A Travel Price Comparison for Florida Cocoa Beach vs. Gainesville for Families, Attractions, Food, and Nightlife

Should you visit Cocoa Beach or Gainesville?

Which is cheaper to visit? Which is more expensive for vacation?

Which city should you visit? Read on to compare the activities as well as the prices of travel for Cocoa Beach and Gainesville. We'll break down costs for accommodation, food, transportation and more to help you learn more about these two destinations. Then, you can figure out if either of these two places are accessible based on your travel budget, schedule, and interests. So, let's dig into it.

Cocoa Beach

Cocoa Beach is a fun-filled, relaxing, and adventurous beach town. It's also known for museums, nightlife, and food.

Gainesville

Gainesville is a high energy, active, and vibrant city. It's also popular because of the food, shopping, and museums.

Cocoa Beach and Gainesville: Pros and Cons

Pros
  • Popular museums and historical sights
  • Active nightlife
  • Nice resorts
  • Popular beach
  • Family-friendly
  • Good for couples and romance
Things to Consider
  • Less popular with backpackers
Pros
  • Popular museums and historical sights
  • Active nightlife
  • Good for couples and romance
  • Good for students
Things to Consider
  • Less family-friendly
  • Less popular with backpackers


Is there more to do in Cocoa Beach or Gainesville?

Visitors will usually find more to do in Cocoa Beach than Gainesville, as it offers more sights, attractions, and activities. Cocoa Beach is better known for its food, resorts, and beaches, while Gainesville is more popular for its nightlife. Cocoa Beach is more touristy than Gainesville and is popular for its wonderful surfing waves and its proximity to the Kennedy Space Center. Also, Cocoa Beach is famous for the Kennedy Space Center. Gainesville is well known for being the home of the University of Florida

How is Cocoa Beach different from Gainesville?

Which is Better for a Holiday?

Let's take a look at the differences and similarities between Gainesville and Cocoa Beach. Then, you can decide for yourself which place is better for your next trip.

Are the Museums and Historical Sights Better in Cocoa Beach or Gainesville?

Cocoa Beach
Gainesville

You'll find a number of great museums and attractions in both Gainesville and Cocoa Beach.

Visitors can fill many days exploring the museums and attractions around Cocoa Beach. The town's proximity to the Kennedy Space Center is a big appeal for space enthusiasts. It's easy to take advantage of the great beaches and then spend a day exploring the space center. Also in town is the Florida Surf Museum.

Gainesville offers many unique museums, sights, and landmarks that will make for a memorable trip. There's a surprising number of museums around town such as the Florida Museum of Natural History, the Samuel P. Harn Museum of Art, and the Cade Museum for Creativity and Invention. Also fascinating is the Historic Haile Homestead, the Butterfly Rainforest, and the city's planetarium.


Is the Food Better in Cocoa Beach or Gainesville? Which Destination has the Best Restaurants?

Cocoa Beach
Gainesville

Cocoa Beach is notable for its local cuisine and restaurants. Also, Gainesville is not as famous, but is still a good city to visit for its restaurants.

With its innovative style combined with traditional elements, Cocoa Beach makes for a great culinary experience. Seafood is the obvious choice in this beach town. Head to Westgate Cocoa Beach Pier for some great restaurants. In addition to seafood options, you'll find steakhouses, bistros, and pizza shops.

Gainesville has a delicious restaurant scene that relies on local flavors. Casual eateries are popular around town, particularly with the student population. There are grills, diners, and bistros that serve local dishes at affordable prices.

Is Cocoa Beach or Gainesville Better for Nightlife?

Cocoa Beach
Gainesville

Gainesville is a very popular place for its evening party scene. Also, Cocoa Beach is not quite as popular, but is fairly good for nightlife.

Gainesville has a large number of nightlife venues. The nightlife centers around the student population. The two main party areas are Midtown and Downtown. Midtown is between Northwest 17th Street and Northwest 18th Street and it's convenient for students who live on campus. The area has a great stretch of bars and clubs. The Downtown area has many of the city's top clubs, and it's popular with upperclassmen and students who live off campus.

Cocoa Beach has an active nightlife scene for those who seek it out. You'll find a number of casual pubs, bars, and grills around town where you can grab a drink in a relaxed setting.

Is Cocoa Beach or Gainesville Better for Resorts?

Cocoa Beach
Gainesville

Cocoa Beach is a nice place to visit for its resorts. However, Gainesville is not a resort destination.

Cocoa Beach has a handful of resorts to choose from. There are casual and family-friendly resorts in the area that make for a nice beach vacation.

Gainesville is not a resort destination.


