Welcome to Cocoa Beach, Florida, where the waves are high, the rockets are higher, and the fun never stops.
This charming beach town, known by classic TV fans as the setting for "I Dream of Jeannie," is the perfect destination for families looking to escape the hustle and bustle of the theme parks in nearby Orlando.
With plenty of pristine parks and beaches to soak up the Florida sun, there's no shortage of relaxation to be had here.
But if you're looking for excitement, Cocoa Beach has got you covered with a plethora of family-friendly attractions, shops, and restaurants to explore.
Its proximity to Orlando has made Cocoa Beach the day-tripping destination for people who want a break from all those crowded theme parks.
So come down to Florida, where the only thing higher than the waves is our enthusiasm for all the awesome things to do in Cocoa Beach!
Why You Should Visit Cocoa Beach, Florida
The major feature distinguishing Cocoa Beach from all other Florida beaches is its proximity to Cape Canaveral and the Kennedy Space Center.
Anyone with even an inkling of interest in space travel will enjoy touring these world-class Florida attractions.
Plus, if you time it just right, you might see an awe-inspiring space launch on your visit.
Although space travel dazzles all who visit this coastline, don’t forget about the beach!
As mentioned in the intro, Cocoa Beach is highly respected for its huge waves, which are ideal for surfing enthusiasts.
A more practical reason Cocoa Beach has become so popular has to do with its location near Central Florida’s top attractions.
For instance, if you’re staying at Walt Disney World, then it’ll take only a one-hour drive to reach Cocoa Beach.
For obvious reasons, Cocoa Beach has become a favorite day-tripping destination for families staying in the Orlando-Kissimmee area.
Just keep in mind that Cocoa Beach isn’t exactly a secluded beach getaway. Given its location near Orlando, this beach has become quite commercialized in recent years.
So long as you know what you’re getting into, however, you should have a fun time on this famous stretch of sand.
16 Things To Do In Cocoa Beach, Florida
As the closest beach to Walt Disney World, you’d better believe Cocoa Beach has a strong travel infrastructure.
Let’s take a closer look at 16 of the top places to visit for an unforgettable Cocoa Beach experience.
1. Historic Cocoa Village
Historic Cocoa Village is a pedestrian-friendly district boasting a variety of local shops, restaurants, and cafes housed in beautifully restored buildings from the 1920s.
The district is also home to the Cocoa Village Playhouse, a historic theater that showcases popular Broadway musicals year-round.
Visitors are encouraged to check the theater's website for a comprehensive events calendar.
It's important to note that Historic Cocoa Village is located in the City of Cocoa, distinct from Cocoa Beach, and visitors should avoid confusing the two.
For more information, visit the official website of Historic Cocoa Village.
2. Cape Canaveral Lighthouse
Hey, have you heard about the Cape Canaveral Lighthouse? It's quite a unique sight! It was built in the 1840s and stands tall at over 150 feet.
Despite enduring some rough weather, recent renovations have made it look better than ever.
Interestingly, this lighthouse is owned and operated by the US Air Force, setting it apart from other Florida lighthouses.
If you're planning to visit, make sure to book a guided tour in advance through the Cape Canaveral Lighthouse Foundation.
The tours last around 3.5 hours and take you up to the 5th floor of the lighthouse.
To reserve a small group or private tour, check out the foundation's website for more information.
3. Exploration Tower
If you don’t have time to tour Cape Canaveral Lighthouse, then you might want to visit the Exploration Tower.
This seven-story marvel offers panoramic views and a captivating short film about Cape Canaveral's history.
Inside, you'll find engaging exhibits and a cozy café.
They typically open from 10 AM–5 PM, but it's wise to check their website for any updates and special events. Tickets are $6.50 for adults and $3.75 for kids aged 3-10.
4. Sidney Fischer Park
Privacy is hard to come by on Cocoa Beach, but most people who visit Sidney Fischer Park enjoy a fair amount of personal space.
