Updated: Aug 9
Florida has tons of beaches to choose from. Even several beaches with piers. Why choose Cocoa Beach?
Cocoa Beach is technically the closest/ straight shot Ocean option from most of Orlando. If you drive 528 or 520 East over the causeway, this is where you land. If you are down by Disney closer to SR 192, that will also lead to a causeway with direct beach access, down in Melbourne Beach (Indiatlantic specifically). With out a plan you may wonder what is so special about this little corner of Brevard County. Questions like....Where should we park and is there anything else worth seeing along the way keep popping up? Each area has a few unique features, and these are what make one area really sparkle amongst competition. It really is what you make it. Here's our guide to having fun while visiting the Cocoa Beach area!
First... The most obvious spot....
Cocoa Beach Pier - 401 Meade Ave Cocoa Beach, FL 32931 - Open 11:00 AM - 10:00 PM Daily – Charges $15 - $20.00 to park.
Enjoy views from 800 feet over the Atlantic Ocean as you drink and dine at any of the four bars and five restaurants on location, along with a tiki hut at the end of the pier. This is an awesome date idea by the way. They used to have live music at the end making it even better, but the view is hard to beat (Live music is returning soon)! At the end of the pier you can feel the waves and wind, and feel like you are in the middle of the ocean! This is a good thing to experience, and well worth a stroll out to the end. The shops along the pier are also fun to browse and buy some souvenirs. Nice set up. Since being taken over by Westgate a few years ago, things have changed but all you need to know is it's the center of action here, second only to the Atlantic Ocean setting the tone.
We like the Pier, but it can get touristy expensive quick, if you want more of a regular beach experience... you can also park outside of the pier and walk up to Cocoa Beach.
What you need to know about parking in the vicinity of Cocoa Beach:
Pay Station parking is enforced 12 hours per day from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. 7 days a week, unless otherwise posted, and accept U.S. coins and all major credit cards. No receipts are provided but, you may request a receipt at the My Parking Receipt Website for an electronic receipt.
Cost of Parking:
$3.50 /hour or $15 for the day (minimum payment $3.50)
Shepard Park - $3.50 /hour or $20 a day (min. pay $3.50)
Fischer Park - $3.50 /hour or $20 a day (min. pay is $3.50)
Parking Garage - $3.50 /hour or $20 a day (min. pay is $3.50)
How to Pay: Use coins or the Passort App (free to download)
DOWNLOAD - Passport Parking app on your mobile device or visit Passport Site.
ENTER the following:
Zone Number, Space Number, Length of Stay (how many hours), USE where you find a Passport SIGN or DECAL
The app allows you to:
Manage multiple vehicles * Get reminder notifications * Extend parking sessions from anywhere
**There is a 20¢ convenience fee for all transactions through Passport Parking Mobile App.
I say all this to make the point that it's ok to drive around and snag a spot, just make sure you pay for the space! Some prefer to just park at the pier where it's a little more costly but more time effective.
If you are here on vacationing, delete the app once you are done with it!
While we enjoy the pier area, we typically park a few blocks North or the pier, or in the lot between Ron Jon's and the beach if there is room :-) Weekdays there is much more parking, less traffic!
My daughter recently named all the reasons Cocoa Beach is still her favorite. A wide beach, lots of sand, great landscape with the pier and surrounding area with lots of places to eat or shop. The Dinosaur shop across the street, and Ron Jon's make it more inviting. The sand has some shells but isn't rocky or rough to walk on, it's her favorite. For all the opposite reasons I prefer Indiatlantic where there is nothing but raw beach as untouched as it gets and much less peopley.
What's that noise?? 🚀
Every day I see people posting "was there an explosion?" People who just heard their first rocket launch and didn't get the pleasure of watching the rocket go up. Cocoa Beach is one of the best seats in the house! Check the launch schedule and be aware rockets are launching several times a week. Don't plan your whole trip around catching one. These rockets are finnicky changing their schedules many times based on weather conditions, issues in mechanics and other factors. But it's good to know when they are coming. Launch List - Space Coast Launches
**Big Launches invite big crowds! Locals come to Cocoa Beach to see the launch so you may feel like it's spring break without knowing why!
There are also several options for Parks/ Beaches down the strip:
Alan Shepard Park - a 5-acre, ocean-front park. More than 300 parking spaces available. Access to many popular tourist related retail shops are within easy walking distance.
Sidney Fisher Park - a 10-acre, ocean-front park and family favorite. Roughly 200 parking spaces available and is family friendly with picnic pavilions and a playground. The parking fee is $15 for cars and recreational vehicles.
Lori Wilson Park - a 20-acre, ocean-front park includes restrooms, a boardwalk, and a dog park. 274 parking spaces for cars and recreation vehicles.
