The author Lea Rose Allbaugh posing near the rockets at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center, one of the best things to do in Cocoa Beach Florida

23 Best Things to Do in Cocoa Beach (in 2023)

After spending a couple of months at this Florida destination, I have insights into the best things to do in Cocoa Beach! 

When you think of the best places to visit in Florida, Cocoa Beach may not be at the top of your radar. But this central Florida beach town sure has a lot to offer. In this guide, I cover several activities on the water, nearby day trips, family-friendly attractions, and so much more. 

And, of course, what’s a trip to Florida without beachfront dining? Read on to learn about my favorite spots for fresh seafood and colorful cocktails!

Disclosure: Travel Lemming is an independent reader-supported blog. You can support us by purchasing via the affiliate links on this page, which may earn us commissions. See our Advertising Policy for further explanation. Thank you!

23 Best Things to Do in Cocoa Beach

Cocoa Beach Pier

Enjoy classic boardwalk fun with restaurants, shops, and beach activities all around.

The arch sign of Cocoa Beach Pier at the entrance
Cocoa Beach Pier—one of the most popular things to do in Cocoa Beach

📍 Google Maps | Phone: (321) 783-7549 | Website | Hours: 11 am – 9 pm Sunday – Thursday, 11 am – 10 pm Friday & Saturday | Entrance: Free | 👉 One Hour Surf Lesson

Cocoa Beach Pier is an iconic part of the Cocoa Beach scene. Although touristy, this attraction draws in visitors for its fun and upbeat beach vibes. Cocoa Beach Pier is home to restaurants, bars, shops, and activities like volleyball and surfing. 

The family-friendly beach is wide and perfect for a classic day of sun, sea, and sand. Head here to experience one of the absolute best beaches in Florida

Ron Jon Surf Shop & Surf School

Dive into beach lifestyle and shop at the world’s biggest surf shop.

View of the surfboards, backpacks and other merchandise inside Ron Jon Surf Shop & Surf School
Inside Ron Jon Surf Shop

📍 Google Maps | Phone: (321) 799-8820 | Website | Hours: 9 am – 11 pm daily | Entrance: Free 

When it comes to beach lifestyle and all things surfing, Ron Jon Surf Shop is one of the most iconic things to do in Cocoa Beach. Located right off N Atlantic Ave between Cocoa Beach and Cape Canaveral, it’s situated close to many other Cocoa Beach attractions. 

The surf shop itself is huge and filled with everything from surfboards to swimsuits and tourist merch. Ron Jon also has an official surf school that offers surf camps and lessons that are great for beginners. 

👉 Pro Tip: If you just plan on stopping by, be sure to park in the 90-minute free parking lot. Otherwise, parking can get pricey. 

Florida Surf Museum

Learn about Cocoa Beach’s unique surfing history at this small museum.

Façade of the Ron Jon Surf Shop & Surf School
The Florida Surf Museum is located inside

📍 Google Maps | Phone: (321) 720-8033 | Website | Hours: 9 am – 5 pm daily | Entrance: Free 

Located inside Ron Jon’s watersports building (adjacent to the main surf shop) is the Florida Surf Museum. If you’re a surfing enthusiast, a visit here is worth your while. 

The museum itself is small and more of an exhibit, but it features historical surfboards and artifacts. These really bring surfing culture and stories to life. 

🏄‍♀️ Heads Up: Note that the museum is currently closed for renovations. Call for updates.

Historic Cocoa Village

Explore the beauty and charm of Cocoa Beach’s historic downtown area.

A colorful welcome sign mural of Cocoa Village
Cocoa Village—colorful and full of art

📍 Google Maps | Phone: (321) 631-9075 | Website 

Many people assume the barrier island where Cocoa Beach is located is all there is to this beach town. Well, less than 10 miles inland past Merritt Island is historic Cocoa Village. To me, visiting Cocoa Village is one of the best things to do in Cocoa Beach. 

The charming downtown area is full of colorful buildings situated by the Indian River Lagoon. You’ll find unique shops, great restaurants, the Cocoa Village Playhouse, and more. 

👉 Need a Hotel? Check out my guide to where to stay in Cocoa Beach.

NASA’s Kennedy Space Center

Embark on a day of science and discovery at this iconically American attraction.

The Saturn V Moon rocket from the Apollo era inside NASA’s Kennedy Space Center
The Saturn V Moon rocket from the Apollo era

📍 Google Maps | Phone: (855) 433-4210 | Website | Hours: 9 am – 5 pm daily | Entrance: $75 for ages 12+, $65 for ages 3-11 (one day pass) | 👉 Admission Ticket with Explore Tour

Space enthusiast or not, NASA’s Kennedy Space Center is an absolute must. This world-renowned attraction is truly impressive. It’s home to historic and educational exhibits like Space Shuttle Atlantis. There are also interactive simulations and an IMAX theater. 

