By  Mike Miller  Updated January 4, 2024

Cocoa, Florida Things To Do, Lodging, Dining, & Real Estate At End Of Article

Cocoa, Florida is about one hour east of Orlando on SR-528, also known as the Martin Andersen Beachline Expressway because it ends up in Cocoa Beach. It has a population of about 19,000.

You do not go through any Florida towns along the way from Orlando.  It a straight shot across rural lands to the white sand beaches of Brevard County.

We old timers knew it as the Beeline Expressway until the PR people got involved.  They wanted the Orlando tourists to know where the beach was.

Mariner Square, Cocoa Village, FloridaMariner Square, Cocoa Village, Florida

They didn't really care if people knew that Martin Andersen was the former publisher of the Orlando Sentinel who helped keep the secret of the land purchases being assembled for Walt Disney World.

Cocoa is in the heart of Brevard County and the Space Coast. Take the bridges across the Indian and Banana Rivers and you will be in Cocoa Beach.


Cocoa was founded by early settlers, mostly fishermen, before the Civil War. The area was first called Indian River City, but the U.S. Postal Department said the name was too long.

How Cocoa Got Its Mail and (probably) Its Name

Several stories still circulate among Cocoa old timers as to how the town got its name.

The version I prefer is the one that said the mail used to come by river boat and was placed in an empty tin box labeled Baker's Cocoa.  The box was nailed to a piling in the river next to downtown.

One of the earliest hotels in the area was Cocoa House. It was located on the Indian River lagoon in downtown Cocoa. The photo below is courtesy of the State Archives of Florida.

The Cocoa House Cocoa FloridaCocoa House Vintage Postcard

In any event, the good citizens got the U.S. Postal Department to accept the name, and the rest is history. It has been called Cocoa since 1884.

The town was a typical little Florida fishing village until the U.S. government started buying up all the land across the Indian River on North Merritt Island.

This was in Sputnik Cold War era of the 1950's, and they would create a huge missile base. Cocoa's population would soon boom and so would Cocoa Beach.

Kennedy Space Center changed the nature of Cocoa Florida and Brevard County forever. The County grew from 23,653 people in 1950 to 230,006 by 1970.

No other place in the United States had ever grown that fast. It may still be a record.

The huge population explosion resulted in a lot of problems. Schools were overcrowded, roads and bridges were congested, and there was a huge housing shortage.

The federal government didn't do much to help; it was left to the County and State to solve the problems, along with private developers.

Those problems have been largely solved since the bad old days. It is a fun place to visit and a great place to live.


Today, in 2023, Brevard County has about 602,000 people.

I lived in Brevard County for many years, and have seen much of its transformation. One of the nicest changes has been the rebirth of Cocoa Village.

This is the name of downtown Cocoa, and it began to redevelop in the early 1970's. What was then a drab little downtown was converted into a beautiful pedestrian oriented village of shops and restaurants.

One of the old landmarks that survived for awhile after the development of Cocoa Village was the Brevard Hotel on the Indian River.

Brevard Hotel in the 1940sBrevard Hotel, Cocoa, Florida 1940s

The reborn downtown area attracted several large condominium projects, and the wrecking ball made short work of the old Brevard Hotel and it was replaced by a modern condominium, Oleander Pointe.

Oleander Pointe, Cocoa, FloridaOleander Pointe, Cocoa, Florida

Cocoa has done a good job of restoring and preserving many of its old buildings. The Cocoa Village Playhouse is a good example.

Cocoa Village PlayhouseCocoa Village Playhouse

The theater looks very much today as it does in the historic photo above when it was known as the Aladdin Theater. 

It is on the National Register of Historic Places and provides excellent community theater and performing arts.

Learn more at Cocoa Village Playhouse

One of the historic places I love to visit in downtown Cocoa is Travis Hardware.  It is formally known as the S.F. Travis Hardware Co. and has been in business since 1892. 

This old fashioned hardware store is still owned and managed by the same family. Travis "Mac" Osborne is the current owner and has run it since 1983.

Travis Hardware A Long Time AgoTravis Hardware A Long Time Ago

The store has more than 3,000 house accounts, many of whom are third and fourth generation customers.  The store is still operating in the original building with high tin ceilings and old fashioned rolling ladders.

The store has no air conditioning. They do a lot of special orders, but also have plenty of good things in stock.  If they don't have it, they can get it for you.

Travis Hardware in CocoaTravis Hardware in Cocoa

Almost 50 years ago I kept my boat at Whitley's Marina a block or two away on Delannoy Avenue. 

I could usually get what I needed from Travis without having to go to a more expensive marine supply store.

One time I bought an old fashioned galvanized oval washtub to give baths to Duke, my German Shepherd.

It makes me happy to know this great old place is still in business.

Cocoa is within an easy half hour drive of all major areas of interest in Brevard County.

Cocoa Beach and Cape Canaveral are to the east, Rockledge, Melbourne and Palm Bay to the south, and Titusville to the north.

