*'''Black Tulip''' Fine dining. Brevard Ave, Cocoa, FL 32922-7906
Latest revision as of 09:57, 17 May 2013
Brevard County is in East Central Florida. Because of the presence of the John F. Kennedy Space Center, where the manned missions to the moon and the Space Shuttle are based, Brevard County is also known as the Space Coast.
Brevard County stretches 70 miles from north to south, and is relatively thin. It is bordered to the west by vast swamplands and on the east by the Atlantic Ocean.
An important distinction between areas in Brevard County is the mainland and "beachside" on the barrier island facing the Atlantic Ocean. The extremely large Merritt Island falls in between the mainland and beachside, bordered on the west by the Indian River and on the east by the Banana River. (These two rivers are actually channels from the Atlantic Ocean, and contain a brackish mixture of fresh and salt water.)
Brevard County is over 70 miles north to south, and not very wide. To the west are large unpopulated areas of the St. Johns River, marsh, swampland and ranches. On the other side of this emptiness is Orlando, the hub of Central Florida.
Interstate 95 (I-95) - runs north south all the way up the east coast of the USA. In Brevard it is west of most developed areas, but a great uncongested way to get from one end of the county to another, or to access major east-west highways.
U.S. Highway 1 (U.S. 1) - again, runs all the way up the east coast of the USA. However, this is a busy city road with lots of stoplights and traffic (however, in between the south, central and north areas of the county it is a convenient drive).
A.1.A - alternate U.S. 1, can be found in most US east states that have a barrier island. It is the main north-south road on the beachside. Lots of stoplights and congested, but if you are beachside there's very few alternatives (the occasional neighborhood backroad won't go far).
Highway 50 - This east-west road connects Titusville (North Brevard) to Orlando. It has stoplights and traffic.
Highway 528 - this swift-moving east-west artery was built solely to connect the Space Center (which is kind of in between north Brevard and central Brevard) to Orlando. It is an incredibly straight shot, with no more than 4 deserted exits on the 40+ mile trip. It has a direct exit to the Orlando International Airport (MCO) just as you come to civilisation, before the traffic starts. Make sure you have enough gas and a working car for this ride, as there are *no* service stations or amenities. The eastern end of this road connects to north-south roads I-95, U.S. 1, Courteney Parkway, Tropical Trail, Port Canaveral Road, and then curves around to become A.1.A. on the beach.
State Road 520 - This central Brevard road is also an east-west connection from Brevard to Orlando, but is lengthier, with tons of stoplights and traffic when in town.
Highway 192 - This south Brevard road connects Melbourne and Indialantic to St. Cloud and Kissimmee (actual home of and entrance to the Disney World parks). It is congested with traffic and stoplights at both ends. Ten years ago the main part of the deserted route was an unlit two-lane road without paved shoulders - lights were recommended even during daytime due to accidents. This may have been improved since then.
Space Coast Area Transit is the name of the local Brevard County bus service. It is a cheap way to get around and is handicap accessible. The website provides maps and timetables. Buses travel to most sites and places of interest at $1.25 per ride or $35 for a monthly pass. The bus service provides efficient, quick, and frequent stops within cities and local areas (both beachside and mainland) However, attractions in Brevard County are typically far apart (the county is narrow, but over 70 miles long from north to south), which is a challenge for the bus service. Getting from the south mainland (Palm Bay) to the beach via the sole bus route takes a long time (up to 2 hours) due to the many stops scheduled, as does the extended 1-2 hour trip from South Brevard up to Kennedy Space Center. A rental car is a good idea for travel outside your immediate city.
Private taxi companies are listed in the phone books. However, attractions in Brevard County are often far apart (the county is narrow, but over 70 miles long from North to South), so the miles add up. A rental car is a good idea for a serious tourist.
Kennedy Space Center Visitors Complex - The most famous attraction in the area, which brought on the nickname "Space Coast." Regularly scheduled tours of the facility and museum are offered. Cape Canaveral
Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge - A vast nature reserve featuring endangered Florida wildlife, like manatees and bald eagles, in Titusville.
Cape Canaveral Air Force Station - Has a variety of manned and unmanned launch pads, available to see only occasionally, in Cape Canaveral.
Beaches - Brevard County has dozens of miles of pristine beach. The most famous area, Cocoa Beach, has the smoothest and shallowest water and is a unique mecca for surfers across the country. The public beach across from the entrance to Patrick Air Force Base is also a popular surfing site. South of Satellite Beach, there tends to be submerged rocks close in to the shore, however the sun and sand are just as delightful. Public Beach access  and parks are available frequently along the beachside cities. County and City parks, which provide parking for a reasonable fee, may also offer amenities such as showers, bathrooms, and picnic pavilions. Pets and cars are not allowed on the beach.
Cruises - Evening and extended cruises are available from Port Canaveral. These are especially popular for their casino facilities which are not available on land.
Fishing - both Fresh and Saltwater fishing are available, please check licensing requirements. Exciting deep water sportfishing and charter boats are offered by private operators in Port Canaveral.
Golf - There are many public golf courses.
Water - Rent jetskis, ski boats, sailboats, canoes, and kayaks. Tours on airboats through the St. Johns River are also offered (see gators up close!)
Don't feed the animals! Brevard has some fascinating wild animals, including manatees, dolphins and alligators. All three are protected species, and all interaction (including touching or feeding them) is prohibited. "Friendly" dolphins and manatees seem safe, but they are powerful and unpredictable and may attack humans in the water. Additionally, feeding them interferes with their normal biological drives and reduces the natural fear which keeps them safe from dangerous people. Throwing leftover scraps to a wild gator seems fun - but a gator approaching you for scraps looks just like a hungry gator approaching to eat you! Such gators are inevitably destroyed as nuisance animals, so feeding them is no favor. Other endangered animals such as sea turtles also need your protection - large nests of sea turtle eggs on the beaches are usually marked by wildlife officials and must never be disturbed.
Sunburn can occur even on cloudy days. Re-apply sunblock regularly.
Life preservers are essential for motorized water activities - even the best swimmers can't stay above water if they are unconscious.
Lightning - Afternoon thunderstorms with frequent lightning occur often during the summer. Wait out storms in your vehicle, under dry shelter (not a tree) or indoors.
Hurricanes are not a frequent problem in Brevard County. Hurricanes "headed right for us" usually veer off along the coast without making landfall. A rare evacuation is ordered well in advance so that nobody gets caught on a barrier island. The six-month hurricane season runs from June 1 through November 30. More Information: National Hurricane Center.