Our Top 10 Stops for a Space Program Road Trip


Kennedy Space Center, Cape Canaveral, Fla.

Rockets stand proudly on display at Kennedy's "Rocket Garden."
Rockets stand proudly on display at Kennedy's "Rocket Garden."
Photo courtesy NASA

Kennedy Space Center is the closest you can get to a space shuttle launch. All NASA space shuttles launch from there. Since summer 2011's Atlantis marked the last one, you might be interested in what happens nearby, at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. Launches from the station include rockets carrying robotic spacecraft, satellites and occasional space experiments. You can watch from a few locations in Florida, listed here [source: Kennedy "Launch Viewing.]

Launches aren't the only attraction at Kennedy. Check out the space suit worn by Alan Shepard, who was the first American in space, and, as a slightly lesser credential, the only person to hit a golf ball on the moon [source: NASA]. John Young's space suit is also there, with the instructions written on his cuff for planting the American flag on the lunar surface. You can also fire away your Qs at a Q&A session with a modern astronaut.

You're yawning. You want launches. At Kennedy, for $15 to $21, you can take a guided tour called "Today & Tomorrow," where you'll see the empty launch pads. But don't expect to stand under them. You'll be viewing from 3 miles (5 kilometers) away [source: Kennedy Space Center visitor's rep].

If spacecraft are your thing, stroll in a garden among retired NASA rockets, see the real Gemini 9A spacecraft and get inside a replica of an Explorer-series space shuttle. Admission for all exhibits, plus a bus tour that takes you within 4 miles (6.5 kilometers) of the launch pads, is $33 to $43 [source: Kennedy "Admission"].

Kennedy is a great stomping ground for the space program, so come out and stomp. Believe us, you'll appreciate contact with the ground after your next stop.