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The Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex is a public attraction located at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Merritt Island, Florida around a one-hour drive from Orlando. This visitor complex serves as a hub for educating the public about space exploration, the history and future of NASA, and the various missions and projects conducted by the space agency.
Across the site, you’ll find a variety of rockets that were instrumental in the early days of space exploration, a number of interactive exhibits and even have the opportunity to meet a veteran NASA astronaut.
We had the pleasure of visiting the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex with complimentary tickets. However, all thoughts and opinions are our own.
Is Kennedy Space Center Worth Visiting?
Despite visiting the nearby Orlando more than ten times in the past eight years alone, we had still, up until recently, never taken the one-hour drive across to the coast to visit the Kennedy Space Center.
Given that, on previous trips, we didn’t have a child, and even now our child is only a toddler combined with the fact that we are ‘not that into space’, we didn’t really see much of a point. Oh, how wrong we were.
Despite not being ‘that into space’ we still found ourselves inspired by the stories told and amazed by the interactive exhibits across the Kennedy Space Center. As a result, regardless of your age, whether you’re travelling with children or have an interest in space. I think visiting the Kennedy Space Center is a worthwhile experience.
How Much Does A Trip To Kennedy Space Center Cost?
The cost of visiting the Kennedy Space Center can be broken down into four key categories;
- Admission Tickets
- Food & Drinks
Tickets to visit the Kennedy Space Center are likely going to be your largest expense and are available in a wide variety of formats depending on your preferences.
A one-day general admission ticket to the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex costs;
- Adults: $75
- Seniors: $70 (55+)
- Children: $65 (3 – 11)
- Under 3: $0
Ticket prices for the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex might seem expensive. However, it’s important to keep in mind that the price of entry provides visitors with a unique opportunity to see historical artefacts that can not be found elsewhere in the United States including spacecrafts such as the Space Shuttle Atlantis and the Saturn V rocket.
Funds from ticket sales are also used for updating and developing new exhibits, educational programs, and interactive experiences, to employ passionate and qualified staff including educators, exhibit guides, customer service representatives, and maintenance crews and also help to preserve these incredible historical artefacts.
Kennedy Space Center Ticket Upgrades
The Kennedy Space Center Visitor Center offers a number of ticket upgrades to further enhance your trip.
Launch Viewing Opportunities
Prices start from: $20
Launch Viewing Opportunity tickets allow visitors to witness live rocket launches from various premium viewing areas around the facility, including the NASA Causeway, LC-39 Observation Gantry, and the Apollo/Saturn V Center.
Upgraded tickets come with comprehensive launch commentary, detailing the mission specifics and technical information of each launch and provide a one-of-a-kind opportunity to experience the power and magnitude of space travel.
Due to the nature of rocket launches, these upgraded tickets are subject to availability and dependent on the launch schedule.
KSC Explore Tour
Adults: $25 | Children: $19
The KSC Explore Tour is the most popular ticket upgrade and allows you to ride along with a space expert on a tour of America’s multi-user spaceport. This tour goes beyond the Kennedy Space Center Bus Tour and includes the Vehicle Assembly Building and historic Launch Complex 39.
At each location, you’ll have the opportunity to take photos and ask questions before making your way to the Apollo/Saturn V Center. Note: a dedicated bus ride and entry into the Apollo/Saturn V Center are included as part of general admission.
Astronaut Training Experiences
Prices start from: $30
The Astronaut Training Experiences at the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex provide guests with a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to undergo astronaut training simulations and immersive space activities.
There is a wide range of activities for visitors to choose from, the duration and cost of which varies. Some of our favourites include;
- Walk on Mars: Training Stage
- Land & Drive on Mars: Training Stage
- Mars Base 1
Parking is readily available at the Kennedy Space Center with spaces for motorbikes, cars and oversized vehicles such as motorhomes and RVs. Parking costs are to be paid upon entering the parking lot and currently costs;
- Motorbikes – $5
- Cars – $10
- Oversized vehicles, motorhomes, RVs – $15
Guests looking to take a rideshare service such as Uber and Lyft to / from the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex are permitted to be picked up and dropped off from parking lot 4. However, to enter the parking lot the driver must have proof of fare.
Food & Drinks
Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex has a wide range of food and drink options for visitors to choose from the majority of which are open from 11:00am until 3:00pm.
During our most recent visit to the Kennedy Space Center, we ate at the Moon Rock Cafe at the Apollo/Saturn V Center and spent roughly $12 per person on a lunch which consisted of an entree and a drink. We also picked up some snacks from The Space Shop and ice cream from the Milky Way Ice Cream Shop throughout the day.
Given the late opening hours of the dining spaces, I would highly suggest getting breakfast prior to your arrival at the Kennedy Space Center.
The Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex is open to the world’s largest space shop which provides visitors with an opportunity to purchase a wide range of merchandise. From clothing such as hats and hoodies to keyrings and cups all the way through to educational books and DVDs.
Depending on your interest in space, you may find you need extra spending money here so be sure to budget accordingly.
How To Get To The Kennedy Space Center Visitor Center
Kennedy Space Center is located on Merritt Island, Florida, USA, near the heart of the state’s renowned Space Coast region midway between Miami and Jacksonville and around one hour’s drive east from Orlando.
The nearest airport to the Kennedy Space Center is the Orlando International Airport (MCO), which is roughly a one-hour drive. This airport is a major hub within the state of Florida and offers numerous domestic and international flights.
