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Cocoa Beach on a Family Budget

If you’re looking for the quintessential Florida beach vacation, look no further than Cocoa Beach to experience gators, surfing and key lime pie.

Cocoa Beach is located just an hour east of Orlando’s famous theme parks and just a few miles south of the Kennedy Space Center. However, the iconic beach town has plenty to offer for families looking for fun in the sun.

Travel, especially with kids, can get pretty pricey for food and lodging plus entrance fees for activities. However, Cocoa Beach has plenty of options that are affordable for families of all sizes. Better yet, some of these activities are completely free:

Ron Jon Surf Shop

If you want to immerse yourself in the local culture, start your trip with a visit to Ron Jon Surf Shop’s flagship store. With its sprawling layout and legendary status, it seems more like a visitor destination than a place to buy sunscreen.

Of course, you can pick up the essentials for your beach trip here, along with surfboards, swimwear, apparel, home décor, souvenirs and basically anything to fulfill your dreams of living a beach bum lifestyle.

Ron Jon Surf Shop is located a block from the beach. It’s the gigantic, bright yellow structure on A1A. You can’t miss it, and families can easily spend at least an hour browsing everything it has to offer.

Florida Key Lime Pie Company

Once you have worked up an appetite from all the shopping, simply cross the parking lot to find some of the best key lime pie in Florida. The Florida Key Lime Pie Company is unassuming from the outside but a tropical paradise on the inside with bright colors and tiki bar décor.

Aside from their famous pie, they offer an intriguing selection of food and drink such as key lime yogurt pretzels, gator jerky and tropical fruit wine. If you’re unsure of what to purchase, you can ask for a sample of just about anything.

While you’re enjoying the island vibe and friendly service, don’t forget to pick up some Florida salt scrub. It will make a luxurious gift for friends back home, or a delicious-smelling reminder of your time in Cocoa Beach.

Manatee Sanctuary Park

If you have ever traveled with young kids, you know the importance of giving them a break to stretch their legs and expend their energy. Manatee Sanctuary Park is the perfect spot to do that in the Cocoa Beach area.

The park sits on the Banana River, which is a protected manatee habitat. Visitors can stand on the boardwalk and watch for manatees coming to feed on the seagrass, especially during the winter months.

Families with energetic kids can walk along the parks’ half-mile path and test out the exercise stations along the way. You can also make use of the playground or have lunch on one of the many picnic tables. Manatee Sanctuary Park is free and open to visitors year-round.

Golf N Gator

Most parents will appreciate a more structured activity to keep their children entertained, so a round of mini golf at Golf N Gator is an excellent option. Kids ages 4 and under are free, and the price for 18 holes for adults and older children is very reasonable.

This is mini golf Florida-style. As you make your way through the course, you’ll find gators sunbathing on the rocks and swimming in the ponds. Don’t worry, though, all of the gators are in enclosed structures.

If you’re really brave, you have the option to hold some of the gators after your 18 holes are complete, (or even feed the biggest one). Check out the tortoise, snakes, lizards and birds while you’re there, too.

Explore the Coast

What’s Cocoa Beach without the beach? Entry to one of America’s favorite beaches is free to everyone. If you’re visiting when the weather is hot, spend a few hours splashing in the waves and building sandcastles.

Stop by Cocoa Beach Pier and relax with a drink overlooking the waves or treat the kids to an ice cream cone. The Pier also rents out fishing equipment, so grab a pole and cast a line in the Atlantic Ocean.

I don’t know about your kids, but giant ships fascinate mine. They love watching the cruise ships come and go. It just so happens that nearby Cape Canaveral is home to one of the busiest cruise ship ports in the world.

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