If you are headed to Orlando, be sure to visit Kennedy Space Center with kids! It is a must for your itinerary. While many adults and kids alike find all things space fascinating, this historical and educational attraction will quickly become a family favorite activity.
Our family visited Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex not long ago, and I have to admit, I wished I had visited it sooner. With a revival of space exploration and innovation, and it becoming an increasingly critical part of our future, Kennedy Space Visitor Center is a great place to visit.
The Kennedy Space Center attractions will take the kids back in time and teach them about the beginnings of rocket launches and space exploration through a walk into its history. And they will take giant leaps into the future as they learn about present-day space excursions and technology and where we are headed.
On top of this, they will get a glimpse of the Vehicle Assembly Building, which is the largest single-story building in the world. Visiting the Vehicle Assembly Building is a great activity that also fosters STEM learning, so it is very educational as well as a fun attraction. Think of it as Florida's gateway to space.
So, get your kids ready and pack your suitcases for the vacation adventure of a lifetime with an exciting trip to the Kennedy Space Center in Merritt Island, Florida, along Space Commerce Way. And discover why you must add it to your bucket list when visiting Orlando with kids!
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What is the Kennedy Space Center?
Located at Space Commerce Way, Merritt Island, in Cape Canaveral, Florida, the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex has been the primary rocket launch center in the United States for space exploration since 1968. NASA (National Aeronautics and Space Administration) carried out all the famous launch operations we learned about as kids, such as Skylab, Apollo, and Space Shuttle Programs here.
It is also the site where many present-day rocket companies, like Blue Origin and Space X, have launch facilities. So, Nasa's Kennedy Space Center is still very much an active launch and space exploration hub.
And now, you can also see the current and historic space exploration vehicles. These amazing space vehicles include the Saturn V moon rocket, Apollo 14 Kitty Hawk capsule, and the SpaceX Dragon capsule.
You will see when you visit that the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex is huge at about 42 acres. But the whole center is spread across over 200 square miles, and it is divided into various Mission Zones. You’ll find plenty of attractions and activities as well as space camps and educational programs. Or you can even watch a real rocket launch.
I also wanted to add that there are plenty of other things to do on Merritt Island if you're staying in the area. The whole family will love Bioluminescent Kayaking, going out on a fishing charter, air tours, and the shopping on Merritt Island.
Why You Should Visit the Kennedy Space Center with Kids
Every child needs to learn about the history of space exploration and today’s adventures in the solar system. And there are so many other reasons why visiting Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex should be on your family bucket list.
For starters, it’s not a traditional Florida theme park and inspires your kid’s dreams of being an astronaut. Plus, your children are learning important science concepts and American history while having fun at the Kennedy Space Center.
Some exhibits are permanent, but many are rotating, meaning there’s always something new to see and do. And you can even tour the sites of each rocket launch pad!
There are space camps and educational programs that kids love and help create aspiring astronauts. And you can even meet a real-life astronaut or a veteran Nasa astronaut at the Kennedy Space CenterVisitor Complex, for that matter.
If your kids love science and are space enthusiasts, this is a destination you need to visit. You'll find tons of space memorabilia and attractions that will keep them amused for hours. In fact, you can easily fill up your whole day exploring even just the top attractions.
Planning Your Trip to the Kennedy Space Center with Kids
If touring the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex is on your Orlando family vacation bucket list, planning ahead of time ensures your family has a fun, successful trip.
There’s a lot to do there, so plan for a full-day trip or even overnight if you want to stay on the Space Coast. In fact, I think you could spend two full days visiting all of The Kennedy Space Center because there is that much to experience.
There are interactive exhibits, movies, a playground, rocket exhibits, and much more to get an idea about the space program. But here are some things you want to know before you visit the Kennedy Space Center.
There are plenty of places to stay in the area and plenty of things to do to learn all about America's space program today and in the past.
What to Do at the Kennedy Space Center With Kids?
Nasa's Kennedy Space Center Visitor Center has so many great activities to do that you want to plan ahead. Here are some of the attractions you don’t want to miss.
Hero and Legends
At the Heroes and Legends exhibit, you get to see the first pioneers of NASA’s space programs that are heroes to us all. The U.S. Astronaut Hall of Fame is here, and you get to see the early technology that helped Americans defy gravity in space. Plus, you get to see the heroes behind the scenes of the Apollo missions – the mission control team.
