One of our favorite family travel bloggers, Dave Parfitt from Adventures by Daddy, gives us his insights on historic Cocoa Beach Pier, with a step back in history up through to present beachside celebrations. Follow along with us on his adventure.
The Great Space Race
Each spring I venture from Western New York’s snow belt, to Florida with a group of college students to volunteer at Give Kids The World Village. This alternative spring break trip is to help families with children battling life-threatening illnesses, but even socially-conscious minded college students want a little beach time on spring break.
The sandy stretch closest to Orlando’s theme parks is Cocoa Beach, 55 miles east, and I took the group to Cocoa Beach Pier for a group dinner to celebrate our week of service.
Continue reading for more on our experience at Cocoa Beach Pier, and what you can expect from this family-friendly spot.
The historic Cocoa Beach Pier dates back to 1962 during the height of the space race when throngs of tourists flocked to the area for a glimpse of Apollo rockets streaking towards the heavens –- or possibly a scantily clad genie from “I Dream of Jeannie.” Now owned by Westgate Resorts, the Cocoa Beach Pier recently received a multi-million dollar renovation, and boasts a wide-variety of family-friendly dining and entertainment options. Restaurant options on the pier include the Boardwalk Bar and Restaurant, Keith’s Oyster Bar, Pelican’s Bar & Grill, and Sea Dogs.
Dinner with Beachside Surfer Watching
I took the group to Pelican’s, a family-friendly sports bar with floor to ceiling windows offering views of the ocean and surfers below. Everyone enjoyed fish and shrimp tacos, burgers, salads, and crab – there was plenty of fried seafood and pub snacks to satisfy this 20-something crowd. Oh, and the crispy Bent Arm Ale beer-battered Sidewinder fries were absolutely “to die for.”
After dinner the group dispersed to stroll the pier, soak in the sun, watch the volleyballers, and dip their toes in the surf. I poked through the souvenir shop and boutique and perused the selection of t-shirts, postcards, shells, and other mementos of the area. I enjoyed reading about the history of the Cocoa Beach Pier and insight into the Siegel family who now owns it.
“A large part of my family grew up in the Cocoa Beach area and we have many wonderful memories of the time spent here,” said Pier owner David Siegel. “We are honored to become the custodians of this magnificent landmark and we are fortunate to have the resources necessary to ensure that the legacy of the Pier is protected and renovated in a first-class manner.” A tongue in cheek retro signpost also points the way to local (and not so local) landmarks such as the Kennedy Space Center, Patrick Air Force Base and Cape Canaveral.
The Heart of the Cocoa Beach Community
The Cocoa Beach Pier is also becoming a hub of local events such as the annual celebration in honor of International Surfing Day and the summer solstice in June. The Westgate Cocoa Beach Pier encourages everyone from seasoned surfers to surfing spectators to enjoy the longest daylight hours of the year at the beach through discounted surfboard rentals, specialty food and drink deals and the grand opening of its own surf school, Cocoa Beach Surf School by Flohana.
You can take surfing lessons at the popular spot on Cocoa Beach, known as the East Coast Surfing Capital of the United States. The Cocoa Beach Surf School by Flohana provides a variety of lessons to cater to the type of learning environment preferred, from private and semi-private lessons to group lessons and surf clinics. Experienced instructors offer training covering all aspects of the sport, including water safety and basic board skills. Surfboards are provided and prices vary based on the type of instruction.
If you’re traveling to Orlando and looking for a beach destination, the short excursion to Cocoa Beach is well worth the trip. The historic Cocoa Beach Pier makes an excellent family destination for food, fun, fishing, and frolic in the sand. And if you fall in love like we did, take advantage of discounts to stay a night or two at the Cocoa Beach Homewood Suites by Hilton.
Headed to Orlando after Cocoa Beach? Get discounts to local theme parks and attractions with the Orlando Flex Ticket.
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