Planning Your First Family Trip to the Kennedy Space Center

Kennedy Space Center
Vacation Central Florida

Ever dreamed of becoming an astronaut? 

Since 1968, the John F. Kennedy Space Center on Merritt Island, Cape Canaveral, Florida, has been NASA's primary launch center for human spaceflight. And the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex, right down the road, is where aspiring astronauts go to experience some truly out-of-this-world adventures. 

The massive complex is its own indoor amusement park with interactive space shuttle exhibits, a rocket garden, 2 IMAX shows, an Astronaut Hall of Fame and Astronaut Memorial, rocket launch viewing areas, children’s play spaces, and much, much more. 

Planning your first family trip to the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex may sound daunting with so many options to choose from, so we’ve created this guide to answer all your questions and help you get the most out of your trip! 

  

Before You Go   

The Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex offers many different types of tours and experiences, so you’ll want to check out the website prior to departure to see what’s open and which options suit your interests, time, and budget. 

If you want to visit during a rocket launch, check out the events calendar for the most up-to-date information on launches and how to view them (some rocket launch viewing areas aren’t included in your general admission). 

Purchase your tickets and book tours online to avoid the lines on-site, because if you’re visiting around the holidays or for one of the rocket launches, the lines will be massive! 

If you truly want to plan ahead, you can map out your day on the Kennedy Space Center Official Guide app. This is a great way to make a note of your must-do’s and helps you see and experience as much as you can if you’re only there for a short visit. Check out the website’s suggested itinerary to spark some ideas. 

 

Getting There 

Cape Canaveral is about a 45-minute ride from Orlando and approximately halfway between Jacksonville and Miami at the heart of Florida’s “Space Coast”. It’s home to Port Canaveral and Cape Canaveral’s Air Force Base, but its real jewel is the Kennedy Space Center and Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex.  

If you want to stay nearby, check out our Cape Canaveral vacation rentals for the most affordable rate with rocket launch views! 

Make sure you’re heading to the Visitor Complex, not the actual Kennedy Space Center. The address for the Complex is Space Commerce Way, Merritt Island, FL 32953.  

 

Once You Arrive 

The Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex is split into Mission Zones where attractions are grouped by chronological era. Here’s a brief overview of our favorite zones and approximately how long it takes to experience each: 

Heroes & Legends (2.5 hours): This area celebrates the pioneers of NASA’s early space programs. Honor the lives of America’s space heroes at the U.S. Astronaut Hall of Fame, watch an inspiring 45-min film about the Apollo Space Mission, and walk alongside and marvel at 8 giant rockets in the Rocket Garden! 

NASA Now + Next (2.5 hours): Here, you can immerse yourself in the science of current missions to the International Space Station (ISS) and upcoming missions to explore deep space. See life-sized Mars rover replicas and test your knowledge as a recruit at Journey to Mars: Explorers Wanted. You can also view 2 incredible space-themed films Journey to Space and the new 3D movie ASTEROID HUNTERS at the eye-popping IMAX Theater.   

Shuttle: A Ship Like No Other (2.5 hours): This area explores the legacy of NASA’s Space Shuttle Program. Marvel at the 184-foot, full-scale space shuttle Atlantis where you can train like an astronaut with high-tech simulators. Check out an exact replica of the Hubble Space Telescope at the Hubble Space Telescope Theater, and strap in for a simulation of the space shuttle’s ascent into orbit at the Shuttle Launch Experience — truly the next best thing to a live space shuttle launch! 

Speaking of launches … 

 

How To See a Live Rocket Launch: 

None of the other attractions compare to experiencing the power of an actual rocket launch rumbling your soul! If you’re planning your visit to the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex around this once-in-a-lifetime experience, be sure to follow these tips!   

Always Check the Kennedy Space Center Rocket Launch Schedule 

The events calendar has the most up-to-date information on upcoming launches so it should be your primary source of information. However, all launch times and dates are subject to change without notice. 

Know What Launch Viewing Location You’re Going To 

The Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex offers these three viewing options with availability that varies for every launch. You can check the events calendar for which option you need to go to:   

LC-39 Observation Gantry (2 to 5.5 miles from the launch site): This historic site is where Apollo astronauts launched to the moon. It is the closest viewing area to the launch site and costs $49 in addition to general admission. 

Banana Creek Launch Viewing Area (5 to 8 miles away from the launch site): This site is adjacent to the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex’s Apollo/Saturn V Center. It costs $20 in addition to general admission.   

Main Visitor Complex/North Atlantic Lawn (7 miles away from the launch site): This site is included in your general admission.   

Bring Sunscreen! 

Many first-time visitors are surprised to find out the viewing areas are simply bleacher and lawn seating in direct sunlight! Only the LC-39 Observation Gantry offers limited shaded seating, so be sure to pack up that sunscreen.  

  

The Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex FAQ 

How Much is General Admission? 

·  Children $47 (ages 3-11) 

·  Adults $57 (12+) 

 

What Does General Admission Include?      

General admission includes the following attractions: 

·  Heroes and Legends featuring the U.S. Astronaut Hall of Fame® 

·  Rocket Garden 

·  Nature and Technology 

·  Space Shuttle Atlantis® with Shuttle Launch Experience® 

·  NASA Now 

·  Journey to Mars: Explorers Wanted 

·  Universe Theater 

·  IMAX Theater 

·  Children's Play Dome 

If you visit before the end of 2020, a complimentary admission ticket (valid for use beginning January 1, 2021, through December 25, 2021) is included with your ticket! 

 

Where Can I Buy Tickets Online? 

Purchase your general admission and add-on packages on the website

 

What Are the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex’s Hours of Operation? 

For the remainder of 2020, the Visitor Complex opens from 10 AM – 4 PM EST. 

 

How Long Does It Take to Go Through the Entire Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex? 

You should expect to spend at least 6 hours at the Visitor Complex. We recommend the full day (9 hours) if you truly want to see everything.