Is Cocoa Beach or Gainesville Better for Beaches?

Cocoa Beach
Gainesville

Cocoa Beach is notable for its beaches. However, Gainesville is not a beach destination.

You'll have a great beach vacation in Cocoa Beach. There are long stretches of sand that are great for swimming, surfing, water sports, or just relaxing in the sun. The most popular area is around Cocoa Beach Pier. For family-friendly, head to James H. Nance Park which also has a playground. If you have a dog, Canova Beach Park is your best option.

Gainesville is not a beach destination.

Is the Shopping Better in Cocoa Beach or Gainesville?

Cocoa Beach
Gainesville

Shoppers can find a variety of notable stores in both Cocoa Beach and Gainesville.

Cocoa Beach has a variety of shopping areas worth visiting. You'll find lots of great local shops as well as malls and beach stores where you can pick up everything you need.

Gainesville is a great destination for shopping. You'll find all of the standard shopping options around town such as malls, shopping centers, and retail outlets. Two popular areas are the Neighborhoods at Butler and Celebration Pointe.

Is Cocoa Beach or Gainesville Better for Families?

Cocoa Beach
Gainesville

Cocoa Beach is very popular for its family-friendly activities. Also, Gainesville is not as famous, but is still a good city to visit for its kid-friendly activities.

Cocoa Beach is an amazing family-friendly beach town to visit. It's right by the Kennedy Space Center, which is a great excursion for kids and adults alike. There's also the Brevard Zoo, amazing beaches, and great parks where the kids can run around.

Gainesville is a family-friendly beach town. You'll find outdoor activities, nature parks, and a couple of museums that will appeal to all ages. Highlights for families include A. Quinn Jones Museum and Cultural Center, the Adventure Outpost, and Alfred A. Ring Park.


Is Cocoa Beach or Gainesville Better for Couples?

Cocoa Beach
Gainesville

Cocoa Beach is notable for romance. Also, Gainesville is not as famous, but is still a good city to visit for its romantic activities.

Cocoa Beach is a very popular place to visit for couples. Beautiful beaches, fun outdoor activities, and great date night activities make this a wonderful couples destination.

Gainesville makes for a fun place to visit for a couple. Couples can enjoy wine tasting and fine dining or enjoying the city's many outdoor activities. Go on a picnic or explore one of the museums in Downtown Gainesville.

Is Cocoa Beach or Gainesville Better for Students?

Cocoa Beach
Gainesville

Gainesville is a very popular place for its student-friendly activities. However, Cocoa Beach is not popular with students.

Many students visit Gainesville. As the location of the University of Florida, you'll find many students around town. This keeps the energy high with plenty of evening activities and affordable entertainment options.

Cocoa Beach is not popular with students.

Is Cocoa Beach or Gainesville Better for Public Transit? Which Is Easier to Get Around Without a Car?

Cocoa Beach
Gainesville

Visitors will find notable public transit in both Cocoa Beach and Gainesville.

Cocoa Beach has some public transit options. You can hop on the Cocoa Beach Trolley to access many sights in the area. It's a service provided by the Space Coast Area Transit (SCAT).

You'll find some public transit in Gainesville, but it may not be enough to take you everywhere. There's a decent bus system that's free to students and employees of the university.


Is Cocoa Beach or Gainesville a more walkable city?

Cocoa Beach
Gainesville

Cocoa Beach and Gainesville are notable when it comes to walkability.

Cocoa Beach is a somewhat walkable beach town. For the most walkable areas stay near the town center. In general, you'll want to have a car to access most of what the area has to offer though.

Gainesville is somewhat walkable. Biking is actually a popular way to get around town and some areas are pedestrian-friendly.

For even more information, also check out Is Cocoa Beach Worth Visiting? and Is Gainesville Worth Visiting?.

Should I spend more time in Gainesville or Cocoa Beach?

How long in Cocoa Beach or Gainesville?

You'll be able to find lots of things to do in Cocoa Beach or Gainesville to fill your time. Many travelers usually spend more of their time in Cocoa Beach than Gainesville because of the number of activities and things to do in the area. Usually, 2-5 days is a good amount of time for Cocoa Beach, and 1-2 days is enough time in Gainesville.

Families should spend more time in Cocoa Beach than Gainesville. Because of the many family-friendly attractions and fun things to do for kids in Cocoa Beach, it's a great place to visit with the whole family.

Couples should spend more time in Cocoa Beach than Gainesville. You'll find plenty of romantic sights and fun activities in Cocoa Beach that are great for a weekend getaway or a longer couple's trip.