About one mile south of the Ron Jon Surf Shop, Sidney Fischer Park measures 10 acres and offers guests access to restrooms, pavilions, picnic areas, and showers.
It costs $15 dollars to park your car at Sidney Fischer, and opening hours typically run from sunrise to dusk.
For more info, please visit Sidney Fischer Park’s official webpage.
5. Alan Shepard Park
Alan Shepard Park is perfect for travelers who want to be in the center of the action.
This park is in the heart of Cocoa Beach’s touristy area and is just a short walk from major attractions like the Ron Jon Surf Shop, the Dinosaur Store, and the Florida Surf Museum.
Since Alan Shepard Park is so close to the Ron Jon Surf School, it’s considered one of the best spots for beginners to learn the art of surfing.
On top of that, Alan Shepard Park is a premier park for viewing rocket launches.
Like most other parks, Alan Shepard closes at dusk and doesn’t allow overnight parking.
You will need to pay $15 per vehicle to park in this lot. For more details, don’t hesitate to check out Alan Shepard Park’s website.
6. Lori Wilson Park
Lori Wilson Park is arguably the most popular of all the parks listed in this post. The reason? Simple: parking is free.
All guests enjoy free access to Lori Wilson Park and its convenient entryway to Cocoa Beach between dawn and dusk.
A few amenities you’ll find on this park’s 33-acre grassy grounds include restrooms, outdoor showers, grills, and picnic areas.
There’s even a designated pet area on the property if you feel like bringing Fido along for the journey.
7. Center Street Park
Although Center Street Park is a bit off the radar, it has been gaining a reputation for manatee sightings.
Yes, this park is small, but it’s well worth the drive if you’re interested in watching local birds, manatees, or the sunset from the privacy of a romantic gazebo.
From Ron Jon Surf Shop, drive two miles north on Florida State Road A1A and turn left on Center Street to find this tiny park.
Official park hours are between 7 AM and 9 PM.
8. Cocoa Beach Pier
Like most famous beaches in the USA, Cocoa Beach has its own historic pier all guests must take a walk on.
Officially known as the “Westgate Pier,” this 800-foot wonder was built in the 1960s and is still a popular destination for fishing enthusiasts.
There are many restaurants and shops all along Westgate Pier, but one establishment that stands out is the Rikki Tiki Tavern.
Situated on the end of the Cocoa Beach Pier, this tropical-themed bar offers guests delicious drinks, grilled grub, and unparalleled views of the Atlantic.
Parking at the Cocoa Beach Pier’s lot will cost you about $20 before 4 PM. From 4 PM till 10 PM, however, parking is complimentary.
Find out more specifics on this attraction on the Cocoa Beach Pier's official website.
9. The Dinosaur Store & Museum
Heading to Cocoa Beach with the kids?
You might want to visit the Dinosaur Store & Museum, a vast 20,000-square-foot attraction.
It showcases not just dinosaur bones but also treasures from Ancient China and Egypt.
Don't miss the interactive "Adventure Zone," where you can see live reptiles, pan for fossils, and even experience a raft ride.
On Sundays, they wrap up early at 5 PM. However, remember it's closed on Tuesdays and hours usually run from 10 AM to 6 PM.
10. Florida Surf Museum
Ever wondered about the origins of Florida's surf scene?
The Florida Surf Museum delves deep into the state's surfing culture.
Dedicated to preserving East Coast surfing history, the museum showcases vintage surfboards and rotating exhibits.
Visitors can uncover tales of legendary surfers and their exploits. Don't forget to peek at their event calendar for special screenings or events!
11. Thousand Islands Conservation Area
For those who want to explore the natural beauty of Cocoa Beach, the Thousand Islands Conservation Area offers a serene escape.
Spanning multiple acres, this area is a haven for diverse ecosystems.
Visitors can kayak through the dense mangroves, which serve as a protective habitat for various species.
The conservation area's myriad small islands are hotspots for bird-watching, fishing, and photography.
While navigating the waterways, one can observe native wildlife and take in breathtaking views of the surroundings.
