NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida was Out Of This World!
By Meg Brunson
“I thought you were bringing us to another science museum, which would have been okay… but instead it was like a science amusement park and it was totally awesome. Seriously, so fun! …Thanks, Mom!” - from my impossible to please twelve-year-old!
Rocket Garden, Bus Tour, & Apollo
We arrived early and spent some time checking out the Rocket Garden before embarking on the bus tour. On the bus tour we were able to see various launch pads and learn about the different projects happening at NASA. We got lucky and one of the SpaceX buildings was in the process of sending a vehicle to recover a rocket that recently launched, so we got a sneak peek at that process and inside the SpaceX building where we could see other rockets they were working on for upcoming launches! The bus tour focused on all of the different departments who are instrumental in successful launches – and also on the animals and environment surrounding the space center. The bus tour is the only way to get to the Apollo Building – which was the next place we visited!
The Apollo Center is focused on the Race to the Moon – which was really the birth of space exploration. We loved being able to sit in a simulated “firing room” where a crew worked together behind the scenes to ensure that the Apollo 8 launch went off successfully. In real time, we got to experience the 3 minutes leading up to launch and the 3 (ish) minutes afterwards, while watching video footage of the actual launch. Being able to have this simulated Mission Control experience was amazing. We also saw the actual lunar module from Apollo 11 that first landed on the moon, touch a moon rock, and experience a variety of interactive displays. The movie in this building was amazing – a few minutes into it a lunar module appeared – none of the movies at the Kennedy Space Center were limited by a projection screen! I could probably write an entire review just on this building – we had SO much fun!
After taking the short shuttle ride back to the main part of the park, we took a lunch break. There is a Junior Astronaut play area under a large dome with picnic tables. We enjoyed sitting in the shade to enjoy lunch, and letting the kids get some energy out on the playground. My oldest was thrilled that the upper age limit was 12, so she was allowed to play. Many play areas we have encountered recently seem to be for younger ages.
Our next stop was Atlantis – the giant orange and white space shuttle we’d been eyeing since we arrived! This experience also began with a movie which gave me goosebumps at the end – SO well done! We were able to view the actual Atlantis Shuttle. This was the building in which my four-year-old exclaimed “I want to be an astronaut when I grow up! I will fly my spaceship to Saturn with it’s icy rings and eat peanut butter and cheese sandwiches and drink space chocolate milk!” – and her mission in life has begun!
Inside Atlantis the kids got to experience a kid-sized International Space Station, on the second floor with transparent tunnels so they could see the people on the floor below them. This is also the area where we were thrilled to discover that all the kids met the height requirement for the Shuttle Launch Experience. In this incredibly realistic experience, everyone buckles into their seats then the entire room is rotated vertically and shakes through the launch process, culminating with a rather quick jolt back to our horizontal starting point once we exited the atmosphere. At Apollo we experienced a simulated Mission Control experience, and at Atlantis we experienced a simulated astronaut launch experience! We also loved the astronaut training simulators and (of course) the giant slide which simulates the slide the astronauts take when they return home.
Finally, we experienced the Astronaut Hall of Fame. We’ve visited a lot of halls-of-fame from the Baseball Hall of Fame, Pro-Football Hall of Fame, Country Music Hall of Fame… but this experience was like none other. It began with a presentation focused on what it means to be a hero – a very touching tribute to all the unsung heroes. With the Kennedy Space Center closing, we had a hurried visit through the rest of this building – but loved that we got to spend a few minutes learning about the inductees to the Astronaut Hall of Fame!
The only complaint was not having enough time to see and do everything. I am so happy we decided to visit the Kennedy Space Center. The fact that we all learned so incredibly much and also had such a good time was amazing. You absolutely have to make a point to visit the Kennedy Space Center – don’t put it off… and plan for two days so you don’t regret the things you ran out of time to experience (like I do)!
Tips for a Terrific Visit:
- Get there EARLY – There is so much to see/do, you want to make the most of your time!
- Plan for 2 Days – I mean it when I say there is SO much to do. We were not able to fit in all that we wanted to do – and we got there when the gates opened, and walked out 15 minutes after closing!
- Parking – there is parking available on-site for a cost. They do have a lot to accommodate RVs. The parking lots open 30-minutes before the gates do!
- Snacks/Meals – there are multiple dining options on site, and you can also pack a soft-sided cooler with food/beverages (just no glass or alcohol).
- Be Bird-aware… if you are buying food on site, and plan to eat outside, make sure you have an extra adult to walk with you. Learn from my mistake: as soon as I stepped out of the restaurant with my tray of food I was attacked by 5 seagulls who wanted my French fries. They spilled my soda and it scared the bejeezus out of me! Luckily a nice gentleman eating nearby offered to walk me back to my family, and shooed sll those awful birds away while I carried our food!
- Dress code: There will be a lot of walking, so comfy shoes is a must – and while there are some outdoor activities, we spent most of our time visiting indoors.
- See a launch: check the website for the next launch! But don’t let the absence of a launch deter you from attending – we had an AMAZING time without a launch!
If you like space, science, math, technology, history, rockets, or having fun – you need to visit the Kennedy Space Center – it as legit amazing and was a family-favorite! Start planning a trip that’s out of this world at https://www.kennedyspacecenter.com/ - then, read about some of the other adventures we're having on our Year-Long Road Trip!
© 2019 Meg Brunson
All opinions expressed are my own. See more on Instagram!
Meg is a mommy blogger, Facebook marketer, and much more. She is a mom to four daughters who live full-time in an RV exploring the US! As a former Facebook employee, Meg remains a Facebook addict and handles KidsOutAndAbout.com's Social Media Marketing in addition to providing freelance services for other small businesses on how to best leverage Facebook as a part of their marketing strategy. Meg also hosts the FamilyPreneur Podcast, a podcast for parent entrepreneurs raising entrepreneurial children. Learn more about Meg at MegBrunson.com!