  • How many days in Cocoa Beach or Gainesville? Ideal Length of Stay
    Cocoa Beach 2-5 
    Gainesville 1-2

One day in Cocoa Beach or Gainesville?

Visitors enjoy the nightlife and food when visiting the fun-filled beach town of Cocoa Beach. It's also a great beach destination, too. One day is usually not enough time for a trip here as there is plenty to do. The entire region has so many activities, and you'll want time to do everything.

Visitors enjoy the nightlife and food when visiting the vibrant city of Gainesville. One day should give you a good understanding of everything this city has to offer. The entire region has so many activities, and you'll want time to do everything.

A weekend in Cocoa Beach or Gainesville?

Visitors enjoy the food and shopping when visiting the adventurous destination of Cocoa Beach. It's a great spot for a beach vacation. This beach town offers something for everyone. Plenty of people spend a weekend in the area when traveling. If you enjoy all that's offered here, then a weekend is just the right amount of time to spend here.

Visitors enjoy the food and shopping when visiting the high energy destination of Gainesville. This city offers something for everyone. Plenty of people spend a weekend in the area when traveling. If you enjoy all that's offered here, then a weekend is just the right amount of time to spend here.


Five days in Cocoa Beach or Gainesville?

Visitors enjoy the shopping and museums when visiting the fun-filled beach town of Cocoa Beach. You'll find plenty of activities on the beach. Many people spend five days here.If you enjoy all that's offered here, then five days is just the right amount of time to spend here. The length of your trip often depends on your style of travel.

The active city of Gainesville offers shopping and museums. Five days may feel like too much time unless you plan to do a lot of relaxing. The length of your trip often depends on your style of travel.

A week in Cocoa Beach or Gainesville?

Many people enjoy the museums and nightlife when visiting Cocoa Beach. Anyone can find something fun to do here. Most people come for the beaches. Most people find that one week is more than enough time to see everything.

Many people enjoy the museums and nightlife when visiting Gainesville. Anyone can find something fun to do here. Most people find that one week is more than enough time to see everything.


Which place is cheaper, Gainesville or Cocoa Beach?

These are the overall average travel costs for the two destinations.

The average daily cost (per person) in Cocoa Beach is $145, while the average daily cost in Gainesville is $221. These costs include accommodation (assuming double occupancy, so the traveler is sharing the room), food, transportation, and entertainment. While every person is different, these costs are an average of past travelers in each destination. What follows is a categorical breakdown of travel costs for Cocoa Beach and Gainesville in more detail.



Accommodation
  • Accommodation Hotel or hostel for one person
    Cocoa Beach $85
    Gainesville $119
  • Accommodation Typical double-occupancy room
    Cocoa Beach $170
    Gainesville $238
Compare Hotels in Cocoa Beach and Gainesville

Looking for a hotel in Cocoa Beach or Gainesville? Prices vary by location, date, season, and the level of luxury. See below for options and compare which is best for your budget and travel style.

Hotels in Cocoa Beach


Hotels in Gainesville


Kayak helps you find the best prices for hotels, flights, and rental cars for destinations around the world. Compare prices for multiple destinations when planning your next trip.


Our Analysis
We've analyzed the average and typical hotel prices based on guest reviews, star ratings, and hotel amenities here: Cocoa Beach Hotel Prices and Gainesville Hotel Prices.

Local Transportation
  • Local Transportation Taxis, local buses, subway, etc.
    Cocoa Beach $26
    Gainesville $40

Hired Cars and Shuttles in Cocoa Beach

Also for Cocoa Beach, here are a few examples of actual transportation services:

  • Cocoa Beach/Cape Canaveral Hotel transfers : $47
  • Private Arrival Transfer from Melbourne Airport to Melbourne City: $72
  • Private Transfer from Melbourne to Port Canaveral: $218
  • Private Transfer from Cocoa to Orlando (MCO) Airport: $280
  • Private Transfer from Cocoa Beach to Orlando (MCO) Airport: $280
  • Private Transfer from Melbourne to Orlando (MCO) Airport: $282
  • Private Transfer from Melbourne to Orlando-Sanford (SFB) Airport: $296

Is it cheaper to fly into Cocoa Beach or Gainesville?

Prices for flights to both Gainesville and Cocoa Beach change regularly based on dates and travel demand. We suggest you find the best prices for your next trip on Kayak, because you can compare the cost of flights across multiple airlines for your prefered dates.