Kennedy Space Center is a short drive to the north.

The drive along the west side of the Indian River from Williams Point through Cocoa Village and down to Bonaventure is one of the most beautiful stretches of Florida you will ever see. 

Read more about this and other Scenic Drives in Central East Florida.

Cocoa Beach PierCocoa Beach Pier


  • Kennedy Space Center, SR-405, Kennedy Space Center, FL. Plenty of exhibits and tours. The kids especially love this place. Tel: 866-737-5235
  • Brevard Zoo , 8225 North Wickham Road, Melbourne, FL. The zoo is home to more than 550 animals representing 165 species from North and South America, Australia and Africa.
  • Cocoa Beach Pier, 401 Meade Avenue, Cocoa Beach. A Historical Landmark on the Florida Space Coast. Good shops, food, and people watching. It is one half mile north of SR-520 just off SR-A1A.

As mentioned earlier, if you are in Orlando, take the Beach Line to Cocoa.  If you are on I-95, take Exit 202 and follow SR-520 east into downtown Cocoa.



Cafe Margaux
220 Brevard Avenue

Cocoa, Florida 32922 
Tel: 321-639-8343 

Cafe Margaux is in the heart of Cocoa Village, a great place to take in the sights, shopping, dining and entertainment.

Cafe MargeauxCafe Margeaux

When I'm visiting the village, I always try to have lunch or dinner here.  It is a great place for fine upscale dining.

Even though I've lived in Florida most of my life, I always wear long pants when dining at this upscale restaurant.  

Depending on the time of year, if it's not too cold or too hot, it's fun to dine outside in their beautiful patio.

Everything here is delicious, especially their seafood. You can usually find grouper, salmon and mahi on the menu.



Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex
Space Commerce Way, Merritt Island, FL 32953 | (855) 433-4210

This world-renowned attraction mentioned earlier is not just a museum; it's an interactive gateway to space exploration. Visitors can stand nose-to-nose with the Space Shuttle Atlantis, walk under the massive Saturn V rocket, and even meet an astronaut.

The shuttle launch simulation offers a thrilling glimpse of what astronauts experience during takeoff. Our favorite part? The breathtaking IMAX movies that transport you into the vastness of space. It’s an unforgettable experience that inspires dreamers of all ages.

Historic Cocoa Village
434 Delannoy Ave, Cocoa, FL 32922 | (321) 631-9075

This charming district invites you to stroll through streets lined with vintage buildings, unique shops, and cozy cafes. The Village Playhouse regularly hosts performances in a quaint, intimate setting, offering a cultural slice of Cocoa.

Art festivals and craft fairs fill the streets with local creativity throughout the year. Our favorite pastime here is simply wandering the tree-lined avenues, soaking in the atmosphere, and perhaps finding that perfect souvenir or handmade treasure in one of the many boutiques.

Brevard Museum of History and Natural Science
2201 Michigan Ave, Cocoa, FL 32926 | (321) 632-1830

This museum offers a fascinating look at the region's rich history, from its indigenous peoples to the space age, and features extensive natural science exhibits. Don't miss the interactive Ice Age exhibit, home to a fully reconstructed mammoth and a saber-tooth cat.

Our favorite spot? The museum's nature trails, where you can enjoy a peaceful walk amidst native Floridian flora and fauna. It’s a great way to combine education with relaxation.

Cocoa Village Playhouse aka The Aladdin Theater
300 Brevard Ave, Cocoa, FL 32922 | (321) 636-5050

This historic playhouse, affectionately known as "Broadway on Brevard," hosts a wide range of musicals and plays in a beautifully restored 1920s setting. The talent is always top-notch, and the ambiance transports you to another era.

Whether you're a fan of classic musicals or modern dramas, there's something here to captivate you. Our favorite aspect is the playhouse's dedication to community involvement, offering local talents a stage to shine.

Porcher House
434 Delannoy Ave, Cocoa, FL 32922 | (321) 639-3500

Built in 1916, this elegant Colonial Revival home is now a venue for weddings, teas, and community events. With its beautiful antiques and period decorations, a visit feels like stepping into a bygone era.

The house also offers a lovely view of the Indian River, making it a picturesque spot for a leisurely afternoon. Our favorite time to visit is during one of their themed tea parties, where you can enjoy delicious treats in a historic setting.

Lee Wenner Park
300 Riveredge Blvd, Cocoa, FL 32922 | (321) 633-1874

This peaceful riverside park is the perfect spot for a family picnic or a leisurely fishing afternoon. With boat ramps, a boardwalk, and pavilions, it's a favorite among locals for both relaxation and recreational activities.

The views of the Indian River are spectacular, especially at sunset. A favorite activity here is launching a kayak to explore the tranquil waters, a serene way to connect with nature and escape the hustle and bustle of daily life. Picnic tables available. Dogs allowed.


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