Space City USA (the nickname for Titusville) runs along Florida’s coast and Indian River and is a bridge-crossing away from Kennedy Space Center. It is near Merritt Island and north of Melbourne. Titusville is an excellent place for a road trip. It can also be reached by flying into the Space Coast Regional Airport or the Orlando Sanford/Orlando International (MCO) airports, both 30 minutes away. Besides being home to the famous Cape Canaveral and a leader in America’s space program, there are great museums, unique attractions, and the Canaveral National Seashore. Here are six fantastic experiences to have in Titusville.
1. Tour Kennedy Space Center
One of the best experiences you can have in Titusville, maybe even in the whole country, is the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex at Cape Canaveral. I have been a guest on hosted trips at Kennedy Space Center (KSC) since moving to Florida a few years ago, and each visit brings a wonderful time. KSC offers a go-at-your-own-pace guest experience, including touring the Space Shuttle Atlantis (a do-not-miss), Saturn V Rocket, Moon Tree Garden, and seeing the Mercury Mission Control room.
I never tire of strolling through the Rocket Garden and seeing the Heroes & Legends exhibit, especially the U.S. Astronaut Hall of Fame, honoring well-known names such as Francis R. Scobee, Norm Thagard, Sally K. Ride, and Buzz Aldrin, to name a few. Pay tribute to fallen astronauts at the powerful Space Mirror Memorial, one of the most picturesque spots at KSC. Cool off or take a break (or both) in the IMAX Theater, showing space-themed films.
You won’t want to miss the largest store in the world for space gifts, souvenirs, and authentic NASA merchandise while at KSC. There is an onsite restaurant, Orbit Cafe, serving basic burgers, pulled pork, salads, Little Caesars pizza.
KSC opens daily at 10 a.m. and charges around $10 per automobile for parking (with an increased fee for RVs), and offers wheelchair and ECV rentals. Those traveling with pets will love the free pet kennel option in a climate-controlled facility. Guests cannot make reservations in advance — they are first-come, first-serve — and you will need your pet’s current vaccine record.
Pro Tip: Watch the rocket launch schedule and coincide your visit with a thrill of a lifetime. TravelAwaits’ own Joe Cuhaj has more on experiencing a rocket launch at Kennedy Space Center.
2. See Canaveral National Seashore
The Canaveral National Seashore is part of the National Park Service. The plant and animal sanctuary located on a barrier island is an excellent place to explore and learn about the hammock and lagoon habitats, go for a hike, enjoy a dose of nature, fish, and watch a rocket launch. Be on the lookout for bobcats and eagles (one of the 310 species of birds found there), as they love this protected area. There are also 24 miles of undisturbed sandy beaches, so perhaps consider bringing a picnic. There is an admission fee per car and per walk-in.
Note: The visitor’s center is located at the New Smyrna Beach entrance to Canaveral National Seashore. There is a second entrance near KSC.
3. Stroll Space View Park
A beautiful addition to downtown Titusville is Space View Park, the only park in America dedicated to those who have pioneered and furthered the space program. The gorgeous park is across the Indian River from the launch pads of Canaveral Spaceport. Space View Park is worth a stroll through to learn more about historic NASA launches and astronauts via audio feeds and exhibits. A fun thing is putting your hands in the Mercury astronaut’s handprints cast in bronze there. Around the park’s center is the Space Shuttle Memorial, with etched photographs of the crew that helped these missions complete their jobs.
Look for gators in the enclosed water beside the park. I’ve seen one on every visit. This is also within walking distance to downtown Titusville, with quite a few cute shops and restaurants to check out. There are murals, statues, and street art to soak up, too.
Pro Tip: Due to the pandemic, you should all be a whiz at using QR codes by pointing your cell phone’s camera at it to pull up a document that can be clicked for more information. You’ll find QR codes on many of Space View Park’s visual displays to learn more about what you are seeing.
4. Eat Along The Space Coast
You’ll experience some tasty eateries in Titusville, including Loyd Have Mercy, Dixie Crossroads Restaurant, and MoonLight Drive-In. Those alone might be a reason enough to visit.
