You don’t have to be a huge space exploration fan to have a great time at the Kennedy Space Center.
You’ll learn more about the NASA space program and find plenty of interactive exhibits that appeal to all ages and attention spans.
There is so much to see and do at the Kennedy Space Center. You can easily spend an entire day there and not see everything but it still makes a great day trip if you are short on time.
One of the best things about visiting Kennedy Space Center is that you’ll leave with a greater sense of wonder and appreciation for outer space.
You’ll be inspired for the future of space travel and learn more about exciting things to come.
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The Space Shuttle program at Kennedy Space Center lasted from Jan 5, 1972 – Aug 31, 2011.
Over the course of that time, five space shuttles launched humankind into space with STS-135 Atlantis as the final mission of the program.
It is possible to see a LOT of Kennedy Space Center even if you don’t have a full day.
The information booth is a great place to start if you want assistance planning your day when you arrive.
Purchase Your Kennedy Space Center Tickets Online Ahead of Time
Kennedy Space Center is one of the most popular tourist attractions in the United States.
You can purchase your tickets at the self-check station when you arrive.
I would recommend purchasing your Kennedy Space Center tickets online ahead of time before you go.
This a great way to reduce time in line during peak times at the attraction, especially around the holidays and spring break.
Admission is pricy but also includes a lot of experiences that would be a la carte at other attractions.
2-day tickets are a better value if you want to split up your time.
Is the Kennedy Space Center Tax Payer Funded?
A common misconception about Kennedy Space Center is the assumption that the attraction is taxpayer funded.
Since 1995, The Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex has been entirely visitor funded, operated for NASA by Deleware North.
How to Save on Kennedy Space Center Tickets
Find the best savings on your general admission tickets to Kennedy Space Center with the following ticket options where you can go straight to the gate:
- 1-day admission ticket
- 2-day admission ticket
- 1- day admission ticket + chat with an astronaut
- 2- day admission ticket + chart with an astronaut
- 1-Day Admission + KSC Explore Tour
- 2-Day Admission + KSC Explore Tour
- Astronaut Training Experience
*Atlantis Annual Pass – the annual pass does not have a straight-to-the-gate option
Parking at Kennedy Space Center
Parking is an additional fee at Kennedy Space Center and there are plenty of spots in the parking lot.
*Annual passes include parking.
Plan Your Day at the Kennedy Space Center
Make sure that you get a park map and daily schedule so that you can plan accordingly.
There are certain activities at Kennedy Space Center that are time sensitive that you’ll want to allow time for. For example, some of the time slots for the IMAX movies could fill up and the last bus tour runs 2.5 hours before closing.
You’ll also want to allow enough time for you to explore the interactive displays that pique your curiosity.
Wear Comfortable Clothes and Shoes!
Comfortable shoes are a MUST! You’ll do a LOT of walking during your visit. The Kennedy Space Center is HUGE at six miles wide and 34 miles long which is why you’ll want to wear comfortable shoes.
Your visit will be a combination of indoor and outdoor attractions with the majority of your time indoors.
There are structures/ exhibits for kids to explore, slide, climb, and crawl through…and parents may need to crawl with them so plan your attire accordingly.
Plan Ahead for Older or Younger Guests
It’s also important to note that a lot of the visual presentations are standing-room only.
If you have younger kids I would suggest a stroller with a sit-and-stand option. Older guests may need a wheelchair if they have trouble standing for long periods of time.
If you’re traveling with a guest who needs to sit more often there are rentals available for electric scooters, wheelchairs, strollers, and double strollers.
When is the Best Time of Year to Visit the Kennedy Space Center?
The best time of year to visit the Kennedy Space Center is during the months of May and October for fewer crowds and great weather.
Midweek also has fewer crowds and you’ll want to arrive around 9 or 10 am.
How Much Time Should You Allow For Your Visit to the Kennedy Space Center?
It’s recommended to allow a minimum of 6-8 hours to experience most of the main attractions during your visit at a leisurely pace.
It can feel a bit overwhelming on your first visit but you can still see the majority of the attractions with some preparation ahead of time.
Can You Bring Your Own Food and Drinks to Kennedy Space Center?
You can bring food and beverages in a small soft-sided cooler but you can’t bring outside alcoholic beverages, glass bottles, or containers.
There are picnic tables outside with umbrellas for guests to use.
Attractions Included with Your Admission to Kennedy Space Center
There are a LOT of attractions included with your admission! I’m also sharing the suggested time allowances for each attraction to help you strategize your day.
