My “traveling with kids” section has been a bit light since the pandemic. I am ready to venture out. Actually, I am ready to share our latest adventures. Our intention was to see the NASA Artemis launch on Cocoa Beach with our small, aspiring astronaut. But since it was postponed for awhile we went with our back-up plan – the Space Coast you you may have missed.
We spent the afternoon at the American Space Museum. We found a great Groupon. This little Space Coast museum is a gem. The staff is so helpful and willing to demonstrate and explain every exhibit and model. The museum provides a scavenger hunt with a prize to hold kids’ interest, but my kindergartner and teens were intrigued anyway.
There were plenty of things that were touchable for my little one. She loved pressing the many console buttons to pretend she was the “gal in the chair” counting down to blast off. Artifacts, demonstrations, models, and photos fill every inch of the small museum, telling the story of space travel from the obvious astronauts to the lesser known – the mechanics, computers, and engineers that made it possible.
Just a few blocks away there is a large memorial walk honoring each space mission and its crew. It was not thrilling to my little one, but my teens were interested in walking along to see who was involved in what mission.
From there we headed further north up the Space Coast to New Smyrna Beach to take a look at the Sugar Mill Ruins. The ruins are in a small park with interpretive signage and nature trails. This sugar mill is different from the simple sugar presses found throughout Florida. This was designed to be the first big scale operation in Florida. Sadly, it was destined for destruction in the Seminole Wars.
It was buggy at sundown, but very cool to explore. The trail next to it was short and easy. Then we headed over to “Yellow Dog Eats”, a fun and tasty restaurant in the historic downtown area. The food was delicious. Get the queso and chips with all the mix ins. Yum! The service was great and the atmosphere is fun. The area around it is cool to walk around.
Our last stop was the beautiful Blue Springs State Park for some tubing. If you have not trying tubing on a blazing, hot, Florida summer day, you are missing out on something great! Though it is one of the shorter tubing runs, it is stunningly beautiful. It rivals the beauty of our favorite tubing run, Ichetucknee Springs. One section is reserved for canoes, kayaks, and paddle boards and another for inflatable tubes. The park is a hot spot for picnics. On weekends and holidays this park fills to capacity at opening, so get here early and join the long line waiting for the park to open during summer weekends.
The length of the run is close to that of Kelly Springs, but we much preferred the atmosphere of Blue Springs State Park. The spring itself, if you swim upstream a few hundred feet, it is breath taking. You can scuba dive and snorkel into deep hole where the fresh, freezing cold water comes from. I was content to snorkel over top of it and do a small free dive down. My daughter and husband want to go back and scuba dive down.
There is a small snack bar and gift shop and a boardwalk, if you are not a swimmer or want to visit in cooler weather. Leave your belongings behind. You won’t have a spot to put your shoes, etc. when you enter the water from the dock.
It was a fun weekend trip in central Florida and we will definitely visit again!
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