Alternatively, the second closest airport to the Kennedy Space Center is Melbourne Orlando International Airport (MLB) which is roughly a one hours drive southeast. This smaller airport operates a limited number of domestic and international flights which makes it ideal for those looking for a less crowded airport experience.
The Difference Between Kennedy Space Center & Cape Canaveral Space Force Station
The Kennedy Space Center and Cape Canaveral Space Force Station are two different facilities. Both are located on the east coast of Florida, and both play crucial roles in the United States space program.
However, The Kennedy Space Center is a NASA facility and is probably best known for launching the Apollo and Space Shuttle missions while The Cape Canaveral Space Force Station is run by the U.S. Department of Defense and was the site of many early missions in the Space Race, including the first human spaceflight by an American, Alan Shepard, in 1961.
While both sites are used for launching spacecrafts, they are managed by different entities and have different primary functions. The Kennedy Space Center is primarily a NASA site for launching human spaceflight missions, while Cape Canaveral Space Force Station is a military site that is also used for many unmanned missions, satellite launches, and commercial launches.
How Long Does It Take To Visit Kennedy Space Center?
Based on our personal experience, I would recommend planning for at least one full day at the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex.
A one-day visit requires approximately 6-8 hours and provides you with enough time to see the primary exhibits such as the Space Shuttle Atlantis exhibit, the Heroes and Legends featuring the U.S. Astronaut Hall of Fame, and take the bus tour to the Apollo/Saturn V Center.
Despite spending more than 6 hours at the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex during our one-day visit, we didn’t manage to see everything. Subsequently, I would recommend space enthusiasts plan to visit the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex for two days. A reduced-rate two-day ticket is available at a cost of $89 for adults and $79 for children (aged between 3 – 11).
The Bus Tour To The Apollo/Saturn V Center
Personally, when planning our trip to the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex one of the things I found confusing was the bus tour to the Apollo/Saturn V Center.
This part of the visitor center is located separately from the main visitor complex and requires a bus to get between the two locations. Sadly, you can not walk or take your own vehicle between these two locations.
The tour bus departs from the main visitor complex multiple times throughout the day. There is no schedule and instead, buses will leave once they are full (or after a short waiting period on quieter days).
We were required to leave our stroller at the main visitor complex and use a complimentary stroller rental at the Apollo/Saturn V Center.
However, buses only run up until a certain time (3pm during our visit) therefore I highly recommend making this one of the first things you do when arriving at the Kennedy Space Center. The journey from the main visitor complex across to the Apollo/Saturn V Center takes roughly 20 minutes and includes a guide that will provide commentary about the sites you’ll see.
As you drive across to the Apollo/Saturn V Center you’ll pass several of the Kennedy Space Center’s launch pads and the Vehicle Assembly Building (VAB) which is one of the largest buildings in the world and where rockets and space shuttles were assembled for launch.
If you want to see any of these locations close-up in person then I recommend booking the KSC Explorer Tour ticket add-on.
You’ll disembark the bus at the Apollo/Saturn V Center and continue your self-guided tour of the visitor complex. Here you’ll have the opportunity to see the gigantic, real Saturn V rocket, the type used for the Apollo moon missions and see exhibits dedicated to the Apollo program, including a lunar module, spacesuits, and other artefacts.
To give you an idea of how engaging and comprehensive the Apollo/Saturn V Center is, we spent roughly two to three hours here (including lunch) and still didn’t manage to see everything this part of the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex has to offer.
What To Wear To Kennedy Space Center
When planning what to wear to the Kennedy Space Center you’ll want to consider both comfort and the variable Florida weather. This includes;
Light, Casual Clothing: Casual, comfortable clothing is recommended, such as t-shirts, shorts, or lightweight pants. Florida can be hot and humid, so light, breathable fabrics can help keep you comfortable.
Comfortable Shoes: You’ll be doing a lot of walking as you explore, so comfortable shoes are a must. Sneakers or comfortable sandals would be a good choice.
Sun Protection: The Kennedy Space Center has many outdoor exhibits, so be sure to protect yourself from the sun. Wear a hat, sunglasses, and don’t forget to apply sunscreen regularly.
Rain Gear: Florida weather can be unpredictable, and it’s not uncommon to experience brief rain showers, especially in the summer. Packing a small, lightweight rain jacket or a poncho could come in handy.
Bag or Backpack: Bring a small bag or backpack to carry your essentials, such as water, snacks, a camera, and any souvenirs you might buy. But remember, large bags may not be permitted and all bags are subject to search upon entry.
Where To Stay When Visiting The Kennedy Space Center?
When visiting the Kennedy Space Center, you have several options for accommodations that suit different budgets and preferences. These include;
Titusville: Located just a short drive from the Space Center, Titusville offers a range of accommodations, from budget motels to upscale hotels making it a great place to stay if you want to be close to the action.
Cocoa Beach: Roughly a 30-minute drive from Kennedy Space Center, Cocoa Beach is a beautiful seaside city with plenty of hotel options.
Orlando: If you’re combining your trip to the Space Center with a visit to Walt Disney World or Universal Studios, then you might want to stay in Orlando. You’ll find a hotel for every budget and preference here, from luxury resorts to budget-friendly options.
Port Canaveral: This is a good option if you’re planning to take a cruise before or after your visit to the Space Center.