The unincorporated “town” of Merritt Island is placed on Florida’s biggest island, which assists as the home of NASA’s Kennedy Space Center, still, a significant tourist attraction, even though space shuttles are no longer being launched from Merritt Island. You can enter the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex, join an astronaut, enjoy the mechanical thrills of the Shuttle Launch Experience and search other interactive displays. And, if you are lucky, you will be in Merritt Island when an unmanned rocket blasts off from the space center or the nearby Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. Juxtaposed with all of this is the Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge, a 140,000-acre environment sanctuary.
Get to know about top things to do in Merritt Island
Kennedy Space Center
Whether you’re mildly curious in space or a die-hard sci-fi follower, a visit to the Space Center is awe inspiring. To get an excellent overview, start at the Early Space Exploration exhibit, progress to the 90-minute bus tour to the Apollo/Saturn V Center (where you’ll find the best on-site cafe) and stop at the impressive Atlantis exhibit, where you can walk beneath the heat-scorched fuselage of a shuttle that traveled more than 126,000,000 miles through space on 33 missions.
Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge
This perfect 140,000-acre sanctuary is one of the country’s best birding spots, especially from October to May (early morning and after 4 pm). More exposed and threatened species of wildlife inhabit the marshes, swamps, and hardwood hammocks here than at some other site in the continental US. The best viewing is on Black Point Wildlife Drive.
The range between Apollo and Playalinda is as fundamental as it gets: there are no roads, and it’s approachable only on foot or by bike (if you can ride on the beach). You require to obtain a backcountry permit ($2 per person per day) from the entrance station before setting off.
Canaveral National Seashore
The 24 miles of natural, windswept beaches here contain the longest stretch of undeveloped beach on Florida’s east coast. They hold family-friendly Apollo Beach on the north end with its soft surf, untrammeled Klondike Beach in the middle – a passion of nature lovers – and Playalinda Beach to the south, which is surfer central and comprises a nudist section near lot 13.
Discovered at the northern end of Mosquito Lagoon, Turtle Mound is one of the most massive shell middens on the Florida beach. It is around 35ft high and consists of 1.5 million bushels (53 million liters) of clam shells, the remains of an old civilization that lived on these shores for five centuries before European contact. It can be attained via hiking trails from Apollo Beach and gives panoramic views over the park and ocean.
This 6-mile seaside, at the northern end of the park and quickly south of New Smyrna, encourages families. It has boardwalk path (wheelchair accessible), and a lengthier stretch of road along the dunes with several parking lots than at Playalinda. There are many hiking paths nearby, including the Eldora Trail. It feels more private and is perfect for cycling or turtle-watching in June and July.
At the southern edge of Mosquito Lagoon, Playalinda is famous with surfers. Boardwalks give beach access, but only 2 miles of park road equal the dunes, and there are further parking lots than at Apollo, with several opportunities to reach the lagoon. Note that nudists often populate the remote areas north of parking lot 13.
Eldora State House Museum
Eldora was a little waterfront community of about 100 citrus farmers and fishers, several of the experts of the Civil War, who lived here between 1877 and 1900. The town depended on the waterway for supplies, tourists, and transport. It was reasonably prosperous – at least productive enough for the construction of the colonial-revival Eldora House, which has now been renewed as a small house museum detailing the life of the settler community via photos, videos, and artifacts.