18 Best Things to Do in Cocoa Beach | Local’s Tips & Secrets

Cocoa Beach pier

Cocoa Beach is a super fun and family-friendly destination in Brevard County. This charming beach town is one of the closest beaches to Orlando and a great place to visit with loved ones.

There are so many things to do in Cocoa Beach it will be hard to make your mind up! Far from the hustle and bustle of theme parks and busy cities, Cocoa Beach boasts a calming sea breeze that brings you right into Mother Nature’s embrace in the best way.

The subtropical breeze, sand dunes, and charming beach-town vibe are sure to pull you in and create some truly relaxing and unforgettable memories that you will carry with you forever.

As an Orlando resident, I go to Cocoa Beach all the time. Here are my absolute favorite attractions and things to do in Cocoa Beach!

Quick Picks for Your Stay

Here are the main things to book in advance:

1. Go fishing at the Cocoa Beach Pier

cocoa beach pier entrance

Spanning 800 ft over the pristine blue waters of the Atlantic Ocean, the Cocoa Beach Pier is definitely something you will not want to miss on your trip to Cocoa Beach.

This is a super fun and family-friendly activity with tons of amazing restaurants, gift shops, places where you can rent all sorts of fun water activity equipment, and festive bars.

This is a super popular fly fishing spot for all those anglers out there. Even if you didn’t think to bring your fishing gear, you can rent equipment at the beach!

Among some of the fish you can find are snappers, wahoo, bluefish, redfish, and whiting, to name a few. This isn’t the best spot to catch the big monsters, but you can definitely have a fun day out fishing for the little ones!

If you’re looking for deep-sea fishing opportunities, check out Cocoa Beach Fishing Charters to find someone to take you out into the deeper waters off Cocoa Beach! This is SUCH a good place to go fishing, and it’s the perfect family day out!

PRICE: Free

2. Visit the Florida Surf Museum

The Atlantic Coast is not as well known for its surfing as the Pacific Coast. However, the Atlantic Coast definitely has its place in surfing history.

The Florida Surf Museum is one of the best tourist attractions in Cocoa Beach. When it comes to surfing history, this is one of the best museums you will find.

Founded in 1999 in a really small location, it has now grown to a good size and has visitors coming from all over the world!

Here you will see all kinds of exhibits dedicated to preserving the Atlantic Coast surf culture. You will learn about the evolution of the East Coast surf community and the sport’s history spanning thousands of years.

PRICE: Free, but donations are highly appreciated

3. Peruse historic Cocoa Village

street in Cocoa Village

This quintessential part of Cocoa Beach is easily one of the best attractions and things to do in Cocoa Beach, FL!

History buffs and people who enjoy cute quaint shops will find Historic Cocoa Village to be a perfect vacation spot.

Located on Florida Ave, this is the heart and soul of Cocoa Beach. Founded in the 19th century, it is now home to many historic buildings and has that old Florida vibe.

This gorgeous riverside community is embroidered by trees and artisans, and merchants. Cocoa Beach is your historic beach town paradise.

Here you can enjoy several different restaurants, art galleries and shows, and shops with plenty of local goods. Shop small and local in Historic Cocoa Village.

They also have a number of events and festivals happening year-round, so be sure to check out their calendar before you go!

PRICE: Free

4. Take the kiddos to the Dinosaur Store & Museum!

outside building of the Dinosaur Store & Museum

Originally, the Dinosaur Store and Museum started as a tiny little store opening its doors to the public in 1996.

Located on the West Cocoa Beach Causeway, this humble location transformed into an adventure zone and epic museum for families. This is definitely one of the best things to do in Cocoa Beach with kids!

Home to one of the biggest ancient mineral and fossil collections in the world, this is an experience you are not going to want to miss.

Your little ones will learn about paleontology, prehistoric natural history, and even antique jewelry. Don’t miss the gift shop as well!

The Adventure Zone is by far the most fun part of this experience. There are so many interactive activities that your kids will love.

PRICE: US$14 for adults, US$12 for kids

5. Visit Lori Wilson Park

view from the beach

If you’re looking to get away from the crowds, Lori Wilson Park is an excellent choice. This is a great place to just spend the day relaxing with the family, having a BBQ, swimming in calm waters, and walking amongst coastal hammocks.

Open from 7 AM to 7 PM every day of the week, they also have amenities like public toilets, a playground, volleyball courts, hiking, and biking trails, and the beachfront is even pet friendly, so you can bring your little ball of fluff to spend the day with you!

