5 Things to Do in Cape Canaveral While Waiting For Your Cruise
PHOTO: Disney cruise ship at Port Canaveral. (photo via Wikimedia Commons)
We’ve all been there.
The trip is all set, but things aren’t fitting together quite as smoothly as one might like. Between this, that and the other thing with connecting flights, drive time to and from the airport and all sorts of life’s little hurdles, you’re left with hours — sometimes a full day — between getting to Florida and the departure time for that dream cruise.
Don’t stress out or hole up in a boring hotel room. Instead, enjoy the best of what Cape Canaveral and the surrounding area has to offer. This is vacation! You’re supposed to have fun! Start now and do it in style.
Hit Up Ron Jon’s Surf Shop in Cocoa Beach
Everyone has seen the billboards or T-shirts at some point in their lives, but just because something is stereotypical doesn’t mean one shouldn’t experience it firsthand — whether you’re an expert surfer or you tend to keep your toes in the sand when at the beach. To really get a taste of what that #SaltLife is all about, take a few minutes and make the trip from Cape Canaveral to Cocoa Beach and visit the original Ron Jon’s Surf Shop.
Don’t worry about whether or not it’s open, Ron Jon’s in Cocoa operates 24/7, 365 days a year. Walk around, check out all the surf gear, apparel, beach gear and so much more. Heck, there might even be something you need for one of the tropical beaches at the first port. Have a little extra time? Ron Jon’s also does rentals of paddleboards, beach bikes and even surfboards if anyone in the group is feeling spontaneous.
Cruise While You Wait for Your Cruise!
Can’t wait to get out on the water? Victory Casino Cruises operates one of the biggest and most luxurious casino boats in the country — a perk of operating in a port city! For a nominal boarding fee, spend a day out on the water with five-hour AM or PM cruises. Relax playing the slot machines that start at a penny and climb up to every level imaginable. Or, channel the inner James Bond inside of all of us and sidle up to tables that offer blackjack, poker, craps, roulette and more.
Not into gambling? That’s OK too! The dining options on the Victory rival most landlubber casinos, and the Victory SportsBook will serve you any drink you could think of while showing every sporting event imaginable on their massive flatscreen TVs. On the PM cruises, there’s even Big Norm’s Club V, which brings a nightclub scene usually reserved for Miami Beach. Might as well dust off those dance moves before hitting the high seas!
Grab a Bite of Fishlips and Enjoy the View
No, don’t eat any actual fishlips (wait, do fish even have lips?), but head to Fishlips Waterfront Bar and Grill which might be one of the few restaurants in any disembarking city in Florida that could offer not only the food but also the relaxation and ambiance to rival the dining options on a cruise ship. If you’re expecting high-end amenities on your vacation anyway, why wait to get onboard the ship?
A massive building that could probably house any number of smaller restaurants, there’s space for waterfront dining, a sports bar, a Tiki Bar (my favorite) and an upstairs semi-enclosed patio that can take a hot Florida day and drop the temperature down to exactly where you need it to enjoy some fresh seafood and a cold beer.
Smoked fish dip and peel-and-eat shrimp are Florida staples, so start with those and head onward into Scallop Risotto, Fishlips Tacos or a full-on Surf ‘n’ Turf feast. Enjoy the view overlooking the water and kick back because the vacation just officially started.
Relax with an Award-Winning Floridian Brew
We’ve covered Florida’s burgeoning brewing scene before, but Cape Canaveral is home to one of the most impressive breweries not only in the state, but in the entire country! Florida Beer Company has been around since 1996 and has an impressive lineup of beers that bring home a Michael Phelps-level of Gold, Silver and Bronze hardware every time there’s a beer championship anywhere around the world.
The Florida Lager, for example, has taken gold at the U.S. Open Beer Championships two out of the last three years. Looking for something a little stronger? The Devil’s Triangle IPA has an ABV of 6.66% (get it?) and is balanced enough not to feel too heavy in the Florida heat. For only $10, a tour of the brewery with subsequent tasting is available.
Send Your Imagination into Orbit
Take a look at a map of Florida. Notice how Cape Canaveral juts out from the coastline like a sore thumb? Cruise lines take advantage of that natural piece of geography, but they’re not the only ones! Kennedy Space Center has been one of the main launch sites for NASA for manned and unmanned shuttle missions for decades. The location allows rockets to utilize both Florida’s proximity to the equator and the desire to launch eastward over the ocean to help reach orbital velocity with the minimal amount of effort and maximum amount of safety.
Today, most of the excitement on the island has to do with the Space X program, which is not only sending rockets up from Cape Canaveral, but also landing them nearby on an ocean platform. With a little planning, your trip could include seeing a launch!
READ MORE: Where to See a Rocket Launch
Spend some time walking around Kennedy Space Center, learn how man got into space, meet an astronaut and even experience liftoff for yourself in a simulator. The “Then and Now Tour” will even head over to the U.S. Air Force Space and Missile Museum and the site where America’s first two astronauts — Gus Grissom and Alan Shepard — went into space.
Maybe this vacation was planned to relax the mind, but there’s no reason not to spark some imagination as well.
More by Michael Schottey
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