Plan a Day at The Kennedy Space Center with Kids
The Kennedy Space Center was designed as a place for space enthusiasts to geek out! Kids and adults will love it. Not only does it have fascinating movies and displays, but it also has fun interactive things for kids to do too. So many people think that Florida is just about the beach, Legoland or Disney, but this is quite a gem.
The Kennedy Space Center in Florida is where NASA made history, humans left Earth to explore the heavens, and where the future of space exploration will occur.
The actual Kennedy Space Center property is immense. In fact, it is one-fifth the size of the state of Rhode Island. It sits on a peninsula right on the Atlantic Ocean.
I read so many great things to see and do at the Kennedy Space Center, but was honestly baffled by it all. I needed a “Must See List” or a “One Day Plan for Visiting the Kennedy Space Center.” We planned to spend 10 hours there, but what was best to do?
Fortunately, we have a family friend who works at the Space Center. She got us up and running in no time. She knew exactly how to make the pieces of our puzzle all fit together and make it awesome for our kids.
Thanks to her I’ll be sharing our itinerary and a few tips and tricks. This will help you maximize your time and really enjoy A Day at the Kennedy Space Center with Kids.
Know Before You Go:
This is not a theme park. There are hands-on simulators for children, a playground, movies, and even a huge slide. They partner with the Smithsonian’s to curate the best rockets and exhibits around.
1. Which age is best?
Due to the stamina needed for walking and sightseeing, interest level, and many loud movies. For children, I felt this event was best suited for school-age children, ages 5+. If you’re bringing strollers or wheelchairs, the property does require a lot of walking, some steps, and getting on /off buses.
2. What’s important to do before I leave?
Florida’s weather can change quickly. If you can, try to go on a fair weather day because you’ll be going inside and outside often. Purchase tickets online and go straight to the gate with your printed ticket.
3. How long will it take us?
Arrive as early as you possibly can. The museum / park opens daily at 9:00. Arriving early allows you to pay for parking, get a good spot and be ready to begin when the gates open. The Space Center closes different times depending on the time of year. It closed at 7:00 the day we visited. We stayed the entire day (10 hours).
4. What should I bring?
Snacks, water bottles, hats, sunscreen, light jacket (breezy near the water and cool inside some venues), sunglasses, something to be autographed if you see an astronaut (like this t-shirt), a permanent marker (for autographs), quarters and pennies for pressed pennies, and a lunch/dinner.
This cooler bag is our favorite and fits right into our backpack. We just got this cooler backpack and love it too. We opted to have lunch on the property (more on that below) and pack sandwiches for dinner.
Possible One Day Itinerary (what we did):
9:15 – Entered the Kennedy Space Center
9:30 – 11:30 – Atlantis (leave through gift shop, walk over to lunch area)
12:00 – 1:15 – Lunch with an Astronaut
1:15 – 1:45 – Heroes and Legends (right above the lunch area)
2:00- 4:45 – Bus Tour and Apollo/Saturn V Center (you have to do the bus tour to get to Apollo / Saturn V center)
5:00- Gift Shop and picnic dinner
5: 30 – Rocket Garden
6:00 – IMAX movie (movie was at 6:30, doors opened at 6:15)
7:15 – Photo Opportunity. When the IMAX movie ended the Kennedy Space Center was closed, but this was a great people-free opportunity to take pictures.
Kennedy Space Center One Day Itinerary in Detail
In the large Atlantis building (photo above), you’ll see the actual Space Shuttle Atlantis. The building was actually built around this huge spacecraft. You can also try simulators, climb through a small-scale version of the International Space Center, and try out the Shuttle Launch Experience (whew!). This is best to do first in your day so that you don’t run out of time to do everything that it offers.
Lunch with an Astronaut
This is an add-on experience, but was a highlight of our trip. Enjoy a chef-prepared buffet, hear personal stories, and ask questions of the real-life Astronaut of the day. The astronauts are also available for photos afterwards. From a mom perspective, it was really nice to sit down and have a non-fast-food lunch. We ate salad, chicken and salmon, and had a little dessert. Think of it almost like a character meal at Disney, this one just happens to be with a real ASTRONAUT!
Heroes and Legends
Located directly above the “Lunch with an Astronaut”. It has 2 movies (one is 3D). There’s a cool section that has interactive displays that highlight the character of an astronaut, such as courage, perseverance, and selflessness. This is a great way to inspire kids and spark discussions of what it means to be a hero. As Boy Scouts, our boys were excited to see an Eagle Scout’s sash as part of one of the displays.
The bus tour is free with your admission ticket. The bus takes you around the entire Kennedy Space Center property. It departs every 15 minutes and takes you to the Apollo/Saturn V Center. The bus will pass an operational launch pad and the Vehicle Assembly Building. To do this entire tour and visiting the Apollo/Saturn V Center can take 2-3 hours. (plan accordingly)
Apollo/Saturn V Center
The only way to get here is via the bus tour (above). This center recaptures the excitement of July 20, 1969 when Neil Armstrong walked on the moon. You can see the actual mission control center and touch a moon rock. You’ll also get to stand below the largest rocket ever flown – the Saturn V. It’s huge!
The Rocket Garden is easy to access whenever you have a few extra minutes. Walk around the actual rockets from the programs of Mercury, Gemini and Apollo. Kids can even climb in some of the rockets. Nearby there’s a fun (and shaded) playground.
IMAX – 3D Theater
We finished our day with an IMAX movie. This is also included with your admission ticket. Don’t miss the exhibit of Orion spacecraft exhibit in the IMAX building.
Additional Information You Can Use:
Rocket Launches – Rocket Launches happen regularly at the Kennedy Space Center . You can call to see if one is scheduled the day of your visit.
U.S. Astronaut Hall of Fame is 6 miles from the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex, it is also included in admission.
We love Florida! It has truly become one of our most favorite places to visit. We can’t think of a better way to spend a day in Florida then at The Kennedy Space Center. Special thanks to our friend for all of her help and hospitality!
For another detailed view on what to do at Kennedy Space Center, make sure you check out Where are We Going Today’s post too. Click here.