6. Try the famous pies at Florida Key Lime Company

This award-winning business serves up some of the best pies in the state of Florida! The Florida Key Lime Company, located on Dixie Lane, is centrally located near many of Cocoa Beach’s attractions.

So, after you grab your midday pick-me-up and try the best key-lime pie you’ve ever tried, check out the surrounding area to get to know Cocoa Beach a little more intimately.

Quite comically, they also sell their famous “Cocoa Beach Crack” which are highly addictive and delicious key lime yogurt-covered pretzels!

They also provide daily wine tastings, which really elevates the entire experience at this quaint yet award-winning Cocoa Beach gem.

They also offer ice cream, saltwater taffy, and exotic jerkies, ranging from kangaroo to crocodile! This is quite the happening place, as every weekend, a gator named Sweetie comes to visit the shop.

The tropical aesthetic and famous status (as well as delicious treats) makes this an absolute must on your trip to Cocoa Beach.

7. Explore Banana River on a Dolphin Tour

Dolphin in the water

This unique tidal estuary in Cocoa Beach is one of my favorite environments on the planet. I love when freshwater meets the ocean. There is something so magical about these two different worlds colliding and the ecosystems that thrive there!

The Banana River Lagoon is a tidal estuary that provides a natural habitat to so many different species of wildlife, from dolphins to freshwater fish and saltwater fish, the roots of mangroves act as nurseries for so many different kinds of wildlife, to bull sharks, alligators, manatees, dozens of different bird species, and more.

As a nature lover myself (and a huge fan of tidal estuaries), when I was planning my trip to Cocoa Beach, I made sure to book this dolphin viewing tour on the Banana River.

I mean, if the name Banana River isn’t cute enough for you to want to learn more, then maybe the prospect of seeing wild dolphins will be!

PRICE: US$38

Book a Banana River Dolphin Tour

8. Eat at the Fat Snook

One of the best restaurants in Cocoa Beach is the Fat Snook! This famous waterfront restaurant uses fresh local catch and produce to create some really delicious meals.

Foodies come from all over to eat at the Fat Snook in Cocoa Beach.

The casual atmosphere paired with the beachfront views makes this the perfect place to enjoy some fresh catch and a really spectacular meal after a long relaxing day at the beach.

The beachy aesthetic with woody tones and shades of blue and green, makes this the perfect beach restaurant to enjoy with the family or a loved one!

9. Unwind at the Cocoa Beach Wellness Center

woman getting a massage

This is for those of you who are looking for some extra relaxation on your trip to Cocoa Beach.

The Cocoa Beach Wellness Center uses a natural and holistic approach that can help with all sorts of ailments and treatments.

If you are in pain or need some serious TLC and relaxation on your trip to Cocoa Beach, you should definitely stop by the Cocoa Beach Wellness Center. Some of the treatments offered are acupuncture, massages, foot baths, hot stone treatments, facials, and more.

10. See natural bioluminescence in Florida!

bioluminescence in Florida

YUP! You read that right.

Florida has naturally occurring bioluminescence, and it just happens to be right near Cocoa Beach. Located on the Space Coast, you can see bioluminescence in a clear kayak on this really incredible night tour!

On our trip to Cocoa Beach, my partner and I went on this bioluminescent kayaking tour and it was one of the most incredible, and to be honest, life-changing events of my life.

There is something so magical about seeing bioluminescence in person. Before I had this experience, I thought that bioluminescence only happened in super-specific areas in the Caribbean. Well, I was wrong!

As we set out onto the water after sunset, slowly but surely the bioluminescence became more apparent. All of a sudden, each time I put my paddle in the water, it would create a stunning show of blue-green bioluminescence. Next thing I know, I can see fish darting beneath my kayak with a trail of bioluminescence following them!

We also saw manatees and some really incredible wildlife. A pufferfish came right up to our kayak! We probably wouldn’t have seen the little guy if we didn’t have a clear kayak. Our tour guide was super knowledgeable and taught us so much about the biodiversity in the area. We could also see Kennedy Space Center from the water!

It was a truly surreal and otherworldly experience.

I highly recommend anyone who visits Cocoa Beach to take advantage of this once-in-a-lifetime experience!

PRICE: US$65

Book Your Bioluminescence Clear Kayak Tour

11. Get your surf on at Ron Jon Surf Shop & Surf School

image from a surf shop

If you have little ones or if you love surfing, this is the perfect spot for you!

This is definitely one of the best things to do in Cocoa Beach for families or surfers. In fact, your trip to Cocoa Beach is incomplete without a proper visit to the Ron Jon Surf Shop!