And while the Apollo missions are some of the most well-known space flights, the Mercury program saw the first flight of U.S. astronauts into space. This program ran from 1961 to 1963 with six flights into space, so it was really the beginning of astronauts in space.
You can learn about the bravery of our astronauts and things like where the phrase “Houston, we have a problem” came from at the Astronaut Hall of Fame. Here's a hint, check out the Apollo 13 space shuttle memorabilia.
Also, make sure you visit the Rocket Garden, where you can see rockets from the Gemini, Mercury, and Apollo programs. The Rocket Garden guided tour only takes about 15 minutes, and you'll learn more about key space program advancements and manned space flight from the earliest days until now. You can also tour the garden at your own pace and look at each space shuttle.
The Astronaut Hall of Fame and Rocket Garden are two of the most popular attractions at the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex.
Kennedy Space Center Bus Tour (KSC Bus Tour)
My kids loved this experience, and it is one of the coolest things to see when visiting Kennedy Space Center. The KSC bus tour takes you behind the scenes of the future and historical operational facilities at the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex. The bus tour is included with your general admission ticket and lasts approximately two hours.
See the real launch site, launch pads, and other areas behind the scenes. You may even be lucky enough to see the giant Crawlers NASA uses to move heavy equipment and spaceships throughout the complex.
You can also see launch Pad 39B, the area modified for NASA’s first integrated launch to test the agency’s deep space exploration systems that will begin humans’ first journey beyond the moon. They had to modify the deflector and flame trench to handle the lift-off of Artemis I.
The KSC Bus Tour is the best way to get an up-close look at space exploration while visiting Kennedy Space Center.
Race to the Moon
There’s a lot to see here, and you’ll learn all about the space race to the moon that the U.S. finally won on July 20, 1969. This was when Buzz Aldrin and Neil Armstrong were the first two men to walk on the moon.
When you consider the technology back then, it’s no wonder that people all over the world were in awe at this moment. This attraction includes interactive exhibits that bring early space adventures to life.
You don’t want to miss the Saturn V rocket, the largest rocket ship ever flown in space.
Be sure to check out the other exhibits:
- Ad Astra Per Aspera
- Exploring the Moon
- Lunar Theater
- Apollo Trasures Gallery
- Moon Tree Garden
- Astrovan Umbilical Tower
- Fisher Space Pen
Experience the space race yourself when you watch the Apollo 8 launch in the Firing Room as the very first human-crewed Saturn V mission blasted into space. You can also see the technology that kept our astronauts safe on their trip to the moon during the Apollo 7-10 missions of the Apollo program.
The interactive exhibits show you the amazing Apollo Moon landing missions, and you’ll see various artifacts like a real rock from the moon and much more.
NASA Now and Next
At this attraction, you’ll take a deep dive into our current mission to the International Space Station (ISS) and the future mission set to venture into deep space. See what the astronauts today will use for their future deep space missions and take a trip to the red planet in the Journey to Mars: Explorers Wanted. Be sure to check out the kids' crawl space through the replica of the International Space Station inside the actual Space Shuttle Atlantis Exhibit!
Also, see the latest Mars Rover Vehicle Navigator (MRVN) astronauts use to travel on the rugged Mars terrain. The IMAX theater is here too. You can watch space-themed movies there, including Asteroid Hunters, the newest 3D movie.
For current and ongoing missions, be sure to stop at NASA Now and Next attraction.
Shuttle: A Space Like No Other
Here you’ll learn all about NASA’s space shuttle program and see the famous Space Shuttle Atlantis, the iconic permanent home of the orbiter. You’ll also see the other space missions that secured the International Space Station and Hubble Telescope.
Train like a real astronaut and learn how to dock and land a space shuttle using training simulators is a favorite of my kids! My younger ones also loved pushing the buttons in the interactive exhibit and the replica of the crawl space of the International Space Station.
The Atlantis exhibit has over 60 interactive activities that celebrate the history of NASA’s Space Shuttle Program and the impact it had on our world.
Also, you can learn about the successes and failures of NASA’s first Great Space Observatory, the Hubble Space Telescope.
The kids will love the Shuttle Launch Experience, located in the Atlantis Building, where they can experience the sounds, sensations, and sights of lifting off into space on a shuttle. The Shuttle Launch Experience provides a glimpse into what astronauts experience lifting off into the sky.
Unique, Kid-Friendly Activities at the Kennedy Space Center for Kids
When you visit the Kennedy Space Center, I highly recommend adding one of these special activities. Your kids will love a unique experience like this!
