Overview | What to Do | Other Attractions | Get Around | Eat & Drink | Stay in Touch | Shopping | Where to Stay
Port Canaveral is one of the busiest cruise ports in the world. In addition to the popularity of the port, the area is also known for NASA’s Kennedy Space Center, which gives the area its widely used nickname, The Space Coast. While the association with NASA’s space shuttles is an important factor in terms of sightseeing around Port Canaveral, the port itself is quite impressive on its own. As you may have guessed, cruise ships dock at the man-made Port Canaveral.
Home to nine cruise ships, Port Canaveral services more than two million cruise passengers annually. Until recently, with the expansion of Port Everglades, it was the second busiest cruise port in the world. It’s proximity to Disney World also helps position it as one of the most popular cruise embarkation ports around since many visitors opt to split vacation time between popular Orlando theme parks and ocean cruising. And for vacationers on a tight schedule, Disney Cruise Lines has three ships sailing out of this port: Disney Dream, Disney Fantasy and Disney Magic. Carnival Cruise Lines has 3 ships that sail out of Port Canaveral; Carnival Ecstasy, Carnival Dream and Carnival Sensation. Norwegian Cruise Line sails the Norwegian Sun from this cruise port. There are over 25 cruises departing from Port Canaveral to all Caribbean destinations. Find the best cruise here.
The Kennedy Space Center
The Kennedy Space Center is an absolute must for every single tourist visiting Cape Canaveral. As the home of every manned space launch since 1968, the center is an incredible historic landmark, important for aeronautic and human history alike. Take one of their fascinating tours complete with an IMAX film experience, explore the Saturn V Complex and International Space Center facility. View the Astronaut Hall of Fame, and take part in the Astronaut Training Experience, and of course, stop by their Rocket Garden to check out the never-before flown spaceships.
How to Get There: The Kennedy Space Center is located 16 miles north of Port Canaveral, or about a half hour drive (see map).
Check out this video of NASA's Kennedy Space Center:
Orlando Theme Parks
Disney World is the largest and most visited recreational resort in the world. It features four theme parks, two water parks, and 23 themed, on-site hotels. Come and experience the magic of Mickey and all his friends; step into the magical and adventurous world of Walt Disney.
How to Get There: Disney World is located 63 miles west of Port Canaveral (see map), or an hour away by car. When planning your trip, check for traffic conditions to ensure you have enough time.
Universal Orlando Resort
Universal Orlando Resort has two of the most fantastic theme parks in the world: Universal Studios and Island Of Adventure. Yet for those seeking something a little less thrilling but lots of fun, it also hosts some pretty exciting annual events, such as Halloween Horror Nights, Mardi Gras, Rock the Universe, and Grinchmas. So if you’re looking to either "Ride the Movies" at Universal Studios or find some exciting roller coaster action at Islands of Adventure, they’ve got you covered.
How to Get There: The Universal Orlando Resort is located 60 miles west of Port Canaveral (see map), or an hour away by car. When planning your trip, check for traffic conditions to ensure you have enough time.
The Holy Land Experience
The Holy Land Experience is a museum and theme park that strives to recreate first-century Israel. This is the great way to learn about the birth of Christianity in a fun, interactive fashion.
How to Get There: The Holy Land Experience is located 57.8 miles west of Port Canaveral (see map), or an hour away by car. When planning your trip, check for traffic conditions to ensure you have enough time. If time is not a factor, check out Disney World and The Universal Orlando Resort, located mere minutes away.
Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge
The Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge borders the Kennedy Space Center, and the Canaveral National Seashore. It is approximately 140,000 acres of government protected land, and is home to over 20 endangered species, which include the bald eagle and florida panther. It is the perfect must-see destination for all nature enthusiasts, and bird lovers especially.
How to Get There: Drive southeast for about 45 miles or around 50 minutes (see map).
It’s Florida, so of course there are plenty of beaches around. Here are some of the best options from the 35+ miles of public beach:
Canaveral National Seashore
The Canaveral National Seashore is the perfect place for those who envision a desolate, tropical paradise. The 23 miles of untouched and picturesque beaches provide the perfect setting for taking a break from the chaos of city life.
