If there's a convenient, get-there-easily beach for Central Floridians, that has to be Alan Shepard Beach Park at Cocoa Beach. Named after the first American astronaut sent into space, this five-acre beach has long been a favorite site to view space shuttle launches from nearby Cape Caneveral. But what most people care about when they go there is to have a great beach day, in a clean, safe environment and close to all kinds of stores, eateries and beach bums-related retail shops.
The popular Ron Jon and Cocoa Beach Surf Co. beach stores are barely a stone's throw away from Alan Shepard Beach Park. Seafood restaurants, bars, rock and jazz clubs, supermarkets and drugstores are also close. But it's the user-friendly atmosphere of Shepard Beach that counts for most visitors.
Facilities include a 300-space parking lot, large picnic pavilions, picnic tables, walkways, a bathouse with outdoor showers and restrooms. Alan Shepard Beach Park is located at 4400 Ocean Beach Blvd. in Cocoa Beach. Seasonal lifeguards are on duty.
A well-known landmark on the beach is Canaveral Pier. The 900-foot wooden pier was built at the north edge of the city in 1963 and features a restaurant and lounge complex. Once a hangout for astronauts, the pier now is better known as a mecca for East Coast surfers.
To preserve the coastline, driving is not allowed on the beach, but beachside parking is available. Pets or glass containers are not permitted and the only alcoholic beverage allowed is beer.
For those wanting to put a cultural spin on a trip to the beach, the Brevard Museum is open daily except Mondays at 2201 Michigan Ave. in Cocoa. Among the museum's features are antiques, a marine diorama and exhibits tracing Brevard County history.Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times