Cocoa Beach is one of the most famous beaches in Florida, probably originally because it was the home of Major Nelson and crew on the old TV show I Dream of Jeannie. So it’s no wonder that tourists flock to the area in search of fun and relaxation. Let’s look at some fun things to do in Cocoa Beach.
In addition to I Dream of Jeannie, Cocoa Beach is also the hometown of surfer Kelly Slater. In fact, you can see a statue of him at Triangle Park.
Things to Do in Cocoa Beach
So…what’s so great about Cocoa Beach? Here are some of the most interesting things you might choose to do during a visit.
1. Walk Out Onto the Cocoa Beach Pier
The Cocoa Beach Pier is a classic that’s been around forever. It offers great views of the water and, typically, lots of amazing surfers. It also has shops, restaurants, and a bar at the end of the pier with incredible views. It’s not the best place to dine or go shopping, but it’s a great place for photos. If you’re visiting during December, it’s also a fun place to see the iconic Skydiving Santas. (If you want to see the Surfin’ Santas, you’ll need to go a bit further south to Coconuts on the Minutemen Causeway.)
The restaurants here are overpriced and not that great, so save your meals for one of these other great restaurants in Cocoa Beach.
2. Hang Ten or Just Go Shopping at Ron Jon Surf Shop
If you drive down to Florida you’ll see signs for Ron Jon’s for hundreds of miles. Literally. Wanna know why? It’s HUGE. Like, overwhelmingly huge. Right at the intersection of SR 520 and Highway A1A, you simply cannot miss it. Unless you get it mixed up with the similarly large Cocoa Beach Surf Company next door. Both establishments are fun places to shop for T-shirts, casual wear, surfboards, skateboards, home décor, souvenirs, beach gear, and swimsuits.
If you want to try surfing, Ron Jon also has a surf school. They cater to beginners and offer private and group lessons, as well as surf camps over spring break and during the summer.
Our county boasts Cape Canaveral, so you can easily understand why we’re nicknamed the Space Coast. We even petitioned many years ago to get the “321” area code because it sounds like a launch countdown. Although the shuttle program has ended, you can still see launches of Delta and Atlas rockets easily from the beach. Many other companies are doing commercial flights as well, including SpaceX, Blue Origin, and Astra.
To find out when you can view a launch, check the calendar on the Space Coast Launches website. They’re becoming more and more frequent (there are three scheduled today as I write this!)
For a more detailed space experience, Kennedy Space Center is just a short 30-minute drive away. There you can visit the rocket garden, see the Space Shuttle Atlantis, enjoy an IMAX movie, or take a bus tour around the property to learn all about the history of space travel. There’s something at Kennedy Space Center for all ages, but keep in mind that the bus tours are long and younger children may get bored. Especially if you feed them Astronaut Ice Cream before you embark!
4. Find a Nesting Sea Turtle (but be respectful)
Every year, the beaches of Brevard County get a lot of sea turtles who come ashore to nest. The majority of them are loggerhead and green turtles, and they dig holes to make nests on Cocoa Beach and surrounding beaches. You’ll see nests marked like the one shown above, so be careful not to walk too closely.
If you want to see a turtle in action, you’ll need to visit between May and October and take a very early morning walk. Although some sea turtles definitely come ashore at Cocoa Beach, your best best is to head south to Archie Carr National Wildlife Refuge, about 45 minutes south on Highway A1A. We try to arrive well before dawn. As you walk, look toward the sand dunes either for a turtle itself – they’re huge – or for the telltale sign of sand being kicked up into the air.
If you’re not a morning person, you can still look for the tracks that the turtles make when leaving and returning to the sea. This photo shows you what they look like so you’ll know them when you see them!
If you find a sea turtle, make sure to maintain a respectful distance. Never touch a sea turtle or even approach too closely, and don’t approach them at all until they’ve finished their nesting activities, including while they’re covering the nest with sand. If you’re out at dark, never shine a flashlight on a turtle, as they mistake lights for the ocean and can end up going the wrong direction.
Many of our locals support local preservation efforts like the Sea Turtle Preservation Society. Sea Turtle Nests are clearly marked, nighttime lights are prohibited on beaches, and we’re even known for our annual Turtle Krawl 5K race every fall (just south of Cocoa in nearby Indialantic).
