16 places to stay cool this summer


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Boomer Guide models Birgit Smith of Merritt Island and Joyce Aron of Titusville enjoy the cool air inside the Exploration Tower at Port Canaveral, the site of the Nov. 6 Senior Life Boomer Bash & Senior Expo.

photo by keith betterley

As the the temperatures flirt with triple digits — or at least feel like it — cool, air-conditioned attractions around Brevard are the best bet to beat the heat. The Space Coast has a host of outstanding, one-of-a kind museums that are inexpensive to tour, educational and, without a doubt, rewarding for the whole family. 

If you have friends or family who visit from out of town, be sure to introduce them to some of these gems while they are in the area. After all, while it is warm in Florida, often it is just as warm or warmer in the North.

Visiting these locales is a great way to make memories. More than a half dozen are donation-based or offer free admission. Many that do charge for admission offer free parking and the price of admission is well worth the modest fee. From A (Air Force) to V (Veterans), Brevard County museums and similar attractions have something every age can enjoy.

1. Valiant Sir Command Warbird Museum

6600 Tico Road, Titusville 321-268-1941

Every day except major holidays 9 a.m. - 5 p.m. There is an admission fee.

Located at the Space Coast Regional Airport just south of Titusville, this large museum contains vintage aircraft and a 30,000-square-foot hangar with a restoration area. It also has a memorabilia hall with flight gear, dress uniforms, weapons and artifacts. The collection includes fixed and rotary wing aircraft from World War I to the present time. The museum’s Flagship is a C-47 called TICO Belle.

2. Air Force Space and Missile History Center

191 Museum Circle, Patrick AFB, 321-730-0055

Tues. - Fri. 9 a.m. - 2 p.m., Sat. 9 a.m. - 5 p.m., Sun. noon - 4 p.m.

Closed Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s Day. Parking and admission is free.

Staffed by volunteers, the Air Force Space and Missile Museum at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station preserves both the hardware and the spirit of United States’ ventures into space. The museum displays numerous missiles, rockets and related space equipment and is located just outside the south gate of Cape Canaveral Air Force Station.

3. Alma Clyde Field Library of Florida History

435 Brevard Ave., Cocoa, 321-690-1971

Tues. - Sat. 10 a.m. - 4:30 p.m. Admission is free.

Located in downtown Cocoa Village, The Alma Clyde Field Library of Florida History houses the 60,000-item collection of the Florida Historical Society, the state’s oldest cultural organization. The Library contains books on Florida, papers on or by prominent Floridians, historical maps, photos, artifacts and family histories. The Library also has a souvenir shop with items reflecting the history of Florida.

4. American Police Hall of Fame & Museum

6350 Horizon Dr., Titusville, 321-264-0911

Open daily 10 a.m. - 6 p.m. Admission fee based on age. No charge for law officers.

This museum and public Gun Range is our nation’s first national police museum and memorial dedicated to law enforcement officers killed in the line of duty.

5. Astronaut Hall of Fame

6225 Vector Space Blvd., Titusville, 321-269-6100

Open daily 9 a.m. - 5 p.m. Admission included in the price of admission for the Kennedy Space Center.

You can live the human side of space at this museum, complete with the sights, sounds and experiences of famous astronauts. Experience the world’s largest collection of personal memorabilia and tributes dedicated to the heroes.

6. Brevard Museum of History & Natural Science

2201 Michigan Ave., Cocoa, 321-632-1830

Wed. - Sat. 10 a.m. - 5 p.m. Modest admission charge.

On Michigan Avenue you’ll find the creative and ever changing Brevard Museum of History and Natural Science. This small gem of a museum primarily covers the history, culture and sciences of Brevard County. Learn about the archaeological dig of the 7,000-plus year old Windover burial site discovered in nearby Titusville and our native Ais and Seminole Indian tribes that lived in this area. Get to know about Brevard’s ecosystem of rivers, reefs and saltwater marshes.

7. Cocoa Beach Surf Museum

4275 N. Atlantic Ave., Cocoa Beach, 321-258-8217

Call for open hours.

This museum is next door to the Ron Jon Surf Shop where it offers public exhibits, lectures,and programs. The museum actively engage the community in surfing culture through exhibits and educational events, as well as community outreach programs for all ages. It highlights surfing history and culture from Cocoa Beach, nationally and internationally, as well as from differing perspectives, including exhibits that feature surfing history. It defines Cocoa Beach as one of the premier surfing towns in the world.

