Cocoa is one of the primary cities of Florida's Space Coast, which is known as the home of the famed Kennedy Space Center and the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. The charming city, which is home to a population of approximately 17,000 residents, is said to have been named after the historic 19th-century Cocoa House hotel and grew dramatically following the development of the region's aerospace industry in the mid-20th century.
1.The Historic Cocoa Village Playhouse
© The Historic Cocoa Village Playhouse
The Historic Cocoa Village Playhouse, also referred to as the Aladdin Theater, is a National Register of Historic Places-listed theater in Cocoa, originally constructed at a cost of $80,000 and opened to the public as a silent film theater in 1924. Throughout the 20th century, the theater changed hands several times, operating as a talking motion picture theater in the 1940s under the name The State Theater and later under the supervision of Brevard Community College as a stage playhouse. In 2010, the college transferred ownership of the playhouse to the city of Cocoa. Following significant renovations, the historic playhouse has presented a full annual lineup of Broadway-style musicals, attracting an annual viewership of over 50,000 attendees. Local actors audition for roles in performances presented as part of the theater's Broadway on Brevard and Spotlight Series annual series. A Stars of Tomorrow youth theater instruction program is also presented, along with classic films shown as part of the Aladdin Film Series.
300 Brevard Ave, Cocoa, FL 32922, Phone: 321-636-5050
2.Historic Cocoa Village
Historic Cocoa Village is the gorgeous restored downtown district of the City of Cocoa, which was originally settled in the mid-19th century. Today, the district has been preserved and renovated under the supervision of the Historic Cocoa Village Association and has become one of the premiere shopping, dining, and entertainment districts along Florida's Space Coast. Tree-lined streets are home to a wide variety of boutique stores, fine and casual dining restaurants, and entertainment venues, including the Historic Cocoa Village Playhouse, which was originally opened in 1924 and hosts a full annual lineup of Broadway-style musicals. At the Florida Historical Society, visitors can learn about the history, culture, and development of the Space Coast through a variety of permanent and rotating exhibits. Dining options range from casual British-style pubs and American-style pizza parlors to fine steakhouses, Mediterranean-style restaurants, and wine bars. Each year, the district hosts four annual Arts and Crafts Fairs, four Sip and Stroll wine and shopping events, and two annual Central Florida Car Shows.
3.The Brevard Museum of History and Natural Science
© The Brevard Museum of History and Natural Science
The Brevard Museum of History and Natural Science is Cocoa's premiere natural history and science museum, offering nearly 15,000 square feet of exhibit space showcasing artifacts from throughout Florida's natural and cultural history periods. The museum is best known as the home of the remains of the Windover Woman, the oldest human skeleton found in North America, as well as a recreation of the Windover Archaeological Site, one of the most significant archaeological expeditions ever embarked on in North America. More than 3,000 significant artifacts are displayed across the museum's exhibits, which also include retrospectives on the region's indigenous groups prior to Columbian colonization and on the region's early white pioneers. Other exhibit topics include examinations of the region's citrus and railroad industries. Outside, the museum is home to a 22-acre nature preserve located adjacent to the Eastern Florida State College Planetarium and an open-air butterfly garden.
2201 Michigan Ave, Cocoa, FL 32926, Phone: 321-632-1830
4.The Indian River Queen
© The Indian River Queen
The Indian River Queen is Cocoa's premiere paddlewheel cruise boat, docked along the shores of the city's historic downtown district. The triple-decked vintage vessel strives to recreate the romance and atmosphere of the region's 19th-century era, offering a wide variety of visitor cruises throughout the year, including popular Friday Night Dinner Cruises, which last for approximately three hours and showcase live music performances. Each cruise offers a full dinner buffet experience for all guests, which features selections such as fresh fish catches, seasonal sauteed vegetables, and decadent dessert options. Sunday Scenic River Cruises travel along the Indian River Lagoon for approximately two hours, showcasing regional populations of manatees, bottlenose dolphins, and shorebirds. Other cruise options include Sunday Jazz Cruises and Shuttle Launch Viewing Cruises. Private party rooms may be reserved aboard public cruises, perfect for special events such as birthdays, weddings, and anniversaries.
