Simply put, the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex is spectacular. It’s a place that all RVers (and people in general!) should have on their bucket lists.
A place where humankind first left Earth to explore the heavens. With a mixture of nostalgia, exploration, and innovation this area is a symbol of American ingenuity and human curiosity.
When you arrive at the Kennedy Space Center, there are numerous attractions and interactive exhibits. The website even has a cool little tool that gives you a suggested itinerary based on a survey to help plan out your visit.
PLEASE NOTE: The full Kennedy Space Center Bus Tour is currently unavailable for guests' health and safety. So check ahead and plan this trip at a later time.
Once this is available again, one of the first things we would suggest doing is taking the Kennedy Space Center Bus Tour. The bus tour is the only way to get access “behind the scenes” to NASA’s restricted areas of the Space Center!
Here you’ll view mission-critical areas like the Vehicle Assembly Building and Launch Complex 39 and learn about their respective roles in the space fight process from a tour guide. This is just about as close as you can get to these areas without being on the payroll!
PLEASE NOTE: The Apollo/Saturn V Center is open again and requires a transportation reservation to visit.
The bus tour takes about 45 minutes total and drops you off at the Apollo/Saturn V Center where NASA’s Apollo Program comes to life. The Apollo Program was the NASA program that resulted in American astronauts making a total of 11 space flights and walking on the moon.
The first four flights tested the equipment used in the Apollo Program. Six of the other seven fights landed on the moon. The first Apollo fight happened in 1968, the first moon landing took place in 1969, and the last moon landing was in 1972.
Inside the Apollo/Saturn V Center the centerpiece is the gigantic Saturn V, the largest rocket ever flown. It was over 360 feet long and 33 feet in diameter, with a launch weight of over 6 million pounds! It dwarfs anything launched into space before or since.
This is the first stage of the Saturn V, powered by 5 F-1 rocket engines which ignited kerosene with oxygen. The engines pushed the Saturn V to a speed of 6,000 mph and an altitude of 38 miles in under three minutes.
That is some serious acceleration! The F-1 is still the most powerful liquid-fueled rocket engine ever to fly.
Exhibits alongside the rocket highlight its assembly and the more than 400,000 people who helped build the massive machine.
• The Firing Room Theater, where you can relive the launch countdown for the first crewed NASA mission to orbit the Moon watching the actual consoles used during the Apollo launches.
• Moonscape, where you can get up close with Lunar Module 9 (LM-9), an authentic lunar module created for the Apollo Program, and do a number of interactive challenges.
• The Treasures Gallery, where you can view artifacts such as spacesuit prototypes, training gear worn on the Apollo missions, and the Command Module which brought astronauts back to Earth.
There really is a lot to do here! You can spend 2+ hours just at this complex. When you’re finished, you can board another bus that will take you back to the main visitor complex.
Back at the visitor complex, explore the Heroes & Legends building which features the U.S. Astronaut Hall of Fame. This building tells the story of these astronauts through personal stories and authentic artifacts from NASA’s early space programs.
I particularly liked the A Hero Is exhibit which highlights nine different attributes of these astronauts: Inspired, Passionate, Curious, Tenacious, Disciplined, Confident, Courageous, Principled, and Selfless. Traits that I think that we all can aspire to!
Outside of the Heroes & Legends building is the Rocket Garden which is yet another jaw-dropping piece of history here. There are 8 rockets dotting the “garden” here, most of which are the real, actual rockets (not models).
Although none were flown in space because rockets of this time were not reused or retrieved once launched.
Inside the IMAX Theater building is the very cool NASA Now exhibit which shows spacecraft on loan from NASA, Boeing, and SpaceX that are prototypes or currently in use! These are the current and next-generation designs that will be the future of humanity’s journey into space.
There are a number of interactive displays, a full-scale mock-up of the Hubble Space Telescope, and exhibits on what it was like to live and work in space aboard the International Space Station. You can even pilot a space shuttle in the astronaut training simulator and get a taste of what it is like to leave Earth’s gravity in the Shuttle Launch Experience.
