Melbourne & Indialantic
South of Cocoa Beach, Hwy A1A stretches along the barrier island 53 miles to Vero Beach, passing plenty of well-signed access to Atlantic beaches, state parks, small pockets of condos and long stretches of emptiness. Indialantic, a blink-and-you-miss-it beach town 16 miles south of Cocoa Beach, isn't expansive, but it sure feels homey.
In 1958, in the aftermath of WWII, the US government selected the east coast of Florida as the base of its newly formed National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). From here new-age captains would launch rockets, telescopes and shuttles into the orbiting circle of the earth to discover new worlds and galaxies.
Canaveral National Seashore
Part of America's national-park system, spectacular Canaveral National Seashore includes 24 miles of undeveloped white-sand beach. Two roads squeeze along a skinny bridge of barrier island, one heading 6 miles south from the small beach town of New Smyrna Beach and another 6 miles north from Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge.
Sebastian Inlet & Around
Continuing south along Hwy A1A, development trickles beyond sleepy Melbourne Beach. You'll find plenty of access to beaches, hiking and birding along both the Atlantic Coast and the Indian River. Just south of Sebastian Inlet State Park, mile after mile of tidy hedges and bike paths line the highway, hiding the upscale homes of northern Vero Beach.
Kennedy Space Center
Since 1919, when physics professor Robert Goddard published A Method of Reaching Extreme Altitudes, erasing the line between science fiction and reality, NASA's engineers and astronauts have thrilled and amazed us with their moon landings, satellite launches and shuttle programs.