90 Delannoy Ave, Cocoa, FL 32922, Phone: 321-454-7414
5.Florida's Space Coast
Florida's Space Coast is one of the biggest attractions of the state's Atlantic Ocean coastal region, located approximately 45 minutes east of the city of Orlando. The region, which is predominantly located within Brevard County near cities such as Cocoa, Titusville, and Cape Canaveral, is named for the Kennedy Space Center and Cape Canaveral Air Force Station and was best known as the departure site for all manned NASA space flights between 1961 and 2011. It offers more than 72 miles of gorgeous accessible oceanfront beaches, along with attractions such as Port Canaveral, which is one of the world's largest cruise ship ports, docking ships for Disney Cruise Lines, Carnival Cruise Lines, and Royal Caribbean. The Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex offers exhibits and attractions for space buffs, while the Brevard Zoo ranks as one of the nation's best family-friendly zoological parks. Other attractions include the popular surfing beach Cocoa Beach, the Eau Gallie Arts District, and several of Florida's best championship golf courses. As the United States' most diverse estuary ecosystem, the region is also home to the country's largest sea turtle nesting area and the state's largest manatee habitat.
6.F. Burton Smith Regional Park
F. Burton Smith Regional Park is a charming public park in Cocoa, home to gorgeous preserved hardwood hammock, prairie, and wetland ecosystem areas. Two lakes are contained within the park, including a large lake with a natural canoe launch that serves as a popular regional spot for fishing and paddling. Visitors should note that swimming is not permitted in either lake or their tributaries due to water safety concerns. A rustic tent camping site is offered along the larger lake's southern shores, along with a mile-long woodland nature trail showcasing botanical markers detailing the region's native wildlife. Picnic facilities include day-use individual picnic tables, two small visitor pavilions, and a large pavilion which can host up to 600 guests and may be rented for private special events. Other amenities include volleyball courts, horseshoe courts, and an ADA-accessible children's playground.
7575 W- State Road 520 Cocoa, FL 32926, Phone: 321-633-1874
7.The Cocoa Expo Sports Center
© Michael Drager/stock.adobe.com
The Cocoa Expo Sports Center, also known as Coastal Florida Sports Park, is a multi-use athletic complex in Cocoa, offering professional-level sporting facilities for use by amateur and professional athletes of all ages and ability levels. The complex, which was originally constructed in 1964 as the official spring training facility of the Houston Astros, was converted into a private-ownership amateur sporting facility in 1984. Today, it spans 70 acres and is home to the 5,000-seat Cocoa Stadium, along with a wide variety of indoor and outdoor facilities for baseball, soccer, football, and lacrosse practice. Visitors can also enjoy use of the complex's indoor multipurpose field, 14 indoor batting cages, seven ProBatter video pitching simulators, and 15,000-square-foot indoor weight room and training facility. Each year, the complex hosts the CES Academy college sporting preparatory academy and boarding school program.
500 Friday Rd, Cocoa, FL 32926, Phone: 321-639-3976
8.Grasshopper Airboat Ecotours
© Matteo Ceruti/stock.adobe.com
Grasshopper Airboat Ecotours is Cocoa's top-rated wildlife marine touring company according to TripAdvisor, offering delightful airboat tours exploring the swamps and marshes of the Cocoa Beach region. The company is owned and operated by Captain Rick Thrift, who brings more than four decades of airboating experience to all tours and is a fully-insured licensed United States Coast Guard Master. Visitors tour over the St. Johns River in the company's custom-constructed Grasshopper airboat and observe a wide variety of native Florida wildlife, including alligators, bald eagles, great blue herons, and migratory bird species. All tours last approximately one hour and offer complimentary smoked alligator jerky sticks for all participants. Participants are advised to bring their own sunscreen, jackets, and cameras, with ear protection, binoculars, and bottled water provided by the company for all participants.
8190 W King St, Cocoa, FL 32926, Phone: 321-631-2990
9.Desert Acres Stables
Desert Acres Stables is Cocoa's premiere horse training and boarding facility, owned and operated by professional horse trainer Donna Hakanson, a champion horse trainer who has successfully overseen competitors in USEF-rated horse shows. The seven-acre facility offers a Girl Scout-approved 13-stall barn, along with a stadium jumping course, a full dressage field, cross-country fences, and barrel racing obstacles. Guided trail rides are available with advance registration for riders of all ages, lasting between one and three hours. Dressage, Western, and jumping riding lessons are also available, along with training clinics focusing on the Pat Parelli and John Lyons methods of riding. Throughout the spring, summer, and winter months, a variety of horse riding camps are available for participants ages eight and older.
5035 Florida Palm Ave, Cocoa, FL 32927, Phone: 321-759-1605
10.Ossorio Bakery and Cafe
© Ossorio Bakery and Café
Ossorio Bakery and Café is a delightful French-style bakery and cafe in Cocoa Village's historic downtown district, opened to the public in June of 2003. The restaurant is anchored around a copper wood-fired oven, which burns live oak wood and produces temperatures of up to 800 degrees, perfect for crafting Mediterranean-style entrees such as wood-fired pizzas and flatbread sandwiches. All pizzas and flatbreads are available on original white or whole wheat flatbread, which is hand-rolled and prepared fresh in house daily. At breakfast, diners can choose from a wide variety of handcrafted omelettes, filled with ingredients such as sausage, feta cheese, sun-dried tomatoes, and asparagus. Hand-rolled croissants, baguettes, brioche buns, and puff pastries are also served up daily, along with espresso-based cafe beverages and more than 20 flavors of preservative-free ice cream prepared from scratch on site.
