Blake Walsh

15 Best Things to Do in Merritt Island, FL

  • Published 2022/11/02

Merritt Island is a census-designated place on the eastern coast of Florida.

It is home to a world-renowned space center, a wildlife refuge, and a vast collection of natural wonders.

You can find it in Brevard County, facing the western side of the North Atlantic Ocean.

It encompasses a good division of residential spaces and commercial and industrial regions across its 17.5-square-mile land zone.

Merritt Island is a peninsula that links to other Florida counties and natural waterways.

It makes for an accessible destination for tourists visiting the Sunshine State.

These are the best things to do in Merritt Island, Florida, that you should include in your itinerary.

Learn about Space Exploration at Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex

Entrance to Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex

Allard One /

As one of NASA’s ten field centers, Kennedy Space Center is among the most popular sites on Merritt Island, located at Space Commerce Way.

Its visitor’s arm, the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex, opened in 1967.

The center allows access to displays and exhibits about spacecraft and outer space explorations.

Located inside the space center, it welcomes millions of visitors annually, with 1.7 million recorded in 2016.

Rocket kept for display at Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex

NaughtyNut /

Once inside, don’t forget to check out the Space Shuttle Atlantis.

It is an exhibit of the Atlantis orbiter, the retired spacecraft that orbited the Earth 4,848 times.

Kids will love the simulated ride into outer space, the Shuttle Launch Experience.

Your visit also covers a presentation from a veteran NASA astronaut, so prepare all the questions that have boggled your mind.

Model of a man landing on the moon at Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex

Jay Fog /

A bus tour also gives you a peek at the most high-critical and exclusive areas at the center where the real action takes place.

Bring the family to the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex.

Try Windsurfing at Calema

Windsurfing on Merritt Island is an everyday recreational sport made even more famous by Calema Windsurfing and Watersports.

Visitors of the peninsula should go for a day of exciting activity inside Kelly Park.

Book beginner training before heading out to the waters if you are a newbie.

You will also receive quality equipment to secure your safety.

World-class windsurfing master Tinho Dornellas also designed the board you will use.

Dornellas is also the school’s owner.

Calema started in 1984.

They brought the Calema Midwinters to Merritt Island, the biggest annual windsurfing competition in the world.

Fly with Beachside Helicopters

Tour Merritt Island and its nearby areas by booking a flight with Beachside Helicopters at Manor Drive, Merritt Island Airport.

This aerial tour allows you to have a VIP view of the peninsula over water and its city attractions aboard the amphibious helicopter Robinson R44 Clipper II.

You will also have the opportunity to check out the incredible NASA space complex from above, an exclusive tour only allowed for Beachside Helicopters.

The ride also highlights the beauty of its neighboring destinations.

It takes you above the magnificent Cocoa Beach, Banana River, the Thousand Islands, and Port Canaveral.

The tour takes about half an hour and can accommodate up to three guests.

Tour Field Manor

Facade of Field Manor

Jerry Arnold, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

If you are interested in history, spend a day at Field Manor to walk down the past of Merritt Island.

Field Manor is the first house built in 1880 on Merritt Island.

It was owned by the Field family, one of the first settlers in the area from Macon, Georgia.

A homestead was later built near the house, now a haven for several types of trees and plants.

Sitting along Indian River Lagoon, the 425-foot Field Manor showcases a museum and a ranch of fruit-bearing trees, sugar cane, and beehives.

Kayak around Pine Island Conservation Area

Pine Island Conservation Area at Pine Island Road is an 880-acre sanctuary for diverse marine wildlife.

It cushioned the Indian River Lagoon from the impact of development around Merritt Island.

Others might try hiking through the pine flat woods.

However, you can see a different perspective from the waters when you kayak around the conservation area.

Pine Island Conservation Area has a Kayak Launch area in Marsh Pond or Sams Creek near the Manatee Observation Deck.

As a known spot for recreational activities, the protected zone consists of two canoe trails: a 2.3-mile loop and another 3.0-mile path.

While paddling the clear waters, you’ll enjoy panoramic views of habitats flocked by waterfowl, shorebirds, and wading birds.

Just beware of the high traffic during certain times of the day, which crowds the entrance and exit ramps.

Secure a pass and arrive at the deck early.

Practice Your Swing at Savannahs Golf Course

Golf enthusiasts will likely enjoy a day at Savannahs Golf Course, an 18-hole course with wetlands across its range.

The Gordon Lewis-designed course spans over 6,450 yards on the picturesque Savannahs Trail.

The golf course opened in 1989, providing an avenue for golfers of all levels of skills.

It also takes pride in having famous holes in Central Florida, including the 525-yard, par 5 Signature 7th, one of the toughest in the state.

Savannahs Golf Course provides a relaxing getaway for the entire family in the middle of lush green forests.

It is also the sanctuary for many land birds, reptiles, and low-country mammals.

Don’t be surprised if you spot them during your game.

Ride a Horse with Walk on Water Ministries

Are you looking for more activities you can try with children in tow?

Then you must go to Walk on Water Ministries, offering an enjoyable experience combined with a more profound sense of animal care.

The non-profit organization was established 16 years ago.

It maintains a safe ranch for the horses and gets its fund from volunteers and sponsors.

It provides horseback riding experience and lessons, from riding the horse and proper saddling to using safety equipment.

Teachers will also train you in different tack styles and how to use them for a great riding experience.

They offer fun horseback riding training with kids as they develop a meaningful bond with the friendly animals.

In partnership with equestrians, Walk on Water teaches values such as teamwork, confidence, responsibility, and communication during the process.

Everyone is welcome to go to the ranch at Perkinson Lane and try riding a horse.