Apart from the visitor complex, Kennedy Space Center is also the primary site of rocket launches and even human spaceflight. After all, KSC is what gives this area the name “Space Coast.” 

It’s located about 20 miles north of Cocoa Beach on Merritt Island. It’s a pricer attraction than most, and you’ll want to dedicate an entire day here. But undoubtedly, visiting is one of the best things to do in Cocoa Beach—and it’s one of the best day trips from Orlando, too! 

See a Rocket Launch

Witness NASA space exploration in action by seeing a rocket launch.

View of a rocket launch from the beach
Watching a rocket launch from over 30 miles away

📍 Google Maps | Phone: (855) 433-4210 | Website 

As mentioned above, Kennedy Space Center on Merritt Island has an active launch center apart from the visitor complex. Before you visit Cocoa Beach, I recommend taking a look at KSC’s launch schedule. If you’re lucky, you just might be in town for a launch. 

You can watch these launches from viewing areas at KSC, but you can honestly see them miles away. This is truly a cool experience to witness. Do note, however, that launches often get scratched or rescheduled. 

Take a Cruise from Port Canaveral

Hit the high seas and enjoy a fun-filled day, weekend, or week on the water.

A huge cruise ship docked at Port Canaveral
Cruise ship

📍 Google Maps | Phone: (321) 783-7831 | Website | Entrance: cruise tickets may vary

Port Canaveral on Cape Canaveral is just a short drive north of Cocoa Beach. This is Florida’s premier cruise port. It’s home to major cruise lines like Disney, Royal Caribbean, Carnival, and more. 

If you’re planning a longer vacation in the Cocoa Beach area, consider hitting the high seas—one of the best things to do in Florida! There are cruise packages and experiences for visitors of all ages. 

Take a Day Trip to Melbourne

Enjoy a slight change of scenery in this low-key, yet charming beach town.

The author Lea Rose Allbaugh posing at Sebastian Inlet
Me at Sebastian Inlet

📍 Google Maps | Website 

If you’re doing a longer Cocoa Beach vacation and want a little change of scenery, I recommend visiting the nearby town of Melbourne. This charming, low-key beach town is located about 30 minutes southwest of Cocoa Beach. It has unique shops and restaurants worth checking out. 

Across the Indian River from the town of Melbourne (on the barrier island) is Melbourne Beach, one of the best south Florida beaches. It’s relaxing and less touristy than other nearby areas. Another close attraction is Sebastian Inlet, known for its surfing and fishing opportunities. 

📚 Related Reading: Beach Packing List (17 Things You Might Forget to Bring)

Eat at a Beach Bar

Sit back and relax with drinks or a meal along the ocean.

Two shrimp tacos and a plate of rice with black beans and sauce from Coconuts on the Beach
Shrimp tacos from Coconuts on the Beach

📍 Google Maps | Phone: (321) 784-1422 | Website | Hours: 11 am – 10 pm daily 

What’s a trip to the Florida coast without oceanfront dining and drinks? Luckily, Cocoa Beach is home to some classically Floridian beach bars. 

Coconuts on the Beach is probably the most popular joint with a full bar and menu. It’s located just steps away from the beach. Beach Shack is right next door, and has a more laid-back vibe and live music. Rikki Tiki Tavern at Cocoa Beach Pier is another great beach bar directly above the water that has beautiful views.

Enjoy Fresh Seafood

Indulge in fresh and locally-caught seafood, any way you like it.

A crunchy fish sandwich with sauce, vegetables and fries from Squid Lips
A crunchy fish sandwich from Squid Lips

📍 Google Maps | Phone: (321) 613-5796 | Website | Hours: vary per restaurant 

It’d be a shame not to indulge in some fresh seafood while visiting Cocoa Beach, especially with so many great restaurants to choose from. 

Popular options are Fat Kahuna’s, The Fat Snook, Squid Lips, and Florida’s Seafood Bar & Grill. Seafood is typically served seasonally. Some local seafood favorites include snook, speckled sea trout, pompano, and more.  

Go Surfing and Try Watersports

Hang 10 (or at least try to) at one of the best surfing destinations on the east coast.

People walking and playing along the shore of Shepard Park
At Shepard Park

📍 Google Maps | Website | 👉 One Hour Surf Lesson

It’s no secret that Cocoa Beach is well-known when it comes to Florida surfing. The waters are shallow, and the waves are calm, yet consistent. These are great surfing conditions, especially for beginners. You can hit up the waves on your own, or take a lesson like the one linked above. 

In addition, watersports like kiteboarding and jetskiing are popular and so fun. Overall, surfing and watersports are some of the best things to do in Cocoa Beach.