Planning Your Trip to Kennedy Space Center
Needless to say, you can spend the entire day (or multiple days) exploring the Kennedy Space Center! One-day tickets are $57/person, 55+ is $50/person. Hours of operation are 9 am – 6 pm (can be slightly later on holidays).
If you can, try to time your trip around a rocket launch! You can view the launches from the visitor center or from various other viewing areas including Space View Park, Jetty Park (campground here), Canaveral National Seashore, and Playalinda Beach.
If you want to keep enjoying the stars after leaving the center, check out Stargazing for Boondockers and the 5 Best Dark Sky Locations for Stargazing in the U.S.
Mike and Jennifer's Favorite Places in Florida – all 3 ebooks!
We RVers may wander far and wide but it’s true for most of us that we end up with some favorite “Go-To” places – places that draw us back again and again.
Florida is one of those places for us. And we know it is for many RVers looking to get away and explore during the winter.
That's why we've created three guides, covering Florida's Atlantic Coast, the Gulf Coast, and the Keys.
Each of these guides is a seven-day guided exploration of one of the coasts. And each stop is a curated view of the best things that we’ve enjoyed on this trip and want you to experience.
Altogether these guides are over 300 pages of content!
FAQ's about Florida Gulf Coast beaches of interest to RVers
What is the weather like along Florida's Gulf Coast?
The weather along Florida's Gulf Coast can vary depending on the time of year and the specific location. In general, the area experiences hot, humid summers and mild, pleasant winters.
The Panhandle region can be quite cool in January. It is seldom below freezing, but daytime highs are typically in the 50s. It warms up about 10 degrees each month.
You can also generally add about 10 degrees for every 150 miles you travel south down the Florida peninsula.
By the time you hit Naples, daytime highs in January are in the comfortable 70s.
Are there any websites that can help me get a reservation for a Florida beach campground?
One of the best resources we can recommend is called Campnab. This service monitors parks for cancelations and sends you an alert when an opening matches your criteria. That said, it isn’t magic. The app doesn’t create availabilities.
The service works – but it is not free.
Campnab offers two ways to use the service. The first is individual pay-per-use scans. These watch for vacancies at a specific park for a specific date. These work well if you know exactly when and where you intend to camp. Pay-per-use scans cost $10 – $20, depending on how frequently you want them to check availability.
The second way to use the service is through a membership. These typically run monthly and are tailored to those who camp more frequently or are looking to maximize their chance of finding a site. Membership allows you to scan multiple parks and/or dates simultaneously. With memberships, you pay a monthly recurring fee ($10, $20, $30, or $50), depending on your needs.
Are there places in Florida where you can literally camp on the beach for free?
Not many. And they are very pricey. If you want to sleep directly on the sand in an RV, you'll have to stay at a developed commercial campground like Camp Gulf on the Emerald Coast or an RV resort like Big Pine Key Resort in the keys. Some state parks like the Gamble Rogers State Memorial Recreation Area in the Atlantic Coast or Bahia Honda State Park in the keys or Fort Desto State Park near St. Petersburg have beachside sites, too.
But are there free, unrestricted RV beach camping spots in Florida?
Sorry, none that I know of that would work for RVs.
There is unrestricted camping on wild beaches on a couple of islands, but you need a boat to get there, and it is for tent camping only. If you want to sleep directly on the sand, there is Anclote Key offshore Tarpon Springs, and Shell Key in Pinellas County. Another favorite is Keewaydin Island between Naples and Marco Island but that area remains pretty devasted from Hurricane Ian.
Did Hurricane Ian destroy many beach campgrounds on the Gulf Coast?
While it severely damaged almost two dozen RV parks and campgrounds, about 8-10 campgrounds in the Naples-Ft. Myers area were completely destroyed. Most of the damaged campgrounds have been repaired and reopened.
Check with the Florida Association of RV Parks and Campgrounds if you have questions or concerns.