The horseback riding experience also welcomes disabled, at-risk individuals and veterans with their Equine Assisted Therapy riding lessons.

Spot Bioluminescent Creatures at Banana River Aquatic Preserve

View of Banana River

Gabriel Vanslette, CC BY 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Visiting Merritt Island not only offers you day adventures, but you can also see amazing things at night.

See spectacular bioluminescent sea creatures when you book a standup paddle tour at Banana River Aquatic Preserve.

This famous night trip lets you witness the mystical appearance of comb jellyfish and bioluminescent phytoplankton under the moonlight.

Before embarking on your night adventure, you’ll meet your guide at Kiwanis Island Park for a briefing and training on the equipment to be used.

You can choose between a kayak or paddle board to use as you travel the waters to the spots where bioluminescence creatures mostly appear.

Enjoy the night at sea on the Banana River Aquatic Preserve, located in Cocoa Beach, Florida, 20 minutes from Merritt Island.

Check Out Military Displays at Brevard Veterans Memorial Center Military Museum

If you are going to Merritt Island, stop by the Brevard Veterans Memorial Center Military Museum.

Learn about the rich military history in the country, focusing on the veterans of Brevard County.

Since the 1980s, the museum has collected numerous artifacts and memorabilia reflecting the military’s dedicated service and profound sacrifice for their country.

The displays date back from Revolutionary War through the War on Terror.

When they built the Veterans Memorial Center at Sykes Creek Parkway in 1990, they also permanently housed the vast collection.

Visiting the Brevard Veterans Memorial Center Military Museum is free, so you should drop by.

See a Rocket Launch at Kelly Park East

Merritt Island has one of the finest views for a rocket launch, the Rocket Launch Viewing Area at Kelly Park East on Banana River Drive.

It offers a great spot as one of the thousand spectators for a rocket launch with your whole family.

The open area has various platforms, giving you every angle of this historic moment.

Bring binoculars for a clearer view of the rockets launching into outer space.

While you wait, you might also see dolphins on the Banana River, surprising you on your outing.

Check out the rockets at Kelly Park East!

Go Fishing at Kiwanis Island Park

Picnic area at Kiwanis Island Park

Michael Rivera, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

If fishing interests you, Kiwanis Island Park is the top place to go if you are on Merritt Island.

Kiwanis Island Park is an 18.38-acre river park known to have the best access to fishing.

It has a long mangrove shoreline and a fishing dock where you can catch fresh seatrout and redfish.

Basket ball court at Kiwanis Island Park

User:Ragesoss, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

You can either settle from the 2-lane fishing dock or rent a boat to Sykes Creek and Banana River for better spots, especially on a sunny day.

Grab your rod and reels and practice your fishing skills with you at Kiwanis Island Park.

Boardwalk at Kiwanis Island Park

Michael Rivera, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Learn about the First Settlers of Pine Island at Sams House

This family cabin is an interactive space for kids and those who want to study more about Pine Island’s first settlers.

Sams House, located inside Pine Island, is the oldest building in Brevard County, built in 1875.

After being a family cabin, they turned the place into a site to preserve the country’s biological diversity and pass its rich history to future generations.

Inside the historic cabin are exhibits about Pine Island’s past inhabitants, hands-on activities about the life of pioneer settlers, and guided tours of farms and wildlife sanctuaries.

Watch the Sunset on a Catamaran Cruise with Sail Cocoa Beach

Spend a couple of hours aboard a catamaran along Florida’s waters while waiting for the sunset.

Watch as the sun comes down with some snacks and soda at hand while the DJ plays lovely music from the background.

If you’re lucky, dolphins might appear as you pass by Marina and Cape Crossing Resort.

You may also spot manatees and other sea birds from a distance as you lounge around in the middle of the river.

Book a catamaran cruise with Sail Cocoa Beach.

Sailing into the Indian River, Intracoastal Waterway, and Cocoa Beach is a perfect way to cap off your day.

Take the cruise with Sail Cocoa Beach!

Enjoy a Picnic at Rotary Park Merritt Island

You can go to Rotary Park Merritt Island if you want a laidback outdoor afternoon.

Bring a basket of snacks for a pleasurable picnic experience.

Built in 1985, the ten-acre community park in S Courtenay Parkway features a vast area for picnics, playgrounds, and sports activities.

Rotary Park Merritt Island also has a charming river view.

Choose from any shaded picnic shelters with barbecue pits and tables.

You can play at its grass volleyball court and a multi-use field after your picnic or walk through its nature trail.

Other Things to Do Nearby

Discover Wildlife at Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge

Nature trail at Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge

Richard345 /

From advanced technology and space missions, visiting the Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge will give you a different perspective.

Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge opened in 1963 as a haven for wildlife preservation.

It has over 500 animal species and 1,000 plant varieties in its 140,000 acres of land and water habitats.

The sanctuary also consists of scrubs, hardwood hammocks, coastal dunes, and impoundments.

Boating at Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge

Richard345 /

Located east of Titusville, Florida, the refuge provides a chance to enjoy nature’s wonders.

See hundreds of species, including those listed as endangered.

An afternoon at the Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge may show you elusive animals such as the American alligators, osprey, bobcats, and waterfowl.

Better get ready with your binoculars and cameras.

Despite its name, this refuge is 44 minutes from Merritt Island.

Beautiful spoonbills at Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge

Dimitris Timpilis /

Final Thoughts

Merritt Island is an excellent place for all ages and interests.

It has zones for kids, water-based sports activities for adult adventure junkies, and many natural spaces for the whole family.

Merritt Island won’t disappoint you as a destination for learning and adventure in one unique place.

Check out the best things to do in Merritt Island, Florida!

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