316 Brevard Ave, Cocoa, FL 32922, Phone: 321-639-2423
11.Ryan's Village Pizza and Pub
© Ryan's Village Pizza and Pub
Ryan's Village Pizza and Pub is a charming family-operated Irish pub and pizzeria in downtown Historic Cocoa Village, opened to the public in 2006. Today, the pub has grown to become Brevard County's largest Irish pizzeria, known for its famed from-scratch pizzas, which are available by the pie or by the slice at lunch and dinner daily. Diners can choose from pizza options ranging from classic favorites such as New Jersey thin-crust pizza or ricotta-infused white pizza or craft their own unique build-your-own pizzas, choosing from premium ingredients such as eggplant, artichoke, spinach, sun-dried tomatoes, or meatballs. A wide variety of shareable appetizers are also available, including nachos, smoked mahi fish dip, garlic parmesan waffle fries, and boneless buffalo wings with a wide selection of sauces. Entree options include subs, sandwiches, calzones, strombolis, and Irish-style favorites such as shepherd's pie. A draft list highlights 14 rotating beers, and an outdoor seating area offers space for four-legged friends to relax alongside their owners.
4 Harrison St #100, Cocoa, FL 32922, Phone: 321-634-5555
© From Scratch
From Scratch is a delicious homestyle restaurant owned and operated by married duo Zechra and David Williams, opened to the public in September of 2012. The restaurant, which is also operated by Williams' brothers Tarrence Williams and Michael Blackwell and business partner Miyoshi Johnson, strives to craft a full menu of homestyle soul food favorites, served up in a family-friendly, laid-back atmosphere. It is best known for its signature chicken and waffles and shrimp and grits entrees, which are available daily at lunch and dinner. Other soul food and seafood entrees including homemade meatloaf, smothered pork chops, turkey wings, and Southern-style favorites such as chitterlings and oxtail. A selection of Southern-style soul food side dishes are also available, along with delectable, decadent desserts. Catering service is available with advance reservation for regional private special events.
1050 Clearlake Rd #8, Cocoa, FL 32922, Phone: 321-806-3912
13.Lone Cabbage Fish Camp
© Lone Cabbage Fish Camp
Lone Cabbage Fish Camp is a unique combination riverside bar, restaurant, boating dock, and airboat touring company, located along the banks of the beautiful St. Johns River in Cocoa near the Brevard-Orange County line. The company, which strives to recreate the atmosphere of an historic Florida fishing camp, serves up a delicious full restaurant menu of coastal-style favorites, including frog legs, catfish, clam strips, and gator tail, all cooked to order and served by the pound. Shareable appetizers include bayou-style shrimp, jalapeno-stuffed crab nuggets, and chicken wings, with soups and salads available for diners looking for healthier options. Each Sunday, the restaurant hosts a full fish fry event, with catfish entrees complemented by Southern-style hush puppies, coleslaw, and baked beans. Airboat ride packages take visitors over the marshes of the St. Johns River and Lake Poinsett, showcasing native wildlife such as alligators and migratory birds. 300 feet of dock space is also offered, along with public boating ramps and live country music performances showcased on Sunday afternoons.
8199 W King St, Cocoa, FL 32926, Phone: 321-632-4199
13 Best Things to Do in Cocoa, Florida
- The Historic Cocoa Village Playhouse, Photo: The Historic Cocoa Village Playhouse
- Historic Cocoa Village, Photo: Boykowit/stock.adobe.com
- The Brevard Museum of History and Natural Science, Photo: The Brevard Museum of History and Natural Science
- The Indian River Queen, Photo: The Indian River Queen
- Florida's Space Coast, Photo: Stephen/stock.adobe.com
- F. Burton Smith Regional Park, Photo: Joshua/stock.adobe.com
- The Cocoa Expo Sports Center, Photo: Michael Drager/stock.adobe.com
- Grasshopper Airboat Ecotours, Photo: Matteo Ceruti/stock.adobe.com
- Desert Acres Stables, Photo: Peera/stock.adobe.com
- Ossorio Bakery and Cafe, Photo: Ossorio Bakery and Café
- Ryan's Village Pizza and Pub, Photo: Ryan's Village Pizza and Pub
- From Scratch, Photo: From Scratch
- Lone Cabbage Fish Camp, Photo: Lone Cabbage Fish Camp
- Cover Photo: Photoman/stock.adobe.com