Chances are you may think you have never heard of Merritt Island but you may be surprised to learn that you know more about it than you think. Merritt Island is the key component to the Space Coast, especially as it is home to the Kennedy Space Center and Visitor Complex, a part of the world all eyes are turned to during every shuttle launch. Also home to some of our most popular Stay In Cocoa Beach vacation sanctuaries, if you haven’t considered making a journey to Merritt Island for your vacation destination, perhaps this guide to Merritt Island activities will convince you, especially the realization that you will have prime viewing of any launches scheduled during your visit!

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Epicurean Adventures 

The foods you eat during your vacation experiences can often be as memorable as the attractions you visited; those tasty crepes you devoured in Paris, the spicy tacos you inhaled in Tucson, and when you visit Merritt Island, the meals you enjoy at the restaurants listed below.

Pancake breakfast on a plate

Merritt (My) Island Pancake House, 950 N Courtenay Parkway Suite #18

Breakfast is the most important meal of the day especially when on vacation and My Island Pancake House is destined to fill your stomach in all the best of ways. Offering a huge selection of pancakes, (we highly recommend their Reese’s Peanut Butter and Nutella cakes) they also feature an extensive selection of standard breakfast foods, including benedicts, omelets, and biscuits and gravy, this is not the restaurant you choose when you are just feeling a bit peckish. This is a restaurant that meets the challenges provided by the largest of appetites and for our senior travelers, they also offer a choice of senior breakfasts with prices that fit into the tightest of budgets.

Causeway Diner, 3712 N Courtenay Parkway #102

Diners are an American secret, casual restaurants serving great food with everyone feeling welcome when they walk through the door and the Causeway Diner is a perfect example. Serving breakfast and lunch every day and dinner Monday through Friday, when you step inside for the first time you will instantly feel at home. For nearly 20 years this sweet diner doesn’t understand haute cuisine where portions are tiny and food is just weird, Causeway diner serves the all-American breakfasts and lunches that stick to your ribs and make your soul happy. Sandwiches, wraps, and burgers are their specialty and if you have been seeking the perfect Ruben, your search stops here!

The Island Waterfront Bar & Grill, 1891 E Merritt Island Causeway

Offering a patio overlooking a river that meanders by this cool hangout space is one of our favorite spots for seafood and live entertainment; live music plays most every weekend, and the Island Waterfront Bar & Grill is the place to be on a Saturday night. Their menu is a beautiful blend of seafood favorites (try the shrimp tacos, you can thank us later) and landlubber specialties and the vibe is one that, just like the diner, makes everyone feel instantly at home.

The Adventures You Will Have

It’s always nice to enjoy adventures that are located relatively close to where you are staying, and Merritt Island is known for offering a lot of different fun adventures that will be enjoyed by travelers of all ages. We have listed a few of our favorites below, starting with the one you probably already have listed as number one on your vacation itinerary.

Stop by the Kennedy Space Center

Kennedy Space Center and Visitor Complex, Space Commerce Way 

Offering the granddaddy of vacation experiences, the Kennedy Space Center has been the epicenter for space travel since the 1950s. Explore the history of space exploration with a walk through the Rocket Garden and a visit to the Astronaut Hall of Fame, enjoy a behind the scenes tour of the complex, and examine where the future of exploration is going with their Now and Next Exhibit. A visit to the space center is also a good time to determine when the next launches will take place and if you happen to be here when they do, watching it will be an experience you will never forget. Also offering a variety of Meet the Astronaut events, the Space Center promises to be the adventure that tops all adventures from every vacation you have ever taken.

Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge Visitor Center, 1987 Scrub Jay Way #32782

Take a walk on the wild side with a visit to the Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge, a 140,000-acre refuge that shares space with the Kennedy Space Center. Offering a serene counterbalance to the high-tech atmosphere of the space center, this animal refuge offers picnic tables and the opportunity to explore the habitat of the wildlife that make their home here. Bird watching, fishing, and hiking are all popular activities. This refuge was established to protect migratory birds in 1963 and there are more than 1500 plants and animal species that live within its boundaries. There may be times when NASA closes the refuge to visitors, so be sure and check that it is open before you head in that direction.

Manatee Cove Park, 4905 N Tropical Trail

Sometimes the simpler adventures offer the greatest impact and a day at Manatee Cove Park can bring you many simple pleasures. Offering a colorful playground that your tiny travelers will enjoy playing on and the river that runs through this park is popular with anglers, kayakers, and wildlife watchers. Home to a not surprisingly diverse selection of animals and birds, your explorations may captures alligators sunning themselves on the banks of the river, birds of prey diving into the waters to capture their dinner, even friendly manatees swimming happily in the murky waters of the river.