Aside from the Florida Surf Museum, this is one of the best places to learn about surf culture and history in Cocoa Beach.

The Ron Jon Surf School opened its door back in 1993, and the lessons are taught by some of the nation’s best surfers!

It doesn’t matter what your experience level is, there is something for everyone here! They also offer a surf camp for ages 7-17 with standup paddle boarding lessons, kiteboarding classes, and more!

The Ron Jon Surf Shop has every single item related to water sports and fishing. In fact, Ron Jon Surf Shop is the biggest surf shop in the world!

Boasting over 52,000 sq ft, this surf shop truly has everything you could ever need when it comes to water sports. This is a huge part of Cocoa Beach, so if you miss out on visiting the Ron Jon Surf Shop on your trip to Cocoa Beach, Florida, you are seriously missing out.

12. Watch a show at Surfside Players

This Cocoa Beach local community theater is a quintessential Cocoa Beach experience.

Opening its doors in 1959, this is one of the most locally loved places for entertainment and theater of all sorts!

They have children’s plays, dramas, musicals, comedies, and more. There is truly something for everyone in this lovely playhouse.

The Surfside Players have a 350-set playhouse venue with a lovely ambiance and cozy seats. They also have a program where most of their donations are given to charity, always keeping the community in mind.

This is a really lovely thing to do in Cocoa Beach with the whole family.

13. Visit the Banana River Aquatic Preserve

The strikingly beautiful Banana River Aquatic Preserve in Cocoa Beach is an absolute must.

This 30,000-acre preserve is truly a sight to behold. Located near Merritt Island, this is one of the most biodiverse preserves in the US.

There are also a number of different areas you can visit within the park, so the possibilities are endless. Both the waterways and trails give you a super awesome opportunity to explore either on foot or by kayak.

If you’re feeling like exploring the waterways, there are kayaks available for rent. This is the perfect idea for a romantic getaway, exploring nature with the family, or just spending some solo time with nature to decompress and center.

If you want to get technical, the Banana River Aquatic Preserve is made up of several smaller parks. There is the Cocoa Beach Recreational Complex, Kiwanis Island Park, Banana River Park, Kelly Park, and more.

You will also find the Ulumay Wildlife Sanctuary, the perfect spot for bird-watching with tons of diversity. You will likely see some manatees too!

This is definitely one of the best things to do in Cocoa Beach for nature lovers and people looking to escape city life.

14. Chill out at Rikki Tiki Tavern

Rikki Tiki Tavern entrance

This awesome oceanfront bar is a super fun experience in Cocoa Beach Florida. Gaze out at the horizon above the beautiful Atlantic Ocean while enjoying a refreshing drink.

This is a great place to go for couples in Cocoa Beach and is one of the best Cocoa Beach attractions for adults!

Rikki Tiki Tavern is only 800 ft from the shoreline, so this is an excellent place to enjoy the sunset with a loved one. The bar is open-air, with a tropical tiki vibe that makes you feel like you just escaped to paradise!

In addition to being an excellent bar on the beach, they have delicious food too. You can expect fresh lobster, oysters, shrimp, crab, and all sorts of fresh catch and seafood.

If you’re not a big seafood person, there are other options too. Enjoy this Cocoa Beach gem with a loved one!

15. Enjoy Hawaiian cuisine at Fat Kahunas

picture of a Hawaiian dish

Are you a foodie? Cause I am! Wherever I travel, I always love checking out the food scene, Cocoa Beach was no exception!

Fat Kahunas has some of the most delicious meals that this beach city has to offer!

They have a stellar reputation, a charming atmosphere, and a tropical coastal aesthetic, and they bring the Pacific Ocean vibe to you! Specializing in Hawaiian cuisine, they have really incredible fresh catch and vegetarian options too!

While their signature dishes are their seafood options, they have other more American-style cuisines like juicy burgers, yummy succulent steaks, and other tropical cuisine options.

This famous restaurant on Cocoa Beach is a huge attraction, and people come from all over to try it!

This is one of the best places to eat in Cocoa Beach.

16. See manatees & dolphins at Thousand Island Mangrove Tunnel

This kayak-guided tour near Cocoa Beach is a really incredible experience to get up close and personal with dolphins and manatees. As you travel through the enchanting mangrove forest, you will begin to enter a world of wonder and adventure.

You will learn about the fascinating ecology that makes up this brackish estuary, where freshwater meets the ocean. This is one of the most interesting ecosystems, in my opinion, because it is the colliding of two totally different worlds.