Every day the Kennedy Space Center welcomes an Astronaut of the Day. Our kids got to meet one, grab an autograph and get a photo! It was a real highlight of our visit.
Here are some of the exclusive astronaut activities you can take part in.
Live Rocket Launch
Many people dream of seeing a real live rocket launch, and it’s an event your family will never forget. Check out the upcoming launch schedule on the events calendar to see if there’s one scheduled during your vacation. It will make your visit to the Kennedy Space Center epic!
Your kids will have a great time eating a catered buffet meal with a real astronaut where you can hear stories about their adventures in space. Learn all about the astronaut’s experience leaving Earth, take pictures with them, and even ask them your burning questions.
Each day, there’s a different astronaut on-site. You can listen to their story about what it’s like to work and live on a shuttle in space from his or her unique perspective. After the presentation, you can take a picture with your group and the astronaut and participate in a Q and A session.
The Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex even has a unique Overnight Adventures program for student and youth groups in grades 5-9. You can stay either at the Apollo/Saturn V or Space Shuttle Atlantis Center.
This experience completely immerses kids in science and space. It also includes a question-and-answer session with an astronaut over at the Apollo Center or an Astronaut Encounter over at the Atlantis Center.
Kennedy Space Center also has Family Overnight Adventures, where you can sleep under Atlantis too.
Fly with an Astronaut
You can even tour the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex with an astronaut as your guide. Explore the Space Shuttle Atlantis and ride the Space Launch Experience with a small group. Your astronaut will also take you behind the scenes to teach you all about the operational facilities at the Kennedy Space Center.
Ask the astronaut your questions and hear their fascinating stories during this half-day tour. You’ll also get to eat lunch with the astronaut too.
Get an Autograph in the Space Shop
Every day the Astronaut of the Day has an autograph session in the Space Shop. Bring something you want to be signed so you can leave your vacation with a one-of-a-kind souvenir.
Dining at the Kennedy Space Center
Yes, the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex does have plenty of places to eat!
Moon Rock Cafe – When you dine at the moon rock cafe, you’re having lunch with the Apollo spacecraft. It’s in the Apollo/Saturn V Center and has outdoor and indoor seating.
Orbit Cafe – This indoor cafe serves burgers, pizza, sandwiches, salads, and desserts. The Orbit Cafe is a great place to grab a quick bite of food before you explore more of the complex.
Planet Play Lounge – The Planet Play Lounge is a wine, beer, and coffee bar where the adults can relax while the kids are learning all about space.
IMAX Snax – If you just need a snack, you can get your movie favorites here, like soda, popcorn, and candy and take it to one of the IMAX films.
Red Rock Grill – This is an outside lunch stand that serves fries and hotdogs located beside Journey from Mars: Explorers Wanted.
Milky Way – You’ll find this ice cream shop close to the Universe Theater, where you can buy Space Dots, ice cream, and soft drinks.
Space Dots – Here’s another place to get the astronaut ice cream and Space Dots. It’s located near the Space Shuttle Atlantis. They have an exclusive Martian Rocks flavor you can only get at the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex.
Fun Fact: All the bowls and plates in the Kennedy Space Center’s cafes are made from recycled pulp. Even the lids, straws, and silverware are bio-based, so they’re biodegradable.
Pro Tips for Touring the Kennedy Space Center
- You can purchase timed daily tickets for admission online, and this is helpful because it limits the number of exchanges you make with other tickets. It can also help you avoid lines, especially if you’re visiting during a launch or school holiday when it’s busy.
- Download the Kennedy Space Center Official Guide app to plan your trip. You can create a favorites list for self-guided tours and navigate the center. It also has information on where to eat, where the bathrooms are, tours, attractions, and more.
- Print out the suggested itinerary to keep you organized during your visit
- Arrive early so you can find and pay for a good parking spot so you’re ready as soon as they open the gates.
- You may also want to consider travel insurance, Many people overlook it, but travel insurance can help protect you from injury, illness, and even theft while on vacation.
To prime your kids for their visit to the history and future of space travel, watch movies and read books related to space exploration, such as Apollo 13. Apollo 13 is the most well-known flight of the Apollo program for many people because of this movie. This is one of the best ways to make sure that your kids get an idea about the Space program before visiting.
