The sunny city of Melbourne, Florida lies southeast of Orlando on the India River Lagoon. A portion of the city is on the South Beach’s barrier island. Moreover, two causeways connect the mainland with the beautiful white sand beaches of Florida’s coast. Popular activities at Melbourne include golfing, swimming, sunbathing, fishing, and water sports. Located a short distance up the coast, NASA’s Kennedy Space Center offers fascinating exhibits about the history of space flight. Several nearby nature reserves allow visitors to go bird-watching and observe wildlife. Find your ideal Melbourne vacation rental, and book a stay today. Here are several of the most incredible spots in and around Melbourne.

1. Melbourne/North Side

Vacation rentals on the north side of Melbourne have convenient access to Brevard Zoo, which displays animals from all over the world. Among its unique features are opportunities to visit the exhibits by kayak or paddle boat, a train ride, and a special contact yard where children can interact with some of the animals. Golf enthusiasts can play 18 holes at Mallards Landing Municipal Golf Course or Suntree Country Club. Wickham Park contains almost 400 acres of lakes and pine forests with trails for hiking and horseback riding, swimming areas, picnic tables, and sports facilities.

2. Melbourne/West Side

The west side of Melbourne adjoins Lake Washington, the largest lake in the region, where you can enjoy boating and fishing. Following trails along the lakeshore provides opportunities for bird watching. Nearby is the River Lakes Conservation Area, a large expanse of several lakes, the St. Johns River, wetlands, and grassy meadows. Activities include hiking, cycling, canoeing, fishing, and boating. You can observe wildlife such as bald eagles, wood storks, sandhill cranes, and river otters.

3. Melbourne/East Side

The east side of Melbourne, which lies on the South Beaches barrier island facing the clean blue waters of the Atlantic Ocean, is the perfect place to swim and catch some sun. Paradise Beach Park is a family-friendly area with showers, restrooms, lifeguards, and volleyball courts. Canova Beach Park has boardwalks crossing over dunes to get to the beach. It allows dogs and features a picnic area with grills and a pavilion.

4. Central Melbourne

In the center of Melbourne, the Eau Gallie Arts District has a walking tour that highlights numerous historic buildings and art galleries. The impressive Foosaner Art Museum of the Florida Institute of Technology has a large permanent and rotating collection focusing on historical and contemporary art. The Rossetter House Museum and Gardens highlights local history, and the Liberty Bell Memorial Museum celebrates American history with an emphasis on the U.S. Armed Forces.

5. Melbourne/South Side

On the south side of Melbourne are two popular golf courses, Crane Creek Reserve and Palm Gardens Golf Course. Kids of all ages will enjoy Andretti Thrill Park, which includes go-karts, laser tag, mini-golf, a large gaming arcade, and many other rides and attractions.

6. Palm Bay

The city of Palm Bay lies just south of Melbourne. Its many parks, golf courses, aquatic center, and recreational facilities make it an attractive spot for vacation rentals. Along the lovely bay are spectacular views, eclectic shops, and renowned restaurants. From its marinas, you can charter boats to enjoy water sports or go fishing on the open ocean.

7. Melbourne Beach

The town of Melbourne Beach is east of Melbourne on the South Beaches barrier island. Its long sandy beach is great for swimming, sunbathing, and snorkeling. The town pier, which is listed on the U.S. National Register of Historic Places, extends far out into the Indian River Lagoon. On its south side, Coconut Point Park is a popular spot for beachcombing, surfing, fishing, and bird watching. It’s also a protected nesting ground for sea turtles.

8. Satellite Beach

The town of Satellite Beach is north of Melbourne on the South Beaches barrier island. It has almost eight miles of shoreline on the Atlantic Ocean to the east, the Banana River to the west, and navigable canals within the town. Gemini Beach Park, Pelican Beach Park, and Hightower Beach Park offer long stretches of dunes and white sand beach for swimming, sunbathing, and water fun. Samson’s Island in the Indian River Lagoon, accessible only by boat, is a paradise for wildlife observation and bird watching. The Atlantic beaches and offshore waters are also havens for rare loggerhead sea turtles, green sea turtles, and Atlantic right whales.

9. Cocoa Beach

The beautiful resort city of Cocoa Beach is north of Satellite Beach on the South Beaches barrier island. It’s renowned for its lovely beaches, fine dining, water sports, and other attractions. Historic Cocoa Beach Pier hosts gift shops, bars, and restaurants and is a great fishing spot. The town is also famous for its surf shops and annual surfing festivals and contests. From its marinas, you can book cruises or charter boats for fishing or whale watching.

10. Cape Canaveral

North of Cocoa Beach, vacation rentals in the town of Cape Canaveral have access to long beautiful sand beaches and lovely wildlife refuges. The town’s dominating feature is the Kennedy Space Center, which has its numerous attractions divided into Mission Zones. Heroes and Legends celebrates the astronauts and scientists that made the space program possible. Race to the Moon highlights the Apollo era. Other zones focus on historic launch sites, the space shuttle program, and the history of NASA.

11. Merritt Island

Merritt Island, which is actually a peninsula just north of Melbourne, lies between the South Beaches barrier island and mainland Florida. It’s the home of the Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge, a large expanse of woodlands, scrub, dunes, and marsh that protects many species of endangered animals. Birds in the refuge include bald eagles, ospreys, roseate spoonbills, herons, and ibises. You can also observe Florida panthers, bobcats, alligators, and manatees.