Retail Therapy

Like most travelers, we enjoy a little retail therapy when visiting new places, and the shops of Merritt Island offer treasures that you just can’t find in the shops that line the streets of your own hometown. Fortunately, our Merritt Island vacation escapes offer plenty of room in which you store your purchases, and the in-unit washers and dryers allow guests to pack light, wash their clothes when necessary, and save room in their suitcases for all the cool stuff you just couldn’t resist buying.

Go shopping on Merritt Island

Coastal Lost Treasures, 2137 N Courtenay Parkway #25

Normally travelers won’t spend much time in furniture stores while on vacation, but if you were to miss out on visiting Coastal Lost Treasures during your stay, you might regret it forever. Offering a beautiful selection of handmade furniture pieces, much of what they sell can be shipped to your home, so you won’t have to worry about carrying heavy pieces across country. This is a great place to pick up beach themed accessories that will add color and style to the walls of the home, especially their charming and colorful seahorses carved from wood.

Cabana Boutique, 2275 N Courtenay Parkway #5, Closed Sunday & Monday

When you need a new sundress, a cute pair of shoes, or just a small gift to brighten the day of someone who didn’t get to accompany you on this trip of a lifetime, a visit to Cabana Boutique will be exactly what you need. Featuring a large selection of women’s clothing and accessories, Cabana is also known for its holiday decorations and coastal themed gifts, and its prices are reasonable fitting into most travel budgets.

Molly Mutt Thrift Shop, 2525 N Courtenay Parkway

Once upon a time the world looked down upon people who shopped at thrift stores, but fortunately the tides have turned and now everyone realizes the ecological benefits to thrift shopping. Lessening the load on overcrowded dumps all over the nation, reusing and recycling can be fun, especially when you do your part with a visit to Molly Mutt Thrift Shop on Merritt Island. Offering an everchanging selection of clothing, knickknacks, and home décor, visitors could, and often do, lose themselves in the aisles of this shop, and even as they are saving money, the realization that any profits the shop makes benefits the Brevard Humane Society turns your shopping expedition into a good deed.

Regional Attractions

Merritt Island is bound to be the site of one of your best vacations ever and you can add to the excitement and fun with explorations of these regional attractions, tourist sites that are located within a short distance drive of the island.

Visit the Brevard Zoo on Merritt Island

Brevard Zoo, 8225 N Wickham Road in Melbourne

A day at the zoo is always fun, no matter where you are in the world, and the Brevard Zoo is one of our favorite places to recommend to visitors. Home to over 900 animals, this non-profit zoo is a smaller one, but the animals you can see are as exciting and fascinating as the ones you see in larger zoos located in big cities. Celebrating their 30th anniversary in 2024, they are offering a variety of special events at the moment, but even their every day adventures will make you glad you chose to visit, including adventure courses, kayak tours, and animal encounters that will change your life.

Green Gables, 1501 S Harbor City Boulevard in Melbourne

Museum fans will enjoy the charms of Green Gables, a historic home built in the Queen Anne Style around 1886, offering a glimpse into the past. Often the site of classic car shows and antique motorcycle shows, it costs $10 per person to enjoy a walkthrough of the home. 

Maxwell C. King Center for the Performing Arts, 3865 N Wickham Road in Melbourne

A night at the theater isn’t just a big city activity, it is something you can enjoy during your visit to Merritt Island at the Maxwell C. King Center for the Performing Arts. Offering ballet, musical performances, comedy shows, and in April of 2024, the chance to press your luck with an appearance on The Price is Right, a cultural vacation in Florida would not be complete without experiencing a show at this wonderful performance arts center. Our favorite events are their Classic Album-Live events that take place once a month, providing cover performances of the coolest albums in music history; upcoming album covers include Queen, Prince, and AC/DC.

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At Home on Merritt Island with Stay In Cocoa Beach

However, you spend your daytime hours during your Merritt Island vacation, coming home every night to the comforts of our Stay In Cocoa Beach island sanctuaries will give you the perfect ending to a beautiful day. Offering community pools, hot tubs, and an authentic Florida experience, every guest will feel instantly at home within their first minutes inside, and the amenities listed below are just some of the reasons you will never want to leave.

Many of your Florida adventures will be beachy ones, and because you don’t want to carry a beach umbrella and cooler across the country, many of our Merritt Island sanctuaries will include a closet filled with beach gear, including body boards, beach chairs, beach umbrellas, and coolers.

Nothing is worse than spending your vacation feeling uncomfortable when at “home” and our Cocoa Beach vacation rentals set an example in comfort that all vacation homes should follow. Plush sofas in the living rooms will be the site of many impromptu naps, and premium mattresses topped with silky linens will ensure deep sleep and happy dreams.

State-of-the-art televisions, fully equipped kitchens, and free Wi-Fi are just some of the things that make life easier when traveling and our Merritt Island escapes are equipped with all of the above and so much more.

Reach out to us and reserve your favorite Stay In Cocoa Beach Merritt Island vacation rental today!