: Lori Wilson Park, Alan Shepard Park, Westgate Cocoa Beach Pier and Sidney Fischer Park. It’s not called the Space Coast for nothing!

Where to stay in Cocoa Beach

We stayed at the Hilton Garden Inn Cocoa Beach Oceanfront during our trip to Cocoa Beach. With a beachfront location, swimming pool and easy access to all the main attractions, it was an ideal spot for our time in the region. We had a room with a balcony on the 5th floor, which offered beautiful sunrise views over the ocean.

As you’ve read, there are so many amazing things to do in Cocoa Beach! I hope this guide helps you plan your trip around the Space Coast. Florida is such a warm and friendly place to travel to, I’m sure you’ll have a great time!

If you’re looking for more information about this region, take a look at the Space Coast website. A big thanks to VISIT FLORIDA for inviting me to explore this exciting region. 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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best things to do in cocoa beach

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.

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