5. Explore the Cocoa Beach Dinosaur Store
The Dinosaur Store and Museum is a not-to-miss attraction for all ages! They have incredible fossils you can view. They have a variety of hands-on activities suitable for all ages. You can pan for fossils in a sluice, play a variety of science-based games, and ride the Wild Nile Raft Ride (which is surprisingly exciting and fun!) You can meet over 25 animals, including alligators, snakes, and lizards. And their shop features dinosaur-related gifts, amber jewelry, real fossils, and unique home décor items.
6. Get in a Round of Miniature Golf
Miniature golf aka putt-putt is a staple of any beach vacation, and Cocoa Beach is no different! My favorite is Lighthouse Cove Mini Golf, a newer location. It has two paths to choose from, with charming décor and fun, challenging holes. Grab a craft beer or a scoop of their delicious ice cream after you finish your 18 holes.
7. Learn About the Book and Movie at the Wizard of Oz Museum
One of the newest attractions in Cocoa Beach is the Wizard of Oz Museum. It opened in 2022 by a local citizen who has been collecting Oz memorabilia for 35 years (and counting!) You’ll see signed copies of books, toys, collectibles, and much more.
Each case contains collectibles and material from different time ranges, starting with the beginning of L. Frank Baum’s writing career and moving through the decades since then. If you have small children who might get bored while you explore, there’s a small room where they can play and still be within your sight.
Once you’ve seen all of the items collected, step into the Wizard of Oz immersive experience. This room is a 360-degree movie (plus the floor!) showing illustrated video scenes from the book that really makes you feel like you’re walking along the Yellow Brick Road yourself. This part is fun for adults and kids alike!
OK, while seeing I Dream of Jeannie Lane won’t give you magical powers, it’s quick and free and something all fans of the 1960s TV show will want to do. It’s a small street that intersects with A1A and you can park nearby to take a picture. Click here to open the location in Google Maps.
Why is it here? Cocoa Beach was the setting for the classic television show. Larry Hagman’s character, Major Tony Nelson, was an astronaut, so he obviously had to live close to Cape Canaveral!
If you want more Jeannie, head up to the Air Force Space and Missile Museum in Cape Canaveral, as they have an entire I Dream of Jeannie section.
9. Soar through the Trees at Cocoa Beach Aerial Adventures and Zip Lines
If your family enjoys ropes courses and ziplining, you’ll love Cocoa Beach Aerial Adventures. There are courses for all ages and experience levels, so you won’t get bored, even if you have different age participants in your group. They even have a freefall experience called ZIPDROP.
10. Go Even Higher with a Helicopter Tour!
If you’ve got the nerve and want to see Cocoa Beach from an even higher perspective, book a helicopter tour with Cocoa Beach Helicopters. They offer many different options depending on what areas you want to see, how long you want to fly, and your budget. Tours range from $19.99 to $229.99 a person (at this time of this writing).
If you need proof for your friends back home, you can even add on a professionally edited video. Or, take your adrenaline to new levels with the “doors-off” option!
11. Spend Time in the Water…Obviously!
You’re at the beach, so obviously you’re here for the water, at least in part! There are many ways to enjoy the ocean and intracoastal water. In fact there are so many ways that we’re planning a separate post about Cocoa Beach watersports. For now, we’ll just say that you can… swim, surf, sunbathe, jet ski, boat, water ski, fish, boogie board, body surf, stand-up paddleboard, kayak, canoe, windsurf, and parasail. And likely other things I’m not even thinking of. If you like to be on the water, you’ll never run out of options here!
Where to Stay in Cocoa Beach
Need a place to stay? Check the following recommended Cocoa Beach hotels and accommodations:
- Hilton Cocoa Beach Oceanfront
- Beach Place Guesthouses
- Courtyard by Marriot Cocoa Beach
- Four Points by Sheraton
- Discovery Beach Resort
- Anthony’s on the Beach
Alternatively, you could stay outside of the main area of Cocoa Beach if you want something quieter. There are lots of other locations within Brevard County, such as Titusville (a great unknown vacation spot!) or Melbourne, that would give you access to Cocoa Beach without having to stay right in the middle of everything.
Cocoa Beach is a popular beach destination with lots of activities that still feels laid-back and casual. It’s an easy drive to Orlando, and halfway between two other Florida cities, Jacksonville and Miami. It’s an easy drive from the Orlando and Melbourne airports, too.
There are so many things to do in Cocoa Beach that you’ll never get bored! No matter whether you’re on a solo vacation, or visiting as a couple of family, Cocoa Beach is sure to entertain! So book your next Florida vacation on the Space Coast in beautiful Cocoa Beach.