Abundant with manatees and dolphins, wading birds, turtles, and fish, you will spot incredible wildlife in this small area.

On my trip, I booked this tour so I could have the comfort of an expert guide and also learn about the area at the same time. This was one the best adventures I’ve ever been on, and I got to see manatees and dolphins!

I highly recommend this incredible opportunity to be up close and personal with gorgeous wildlife. Plus, you get to see and learn more when you have a guided tour!

PRICE: US$50

Book Your Mangrove Tunnel Experience

17. Explore the Brevard Zoo

image with wildlife from Brevard Zoo

The Brevard Zoo is another one of the best things to do in Cocoa Beach.

Located only 25 minutes from Cocoa Beach, this is a fun family activity if you’re willing to take a quick drive.

Hosting a whopping 900 different animals and spanning over 75 acres, this zoo is a must on your trip to Cocoa Beach. They feature a petting zoo, animal feeding, and a super fun splash park!

They have animals distributed across various habitats, with many different sections of the zoo begging to be explored.

They also have a Wild Florida section where you can see flora and fauna native to the state of Florida, which I loved. They also have a section called Expedition Africa, where you can see all sorts of African wildlife.

They also have a section called “La Selva” where you can see sloths and other tropical animals.

18. Visit Kennedy Space Center

3 Kennedy Space Center launch schedule

The Kennedy Space Center is one of the biggest tourist attractions in Cocoa Beach and all of Florida. This should be high on your list of things to do in Cocoa Beach, as it is such a unique and life-changing experience!

The Kennedy Space Center is one of the leading centers of NASA’s space activities. This includes but is not limited to, rocket launches and a plethora of other space-related events.

Located on the Space Coast on Merritt Island, not far from Cocoa Beach, it is also surrounded by one of the most biodiverse areas in Florida.

During your visit, you can meet an astronaut, experience the U.S astronaut Hall of Fame, and get an up close and personal look into the human exploration of space. This, by far, is one of the best things to do in Florida and will really open your perspective to the wonders of space and life beyond planet Earth.

This amazing tour gives you full access to the center and you can chat with an astronaut! I brought my nephew here and booked the astronaut tour; he LOVED it!

When visiting the Kennedy Space Center, remember that this is a historical site home to revolutionary feats in human history. The Apollo 13 space mission was launched from the Kennedy Space Center.

PRICE: One-day admission: US$75, Two-day admission: US$89, tour US$79

Book Your Kennedy Space Center Experience

🤩 Range of activities:Large
👪 Family-friendly score:High
🏛️ Best museum:Florida Surf Museum
🎢 Top paid attraction:Bioluminescent Kayaking
🚶🏽‍♂️ Best free activity:Banana River Aquatic Preserve
🥟 Must try food:Fat Snook

FAQs about Best Things To Do in Cocoa Beach

various surf boards on closeup

🥥What are the most unique things to do in Cocoa Beach?

You can visit Historic Cocoa Village, go on a bioluminescent kayak tour, visit the Florida Surf Museum, or get the best key lime pie slice and exotic jerkies at the Florida Key Lime Company!

💑 What are the best things to do in Cocoa Beach for couples?

Go on a relaxing kayak excursion through mangroves and tidal estuaries, grab a bite at the Fat Snook, watch the sunset on the beach with a drink at the Rikki Tiki Tavern, enjoy a romantic visit to the Cocoa Beach Pier, or take a stroll through a nature preserve!

👶 What are the best things to do in Cocoa Beach with kids?

Families should visit the Kennedy Space Center, go to the Brevard Zoo, or visit the Dinosaur Store & Museum! Cocoa Beach is super family friendly so there’s plenty for everyone to do!

🩴 What are some free things to do in Cocoa Beach?

You can totally enjoy Cocoa Beach on a budget. Head on over to the beach and enjoy a relaxing day soaking up the sun and playing in the waves, go to one of the many state parks and preserves, watch the sunset, or check out the Cocoa Beach Pier!

Conclusion

man sitting next to Cocoa beach pier with a surfing board in his hands

There you go! A list of the absolute best things to do in Cocoa Beach from a local. I really love visiting Cocoa Beach, it has just a lovely old-school beach town vibe and so much culture and fun activities to enjoy!

If you don’t do anything on this list, at the very least, make sure you go out and check out those tidal estuaries, either by kayak or on foot. The biodiversity in Cocoa Beach, Florida, is some of the most fascinating and beautiful wildlife you will ever see!

Until next time,

Amira G.


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