👉 Don’t Miss: If you’re planning a longer trip, bookmark Katie’s guide to the best things to do in central Florida

Go on a Kayak Tour

Paddle through ocean waters and among mangroves full of wildlife.

A man kayaking through the mangroves
Cocoa Beach kayaking

📍 Google Maps | Phone: (321) 698-7233 | Website | Cost: $50-$75 | 👉 Mangrove, Manatee, and Dolphin Kayak Tour

On the inner side of Cocoa Beach’s barrier island is Banana River Lagoon. This Atlantic Ocean waterway is scenic and calm, yet bursting with a vibrant ecosystem. During your visit, consider taking an adventure kayak tour along the Banana River. 

This is one of the coolest things to do in Cocoa Beach, and it’s a great way to see wildlife like manatees and dolphins. There are also bioluminescence kayak tours and sunset tours.

Lori Wilson Park

Spend a relaxing afternoon at this expansive beach and nature park.

View of the Atlantic Ocean from the footbridge leading to the beach
The Atlantic Ocean up ahead

📍 Google Maps | Phone: (321) 455-1380 | Website | Hours: 7 am – 7 pm daily | Entrance: Free 

If you’re looking for a calmer, more secluded beach, look no further than Lori Wilson Park. Located on N Atlantic Ave, this picturesque beach and nature park has free parking, tons of open beach space, and calm, shallow waters. 

Lori Wilson Park also has extensive boardwalks, forested areas, and nature trails, There’s even a dog park!

Shepard Park

Have some fun in the sun at this easy-going, family-friendly beach.

Beach chairs with umbrellas and people enjoying along the shoreline of Shepard Park
Relaxing at Shepard Park

📍 Google Maps | Phone: (321) 868-3258 | Website | Hours: 7 am – 7 pm daily | Entrance: Free 

Located right behind Ron Jon Surf Shop off Ocean Beach Blvd is Shepard Park. The vibe of this beach falls somewhere between the energetic beach at Cocoa Beach Pier and the tranquility of Lori Wilson Park. 

It’s family-friendly, situated with picnic pavilions, and has shower facilities. You can also rent chairs and umbrellas. 

Manatee Sanctuary Park

Escape the bustle and crowds at this simple yet peaceful riverside park.

View of the Banana River Lagoon from the footbridge
Banana River Lagoon

📍 Google Maps | Phone: (321) 868-1226 | Website | Hours: 7 am – 8 pm daily | Entrance: Free

Looking for a tranquil place to relax, picnic, and get away from the crowds? Head to Manatee Sanctuary Park along Banana River Lagoon. 

This secluded nature park up by Cape Canaveral has a boardwalk, shaded areas, picnic tables, and a small trail for walking. If you’re lucky, you may even spot some manatees or dolphins out on the water.

Brevard Zoo

Connect with wildlife at this interactive, open-air zoo.

A closeup view of the face of a giraffe
Giraffes at the Brevard Zoo

📍 Google Maps | Phone: (321) 254-9453 | Website | Hours: 9:30 am – 5 pm daily | Entrance: $30 for ages 12-64, $25 for seniors 65+, $18 for ages 3-11 

Located inland about half an hour from Cocoa Beach is Brevard Zoo. This 75-acre zoo is home to over 900 animals from around the world. 

It’s incredibly interactive with tons of hands-on experiences. You can feed giraffes and birds, kayak beside the Expedition Africa exhibit, go ziplining through the trees, and so much more. It’s one of the best family-friendly things to do in Cocoa Beach.

Brevard Museum of History & Natural Sciences

Step back in time and discover the local history and science of Cocoa Beach, Florida. 

View of the displayed recreation of a Mastodon skeleton
A recreation of a Mastodon skeleton (photo: jennlshoots / Shutterstock)

📍 Google Maps | Phone: (321) 632-1830 | Website | Hours: 10 am – 4 pm Thursday – Saturday, Closed Sunday – Wednesday | Entrance: $9 adults, $5 for children 4-12 

From the Ice Age to the Space Age, this region of Florida has witnessed some truly remarkable discoveries and moments in history. 

The Brevard Museum of History & Natural Sciences exhibits many of these moments. This includes Windover archaeological artifacts from the prehistoric past. This museum also borders 22 acres of nature trails. 

Go on a Dolphin Boat Tour

Ride over gentle waters and glide past dolphins and other wildlife.

View of the dolphins swimming up close
See dolphins up close in their habitat

📍 Google Maps | Phone: (321) 454-7414 | Website | Entrance: $37.50 | 👉 Cocoa Beach Dolphin Tours

While visiting Cocoa Beach, consider doing a dolphin and wildlife boat tour. This is a great option for families and older visitors who want something a little more relaxed. 

Tours take place on the Banana River Lagoon and explore the Thousand Islands mangrove forest of Cocoa Beach. This is a great way to see wildlife like dolphins, manatees, and birds. 

