Best Weekend Getaway (2012)

Cape Canaveral and Cocoa

Far too many Miamians limit their weekend getaways to two categories: south to the Keys for drinking and debauchery or north to Orlando for rides and G-rated fun. Why not consider a weekend that combines the two? Just hop north on I-95 about 200 miles and you'll land in the quaint artsy village of Cocoa. Filled with art galleries, restaurants, and local shops, Cocoa is a cross between Coconut Grove and Mayberry. The buildings are pink and cozy, stores sell everything from acrylic paintings of grouper to handmade Christmas ornaments made from seashells. Across the Intracoastal Waterway lies the totally different vibe of Cocoa Beach. You might know the name from old I Dream of Jeannie episodes, because this is where astronaut playboy Major Nelson lived. Today it's known for great waves, with thousands of surfers hanging ten, visiting the original Ron Jon Surf Shop, and sipping rum runners on the pier. Top off the weekend at the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex ($45 for adults, $35 for children). Part science museum and part amusement park, it captures the first thrill of space travel — and subsequent tragedies of missions gone wrong. The center's shuttle simulator looks much more realistic than the Mission: Space ride at Disney World, but the real treat is in the nearby U.S. Astronaut Hall of Fame, where an authentic G-force trainer is open. What better way to shake off last night's drinks than simulating four times the force of gravity? It's the most awesome ride in Florida since the Space Shuttle program was scrapped.


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