8. Dinosaur Store & Adventure Zone

250 W. Cocoa Beach Causeway, Cocoa Beach, 321-783-7300 

Mon. - Sat. 10 a.m. - 6 p.m., Sun. noon - 5 p.m. Free admission to store. Modest admission for children to Adventure Zone.

Museum quality fossils and minerals, dinosaur eggs, teeth and claws, jewelry, clothing, toys and more for sale at the store. Adventure Zone can host parties. The Museum of Ancient Dinosaurs & Ancient Cultures is planned for the second and third floors. 

9. Eastern Florida State College Planetarium & Observatory

1519 Clearlake Rd., Cocoa, 321-433-7373

Show times vary. There is an admission charge.

A 70–foot domed theater reproduces the starry sky using a first-of-its-kind dual projection system. The planetarium’s large format films, presented on a three-story high screen in stunning surround sound, create a spectacle you won’t forget. The entrance to the planetarium is on Rosentine Street, behind the college campus, just off Clearlake Rd.

10. Exploration Tower at Port Canaveral

670 Dave Nisbet Dr., Cape Canaveral, 321-394-3408

Mon. - Thurs. 10 a.m. - 5 p.m., Fri. - Sat. 10 a.m. - 7 p.m. There is a modest admission fee to access levels above the first floor.

Experience 5,500 square feet of beautiful exhibit space throughout seven floors filled with information about the Space Coast and Port Canaveral. The interactive exhibits explore the history of the Space Coast’s native residents and European settlers. Virtually navigate Port Canaveral and learn about air, space and naval history.

11. Foosaner Art Museum

1463 Highland Ave., Melbourne, 321-242-0737

Call for open days and times. There is a modest admission charge.

The Foosaner Art Museum, formerly the Brevard Art Museum, is located in the Eau Gallie Arts District of Melbourne. The museum has amassed more than 5,000 objects spanning 20 centuries. Rotating exhibitions of nationally and internationally recognized artists showcase trends and historical art movements as do the variety of exhibitions from their large collection.

12. Grant Historical House

5795 South U.S. 1, Grant, 321-723-8543

Tues. - Fri. 10 a.m. - 4 p.m.

In the small town of Grant on U.S. 1, directly on the Indian River Lagoon, inside Fisherman’s Park, the Grant Historical House is a completely restored cracker house built in 1916. Guided tours of the famous house take you back in time to a simpler life.

13. Liberty Bell Museum

1601 Oak St., Melbourne, 321-727-1776

Tues. - Fri. 10 a.m. - 4 p.m., Sat. 10 a.m. - 2 p.m. Donations are accepted.

A most overlooked gem of a military museum in downtown Melbourne, the Liberty Bell Memorial Museum and Melbourne Military Memorial Park is a project of Honor America Inc. located in Wells Park, just west of Hickory Street and south of Hibiscus Blvd.

14. North Brevard Historical Society Museum

301 S. Washington Ave., Titusville, 321-269-3658

Tues. - Sat. 10 a.m. - 3 p.m. Donations are accepted.

This compact museum houses historical artifacts of the early history and settlers of North Brevard. The extensive collection includes early clothing of the period, numerous photos and furniture.

15. Parker Brothers Concepts

730 Mullet Road, Port Canaveral, 321-868-2174

Mon. - Sat. 10 a.m. - 5 p.m. Store admission is free, entry to exhibit area is $10 for adults, $5 for children 6 through 12.

This private company owned by brothers Marc and Shannon Parker is dedicated to designing and building the craziest, most outrageous custom vehicles on the planet, as featured on the SyFy channel. Entry to the exhibit area offers glimpses through glass panels into the garage where the vehicles are created.  

16. Ruth Funk Center for Textile Arts at Florida Institute of Technology

150 W University Blvd, Melbourne, 321-674-8813

Tues. - Fri. 10 a.m. - 4 p.m., Sat. 12 p.m. - 4 p.m. Admission is free. 

The Ruth Funk Center for Textile Arts preserves and displays an international collection of textiles through rotating public exhibitions and educational programs. Highlighting the collection are traditional handmade textiles, embroidery, garments and related accessories from Africa, Japan, India and Central Asia; European and North American embroidery and samplers from the 16th through the 20th centuries. 

Whether you want to learn something new or connect with the past, Brevard museums and other cool attractions have something you, your family and friends will enjoy. 

To check out more than 100 local attractions and day trips Trieste has written about, go to travel.myseniorlife.com.

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