Escaping to a beach is high on the average person’s what-makes-you-happy list. But not all beaches are the same. We hopped in the van, spur of the moment, and drove east from Orlando for an hour until we crossed the bridge to Canaveral National Seashore. Canaveral—yep! That’s the place where rockets are launched into space!—boasts the longest expanse of pristine shoreline in Florida. Canaveral is a barrier island that provides sanctuary for sea turtles and other endangered things. What Canaveral offers that other beaches don’t is tranquility—there aren’t a lot of people around. You can swim in the ocean, fish in the lagoon, take a walk down a wooded trail. Canaveral is nature meets ocean. Quiet serenity. We lazed about in the whites and blues for a bit. But the calm ocean breeze and the sound of surf rolling and breaking got boring. So we drove south to Cocoa Beach!

Navigating between throngs of beach umbrellas, we found our sandy spot of real estate. Five towels down, buckets and shovels out, screams of delight in the waves. We soaked in the sounds of laughter and music and the buzz that is a busy beach in the late afternoon. We hit the Ron Jon store for some bright sun dresses before we drove back to our condo. The best part for me? Exhausted kids with sunny, freckled cheeks, sandy bodies, and beach-blown hair.

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