The following indoor attractions are included with your admission to Kennedy Space Center:
- Heroes & Legends – (allow 45 minutes) ( Located in Heros and Legends Building)
- U.S. Astronaut Hall of Fame – (allow 15 minutes) ( Located in Heroes and Legends Building)
- It’s a Matter of Fact Show – (allow 45 minutes) ( Located in Universe Theater)
- Astronaut Encounter – (allow 40 minutes) (Located in Universe Theater) Meet a veteran NASA astronaut during a live presentation
- Kennedy Space Center Bus Tour (tour length 15 minutes – allow 2 hours) ( * The Tour concludes at Apollo/ Saturn V Center )
- Apollo 8 and the Firing Room – (allow 20 minutes) ( Located in Apollo/ Saturn V Center ) Learn more about the space race to the moon
- Path to the Moon – (allow 20 minutes) ( Located in Apollo/ Saturn V Center) Learn more about the Apollo program.
- Moonscape – (allow 20 minutes) ( Located in Apollo/ Saturn V Center) You can see an authentic Lunar Module 9 (LM-9).
- Exploring the Moon – ( allow 15 minutes including the Saturn V Rocket) ( Located in Apollo/ Saturn V Center)
- Ad Astra Per Aspera – ( allow 10 minutes) (Located in Apollo/ Saturn V Center)
- Lunar Theater – (allow 10 minutes) ( Located in Apollo/ Saturn V Building) Relive the moments leading up to the Apollo 11 Moon landing mission
- Apollo Treasures Gallery – ( allow 15 minutes) ( Located in Apollo/ Saturn V Building)
- Saturn V Rocket – (allow 30- 40 minutes including exhibits) (Located in the Apollo/ Saturn V building)
- Hubble Space Telescope Theater – ( allow 8 minutes) ( Located inside Space Shuttle Atlantis)
- Astronaut Training Simulators – ( allow 15 minutes ) ( Located inside Space Shuttle Atlantis)
- Forever Remembered – ( allow 10 minutes) ( Located inside Space Shuttle Atlantis) Learn about former NASA crew members who lost their lives on the Challenger and Columbia space shuttles.
- ISS (International Space Station) Triumph of Technology – ( allow 10 minutes) ( Located inside Space Shuttle Atlantis)
- Shuttle Launch Experience – ( allow 30 minutes) ( Located inside Space Shuttle Atlantis) The next best thing to an actual space shuttle launch is during a simulation of the space shuttle’s 8.5-minute ascent into orbit for guests who are 44 inches or taller.
- Space Shuttle Atlantis – ( allow 45 minutes for shows and viewing of the Atlantis) ( Located inside Space Shuttle Atlantis) View the only space shuttle displayed in flight
- Journey to Mars – ( allow 30 minutes) | Launched By United Launch Alliance ( Check daily schedule)
- LEGO Build to Launch – (allow 15 minutes ) ( Located inside IMAX theater) immersive STEAM learning experience
- Mars Rover Vehicle Navigator – ( allow 10 minutes)
- IMAX Theater – ( allow 60 minutes) (Located inside IMAX theater ) incredible space-themed IMAX films including Journey to Space and the new 3D movie ASTEROID HUNTERS
- Mission Status Briefing – (allow 20 minutes) ( Located in Univeral theater)
- Gateway: The Deep Space Launch Complex – ( allow 45 minutes without Spaceport KSC) ( Located in Gateway: The Deep Space Launch Complex building)
- Spaceport KSC – ( allow 30 minutes) (Located in Gateway: The Deep Space Launch Complex building) You can experience one of four space simulation journeys: Red Planet, Daring Explorers, Cosmic Wonders, and Uncharted Worlds for guests 39 inches tall and up.
- Planet Play – ( allow 30 minutes – 1 hour ) interactive play area for ages 2-12 ( Located within the IMAX building)
- S.T.E.A.M. Interactive Carts – (various locations and times- check daily schedule)
Outdoor Attractions Included With Your Kennedy Space Center Admission
The following outdoor attractions are included with your admission to Kennedy Space Center:
Moon Tree Garden – ( allow 15 minutes) (Located outside the Apollo/ Saturn V building) Bronze statue with Apollo 11 astronauts Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin, and Michael Collins and 12 trees representing the 12 crewed Apollo missions.
Rocket Garden– (allow 20 minutes) (Location – You can’t miss them!) Check the daily schedule for guided tours to learn more about the history of early rocket science.
- KSC Step. Power. Launch! – ( allow 5 minutes) Interactive game stepping on the tiles (On your way to bus tour entrance)
- Space Mirror Memorial – ( allow 15 minutes) (Near the water to the right of the Planet Play entrance in the IMAX building)
Kennedy Space Center Bus Tour
To maximize your experience you’ll want to take the bus tour first when you arrive at Kennedy Space Center.
The bus tour in an air-conditioned motorcoach provides a great overview and also takes you to restricted areas of America’s multi-user spaceport.
