Before paved streets and residential blocks took its place, a maze of wetlands rife with rustling wildlife thrived in Central Florida. Such a scene is hard to imagine amid a backdrop of loud car horns, but skeptical visitors to The Brevard Museum of History and Natural Science can travel back in time and see it for themselves on a stroll through the museum’s 19.5-acre nature preserve.
This remarkable preserve joins special exhibits dedicated to regional and cultural artifacts in fulfilling the museum’s mission to keep Florida’s heritage alive in the minds of its current inhabitants. Since the nonprofit facility first opened in 1973, an influx of state and philanthropic funding has spawned further expansion. One of the most crucial add-ons, the Taylor Wing, now houses a nonstop procession of visiting exhibitions and the kid-themed Imagination Center, where young hands can touch actual fossils of mammoths and 8-track tapes. Popular ongoing exhibits include large dioramas of local ecosystems and the Windover Story exhibit, which illustrates how the residents of Brevard County lived 7,000 years ago.
El Charro slings an extensive dinner menu of innovative Mexican fare, from stuffed quesadillas and sizzling fajitas to homemade tacos and fruity sangria. Acclimate bellies to spicy cuisine with a cadre of 10 shrimp sautéed in lemon, garlic, and habanero peppers, or play it cool with steak-stuffed quesadillas. Sizzling fajitas saunter over to tables with a posse of bell peppers and onions, backed by flour tortillas, guacamole, sour cream, pico de gallo, and rice. Feed crispy cravings with two homestyle, deep-fried burritos bursting with beef, fresh jalapeño, and cheese, or take on a chromatic trifecta with the tri-color cheese enchiladas swimming like Father Christmas on vacation in a pool of green sauce, sour cream, and red sauce. All orders include fruity sangria or draft beer, ideal for sharing with dates or guzzling in front of thirsty enemies.
The size of the universe is nearly beyond comprehension, yet somehow it all seems to fit within the Eastern Florida State College Planetarium & Observatory. Nestled along the shores of Clear Lake, the planetarium and observatory take visitors throughout the solar system, across the spirals of distant galaxies, and right into a black hole's solid candy heart. Two star projectors work together within Star Theater, where a 70-foot screen recreates the night sky with special effects and lasers. This allows the planetarium's team to take audiences on a tour of different constellations, or combine music and laser effects for a bit of fun. The Discovery Movie Theater screens science documentaries, while a space-themed art gallery takes a more creative look at the heavens.
Interactive science exhibits sprawl across the rest of the facility, which boasts free entry for all. One of these?The Foucault pendulum?proves Newton's First Law of Motion in a clear, visual way. A giant 235-pound pendulum swings from the ceiling, striking a golf ball from a tee every 26 minutes on the dot, in perfect harmony with the Earth's rotation. In another area, a rooftop telescope looks into the heavens and displays its findings on a computer monitor for all to see.
Dolphin Paradise Tours' US Coast Guard?inspected boats whisk sightseers off into the ocean to encounter a wide spectrum of Atlantic wildlife. Long-beaked pelicans swoop for fish, enormous manatees lumber gracefully through the saltwater, and smooth-fleshed dolphins play beneath the waves. After sailing the Cocoa Beach intercoastal area, captains dock the boats at a remote island where passengers can disembark to collect seashells and children can chase skittering lizards or bedraggled shipwreck survivors across the sand. A particularly memorable part of the tour comes next: groups swim out into the water, using underwater microphones to hear the whistles and clicks of dolphins as they communicate with each other. Although groups swim at a distance from dolphins and manatees so as not to disturb their natural habitat, the animals are naturally curious and may swim closer to do some sightseeing of their own?make sure to jump through a hoop at that point. In addition to sightseeing tours, the company regularly chauffeurs passengers to deep waters for chartered fishing trips. And during the Halloween season, Dolphin Paradise Tours transports thrill-seekers of all ages to a haunted island, believed to be inhabited by the souls of people who were cursed and left for dead.
With an area encompassing a track and hobby shop, the nearly 14,000-square-feet state-of-the-art racing facility at Space Coast R/C is the ultimate pathway for high-speed competition enthusiasts. The venue offers track time to drivers of levels from avid racers to curious spectators. Drivers watch and control electric off-road 1/8 and 1/10 scale vehicles from the driver stand, which can accommodate up to 20 drivers, navigating them over the course's challenging turns and around sharp corners. Lap timing encourages racers to monitor their progress with increased speed, spurring them to take smoother turns and avoid bumping into the yellow tubing that forms the track's boundaries. After races, hobbyists can peruse the onsite pro-shop for new car chassis and replacement parts to keep their rides in top performing shape. Space Coast R/C also makes their venue available for guests looking to celebrate a variety of functions such as birthdays and business meetings.
In designing Sublime Restaurant and Sangria Lounge, Michael Perez drew inspiration from his Cuban heritage. He even used his grandmother's recipe to create the restaurant's signature garlic-seasoned beef empanadas. The pastry is just one of Sublime's tapas, though. The menu also includes hot plates of goat-cheese quesadillas and cold snacks, such as deviled eggs filled with housemade guacamole. The Latin-style dishes are a perfect complement to the bar's eight sangrias, which steep overnight to develop more complex flavors.
A Vintage Setting
Although Perez's eclectic menu helped Sublime earned an OpenTable Diners' Choice award, its historic location also played an important role. Located in a 1920s building that one housed a bank, the restaurant and lounge now features two floors of seating with hardwood floors and geometric windows that speak of Cocoa Beach's history.