Florida's beautiful Merritt Island is connected to the mainland of Brevard County by a series of causeways and bridges. Once a true island, Merritt Island is still referred to as one, but is currently a peninsula. Merritt Island is about 45 minutes from busy, attraction-packed Orlando'but you don't have to make the trip to Disney World to be entertained as Merritt Island has a bevy of entertainment of its own.
Take advantage of the Florida sunshine, grab your surfboard and head over to Cocoa Beach. Their beachfront restaurants and bars will keep well fed and your thirst quenched. Coconuts on the Beach is the area's prime spot for social gatherings, featuring live entertainment, great tropical drinks, delicious fare, and a view of the ocean. This laidback restaurant/bar is packed during holiday weekends. While the ocean is great for chartering a boat to go deep-sea fishing, and racing around on jet skis'the local rivers and lakes allow canoeing, kayaking, and have river tours of Florida's wildlife. Merritt Island also has great local parks and recreational areas, including Kiwanis Island an 8.5-acre community river park on the Intracoastal Waterway featuring verdant native shrubbery, a fishing pier, boardwalks, and picnic areas.
On the northern part of Merritt Island, you'll find NASA's renowned Kennedy Space Center. People traverse the globe to see the launch of history-making space shuttles, rocket launches, and learn the history of space exploration. In August 1963, Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge was established to act as a buffer zone for NASA in the quest for space discovery. Half of the Refuge consists of 140,000 acres of estuaries and marshes, and is the habitat of 1,045 species of plants and animals, as well as 310 species of birds. The area harmoniously houses an amalgamation of alligators, bobcats, wild hogs, snowy egrets, white ibises, great blue herons and red-tailed hawks. The Refuge is also home to fifteen endangered or threatened wildlife species such as sea turtles, Gopher Tortoises, Ospreys, West Indian Manatees, southern Bald Eagles and Florida scrub jays.
If you're just visiting you'll definitely want to pick up a souvenir, stop by one of Merritt Island's shopping malls and beachside boutiques for great deals. There's the Grove Street Shopping District, The Merritt Square Mall, several major retail stores, as well as the world famous, eye-catching surf palace, Ron Jon Surf Shop. Merritt Island also boasts a variety of mouth-watering eateries. When you're in a beach town, you definitely want to sample their fresh seafood, just head toward the Waterway or the beach and you're sure to stumble upon an authentic seafood restaurant.