Visiting The Kennedy Space Center With Kids


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I last visited the Kennedy Space Center when CAM was almost 18 months old. We had a great visit. He napped or nursed on the KSC Tour buses, we oohed and aahed at how cute he was tottering between the rockets in the Rocket Garden. Of course I had it on my must-see list of things to see and do for our current trip to Florida.

Yesterday, I spent six hours at Kennedy with an extended family group including five children with ages ranging from three to 13. (The 13-year-old has ADHD and is on a medication vacation, so don’t assume he was just a parental helper. No, our hands were truly full.) Boy, what a wake-up call that was.

I’m not going to go into what you can see and do at Kennedy and why it’s worth a visit (I still think so), there’s plenty of information on the Kennedy Space Center website. Instead, I am going to suggest two things which I think would make a visit to KSC tremendously easier for a family group such as ours.

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Firstly, the bus tour is waaaaay too long. We had unanimous agreement from all the children in our group on this point. Especially because most of the time is spent waiting in line to catch the next bus and particularly because the only stop on the tour which they really enjoyed was the visit to the Apollo/Saturn V Center. There should be a tour which goes to that stop only. Yes, I know that would add logistical complexity into the management of buses and visitors, but I refuse to believe that in the grand scheme of things this isn’t a simple operational research problem for some smart NASA folks. I mean, come on, it’s not rocket science :-).

Secondly, a hunt-the-space-trivia puzzle sheet would have been a huge bonus. I think my children are pretty representative of most very active boys. They loved being at NASA, loved looking at the exhibits but basically exhibited the attention span of a glint of goldfish while dashing through the various exhibit halls. Every time one of them stood still for a second to read about something one of the others would call from a different display with a “Oh, wow! This is so cool!” and they’d be off again. They’re ready and willing to learn all about the evolution of the space program and the shuttle program, a little help to encourage this would be fantastic. I found myself making up questions (“How do astronauts pee in space?” was a particular favorite) and trying to keep track of who’d answered which question. I’m a space novice but I was struggling to come up with questions.

I don’t expect there to be a limitless supply of question sheets and pencils at the entrance to KSC. With the number of visitors to the center daily, I think that really would be too much. But, if there were downloadable PDFs on the NASA or Kennedy Space Center website, I’d be more than happy to have those printed out and ready for my next visit.

On balance, we had a really good day at KSC. The Shuttle Launch Experience was a huge hit with the older boys. The six-year-old balked in the ante-room to the ride, so a warning to parents visiting with children six and under, even if your child meets the height requirements, someone needs to be prepared to wait outside the ride if necessary. My three-year-old niece could have spent all day playing at the Children’s Play Dome. Also, we didn’t have time to visit the IMAX and I know from past experiences of taking my children to space-themed IMAX shows at the Pacific Science Center in Seattle that movies on an extra-large screen with plenty of popcorn are always well received by this discerning demographic.

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About wandermom

". . .life is short and the world is wide" - Simon Raven I'm not sure I've ever consciously planned a trip based on this sentiment, but it definitely influences my subconscious! I've been traveling as frequently and widely as possible since I finished school. And I love it. I love the research, the planning, the fervent packing and the curiosity of exploring somewhere I've never been before. My husband & I are both Irish - as in born-in-Ireland. But we live in Seattle. We have two boys: wild, boisterous, regular boys. So, since becoming a Mom, I've been a WanderMom. Given our slightly-unusual family situation, routine "visits-to-Grandma" are international trips requiring passports, 10hr-flights and (oh joy!) airport transfers. I have rants, raves and opinions about how, where & why to travel with kids (start them as young as you can, I say!). I hope to learn even more by researching topics which other wandermoms may be interested in reading about on this blog. Passports, pacifiers, diapers and gameboys at the ready - off we go! Contact Info: Email Michelle: michelle (at) murphnduff (dot) org

7 thoughts on “Visiting The Kennedy Space Center With Kids

  1. Debbie Ferm

    Hi! Love your site, especially the header:)

    The Kennedy Center is a favorite of my family’s. It seems like since the kids have become preteens and teens, it’s getting harder to find a place to satisfy everyone. The Kennedy Center does.

    I know Orlando and the area is seen as such a mecca for tourism, and it is, but there really are wonderful things to do, and the weather couldn’t be better. Being from Minnesota, I will attest to that.

  2. wandermom Post author

    Hi Debbie,
    Yes, we’ve really been enjoying the sunshine in Florida :)
    And you’re right, there are so many things to do here – my boys especially enjoy the wonderful beaches!

  3. Lora

    This is really great advice. I’ve been to one museum where the fact hunt really made a difference in hooking the kids and getting them to focus. How awesome that you were doing it on the fly. (pun intended) I really appreciate hearing your insight from a mom’s point of view, even more than a recap of the museum.

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  5. Mara Johannsen

    I appreciate you taking the time to write all this up for us; it’s great to hear another point of view. Thanks so much, and I’ll be back for more interesting reading!

  6. Trek Hound

    Interesting piece. I still haven’t made the Astronaut Hall of Fame after three trips. Just an FYI, I did see signs there now for some sort of scavenger hunt for the kids. (It might have been added since you’ve been there.)Not sure what all it entails, but I do think they have a prize or something at the end if the children find all the clues.

    We enjoyed the third stop for the international space station and stopped at the first one because my husband is a space enthusiast and wanted to get some shots and do a short video clip with the launch pad in the background. If I had kids that were not into the long bus rides in between, I would recommend skipping the launch pad stop and just riding on the Saturn V / Apollo exhibit.

    Nice write up. I saw your comment over on my Kennedy Space Center itinerary post on Trek Hound and thought I’d surf on over and check out your article.

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