Things to Do in Merritt Island FL – 2024 Ultimate Guide

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Welcome to Merritt Island, a hidden gem on Florida’s Space Coast! This charming destination offers a perfect blend of natural beauty, outdoor adventures, and fascinating attractions. Whether you’re a nature lover, history buff, or thrill-seeker, Merritt Island has something for everyone. Join us as we explore the top things to do in Merritt Island and uncover all the hidden treasures this unique destination has to offer.

Can’t-Miss Attractions

Merritt Island, Florida, is a hidden gem filled with captivating attractions that cater to all types of travelers. Here are the top 5 must-see attractions that showcase the beauty and diversity of this unique destination:

1. Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge:
Home to a stunning array of wildlife, including manatees, alligators, and a vast number of bird species, the Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge is a nature lover’s paradise. Visitors can explore the refuge through hiking trails, kayak excursions, or wildlife drives, offering a chance to witness the unspoiled beauty of Florida’s ecosystem up close.

2. Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex:
As the gateway to space exploration, the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex provides an immersive experience into NASA’s history and future. Visitors can marvel at space artifacts, meet astronauts, and even witness a rocket launch if timing is right. This attraction offers a unique blend of education and excitement, making it a must-visit for science enthusiasts and families alike.

3. Black Point Wildlife Drive:
For a leisurely drive through pristine wetlands teeming with wildlife, the Black Point Wildlife Drive is a serene escape from the hustle and bustle of city life. With opportunities to spot alligators, wading birds, and other native species, this scenic drive offers a peaceful retreat into nature’s wonders.

4. Ulumay Wildlife Sanctuary:
Nestled along the Indian River Lagoon, the Ulumay Wildlife Sanctuary is a haven for birdwatchers and nature enthusiasts. With well-maintained trails and observation platforms, visitors can observe a diverse range of bird species in their natural habitat. The sanctuary’s tranquil setting and abundant wildlife make it a must-see for anyone seeking a peaceful retreat into nature.

5. Haulover Canal:
Connecting the Indian River Lagoon and the Mosquito Lagoon, Haulover Canal is a popular spot for fishing, birdwatching, and enjoying scenic views of the waterway. Visitors can walk along the canal banks, spot manatees and dolphins, or try their hand at catching redfish and trout. The canal’s unique ecosystem and recreational opportunities make it a favorite destination for outdoor enthusiasts.

Merritt Island’s top attractions offer a blend of natural beauty, wildlife encounters, and educational experiences that cater to a wide range of interests. Whether you’re a nature lover, history buff, or space enthusiast, Merritt Island has something special to offer every traveler.

One-day trip

If you’re looking for exciting day trips within a 2-hour drive from Merritt Island, you’re in luck! Here are five fantastic destinations to explore:

1. St. Augustine – Known as the “Ancient City,” St. Augustine is situated about 2 hours northwest of Merritt Island. This historic town is the oldest in the United States, boasting charming cobblestone streets, historic sites like the Castillo de San Marcos, and beautiful beaches. Visitors can explore museums, art galleries, and enjoy a stroll along the waterfront.

2. Blue Spring State Park – Just a short drive west of Merritt Island, Blue Spring State Park is a nature lover’s paradise. This park is famous for its crystal-clear waters, ideal for snorkeling and swimming. Visitors can also enjoy hiking trails, picnicking, and wildlife viewing, especially manatees that gather in the spring during the winter months.

3. Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex – Located right on Merritt Island, the Kennedy Space Center offers a unique and educational experience. Visitors can learn about space exploration, see real rockets and shuttles, and even meet astronauts. Don’t miss the Shuttle Launch Experience for a thrilling simulation of a space shuttle launch.

4. Cocoa Beach Just a stone’s throw away from Merritt Island, Cocoa Beach is a popular destination for beach lovers and surfers. Spend the day relaxing on the sandy shores, catching some waves, or exploring the iconic Cocoa Beach Pier. You can also visit the nearby Ron Jon Surf Shop, the world’s largest surf shop.

5. Canaveral National Seashore – Situated east of Merritt Island, Canaveral National Seashore is a pristine coastal wilderness waiting to be explored. This protected area offers miles of unspoiled beaches, perfect for swimming, sunbathing, and birdwatching. Hiking trails wind through dunes and marshes, providing opportunities to spot wildlife like dolphins and sea turtles.

These five destinations offer a mix of outdoor adventures and cultural experiences, making them ideal choices for day trips from Merritt Island. Whether you’re into history, nature, or simply relaxing by the beach, there’s something for everyone within a short drive of your starting point.

Restaurants and bars

When visiting Merritt Island, be sure to check out these five exceptional dining spots that offer a culinary experience like no other:

1. The Galactic Grill – Indulge in their signature Moon Burger, a juicy beef patty topped with tangy space sauce and served with stellar sweet potato fries.

2. Neptune’s Nook – Dive into their famous Seafood Platter, featuring the catch of the day served with a side of seaweed salad, a dish that truly captures the essence of coastal dining.

3. Stardust Bistro – Enjoy the Chef’s Special Risotto, a creamy blend of local mushrooms and truffle oil that will transport your taste buds to gastronomic heaven.

4. Solar Flare Steakhouse – Savor their perfectly grilled Nebula Ribeye, a mouthwatering steak that is sure to delight even the most discerning carnivores.

5. Terra Nova Tavern – Delight in their Tropical Tuna Poke Bowl, a fresh and vibrant dish that showcases the best of island flavors in every bite.

For a more laid-back experience, make sure to visit these two charming cafes and bars that are beloved by locals for their unique offerings and inviting atmospheres:

1. The Dockside Cafe – Known for its cozy waterfront setting and artisanal coffee blends, this cafe is the perfect place to unwind and enjoy a cup of joe while watching the boats sail by.

2. The Starlight Lounge – Step into this retro-inspired bar and be transported back in time with its vintage decor and craft cocktails that are expertly mixed to perfection, making it a favorite spot for those looking to enjoy a night out with a touch of nostalgia.

Interesting Facts

Welcome to Merritt Island, a hidden gem on Florida’s Space Coast! Here are three intriguing facts about this unique destination that will surely pique your interest:

1. Wildlife Wonderland: Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge is a haven for nature enthusiasts. Spanning over 140,000 acres, it is home to a diverse range of wildlife, including manatees, alligators, and over 350 species of birds. Visitors can explore the refuge through hiking trails, kayak routes, and even a drive along Black Point Wildlife Drive, offering unparalleled opportunities for wildlife viewing and photography.

2. Space Exploration Hub: Did you know that Merritt Island is located just a stone’s throw away from the Kennedy Space Center? Visitors can witness rocket launches, explore interactive exhibits, and even meet astronauts. The Space Center is a must-visit for anyone fascinated by space exploration and the history of NASA.

3. Rich History and Culture: Merritt Island boasts a rich history dating back to the Native American tribes that once inhabited the area. Visitors can delve into the past at historic sites like the Sams House at Pine Island Conservation Area, which offers a glimpse into the island’s early settlers and their way of life. Additionally, the island is home to vibrant art galleries, local boutiques, and delicious seafood restaurants, providing a perfect blend of history and modern charm.

Whether you’re a nature lover, a space enthusiast, or a history buff, Merritt Island has something for everyone. Come and discover the hidden treasures of this captivating destination on Florida’s east coast.

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