How to Get There: The Canaveral National Seashore is located 50 miles southeast of Port Canaveral (see map), or about 56 minutes by car. If you have the time, stop on by The Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge, it’s only minutes away!
Lori Wilson Park
Lori Wilson Park is recommended for those who love the outdoors. Take a break from swimming, and go fish or hike the scenic trails for a while. If you get hungry, no problem, there are a few concession stands around, so stack up on some snacks after a long day at the beach.
How to Get There: Spare 11 minutes and drive south 5.8 miles (see map) to enjoy the great outdoors. Conveniently located near Port Canaveral, you’ll have plenty of time to check out other tourist stops as well, like Cocoa Beach for instance.
Cocoa Beach is the most obvious destination because it offers everything from nice waves to surf, to a beautiful boardwalk, and a romantic pier. Just park your car on one of the multiple metered spots along the strip, and enjoy the sun.
How to Get There: Cocoa Beach is located 7.1 miles southeast of Port Canaveral (see map), or in other words, you can get there in 15 minutes. If lounging on the beach is not your forte, check out the Lori Wilson Park, it’s right there!
Scuba Diving is not recommended in Cape Canaveral. Because the closest reef is 20 miles offshore with irregular charter services, we recommend you wait for a better destination on your cruise.
Sea Leveler Sport Fishing Charters
The Sea Leveler Sport Fishing Charters are great for some deep sea fishing. They provide the optimum opportunity to cruise the crystal-clear Floridian waters, while enjoying a full day of entertainment and family fun on a 30-foot island hopper.
How to Get There: Located only three minutes away from Port Canaveral (see map), it is one of the few destinations you can actually walk to. However, if you prefer to drive, it’s only a mile west.
Cape Canaveral offers several great golfing spots in the area. We have listed the best options below:
The Cocoa Beach Country Club
The Cocoa Beach Country Club is located in a peninsula surrounded by the Banana River Lagoon. Expect to see wildlife and birds especially as you stroll through the three, nine--hole courses.
How to Get Here: Drive south 8 miles until you hit Cocoa Beach, then head east for one mile and you’ll reach it about 20 minutes (see map).
The Savannahs Golf Course
The Savannahs Golf Course was listed as one of the "Places to Stay" by Gold Digest. It is a plantation-style clubhouse located fairly close to Port Canaveral. With its par 72 championship course, and challenging ecosystem of water and wetlands over 10 holes, it is the perfect place to either unwind or sharpen your golfing skills.
How to Get Here: Located 11 miles away from Port Canaveral (see map), The Savannahs Golf Course is 19 minutes northwest.
Sam's Executive Golf Course
Sam's Executive Golf Course features a short, 2,960 yard, 18 hole, par of 58, course. It is designed to reward, but challenge, the shot maker. for tee times.
How to Get Here: 15 miles and 20 minutes from Port Canaveral, Sam’s Executive Golf Course is one of the best places to golf around (see map).
Walking is not recommended because distances are too great and Florida's streets are not pedestrian friendly.
Taxis are available and plentiful around the port. Be mindful that locations in Cape Canaveral tend to be spread out, so plan ahead.
Although some bus routes are available, they tend to be unpredictable and not user friendly. We do not recommend any public transportation in Cape Canaveral.
- For shuttle services, contact CBC Transportation.
- For car rentals, contact Avis Rent a Car.
- For luxury vehicles, contact Ace Luxury Transportation.
What is the best way to travel between the port and the airport?
Port Canaveral has three international airports and one regional, within an hours drive; however Orlando International Airport (MCO) is the primary hub for travelers arriving to and departing from Central Florida. Located 45 miles west of the port (see map), Orlando International Airport is too far by regular taxi. Renting a car is probably the best option considering the cost.. Shuttle services, chauffeured cars/vans and buses are also good options from MCO to Port Canaveral. We provided a few options below:
- CBC Transportation offers Town car, SUV, luxury van and limousine services.
- Super Shuttle offers Town cars, SUVs or vans.
- Star Trans offers services for 1-10 passengers.