Loyd Have Mercy is one of the only Southern soul-food menus I’ve seen on Florida’s East Coast, and let me tell you … it is fantastic. Start your dining experience with fried green tomatoes or fried okra, both Southern-girl approved. I love both the meatloaf and fried chicken (which they are known for) with sides of perfectly cooked and seasoned collard greens or green beans and mac and cheese. Oh my, this is a meal you won’t soon forget. Loyd Have Mercy was on a 2020 episode of Robert Irvine’s Restaurant: Impossible.
Titusville’s world-famous Dixie Crossroads is a huge restaurant, one that welcomes and attracts bus tours from across the country to eat fresh seafood, namely shrimp. Broiled, steamed, or fried, the choice is yours and applies to mostly every ocean-caught seafood dish on the menu.
For appetizer options, consider gator bites (you are in Florida, might as well) or bacon-wrapped shrimp. Main courses include po ’boys, ribs, fish tacos, salads, shrimp and grits, and steaks — beside all the seafood items you can think of. Save room for traditional Key lime pie to satisfy your sweet tooth.
Fun Fact: Dixie Crossroads serves shrimp options, including rock, medium, large, boat run, and royal reds, the crown jewel of Gulf shrimp.
At MoonLight Drive-In, stroll down memory lane at a retro, carhop-themed eatery serving Titusville since 1964. The nostalgic menu of this family-run jewel consists basically of burgers, fries, onion rings, hot dogs, and hand-spun shakes. I opt for the fried fish sandwich (cod) and sweet potato waffle fries when I visit. Praise be, this cute little establishment still serves root beer and Coca-Cola floats. Or does a fluffernutter shake sound more tempting to you?
MoonLight Drive-In is wheelchair accessible, has indoor and outdoor seating, and is open seven days a week.
5. Visit Unique Museums
Titusville’s American Police Hall of Fame is the one museum you won’t want to miss out on. I was shocked when I went into this well-done museum, which intrigued me with the educational exhibits, artifacts, and fun photo-ops and left me a ball of tears after seeing the US flag-draped casket in the memorial area. Names of fallen police officers, both in the line of fire and due to other causes of the job, are listed on marble slabs around the memorial. On the ground stood photos, trinkets, and mementos from the fallen’s loved ones who have visited the museum. It is heart-wrenching, I won’t lie, but the balance of happiness and sadness in the American Police Hall of Fame and Museum, plus just downright interesting exhibits, is sensational.
The American Police Hall of Fame was the first law enforcement museum in the country. I doubt that any of you will don the uniforms in the hands-on area, but if you happen to bring grandkids, they will love it.
Pro Tip: You can also use the indoor shooting center, with firearm rentals, training, and targets at the same location.
Meanwhile, the Valiant Air Command Warbird Museum, found at the Space Coast Regional Airport, is one of the most visited attractions in Titusville. This unique experience is filled with vintage military aircraft (warbirds) amidst a 30,000-square-foot hangar. Mechanics are constantly rebuilding and preserving the collection of warbirds back to their glory days. The collection (think B-25, Douglas C-47, and Huey) continues to grow immensely.
The front of the museum contains displays of artifacts and memorabilia, while the hangar has dozens of planes, from World War I through present-day to admire and photograph.
Note: The Valiant Air Command Warbird Museum is open Friday through Sunday but should resume regular hours late this summer.
6. Drink Really Good Beer
Playalinda Brewing Company’s Brix Project is another excellent place to eat and drink, serving some of the best beer in Florida, in my opinion. Updating and stylizing a former lumberyard, the restaurant has a friendly and comfortable vibe, plus indoor and outdoor (beer garden) seating. Playalinda’s Irish Nachos (corned beef, cheese sauce, sour cream, and pickled jalapeños) are a great appetizer to share, and gourmet burgers are perfect as a main course. Ask your server about the daily ramen special and burger-of-the-week.
I sampled a flight of beer from Playalinda and was unfamiliar with the brand until this day. The Pleasure Chest IPA and Barn Light Saison were both original and quite tasty. I was impressed with the unique ingredients of their beer recipe creations, such as marshmallow, lavender, and Meyer lemons. If you aren’t a beer drinker, they also serve craft cocktails and wine.
Pro Tip: As always, when visiting Florida, stay hydrated and wear adequate sunscreen. A sun hat is advisable when outdoors.