Adjacent to Patrick Space Force Base, Satellite Beach is the largest beachfront community in South Brevard County.
One thing I can tell you is that beaches are prominent in my article. The city has some truly magnificent public beach parks, ready for surfing, fishing, or simply taking it easy on the sand.
In the summer months loggerhead turtles make their nests in this area, and you can join the Sea Turtle Preservation Society for one of their many walks at this time of year.
Tracing the shore and linking these beaches, State Route A1A is considered one of the most scenic stretches of road on Florida’s Atlantic coast.
Wildlife also abounds in the biodiverse Banana River on Satellite Beach’s west side, while manatees show up in their dozens to a neighborhood park in the city in winter.
1. Pelican Beach Park
Satellite Beach’s most visited beach park is open daily from 9 AM until sunset. Pelican Beach Park is centrally located, with a line of eateries close by on A1A.
Of course, the beach and surf are the park’s main draws, but there’s also a variety of amenities to make a day here more comfortable. These include a kids’ playground, beach volleyball courts, and six covered pavilions.
Thanks to its location, Pelican Beach Park hosts a number of community events throughout the year. I’ll talk about one, the Ocean Beach Festival, a little later in this article.
2. Hightower Beach Park
With a lot of great public beach access points in Satellite Beach you’ll have the freedom to move around and find the right one for you.
For one, Hightower Beach park is remarkable for its strange dune formations, with a crossover taking you through a corridor of dense vegetation. Informative signs tell you all about the dune habitat and the sea turtles that nest on the beach in summer.
Given the height of the dunes, there’s a really satisfying vista for miles up and down the shore. When I was at this beach there were rolling waves, ideal for surfing.
3. DeSoto Park Canal for Manatees
This local wildlife viewing spot only comes into its own on the coldest days in winter. On the west side of DeSoto Park in Satellite Beach there’s a small canal, which has become a favored place for manatees to huddle.
You’re most likely to see them when temperatures are below 55 °F. On these days you may be surprised by how many there are, with up to 30 at one count. There are few places in Brevard County where you can see such a concentration of this beloved species.
From what I can tell, the best viewing point is at the north end of the park by the outflow. You might also have some luck from the kayak launch to the south. A word of warning is that crocodiles have also been seen in these waters.
4. Canova Beach Park
The final beach on my list is a breeze away in Indialantic, standing out because you can bring dogs.
Canova Beach Park has a beautiful stretch of shore, popular with swimmers, anglers, and surfers. There are pavilions with built-in grills as well.
The park is open daily from 7 AM until 7 PM, and dog access means you can spend the day here with every member of your family.
If you plan on spending the day with your pooch, you’ll need to bring the correct tags and a license with proof of rabies vaccination. Dogs are also required to remain on leashes.
5. Good Natured River Tours
Berthed close by at Grills Riverside, this eco tour company provides nature-spotting cruises on the Indian River Lagoon. The typical experience with Good Natured River Tours lasts for two hours.
At the wheel of my trip was a licensed Captain with encyclopedic knowledge of the lagoon, its history, and its famously profuse wildlife.
I remember seeing dolphins, alligators and manatees, as well as some of the lavish lagoon-front residences that are only visible from the water.
The boat has indoor and outdoor seats, and there’s Caribbean music, contributing to a laid-back atmosphere.
6. Samsons Island
One of the interesting things about the Banana River is the prevalence of spoil islands.
These are man-made byproducts of dredging work, and have become magnets for wildlife. One can be found at Satellite Beach and has gradually been turned into a passive park.
The only problem is getting there. Samsons Island is only accessible by boat, but fortunately the city runs a free ferry service on the first and third Sunday of the month.
For me, Samsons island is essential for its birdlife. Without moving you’ll see as many as 30 different species, from roseate spoonbills to egrets, great blue herons, horned owls and ospreys.
7. Seagull Park
Heading north, this small, neighborhood beach park is roughly opposite the interaction of SE 1st St along A1A.
A couple of weeks before I showed up at Seagull Park, the amenities had just been renovated. This included a pair of brand new pavilions, handy for a picnic as there’s a few local places to get food along A1A.
There’s a little observation deck with seating on the slope by the crossover, which is ideal if you’re here for the sunrise. As for the beach, it’s untouristy and you’re likely to see a few locals surfing if the conditions are right.
8. Brevard Zoo
From rhinos and tigers to parrots and monkeys, Melbourne’s Brevard Zoo is home to an exotic array of animals from all over the world.