* Check the daily schedule for any changes in the route due to upcoming launches.
See the Vehicle Assembly Building
One of my favorite things about the bus tour was that it provided us views of the Vehicle Assembly Building and other restricted areas of the Kennedy Space Center.
The Vehicle Assembly Building is the 4th largest building in the world by volume covering eight acres, at 525 feet tall and 518 feet wide.
NASA Kennedy Space Center has been the primary launch center of human spaceflight since 1968.
Did you know that Kennedy Space Center is located in the middle of the Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge?
The refuge is next to one of the largest and most diverse wildlife preserves in Florida, Canaveral National Seashore. There is a lot of wildlife in the area including bald eagles, alligators, sea turtles, manatees, and more.
You Can See a Live Rocket Launch at Kennedy Space Center
The Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex offers the closest public viewing for rocket launches, only a few miles from the launch pads, with live commentary from space experts.
Did you know that all launches in Florida begin their journey on the launch pads of Kennedy Space Center or Cape Canaveral Air Force Station?
You can check out the events calendar for upcoming rocket launches.
Where can you watch a rocket launch at Kennedy Space Center?
Launch Viewing Locations at Kennedy Space Center:
- LC-39 Observation Gantry
- Banana Creek Launch Viewing Area (adjacent to the Apollo/Saturn V Center)
- The Apollo/Saturn V Center lawn
- The main visitor complex, with bleachers set up in designated viewing areas
It’s recommended to purchase tickets for the launch ahead of time because day-of tickets can sell out.
First Stop at the Apollo/ Saturn V Center
The bus tour stops at the Apollo/ Saturn V Center where you’ll find multiple attractions (listed under the attractions section above) in one giant building.
You’ll learn more about Apollo astronauts who are household names including Michael Collins, Neil Armstrong, and Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin. You’ll also learn about lesser-known heroes of space on other Apollo missions.
Once you’re done viewing the exhibits you can catch a bus that departs every 15 minutes.
Go to the Atlantis Building Next
If you are only visiting for the day, the Atlantis building is a MUST!
Inside you’ll view the Atlantis shuttle on display that’s 122.17 feet long.
Plan Ahead for Planet Play
Planet Play is the best place for kids to burn off some energy during your visit. The interactive multi-story indoor play area is for kids ages 2-12.
I would recommend trying to save this area as a reward for later in the day. Realistically your kids aren’t going to want to do anything else after they start exploring and climbing around this play area.
It’s a good idea to set a time limit at Planet Play if you still want to explore more of the attractions that day.
If you have a family of multiple ages and want to take turns checking out the exhibits while the other parent stays with the kids.
The Planet Play Lounge is also a great place for parents to take a break and enjoy a coffee, a glass of wine, or beer.
Restaurants at Kennedy Space Center
You have plenty of dining options available at Kennedy Space Center during your visit. Several restaurants offer healthier menu items, vegetarian, and gluten-free.
- Orbit Cafe- Pro tip: Take advantage of mobile dining ordering to skip the line.
- Space Bowl Bistro – acai bowls and “build your own” savory bowls
- Moon Rock Cafe (at the Apollo/Saturn V Center)
- IMAX SNAK – traditional movie snacks and drinks
- Planet Play Lounge – coffee, beer, and wine
- Red Rock Grill – outdoor lunch stand serving fries and hot dogs
- Milky Way – ice and space dots
- Space Dots – next to Space Shuttle Atlantis building
Experiences and Attractions for An Additional Fee at the John F. Kennedy Space Center
The following experiences at Kennedy Space Center are an additional cost:
- Chat With an Astronaut (small group encounter with a real astronaut)
- Kennedy Space Center Explore Tour
- Fly with an Astronaut
- Launch Director Tour of Space Shuttle Atlantis
- Astronaut Training Experience
- Mars Base 1
- ATX Training Stages
Where is the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex at Cape Canaveral Located?
The Kennedy Space Center Visitors Complex is located at Space Commerce Way, Merritt Island, Florida. It’s an easy road trip from multiple cities in Central Florida and several beaches along the Space Coast and popular theme parks.
What is the Closest Airport to Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex?
There are several airports located around an hour from the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex
- Orlando International Airport (MCO) 43.8 miles ( 44 minutes)
- Melbourne Orlando International Airport (MLB) 47.1 miles (51 minutes )
- Daytona Beach International Airport (DAB) 61.5 miles ( 1 hr 4 minutes)
Save on Area Hotels and Vacation Rentals Near Kennedy Space Center
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Additional Things to Do Near Along Florida’s Space Coast
- Cocoa Beach
- Bioluminescence Kayaking Tour at Indian River Lagoon
- Daytona Beach – Check out these great places to eat in Daytona.
Save on Your Stay Near Kennedy Space Center
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