12. Ron Jon Surf Shop
While the article mentioned Ron Jon Surf Shop in passing, it's worth highlighting as its own destination.
Established in 1959, Ron Jon has become an iconic fixture in the surfing community.
As the world's most famous surf shop, it boasts an extensive range of products, from surfboards and beach apparel to lessons and rentals.
The two-story flagship store in Cocoa Beach spans 52,000 square feet, making it a haven for surf enthusiasts.
Even if you're not looking to buy, exploring this massive shop is a unique experience for all visitors.
13. Cocoa Beach Parasail
If you're looking for an adrenaline rush, consider parasailing over the beautiful waters of Cocoa Beach.
Operated by Cocoa Beach Parasail, they're known for their stringent safety measures, ensuring guests have peace of mind.
As you ascend, you'll be treated to breathtaking panoramic views of the shoreline.
The vantage point from the sky offers a unique opportunity to spot marine life like dolphins or sea turtles.
It's truly an exhilarating experience combined with the beauty of nature.
14. Coconuts on the Beach
One of the most iconic beachfront restaurants and bars in Cocoa Beach, "Coconuts on the Beach" is a must-visit for both tourists and locals.
With its beautiful views of the Atlantic Ocean, guests can enjoy delicious seafood, refreshing drinks, and live music.
The laid-back atmosphere, combined with its beach volleyball courts and frequent special events, makes it a popular spot for relaxation after a day at the beach.
It's not just about dining; it's about experiencing the true beachside vibe of Cocoa Beach.
15. Cocoa Beach Skate Park
For those looking for an adrenaline rush off the water, the Cocoa Beach Skate Park provides ramps, bowls, and rails for skateboarders of all levels.
The park, spanning over 10,000 square feet, boasts both street and transition features catering to diverse skateboarding styles.
Recognized as one of Florida's premier skate facilities, it's frequented by local enthusiasts and visiting professionals.
Whether you're a seasoned skater seeking a challenge or just looking to watch some cool tricks, this park in the heart of Cocoa Beach offers a different kind of excitement.
Safety is a priority, so ensure you have the necessary protective gear if you plan to ride.
16. Bioluminescent Kayak Tours
You won't believe your eyes when you experience the natural wonder of bioluminescence in Cocoa Beach's waters.
Bioluminescent kayak tours offer a unique opportunity to paddle through waters that glow with each stroke, thanks to the presence of bioluminescent organisms like dinoflagellates.
These tours are usually offered during the warmer months when the bioluminescence is most visible.
Paddling through the dark waters, the movement activates the bioluminescent plankton, creating a mesmerizing blue glow around your kayak.
Several tour operators in the Cocoa Beach area specialize in these nighttime excursions, providing all the necessary equipment and guidance for a safe and magical experience.
Places To Stay In Cocoa Beach, Florida
There’s no shortage of hotels on Florida’s Space Coast, which could make choosing a hotel extra confusing for first-time visitors.
To help narrow down your search, here are a few of the best-reviewed hotels in Cocoa Beach.
Hilton Cocoa Beach Oceanfront
Those looking for fantastic views of the Atlantic in a 4-star setting can’t ignore the Hilton Cocoa Beach Oceanfront.
Not only does this Hilton offer great views of the Atlantic, but it also boasts an oceanfront pool, bar, and fire pit.
To book your stay at the Hilton Cocoa Beach Oceanfront, check out the hotel’s Booking.com page.
La Quinta Inn by Wyndham Cocoa Beach-Port Canaveral
Tourists interested in a more budget-friendly hotel should take a look at the La Quinta Inn at 1275 N Atlantic Ave.
While this hotel doesn’t have an oceanfront view, it is centrally located and has many perks, including continental breakfast, pool access, and a fitness center.
Find out more about Cocoa Beach’s La Quinta Inn by visiting Booking.com.
We hope our list got you excited about your trip to Cocoa Beach!
And if you want to see how Cocoa Beach compares to another Florida beach town, check out this post: Cocoa Beach vs. Daytona Beach: Destination Showdown!