In addition to their animal exhibits, this attraction offers guided tours, staff-led programs, and a children’s water recreation area. This the perfect place for kids to cool off after a long day in the sun.
What grabbed me most of all about Brevard Zoo is the opportunity to be active among the zoo’s habitats. So that means you can go kayaking past the Expedition Africa exhibits, or traverse a high ropes course through rainforest, while looking down on monkeys and jaguars.
There’s also a more relaxed train tour option that’s a big hit with kids. It’s the perfect excuse to sit, relax, take in the splendor, and listen to the informative narration along the way.
9. Hangar’s Beach
If you’re like me and value remoteness in a beach, this public access is a local go-to. Even better, Hangar’s Beach is only a few minutes north on A1A.
The piece of uninhabited shoreline is backed by the Patrick Space Force Base. This means no resorts, restaurants, attractions, or anything for that matter for at least a mile in either direction.
What you do get are occasional low-flying aircraft, which is part of the fun for a lot of people. Between June and October this is an important loggerhead turtle nesting site, and it’s a wonderful spectacle as long as you keep your distance.
10. Sea Turtle Preservation Society
Active in Brevard County for some 40 years, this organization strives to protect sea turtles and their habitat.
In summer, the shoreline in Satellite Beach and neighboring communities is a nesting ground, mainly for loggerhead turtles, and the society organizes public educational programs in this and other seasons.
Check the website for details of upcoming events. When I was in town there was a weekly, expert-led turtle walk at Pelican Park Beach. You could also take part in night walks, taking place at various beaches around South Brevard County.
11. Da Kine Diego’s Insane Burritos
On A1A, Da Kine Diego’s Insane Burritos is a favorite post-beach stop within walking distance of Pelican Beach Park.
What you’ll find is a Hawaian-style surf shack, plastered with stickers for surf brands. As for the food, you’ve got burritos of course, but also bowls, tacos, and sandwiches, with a lot of vegan options.
I got the titular Insane burrito, which comes with jasmine rice, black beans, shaka pico, sour cream, cheese, lettuce, optional cabbage, and your choice of meat (I went for the chicken).
These things are enormous, and represent serious value for money at $11.25, when I wrote this article.
12. Gleason Park
A stone’s throw away in Indian Harbour Beach, Gleason Park is on the Indian River side of the barrier island. I adore this 27-acre park as a serene alternative to the beach, with plentiful shade under the trees.
The main attraction here is a 25-yard swimming pool, primed for lap swimming, and renovated in the 2010s.
There’s a lot more to enjoy, including a lake with a boardwalk and observation pier, as well as a looping exercise trail. On your walk here, see if you can spot one of the park’s gopher tortoises, which are a beloved resident.
13. Route 7 Adrenaline Warehouse
Ten minutes away in Rockledge there’s an indoor entertainment center inside the old Florida Today building. Over 60,000 square feet, Route 7 Adrenaline Warehouse offers a big choice of attractions.
More than a third of the space is taken up by a karting track, using cutting-edge electric karts. These come in four speeds, and the track caters to all ages, starting as young as four years old with the safe Kid Karts.
There’s much more going on at this spot, including axe throwing, laser tag, a high ropes course, mini bowling, a Ninja Warrior-style course, an arcade, and an XD dark ride theater.
14. Manatee Cove Golf Course
The closest golf course is on Patrick Space Force Base, requiring a military ID or civilian pass, which is relatively easy to get.
Opened in 1962 and originally designed by Robert Trent-Jones, Manatee Cove Golf Course added a new 4th hole by Donald Ross in 2004.
With hundreds of palms wafting in the breeze, it’s a stunning place to play a round, representing excellent value for money. Water is ever-present here, coming into play on all but one hole.
There’s also a driving range replicating the course layout, as well as a fully-stocked pro-shop, and a charming tiki bar.
15. Ocean Reef Beach Festival
If you’re around Satellite Beach in winter, I’d make a note of this free event at Pelican Beach Park on the first Saturday in December. The Ocean Reef Beach Festival is billed as a celebration of the ocean lifestyle.
With conservation at its heart, this event combines hands-on educational experiences with live music, food trucks, and close to 100 vendor booths with a focus on ocean-oriented art.
Proceeds go towards the local Kids Dig Gardening nonprofit, and in the spirit of the festival you’re encouraged to get here on foot or by bike if possible.