Florida Lobster Tail is a delicious, grilled sensation in Port Canaveral. Order this meal to get a taste of an authentic, Florida dish. Here are some of the best places to get it:
- Grills Seafood Deck & Tiki Bar is the best place to eat in Port Canaveral. If you want to enjoy great drinks and listen to amazing live music, then come on in and sit and enjoy the nightlife. If you want to enjoy a beautiful afternoon, then sit outside on the wooden deck and watch cruise ships stroll by. Located near Ron Jon Cape Caribe Resort and only a few minutes away from Sea Leveler Fishing Charters, this is one of the few places you can actually walk to if you head west from Port Canaveral (see map).
- Atlantic Seafood is a great alternative to the tourist-packed Grills Seafood and still get the same, fresh meal so characteristic of Cape Canaveral. This place is known for its superb service and relaxing patio. If you want great food but smaller crowds, head southwest for 13 miles (see map). You won’t regret your decision.
- Rusty's Seafood and Oyster Bar is a newly remodeled restaurant that’s well worth a visit. Watch dolphins and cruise ships pass by as you enjoy some of the most delicious oysters in the city. Only a 4 minute drive west (see map), it's slightly past Grills Seafood.
The Grills Grand Hurricane will blow your mind! This mixture of rum, Grand Marnier, pineapple juice, orange juice and grenadine is the perfect way to end a long day at the beach. Grills Seafood Deck & Tiki Bar is known as a hotspot for astronauts, film crews, tourist and locals alike. Ask for a Grand Hurricane and enjoy. Located near Ron Jon Cape Caribe Resort and only a few minutes away from Sea Leveler Fishing Charters (see map), this is one of the few places you can actually walk to if you head west from Port Canaveral.
Port Canaveral does not offer WiFi in the cruise terminal, however free WiFi is available at all Starbucks, (most) McDonald's, and nearby hotels.
Where to Shop
Cove Marketplace is an open-air marketplace waterside dining, entertainment, and of course, plenty of shopping opportunities. Local artwork like paintings, pottery, sculpture and jewelry are all on display. While here, you can also sample local cuisine specialties while checking out some of the local entertainment. The Marketplace is within walking distance of the terminal (see map)
The Ron Jon Surf Shop at Cocoa Beach will get you prepared for every type of beach you you can possibly encounter on your cruise. From surfboards, to snorkeling gear and fashionable clothing, you can find it all at this one-stop shop. Want to learn to surf, you can even take some surfing lessons! Drive 10 minutes south, and you’ll be there in no time (see map).
Beach wear, and all types of surf accessories are a great way to get prepared for your cruise, and other tropical destinations. If you are an adrenaline junkie, or you’re buying a gift for one, there is also a vast selection of surf, boogie and skateboards to be found here.
Space Shuttle Models and other NASA trinkets are more than appropriate souvenirs from your visit to Cape Canaveral. Whether you buy build it yourself kit, or an already assembled model, it will look great on almost any mantel. You can find them almost anywhere, but if you want the authentic kind, head to The Kennedy Space Center. It is located 16.6 miles north of Port Canaveral, or about a half hour drive (see map).
The Days Inn in Cocoa Beach offers cheap and easy lodging for cruisers. Free WiFi, complimentary breakfast and an onsite gym are available. The Days Inn is a five-minute drive from the port (see map).
The Radisson Resort at the Port offers complimentary breakfast, free parking for the duration of your cruise, and a free shuttle to Port Canaveral. Ask for the cruise package when making your reservation, and rejoice, it’s only four minutes by car from the port (see map).
The Residence Inn in Cape Canaveral Cocoa Beach is the perfect place to stay while you're waiting for your cruise. They offer a pre-cruise package, which includes parking while on your cruise and shuttle service to Port Canaveral, it's about 5 minutes from the port (see map).
The Ron Jon Cape Caribe Resort is a good choice for those who want to experience Cape Canaveral. Relax in a beautiful hotel before you embark on an adventurous cruise. This hotel is only a mile from the port and features a lazy river for sunny afternoons. This hotel provides free parking for the duration of your cruise and shuttle service to Port Canaveral, which is only 3 minutes away (see map).