Food
  • Food Meals for one day
    Cocoa Beach $43
    Gainesville $70

Food Tours and Cooking Classes in Cocoa Beach

For Cocoa Beach, here are some samples of tours and activities related to meals and dining experiences:

  • Guided Walking Food Tour in Cocoa Beach: $79
  • 3-Hour Indian River Queen Cruise with Dinner: $79
  • Guided Walking Food Tour in Cocoa Beach: $79
  • Village Food Tours Lunch & History Tour: $100

Typical Food Prices in Gainesville

Some typical examples of dining costs in Gainesville are as follows:


  • Diner Breakfast for Two
    $17
  • Lunch at Chop Stix (for 2)
    $24

Entertainment
  • Entertainment Entrance tickets, shows, etc.
    Cocoa Beach $16
    Gainesville $44

Tours and Activities in Cocoa Beach

For Cocoa Beach, here are a few prices for actual activities, tours, and tickets provided by various companies:

  • Unique Scavenger Hunt Experience in Palm Bay by 3Quest Challenge: $10
  • Sunset Cruise on the Beautiful Banana River: $40
  • Cocoa Beach Dolphin Tours on the Banana River: $40
  • Dolphin Tours along and near the beautiful Indian River Lagoon : $40
  • Indian River Clear Bottom Kayak or Paddleboarding Manatee and Dolphin Tour : $45
  • Dolphin Tour with Local Expert: $45
  • Wildlife Refuge Dolphin, Manatee & Mangrove Kayak or Paddleboarding Tour!: $45
  • Thousand Islands Mangrove Tunnel Kayak Tour with Cocoa Kayaking!: $45
  • Manatee and Dolphin Kayak Tour: $45
  • 2 hour Dolphin Sightseeing Tour in Melbourne Florida : $45
  • Wildlife Refuge Sunset Dolphin, Manatee & Mangrove Kayak or Paddleboarding Tour!: $48
  • Dolphin and Manatee Kayak or Paddle Tour: $49

Typical Entertainment Prices in Gainesville

Some typical examples of activities, tours, and entrance ticket prices in Gainesville are as follows:


  • Manatee Tour for Two
    $98
  • Tour Guide Tip
    $5.00

Tours and Activities in Gainesville

Some specific costs of activities, tours, and entrance tickets for Gainesville are as follows:

  • Butterfly Rainforest at Florida Museum of Natural History Ticket: $15
  • Private Snorkeling Tour in Florida Springs: $250
  • Unique Scavenger Hunt Experience in Gainesville by Operation City Quest: $10

Alcohol
  • Alcohol Drinks for one day
    Cocoa Beach $20
    Gainesville $49

Sample the Local Flavors in Cocoa Beach

Here are a few nightlife and alcohol tours and activities from local tour providers in Cocoa Beach:

  • Melbourne Bar Hunt: Melbourne Breakout Bar Crawl: $12
  • Waterfront Happy Hour Bar Crawl: $39


When we compare the travel costs of actual travelers between Cocoa Beach and Gainesville, we can see that Gainesville is more expensive. And not only is Cocoa Beach much less expensive, but it is actually a significantly cheaper destination. So, traveling to Cocoa Beach would let you spend less money overall. Or, you could decide to spend more money in Cocoa Beach and be able to afford a more luxurious travel style by staying in nicer hotels, eating at more expensive restaurants, taking tours, and experiencing more activities. The same level of travel in Gainesville would naturally cost you much more money, so you would probably want to keep your budget a little tighter in Gainesville than you might in Cocoa Beach.

If you're trying to decide if either of these two destinations are within your price range, also see Is Cocoa Beach Expensive? and Is Gainesville Expensive?.


Which is Bigger, Cocoa Beach or Gainesville?

Gainesville has a larger population, and is about 10 times larger than the population of Cocoa Beach. When comparing the sizes of Cocoa Beach and Gainesville, keep in mind that a larger population does not always imply the destination has more attractions or better activities. So, always research the type of place that you want to visit along with the activities and attractions that interest you.


When is the best time to visit Cocoa Beach or Gainesville?

Both places have a temperate climate with four distinct seasons. As both cities are in the northern hemisphere, summer is in July and winter is in January.

Should I visit Cocoa Beach or Gainesville in the Summer?

The summer brings many poeple to Cocoa Beach as well as Gainesville. Many visitors come to Cocoa Beach in the summer for the beaches and the family-friendly experiences. Also, most visitors come to Gainesville for the family-friendly experiences during these months.

In the summer, Cocoa Beach is around the same temperature as Gainesville. Typically, the summer temperatures in Cocoa Beach in July average around 81°F (27°C), and Gainesville averages at about 81°F (27°C).