Exploration Tower

Explore fun and educational exhibits, and take in views of Port Canaveral.

The Exploration Tower at Port Canaveral on a sunny day
Exploration Tower

📍 Google Maps | Phone: (321) 394-3408 | Website | Hours: TBD | Entrance: TBD 

Just north of Cocoa Beach at Port Canaveral is Exploration Tower. Aside from being architecturally unique, this tower is home to interactive and educational exhibits that are great for visitors of all ages. 

Exhibits range from space exploration to marine life, indigenous history, and more. The tower also has an observation deck and theater.  

👉 FYI: The Exploration Tower is temporarily closed for construction, but is set to open back up in spring 2023.

Do a Cocoa Beach Fishing Tour

Fish rich waters ranging from rivers to the deep-sea aboard world-class charters.

Bird's eye view of men fishing on the sailing boat
Go fishing off of Cocoa Beach (photo: Lee Reese / Shutterstock)

📍 Google Maps | Phone: (321) 652-5903 | Website | Hours: 6 am – 11 pm daily | Cost: $450-$1300 | 👉 Fin & Fly Fishing Charters

From deep-sea fishing to inshore fishing, a trip with Fin & Fly Fishing Charters is sure to be memorable. These charters are led by experienced captains that take you through rich waters all along Florida’s Space Coast. This is a great thing to do for all fishing enthusiasts!   

The Dinosaur Store & Museum

Uncover dinosaur history and ancient cultures at this store and interactive museum.

View of the displayed merchandise inside the Dinosaur Store & Museum
Inside the Dinosaur Store (photo: cody petroske / Shutterstock)

📍 Google Maps | Phone: (321) 783-7300 | Website | Hours: 10 am – 5 pm Monday, Wednesday – Saturday, 12 pm – 5 pm Sunday, Closed Tuesday | Entrance: $14 adults, $12 seniors, $10 children 

If you’ve got little kids, head over to the Dinosaur Store & Museum! It’s a fun, interactive space where your kids can shop, discover, and play. 

The Dinosaur Store houses hundreds of fossils and artifacts from around the world, and tons of exhibits on dinosaurs and history. The Adventure Zone is a real highlight, though. Here, you can play games, go on a ride, see live animals, and go mineral panning.


Tee off at this family-friendly attraction that offers mini golf, treasure hunting, and more!

The colorful Swamp Cave course in Golf-N-Gator
Swamp Cave course

📍 Google Maps | Phone: (321) 799-4545 | Website | Hours: 10 am – 9 pm Sunday – Thursday, 10 am – 10 pm Friday, Saturday | Entrance: $12 for ages 13-54, $9 for ages 55+, $10 for ages 5-12

Golf-N-Gator has everything you need for an afternoon of family fun. Here, you can go mini-golfing on two exciting 18-hole courses: Gator Mountain and Swamp Cave. 

You can also go hunting for treasures like fossils, shark teeth, and gems. Lastly, as its name suggests, this attraction has gators! You can even hold and feed them. 

Cocoa Beach Aerial Adventures

Swing, climb, and zipline through aerial adventure courses set amongst the tree canopy.

View of the aerial obstacle courses in Cocoa Beach Aerial Adventures
Aerial obstacle courses

📍 Google Maps | Phone: (321) 613-0047 | Website | Hours: 11 am – 6 pm Monday, Wednesday, Friday – Sunday, Closed Tuesday & Thursday | Entrance: $48 for ages 12+, $38 for ages 7-11, $28 for ages 5 & 6 | 👉 Cocoa Beach Aerial Adventures Tickets

Zip through a canopy of oak trees and climb through aerial challenges at Cocoa Beach Aerial Adventures. This is a great attraction for families and anyone who isn’t too afraid of heights. There are seven different aerial trails to take based on three varying levels of difficulty, so there’s something for everyone!

👉 Read Next: 14 Best Beaches in Cocoa Beach

FAQs About Cocoa Beach Attractions

What’s Cocoa Beach, Florida famous for?

Cocoa Beach, Florida is famous for its beautiful beaches and opportunities for surfing, as well as the famous surf shop, Ron Jon Surf Shop.

How do I spend a day in Cocoa Beach, Florida?

One of the best ways to spend a day in Cocoa Beach, Florida is by spending time on the beach with water activities. Visiting Cocoa Beach Pier and enjoying seafood are also musts! 

Is it safe to swim in Cocoa Beach, Florida?

Generally, it is safe to swim in Cocoa Beach, Florida. You should, however, practice caution if the water is choppy and the waves seem rough. 


I hope you enjoyed this guide on the best things to do in Cocoa Beach, Florida! Safe travels and enjoy visiting one of the best destinations in the Sunshine State. 

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