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Cocoa, Florida - Activities and Attractions
Did you know that cattle used to graze on Merritt Island? What is today largely a wildlife sanctuary across from the city of Cocoa once was the domain of cowhunters (that’s the Florida version of cowboy) who herded them across the two lane bridge, driving them stampede style right into the town of Cocoa, Florida. Strays would be rounded up, wandering around the streets! If you look at the quaint and tailored streets of Cocoa today, you will find that would be a sight of great alarm.
As a group of the small towns of Cocoa, Merritt Island, Cocoa Beach and Cape Canaveral, Cocoa is served by the Cocoa Beach Area Chamber of Commerce, located on Merritt Island, just to the east of Cocoa. Bound on the south by the City of Rockledge, there is little demarcation when passing from Cocoa to Rockledge. To the north is a less populated area, leading into Frontenac, Port St. John and on toward Titusville.
Tree-lined avenues host rows of adorable shops, restaurants, and other businesses that invite the only wandering be done by shoppers on a mission or by people strolling lackadaisically in and out of the sunshine. Folks often lose themselves in a spontaneous draw to the entertainment on any given day that is presented at the town gazebo, a stage for an array of shows and events, outdoors and free. Old fashioned style and attention to detail have brought Cocoa into the 21st Century with grace and attractiveness. The full-time population of Cocoa is recorded as 16,412, with the median resident’s age being 36 years old. During the winter months the population increases slightly, but not nearly as much as that of the beach areas. Covering only 7.5 square miles, the population is sufficiently dense to require four postal zip codes.
Arriving in Cocoa, Florida by way of Interstate 95 is the exit for State Road 520 (SR 520), Cocoa is approximately 8 miles east of I-95, the main north-south corridor of the east coast. Take the State Road 520 exit which leads you directly into Cocoa’s Old Town area.
If arriving by air, your options are ample. Both the Orlando and Melbourne International airports are frequently used to visit Cocoa. There are also small county airports located in Merritt Island and Cocoa for those using private place.
The water access to the region is one of the aspects of Cocoa that make it so unique. The Indian River Lagoon is part of The Inter-Coastal Waterway, a waterway that leads all the way up to New York and all the way down to Key West. Marinas are readily available, some almost in downtown Cocoa. Other options include dockage at Merritt Island, just across the river to the east. The Inter-Coastal Waterway can also be accessed via Port Canaveral and the locks, passing through the Barge Canal and into the Indian River.
At Lake Poinsett Lodge and Fishing Camp and the Lone Cabbage Fishing Camp in Cocoa, Florida the latter has airboat rides and a restaurant, in addition to each facility providing launch ramps and bait and tackle. There are others with similar offerings for boaters, such as Indian Cove Marina, Island Point Marina, Jay’s Harbor Light Marina, on Merritt Island.
As you stroll along the quaint avenues in old town Cocoa, better known as Cocoa Village; look for the Sundancer Gallery, where the Blackfoot Indian tribe’s tradition and culture is featured among other Native American art and craft work, to the tune of live flute music in the tradition of the ages.
There is more modern shopping along the areas edging the town. The nearest mall, is Merritt Island, but Cocoa provides all your needs for food, clothing, hardware, or any supplies by simply driving along US 1 to the many strip-style shopping centers and stand-alone store.
If you are a history buff, there is a significant access to the state’s most elaborate collection of artifacts, maps, and literature. The Library of the Florida Historical Society is located in Cocoa, in a historic building in town.
Honoring the close proximity to Cape Canaveral, Cocoa’s contribution to the cause is the Astronaut Memorial Planetarium & Observatory, located on Brevard Community College campus on Clearlake Road. It is ranked as Florida's largest planetarium with astrological shows and a 3-story IWERKS movie theater that also does out-of-this world laser shows to rock and roll music, classical music. The laser lights dance, creative 3-D images in rhythm to the music. A local favorite is the Pink Floyd laser light show, which is often run at 9 p.m. for the lower decibel level crowd and 11 p.m. for those who like LOUD music.
Located adjacent to the planetarium, The Brevard Museum of History and Natural Science allows folks to explore the history of the region in this museum and wildlife sanctuary filled with historic artifacts from Native Americans as well as 15th century Spaniards in Cocoa.
While you are near the campus, visit Florida Solar Energy Center, which is a 16-acre energy center was created to explore Florida's most abundant energy source: the sun. Browse the library collection of several thousand books and documents.
For water based enjoyment, the options include the Indian River Lagoon and the Banana River, plus numerous inland park waterways. The airboat rides on the St. Johns River are a lot of fun and a great way to see alligators and birdlife in their natural habitats.
The Chamber of Commerce serving Cocoa and Merritt Island, Florida.
Nearby cities to check for activities and attractions: Orlando, Kennedy Space Center, and Cocoa Beach.
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