Robert P. Murkshe Memorial Park - a 2-acre, ocean-front park with bathrooms, showers, and picnic areas.
Jetty Park Campground - a park by the ocean where guests love watching the cruise liners coming and going from the Port, and wait for rockets to launch. Because of the campgrounds unique location this is a hot spot for both tents and rv campers who are enjoying the amenities.
It is $15.00/ a car to enter for the day.
Extra Beach Fun
Our favorite trip to Cocoa Beach would include a stop at A1A Beach Rentals of Cocoa Beach - go pick up some beach equipment or have it delivered to you in Cape Canaveral, Cocoa Beach, Jetty Park or Cherie Down Park.
321-505-7455 ~~ 9 - 5 ~~ 6811 N. Atlantic Ave. Cape Canaveral Fl, 32920
A1A has several locations to pick up items easily located by parking and good scenic spots.
Rent a 6-person paddle board or other cool beach items. Surf boards, SUP boards, and even boogie boards are available. Have you ever paddle boarded? If you’re here on vacation weigh the option of going to Walmart for some Beach toy stock up, or just renting what you want and not needing to take it home with you! If your kids are older, this place is a dream for offering all things beach related, along with lessons. Want to book a surf lesson? Take advantage! I guarantee this will only amplify your memory of experiencing the East Coast by getting into the water!
You can also rent beach equipment from here if you want beach chairs and other non sport items for relaxing.
Our favorite family options:
Rent some electric bikes or beach cruisers from their Port Canaveral location by Banana River Park then ride down the beach towards Ron Jon Surf Shop. This is a beautiful scenic ride ending at a Cocoa Beach landmark. Stop for ice cream/ smoothies along the way. You could also ride into Jetty Park.
Pick up some kayaks / SUP's from that same point, and paddle out around the Observation Tower in the water, while you treasure hunt on some of the off shore islands. You will see so many fish, birds, may find some shark teeth, and possibly observe manatees and dolphins in their natural habitat.
Take a bioluminescence tour. Bioluminescence Nighttime Paddle Tours go out 7 nights a week, inquire with in to see if this amazing natural phenomenon is in season while you are there. Times vary. Another unique experience so exciting to participate in.
What ever you decide, grab your essentials and go hang out by the waves for a day of Vitamin Sea and waves.
Beach Bag Packing:
Sunscreen (I like straight zinc, with out toxins or damage to reefs)
Towels/ beach blanket
Water shoes/sandals/ flip flops
Change of clothes in your car
Camera and cell phone - water proof case ( or in ziploc bag)
Cooler: water, ice, snacks.
Rent chairs or tents at A1A if you prefer to travel light and just kick back.
or just go as you are and wander
Where to Eat in Cocoa Beach What's that noise??
Coconuts on the Beach - 2 Minutemen Cswy, Cocoa Beach, FL 32931 321-784-1422
Kitchen: 11am till 10pm
Bars: Sunday thru Thursday till 11pm
Friday & Saturday till Midnight
This is a fun beach bar restaurant with live music, and great food. We have eaten here many times of the day and night and are always well served. There may be dancing and some singing along, always a fun atmosphere 😊
Jazzy's Mainly Lobster – Monday – Sunday 11:00am - 10:00pm 321.613.3993
Local family owned wharf style restaurant with true New England atmosphere and fresh delicious seafood, most of our which is caught by local fishing companies and charters. Excellent environment for a great meal and a great experience.
210 N. Orlando Avenue
Cocoa Beach, FL 32931
What else to see 👀
Kennedy Space Center –
Monday - Sunday : 9 AM - 5 PM
Space Commerce Way, Merritt Island, FL 32953
For the Space enthusiast! Where else can you see a real Apollo capsule plus an actual Space Shuttle. Stand beneath a Saturn V rocket to understand the awesome power from 50 years ago. History comes alive and showcases our American engineering accomplishments. The Rocket Garden outside is a great place to walk, wander or relax. Let the kids go play in the play ground and take it all in. The price of admission covers EVERYTHING. IMAX movies, space shuttle simulator, bus trip to other building. A day of hands on learning and science technology lessons!
Don't Forget... Cocoa Village
Right over the Causeway, Cocoa Village has a lovely riverfront park. These two places are like peanut butter and jelly, they compliment each other so well.
There is a splash pad (during hot days) and a play ground. The Amphitheater, is surrounded by a big grassy field perfect for kites or football. Covered walkways paint a beautiful picture leading to the boardwalk. The landscaped arena stretches to the back of the Cocoa Civic Center and Porcher House which combines seamlessly with Taylor Park along Delannoy Avenue, giving a 10 acre water front oasis for many to enjoy. Here, people will be fishing, playing water sports and launching boats all day! Surrounding the park is historic Cocoa Village. Shops and eateries are lining the streets with inviting window fronts and artistic flare.
