For anybody alive during the late 1960s, the Moon landing was one of the most iconic moments in living memory. For all who were born after 1969, the famous feat, and indeed Neil Armstrong’s immortal words “That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind” are so familiar that children in almost every country learn them from a young age. Something about space, the endless possibilities of it, the fact that it pits us at the cutting edge of our scientific capabilities as a species, is utterly captivating. That is why a tour of the Kennedy Space Center (KSC) is one of the most unique experiences in America today.
Located in Florida’s Merritt Island, the KSC and the nearby Cape Canaveral Air Force Station are within easy reach of downtown Orlando. A drive can usually be made in under an hour, although a tour from the city to the space station takes care of all the details so that you can sit back and enjoy the experience. We have computed the best five of the many Kennedy Space Center tours available from Orlando here. Multiple factors were considered, including the price, comfort of the journey, value for money and the quality of the itinerary on offer, plus whether or not other attractions are included. Reviews from previous guests were also used as a navigation tool in this. Which leaves us no choice but to say five (five), four (four), three (three), two (two), one (one)…
FROM: $55/per person
For a region of the United States that is famed for its larger-than-life family experiences, Kennedy Space Center is one of the most exhilarating, especially if you’re traveling with children and want to do something other than a theme park. Starting out early (7.30am) with pickup from various locations in Orlando and Kissimmee, take the coach to the KSC Visitor Complex, where your tour will begin with the chance to see various rockets from different eras of the space race, including a walk beneath the huge Saturn V. There are many interactive exhibits, a couple of IMAX movies, and the chance to learn about NASA’s Space Shuttle program and pioneering astronauts at the US Astronaut Hall of Fame. The full tour, including transfers to and from Orlando, should last around 11 hours.
From $119/ per person
For an even more immersive space experience at the KSC, there are additional activities available with the full-access ticket. See all of the thrilling, regular exhibitions, such as the Hubble Telescope exhibit and the Rocket Garden, then throw in the Shuttle Launch Experience, where you can feel, first-hand, what the astronauts go through when the shuttle blasts off. Giving your day an even more inspirational twist, there will even be a chance to meet a real astronaut from one or more of NASA’s shuttle and rocket programs. The Space Shuttle Atlantis exhibit also has 60 interactive experiences, so if anything, it’ll feel like time is running out; but then again, space and time do go hand in hand. Round-trip transportation is included from most main tourism zones around Orlando and the major theme parks.
From $119/ per person
Departing from the Wheel at ICON 360 Plaza, this express bus service ensures that you won’t waste any precious time doing the rounds of the pickups at various hotels, making a beeline instead for the KSC. Get a welcome to the space center from a real astronaut before delving into the action-packed experience beyond. Get a 3D immersive Moon walk experience at the IMAX theater, leave plenty of time for Space Shuttle Atlantis’ 60 different exhibits, and then learn all about the ingenious engineering used to construct the shuttles and the International Space Station. Like the other tours, you’ll have the chance on arrival to explore at your leisure, and with the time saved on the journey to and from the KSC, that means much more of the total ten-hour tour spent on-site.
From $145/ per person
It’s worth remembering that Florida is packed with experiences and although the Kennedy Space Center could easily swallow up an entire day, there is some incredible nature nearby too. Particularly useful to visiting families who don’t have a lot of time, this tour combines the KSC with an airboat ride. First, you’ll head over to the NASA site with a full access ticket to relive the Moon landing and take the Shuttle Launch Experience. The longer 12-hour duration of this tour means that you’ll not have to curtail your experience at KSC either. Follow this up with the nature experience by heading to Lake Poinsett, which lies on St. John’s River between Cape Canaveral and Orlando. Here you’ll take a thrilling 30-minute airboat ride, glide over the water and spot wonderful wildlife like alligators and various wading birds.
From $189/ per person
There are two final experiences that can be had at the Kennedy Space Center that aren’t included in the basic or full access tickets: dinner with an astronaut and access to the Vehicle Assembly Building (VAB), where the real shuttles are built. In fact, apart from this tour, no food or beverages are included in the price, and all you’ll see are rockets and shuttles of the past. Take a table for your buffet lunch, where a veteran member of NASA’s astronaut team will work their way around the tables, signing autographs and answering any of those pressing questions that you can’t find answers to in the KSC’s exhibits. Inside the VAB, you’ll get a guided tour and a glimpse of the infrastructure used to build the space shuttles of tomorrow.