It's quite rainy in Gainesville. Cocoa Beach receives a lot of rain in the summer. Cocoa Beach usually gets more rain in July than Gainesville. Cocoa Beach gets 8.3 inches (211 mm) of rain, while Gainesville receives 6.8 inches (174 mm) of rain this time of the year.


  • Summer Average Temperatures July
    Cocoa Beach 81°F (27°C) 
    Gainesville 81°F (27°C)

Should I visit Cocoa Beach or Gainesville in the Autumn?

Both Gainesville and Cocoa Beach are popular destinations to visit in the autumn with plenty of activities. Most visitors come to Cocoa Beach for the shopping scene during these months. Also, the autumn months attract visitors to Gainesville because of the shopping scene.

In October, Cocoa Beach is generally a little warmer than Gainesville. Daily temperatures in Cocoa Beach average around 77°F (25°C), and Gainesville fluctuates around 71°F (22°C).

It's quite rainy in Cocoa Beach. In October, Cocoa Beach usually receives more rain than Gainesville. Cocoa Beach gets 4.1 inches (103 mm) of rain, while Gainesville receives 2 inches (51 mm) of rain each month for the autumn. June to November is the hurricane season in Cocoa Beach. June to November is the hurricane season in Gainesville.


  • Autumn Average Temperatures October
    Cocoa Beach 77°F (25°C) 
    Gainesville 71°F (22°C)

Should I visit Cocoa Beach or Gainesville in the Winter?

Both Gainesville and Cocoa Beach during the winter are popular places to visit. The winter months attract visitors to Cocoa Beach because of the museums, the shopping scene, and the cuisine. Furthermore, the museums, the shopping scene, and the cuisine are the main draw to Gainesville this time of year.

Cocoa Beach is a little warmer than Gainesville in the winter. The daily temperature in Cocoa Beach averages around 63°F (17°C) in January, and Gainesville fluctuates around 54°F (12°C).

Cocoa Beach usually gets less rain in January than Gainesville. Cocoa Beach gets 2.3 inches (58 mm) of rain, while Gainesville receives 2.9 inches (75 mm) of rain this time of the year.


  • Winter Average Temperatures January
    Cocoa Beach 63°F (17°C) 
    Gainesville 54°F (12°C)

Should I visit Cocoa Beach or Gainesville in the Spring?

The spring attracts plenty of travelers to both Cocoa Beach and Gainesville. The beaches are the main draw to Cocoa Beach this time of year.

In the spring, Cocoa Beach is a little warmer than Gainesville. Typically, the spring temperatures in Cocoa Beach in April average around 73°F (23°C), and Gainesville averages at about 69°F (20°C).

In April, Cocoa Beach usually receives more rain than Gainesville. Cocoa Beach gets 2.7 inches (69 mm) of rain, while Gainesville receives 2 inches (50 mm) of rain each month for the spring. June to November in Cocoa Beach is the hurricane season. June to November in Gainesville is the hurricane season.


  • Spring Average Temperatures April
    Cocoa Beach 73°F (23°C) 
    Gainesville 69°F (20°C)

Typical Weather for Gainesville and Cocoa Beach

Cocoa Beach Gainesville
Temp (°C) Rain (mm) Temp (°C) Rain (mm)
Jan 63°F (17°C) 2.3 inches (58 mm) 54°F (12°C) 2.9 inches (75 mm)
Feb 62°F (17°C) 3 inches (75 mm) 57°F (14°C) 4.5 inches (115 mm)
Mar 67°F (20°C) 3.5 inches (88 mm) 63°F (17°C) 3.3 inches (83 mm)
Apr 73°F (23°C) 2.7 inches (69 mm) 69°F (20°C) 2 inches (50 mm)
May 77°F (25°C) 3 inches (75 mm) 75°F (24°C) 3.1 inches (79 mm)
Jun 80°F (26°C) 7.1 inches (181 mm) 80°F (26°C) 6.8 inches (174 mm)
Jul 81°F (27°C) 8.3 inches (211 mm) 81°F (27°C) 6.8 inches (174 mm)
Aug 81°F (27°C) 6.7 inches (171 mm) 81°F (27°C) 8.3 inches (211 mm)
Sep 81°F (27°C) 7.2 inches (183 mm) 78°F (26°C) 5.5 inches (139 mm)
Oct 77°F (25°C) 4.1 inches (103 mm) 71°F (22°C) 2 inches (51 mm)
Nov 69°F (21°C) 1.6 inches (40 mm) 63°F (17°C) 2.4 inches (61 mm)
Dec 64°F (18°C) 1.9 inches (48 mm) 56°F (14°C) 2.9 inches (74 mm)