Port Canaveral, Florida
Gateway to the Sea
Written by Ellen Honey
The self-proclaimed “Gateway to the Sea,” Port Canaveral is a primary stop for travelers entering or exiting the ICW or the Atlantic Ocean on a private vessel, cruise ship or cargo container. The area is also a portal into the uppermost reaches of the atmosphere via space shuttle. Near the top of the list of the busiest cruise passenger ports, Canaveral hosts four major cruise lines and six passenger terminals and serves more than four million cruise passengers annually.
Dedicated in 1953, Port Canaveral is located on central Florida’s Space Coast, which has a wide variety of things to do and see. As the name indicates, much of the activity revolves around the exploration of space. Don’t miss stopping at Kennedy Space Center to take in the Astronaut Hall of Fame. The Rocket Garden is also a must see! Climb inside the historic spacecrafts and capsules on display.
In November 2013, the Exploration Tower opened in celebration of the Canaveral Port Authority’s 60th anniversary. The seven-story tower contains fun and adventure for the entire crew, with interactive exhibits and activities related to the environment, the harbor and the space program. The top floor observation deck provides a panoramic view of not only Port Canaveral and its cruise ships but also of Kennedy Space Center and the surrounding beach and river.
After a long day of space-themed doings, many visitors stop by the Cove Market Place, Port Canaveral’s entertainment, retail and restaurant hub. The open-air village offers an assortment of restaurants, locally made knick-knacks from local artists and craftsmen and a casino ship.
Port Canaveral has an array of recreational options in its public parks. Jetty Park, located at the mouth of the Port Canaveral Inlet, has more than four acres of family beaches with designated areas for swimming and surfing and year-round lifeguards. It’s also a popular spot for watching shuttle launches. Fisherman flock to the paved, lighted and well-equipped 1,200-foot Malcolm E. McLouth Fishing Pier. The four-acre Rodney S. Ketcham Park has boat-launch ramps, covered picnic tables and an observation tower. A mile and a half of bike paths run through the port. Charter fishing and airboat rides are readily available in the immediate area, and Port Canaveral is fewer than five miles from Cocoa Village and Cocoa Beach, florida’s surfing capital.
Where to Dock:
Blue Points Marina at Port Canaveral offers more than 1,000 feet of courtesy docks, marina pavilion with grills, a ship store and 24 hour security.
Cape Marina can accommodate vessels up to 140 feet and offers a fuel dock, full service repairs, a pool and a game room.
Where to Dine:
Fishlips Waterfront Bar & Grill (610 Glen Cheek Drive, 321-784-4533) offers two levels of dining choices: a covered patio and sun deck with tiki bar topside, and casual waterfront dining below.
At Baja Tavern (626 Glen Cheek Drive, 321-799-1616) diners recommend the lobser roll, which comes with a cup of lobster chowder.