Kennedy Space Center used to be the place to go and spend a day while you waited for a shuttle launch. I remember driving out to Cape Canaveral, on the “Space Coast” as it has proudly been referred to by Floridians, and sitting in traffic for miles. Watching a shuttle launch is one of those things that appeals to everyone, not just “Space Geeks.” No matter what your interests, space exploration appeals to everyone, doesn’t it? When the Space Program closed down, we were afraid of what would happen to Kennedy Space Center. Who would visit a park designed around shuttle launches if there were no more launches?
Well, as it turns out, the people at Kennedy Space Center had a very well thought out plan in place. Kennedy Space Center redesigned the visitor’s center and after spending a day there in February, I almost forgot that it was even missing something…Kennedy Space Center has become a place of history and exploration, education through exciting exhibits and powerful reminders of what Americans can accomplish when we put our minds to it.
Meet an Astronaut at the Kennedy Space Center Astronaut Encounter
Learn about space travel and exploration from someone who has been in space and experienced it firsthand. While you dine on a delicious buffet lunch, a veteran NASA astronaut relives their journey through space and tells you what it is like to feel the power of g-force and float through the air. You will learn what kind of education is required, how physically fit you have to be and how hard it is and how long it takes to acclimate upon one’s return to earth. There is also the daily Astronaut Encounter, featuring discussions with a veteran astronaut. When I visited, Tom Jones (no, not that one) was in attendance and he couldn’t have been nicer!
The Space Shuttle Atlantis and Launch Experience
The Space Shuttle Atlantis and Launch Experience at Kennedy Space Center should not be missed! With simulators, multimedia presentations and dozens of interactive exhibits, the separate building housing Atlantis with the payload doors open and Canadarm extended, details thirty years of fascinating space history.
Just walking through the exhibit was inspiring and I found myself with teary eyes and goosebumps more than once. To be there, so close to the Atlantis and see how ginormous it is – it’s an amazing experience.
There are two on-site 3D IMAX theaters, each offering unique and unparalleled movie experiences on five story screens with surround sound. The story of the Hubble telescope details the trials and tribulations of building and installing the telescope, while Space Station chronicles life aboard the International Space Station.
Adults and kids alike love the Angry Birds Space Encounter exhibit, which features five unique, interactive exhibits. You don’t even realize that you are learning physics, engineering and math because you’re having so much fun!
There is an on-site cafeteria, which has an extensive variety of burgers, sandwiches and salads. After lunch, continue to the Rocket Garden to view Apollo, Mercury or Gemini or head to the gift shop to purchase exclusive souvenirs.
A day at the Kennedy Space Center is enjoyable for the whole family! There is so much to discover and experience you will want to come back for a second day of fun-filled learning.
Kennedy Space Center Hours and Admission
The Kennedy Space Center is open year round at 9 AM but closing time varies by season.
Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex
March 31 – September 1: 9 am – 7 pm
September 2 – December 31: 9 am – closing time varies
The U.S. Astronaut Hall of Fame®
Now – September 1: Noon – 5 pm
Daily admission tickets are $40.00 and you can buy multi-day tickets for $60.00
You can purchase your tickets ahead of time on KennedySpaceCenter.com.