Cape Canaveral, FL

Is this the #1 tourist destination in Florida? (Besides Disney World)

Evie M.

Without even stepping a toe in Florida, it's easy to see that Florida is a place of variety when it comes to entertainment. Literally, the entire state feels like Disney World with so many things to do and see, and they're all probably something you haven't seen before. It's no wonder Florida is one of the top tourist destinations in the world. But if you're like me, you've been wondering, with so many competing tourist attractions (I just typed "tourist distractions" and had to delete it, no joke) for a while what is the top tourist destination in Florida besides Disney World?

I'm not sure why it took me so long so simply Google the answer and do a little poking, perhaps I wanted to be surprised one day randomly out in the world by some local telling me, "did you know this is the top tourist destination in all of Florida?" But impatience and curiosity got the better of me today, so off to Google I went.

And honestly, the answer truly did surprise me.

If you've ever been to Cape Canaveral, even if it was only for a moment to board a ship or you only drove past the off-ramp on the interstate, you know its purpose. With all of the looming cruise ships and people filing on board or waving goodbye as the ship sets sail, it's hard to miss. Still, not many people know the incredible history behind this port, which houses the most popular tourist attraction in all of Florida.

Don't feel bad, even though I performed on the Disney Magic and spent a lot of time going back and forth from Port Canaveral to the rest of the world, I had no clue about the story behind it.

Established on November 4, 1953, Port Canaveral started life in commercial fishing before moving to carry oil, newsprint, and Florida orange juice to New York. However, Port Canaveral didn't start moving toward cruises until the 1970s when cruise lines started noticing how attractive Florida was for revenue, and the first cruise ship set sail in 1982. Carnival, Disney, and Royal Caribbean fell in line not long after, in that order.

However, the ships aren't what make Port Canaveral special. I'm embarrassed to say I had no idea the Kennedy Space Center even existed when I performed for the Disney Cruise Lines. Our focus was on the Mall of Millenia to get some deodorant and dry shampoo and get back on the ship before they left us behind.

But the Kennedy Space Station is an awesome attraction. Guests who come to the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex can spend a day exploring the wonders of space through a multitude of different activities, such as the bus tour that takes you to closed-off areas around the center. You can even meet an astronaut, which is beyond cool.

And if you're really lucky, you'll be able to experience history in the making, like those who came to see Elon Musk land his ground-breaking rockets. It's no wonder top publications like consider it the top tourist destination in Florida (next to Disney). I personally can't wait to make a trip out to my old stomping grounds to learn something new and amazing. My only question is: Who's coming with me?

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"Reader beware, you're in for a scare!--R.L. Stine"

Orlando, FL

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