Lively Resort Just Steps from the Beach
Surfboards painted vivid yellow, red, and green hang above the lobby at the International Palms Resort & Conference Center Cocoa Beach, a nod to the surf-friendly beach right outside the front door. Here, the ocean and beach culture take center stage in nearly every activity. Grab a boogie board at the resort’s onsite surf shop and hop into the Atlantic Ocean, or lounge on a reclining chair with a drink from the poolside bar. With courts for sand volleyball, tennis, corn hole, and basketball, the resort provides plenty of opportunities for friendly competition. Kids have their own pirate-themed pool to expend their energy.
The resort’s newly remodeled accommodations include ocean-side rooms closest to the beach. You can choose a one-bedroom villa for a little extra room, plus a sleeper sofa, a chair with an ottoman, and a full kitchen. Two-story lofts include bathrooms on both floors. After a day on the beach, guests can dine at one of International Palms’ onsite restaurants. The resort’s flagship eatery is Mambo’s Beachside Bar & Grill, where you can sample casual Caribbean dishes on the colorful patio, with live entertainment Thursday–Saturday.
Cocoa Beach, Florida: White-Sand Beaches on Florida’s “Space Coast”
Nicknamed Florida’s “Space Coast” for the nearby Kennedy Space Center and Cape Canaveral, Cocoa Beach’s 72-mile shoreline draws visitors with both its space history and its beautiful coast. At the Cocoa Beach Pier, a long boardwalk heads out into the Atlantic, where you can cast fishing line into the water. Lucky fishers may catch gator trout or redfish out of this part of the ocean.
This area has also been called the East Coast capital for surfing, especially considering 11-time surf champion Kelly Slater got his start on these waves. You’ll find several surf shops offering lessons and gear, plus in-the-know staff who can show you where to find the best breaks. And if that isn’t your thing, you can also rent a kayak and explore the waterways—keep an eye out for the area’s many manatees.
About 20 miles to the north, the 140,000-acre Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge surrounds the Kennedy Space Center. Take the wildlife drive to spot alligators, bald eagles, and other animals on your way to the space center. There, you’ll see hands-on replicas of astronaut capsules, an authentic Saturn V rocket from NASA’s Apollo program, and Alan Shepard’s space suit.