With over 130 million visitors each year, the state of Florida is the most popular destination for visitors in the United States, and for a good reason. There are so many incredible adventures to be had that it’s impossible to do them all in just one trip.
But the good news is that many of the destinations worth seeing in the Sunshine State are in close proximity to one another. To simplify the process of planning your next Florida road trip, we’ve put together a four-day itinerary that showcases many of the must-see locations along the famous Space Coast, including Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex, Canaveral National Seashore, Daytona Beach, Blue Springs State Park and DeLeon Springs State Park.
We suggest flying directly into Orlando via Orlando International or Sanford-Orlando International. Both airports are well-appointed, full-service and offer ample car rental options.
DAY 1 – KENNEDY SPACE CENTER
The Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex, located in Merritt Island, Florida, is the ultimate destination for anyone who’s fascinated by space exploration and enjoys watching rockets launch into orbit right before their eyes. There are hundreds of different experiences to be had at Kennedy Space Center, so you want to plan ahead and dedicate plenty of time to exploring them all.
Your dream visit may include things like touring the U.S. Astronaut Hall of Fame—where the accomplishments of American astronauts are on full display, visiting the theater to watch Mission Control in action as they found both success and failure during all fourteen Apollo Missions, or strolling through the eye-catching Rocket Garden on a guided tour.
You can also meet an astronaut in person during a live presentation at Universe Theater, exploring interactive exhibits and artifacts from various space missions, and getting up close and personal to the actual Lunar Module 9. It doesn’t get any better than that! But if that weren’t enough, visitors can also get hands-on training with any of the astronaut training simulators and experience microgravity just as it exists in the International Space Station.
With so much to do, it’s easy to forget about eating entirely. But, there are several cafes, snack counters, and even a coffee, beer and wine bar located conveniently at the Kennedy Space Center so that you don’t have to interrupt your very busy day.
After refueling, go behind the gate on a guided tour of the historic and operational spaceflight areas within the Kennedy Space Center. There is no better way to experience the past, present and future of space exploration than spending a few hours touring these restricted spaces. A centerpiece of these tours is the Apollo/Saturn V Center. This up-close experience with one of the most significant engineering and technological marvels, the Saturn V moon rocket, will inspire you while connecting you with NASA’s newest lunar rocket, the Artemis 1, that is set to unveil in June 2022. The United States’ return to the moon, after nearly 50 years, marks a monumental event in our history, one that you’ll want to be a part of, and there is no place better than Kennedy Space Center to do just that.
Where to Eat & Stay Near Kennedy Space Center
For a unique taste of the Space Coast, head 10 minutes west of the Kennedy Space Center to The Space Bar, a new rooftop bar/restaurant in Titusville! Enjoy one of their space themed signature cocktails and elevated cuisine options with a picturesque landscape of the Indian River. If you are in town during a rocket launch, The Space Bar has the best view in town!
The Space Bar is located on the rooftop of the brand new Courtyard Marriott Titusville hotel, which we recommend staying at. Relax by the resort-style pool with cabana seating and bar service, grab a coffee from their Starbucks and enjoy the riverfront views on their outdoor courtyard area or Adirondack chairs along the water. All the guest rooms are space themed with headboard murals of Hubble Telescope images!
DAY 2 – CANAVERAL NATIONAL SEASHORE & DAYTONA BEACH
After a good night’s rest, you’ll head into day two feeling refreshed and ready for a new adventure.
Canaveral National Seashore
Get an early start and take the short drive out to Canaveral National Seashore. Here you’ll find the most pristine natural coastline in all of Florida. From hiking to suntanning, fishing to boating, and swimming to shelling, Canaveral National Seashore is the perfect spot to spend a pleasant day in one of the least developed sections of seashore in the South.
From the tranquility of this natural environment, we’re heading north to the home of NASCAR and one of America’s most famous motorcycle rallies, Daytona Beach. The first stop is at the Daytona International Speedway to take a tour of the World Center of Racing. If you’ve never seen a NASCAR speedway, you’re in for a treat; from the size and scale of the track to the insane slope of turns, the facility is astounding. The speedway also has an interactive museum that tells the story of stock car racing from its early days to today, highlighting the technology, personalities and events that have made NASCAR one of the country’s most-watched sports.
Where to Eat & Stay Near Daytona Beach
Then it’s to grab dinner at one of the many famous restaurants Daytona Beach is known for. Whether you’re craving some mouthwatering barbecue from Hog Heaven Bar-B-Q, island-inspired cuisine from Caribbean Jack’s or a thick-cut steak from Hyde Park Prime Steakhouse, you’re sure to find something everyone will love here in Daytona Beach.
It would be hard to recommend staying in a place called Daytona Beach without recommending a couple of hotels that are on the beach. The Hard Rock Hotel offers panoramic ocean views in a modern and stylish setting while Hilton Daytona Beach Oceanfront Resort will have you in the center of the action, right next to Ocean Walk Village.
DAY 3 – BLUE SPRINGS STATE PARK
There is something special about a sunrise walk along the beach, and if you’ve stayed oceanside, this is as easy as walking out your back door. Take a stroll along one of Florida’s most iconic beaches to begin day three of our Space Coast road trip.
Inland about half of an hour are several of Florida’s natural springs, and after a morning walk along the shore, we’re heading to one known for its abundance of manatees.
Blue Springs State Park is Old Florida at its finest. You can spend a long, leisurely day hiking the 3.6-mile-long Pine Island Trail—bird watching, identifying native flora and manatee spotting along the way—then crossing the boardwalk through the dense hammock to Blue Spring.
Next, it’s time to get even closer to the water, and you have so many fun ways to do so. Take a boat tour along the St. Johns River, fish along the shore or rent a kayak or canoe. You can also go for a swim, get some snorkeling or scuba diving in or rent a tube and take a lazy float down the river. Be sure to pack lots of cold drinks and delicious food for a scenic lunch at one of the many picnic spots.
Since the park is so close to Daytona Beach, just head back towards the beach, nightlife and your oceanfront resort of choice at the end of your time exploring the springs.
DAY 4 – DELEON SPRINGS STATE PARK
Fear not; the last day of your four-day itinerary in Florida is just as exciting as the days that came before it.
You definitely want to head out early today. After a short 30-minute drive to DeLeon Springs State Park, the first thing on your to-do list is breakfast at the Old Spanish Sugar Mill Restaurant. This breakfast won’t be like any others you’ve had along the way. Here, you’ll get to cook pancakes right at your own table—pouring the thick batter onto your griddle top table, adding any of the fruit, nut or chocolate toppings you crave, and flipping them over until they reach golden perfection.
After you’ve had your fill, it’s time to explore the six miles of paved trails and enjoy some of the best scenic hiking this area has to offer. Check out the Monkey Island Trail, which leads you through a jungle-like tour of the canopy until you reach Monkey Island—which is quite literally home to wild monkeys! Another option to get you out on the water is a 50-minute boat tour where you can learn about the area’s history and spot a variety of wildlife.
Before you leave, don’t forget to take a dip in the cool natural springs to escape the day’s heat and soak up the last of the sunshine from your Florida adventure.