The best place to witness a rocket launch in the U.S. is the Kennedy Space Center on Merritt Island, northwest of Cape Canaveral in Florida. There’s nothing quite like the adrenaline rush that comes from the rumble and roar of a rocket as it launches above you. But this is not the only spot in the area to catch a glimpse of this astronomical event.
At Jetty Park Campground, a beachfront destination less than 30 minutes from the launch pad, you can watch a rocket catapult into the sky from your tent or cabin. “Jetty Park is one of the closest spots for visitors to get a great view of the rocket launches,” says Peter Cranis, executive director at the Space Coast Office of Tourism. “It’s especially magical when the rockets propels into the night sky,” he adds.
Tips for Your Visit
“Start your trip off right by making a reservation at the campground, and plan on getting to your spot a day before the launch to avoid traffic and enjoy the area,” suggests Cranis. “Crewed launches, milestones, or launches with historic significance will have the largest turnout, resulting in heavy traffic in the hours before and right after launch.”
Related: 13 Things Space Tourists Should Know Before Traveling to Space, According to Astronauts
Best Viewing Spots
“Any campsite at Jetty Park provides a prime view of the rocket launches, though campsites on the RV Inlet have a less obstructed view of the early stage of takeoff,” says Stacey Marmolejo, executive director at Florida Beach Break.
Cranis adds that although the rocket launches are visible from the campground, you can get an even better view from Jetty Park’s beach and fishing pier.
So, how likely is it that you’ll be able to see a rocket launch if you book a stay at Jetty Park Campground? “Likely,” says Marmolejo. “Between NASA, SpaceX, Boeing, and United Launch Alliance, there are several launches each month,” she says. Check Space Coast Launches for the schedule, but be aware that plans may change due to inclement weather.
And even if you don’t catch a rocket launch while at Jetty Park Campground, you can go surfing (it’s a favorite spot for locals), fishing, and relax on the beach.
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Nearby Hotels to Watch a Rocket Launch
- Kars Park: This is another campground from which you can watch rockets launch, but note that it’s reserved for active duty or retired military, as well as employees of NASA.
- Beachside Hotel & Suites: You can see the rocket launches from this vintage-inspired hotel with retro-coastal guest rooms. Formerly a Quality Inn & Suites, this is a new property in the area.
- Holiday Inn Club Vacations Cape Canaveral Beach Resort: With a private boardwalk that leads to Jetty Park Beach, this is a great option for watching rocket launches.
- Royal Mansions Resort: Of the accommodations in the area, this condo resort is nearest to the water. If you rent an ocean-facing condo, you might be able to see rockets launch out over the water from your balcony.