This quaint collection of shops, restaurants and bars is easily walkable and a pleasure to explore. SO many yummy delicacies, as well as unique shops. There are may dolphin sightings along the river walk. Free parking, nice area!
Favorites: Eat at Ryan's Rooftop. Or the Bier Garten. Or across the street is Hogan's. Or pack a picnic and eat in the grass at Riverside Park. Great place to buy some cool art or souvenirs. Awesome photo ops.
Our Cocoa Village adventures are always a good time!
I recommend this as a fun girls weekend getaway spot! Fun to be had by all.
Port Canaveral -
Exploration Tower - Open Daily – 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
If you’re visiting town with kids, head over to the Exploration Tower for a couple hours of fun. The new landmark stands 7 stories high and and on each are activities including: exhibits, interactive games, an auditorium, a café, gift shop and an indoor and outdoor observation deck, overlooking the entire Port. A strategic location in history, Port Canaveral’s ocean gateway has been the center of Florida’s cruise and tourist industries, mankind’s space exploration and more.
Adult$6.50 (plus tax) Child $3.75 (plus tax)
The Port itself has some dining , deep sea charters, Victory Casino Cruise line and boats you can check out. It's never a dull moment!
In case you were wondering....
Driving over from Orlando is as simple as getting on 528 and driving East.
Traffic in actual Orlando itself can be frustrating. Once you get out it is easy sailing, unless there is a launch in the area, which attracts lots of visitors.
** There are often afternoon thunderstorms in Florida thanks to our sub tropical climate.
Check the weather forecast before driving over. Or plan to visit earlier in the day when rain is less likely.
Brevard County is home to some beautiful Ocean beaches and enjoy some surf, some wildlife, and some diversity! The Indian River lagoon invites a great ecosystem for so many species to thrive. Manatees and dolphins are among our favorite. But the sea turtles can't be forgotten.
If you have some time while in the area check out our Brevard County Zoo - Readers of USA Today's 10 Best website selected Brevard Zoo as one of the top zoos in North America. The Zoo, which came in fifth place overall, was the highest-ranked facility in the Southeastern United States and the only Florida zoo to make the list. Animals are in loops that make a flower pattern, creating an easy to navigate pathway. The nature play grounds and hands on learning zones here are state of the art and amazing for your younger children to experience. Older children and athletic(ish) parents will love the Tree Top Trek course that swings above the trees. Zip lining over the animals is quite exhilarating. Also, kayak trips are available.
I hope that your time in Brevard County no matter how short or long is enjoyable! Here's a few fun facts:
* The farther south you drive (away from the Port) the prettier the water gets.
* It's breezier by the water. Orlando is land locked and you don't get the coastal breeze.
* The area code here is 3-2-1, as this is where the space shuttles lift off.
* Check the launch schedule HERE. Now these change all the time, but if you can catch one it is totally work it!
* The sitcom "I Dream of Jeannie" put Cocoa Beach on the map, stop by I Dream of Jeannie Way by Lori Wilson Park.
* When Vanilla Ice sang about "A1A - Breach front Avenue" in Ice Ice baby, this was his home!
*There is a lot of surfing here - proudly producing the 11-time world surfing champion, Kelly Slater.
* Brevard is the halfway point between Jacksonville and Miami.
*There are several federally protected wildlife refuges. These lands include Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge, the Canaveral National Seashore, these are great visits if you have additional time!
Affordability meter: 9/10
On a scale of 1-10 how affordable is this day?
With 1 being utterly unaffordable and 10 being basically free
The Beach is as economical as is gets. You can pack light or bring it all with you, for the cost of some towels, parking, and the time/ gas to get there let nature do the work for you. Go stand in the water. Build a sand castle. Swim a little. Body surf. Treasure hunt. Enjoy the tides washing up and down. You don't actually NEED anything other than your senses to completely experience the ocean. Just breathe and listen. It's a powerful place to be on the edge of the shoreline! I do recommend anywhere you go you see the surrounding area to appreciate all of the beauty that exists.
Where ever your travels take you, be sure to keep your presence in the moment.
Enjoy where you are at. Be a little flexible with people and their navigation of time.
Let go of things you can't control.
Remember to put your people above things, and cherish the memories.
Thank you for sharing the journey, I welcome your thoughts and hope to hear from you!
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A note from the editor:
The information in this article was accurate when published but may change without notice. Confirm details when planning your trip. I hope this makes it easier for your planning process.
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