How To Get Your Kennedy Space Center Tickets
You can purchase the Kennedy Space Center tickets ahead of time online or buy them at the ticket gate when you arrive. It’s better to buy your Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex tickets in advance so you can skip the line, as it can get busy. Also, special events and attractions sell out quickly, so if you wait, you may not get to see the events you want to.
Admission prices vary, but current tickets as of December 2022 are around $78.99 per person. But there is also a popular guided tour that includes transport from Orlando for $69.99. A guided tour is nice, but we like exploring at our own pace.
How to Get to the Kennedy Space Center
You can find travel information on the website, but the Kennedy Space Center is located in Central Florida, close to Daytona Beach and Orlando. You’ll find driving directions from multiple directions and parking information as well. Y
You can also use the Road Tripper app to get directions and find fun things along the way! Or, save the Google Map below to your Google Maps. Be sure to enter your destination as Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex, which is the full scale visitor center at NASA (not Kennedy Space Center); otherwise, you will be directed to the wrong place.
Frequently Asked Questions
Will Young Kids Enjoy the Kennedy Space Center?
The Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex is good for kids! There are some interactive activities and fun play areas for kids, including an astronaut training experience, a fascinating crawl space through a replica of the International Space Station like the astronauts use and a giant re-entry slide to get the same feeling of the astronauts when they landed the Space Shuttle Atlantis. And, recently, they added Planet Play.
What is Planet Play at Kennedy Space Center, you ask? It's a fun play space for kids ages 2-12 years old where they can play on the planets, enjoy interactive and computer games, and learn about space. It is a place young kids will enjoy, especially if they like space!
And kids of all ages will love the RocketGarden with all the rockets that span decades of space travel. The Rocket Garden is a favorite attraction for my kids.
What Age Is Best For Kennedy Space Center?
While there are activities for younger kids, like those at Planet Play, I recommend ages 5 to 7 and up to really fully understand this experience. It is a fun indoor Orlando-area attraction, but it is also educational and historical. The Kennedy Space Center is a great STEM activity, so I also highly recommend it for homeschooling families.
What are the Kennedy Space Center Hours?
At the time of publishing, Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex is open Monday through Sunday, 9 AM to 5 PM. But make sure you check the hours before your trip because the hours are subject to change.
What should I wear to the Kennedy Space Center with kids?
The Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex is family-friendly, so they require you to dress appropriately, which includes a shirt and comfortable shoes. It’s best to dress comfortably as there is a lot of walking involved. Don’t wear clothing that contains obscene language or graphics or leave offensive or obscene tattoos uncovered.
What Should I Bring for the Day?
Here are some things you may want to bring to the Space Center for the greatest space adventure.
- A Light Jacket
- Pennies to make pressed souvenir pennies
- Bring a marker and something to autograph in case you see a Nasa astronaut
How much time do you need at Kennedy Space Center?
I would plan to spend the day or even make it a two-day event if you want to see all the exhibits — there is so much to see and do. Even if you plan, there are too many activities to fit in. At the bare minimum, I would say half of a day, but really, I think you need more time.
How Far is the Space Center from Orlando?
The Space Center is located on Merritt Island in Titusville, Florida. It’s approximately an hour east of Orlando, Florida via 528 E, 527 S, or 408 and 258 E. If you decide to take 528 E, just beware it has toll roads.
How Much are Tickets to the Kennedy Space Center?
There are a variety of tickets and packages you can buy to create your family’s unique space experience. A one-day admission ticket is $57 and $47 for kids ages 3-11. Multi-day tickets are $82 for adults and $67 for children ages 3-11. You’ll get a year of visits with this ticket.
The Kennedy Space Center also has the Atlantis Annual Pass, where you get unlimited visits for a year, including 10% off up to six guests and free parking. You can also get a discount on food and on shopping. The entrance fees for these are $96 for adults and $78 for children 3-11 years of age.
Final Thoughts on Visiting the Kennedy Space Center with Kids
A trip with the kids to the Kennedy Space Center is really to inspire people everywhere, especially children, to grow up loving all things science and space and maybe create future astronauts.
It’s fun to learn about the history and the new era of space travel, and the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex gives you the chance to get in some education time for your kids with a fun twist. The interactive exhibits, like touching a moon rock or riding the Space Launch Experience, give you a taste of what it’s like to be an astronaut.
It’s a fun Florida vacation, and you can spend some time on the beach too. So, if you’re coming to Orlando, Florida, make sure to schedule a visit to the Kennedy Space Center for family fun that’s out of this world!