Merritt Island, Florida consists of 47.2 square miles of land, marsh, and waterways that separate Brevard's mainland from it's beachside barrier island. Merritt Island stretches from the far north of Brevard County to Melbourne's Eau Gallie Causeway in the south.
Despite it's name, Merritt Island is not an island at all, and never has been. Rather, Merritt Island is a large peninsula bordered on the west by the Indian River Lagoon, and to it's east by the Banana River Lagoon. Central Merritt Island is split by additional waterways including Newfound Harbor and Sykes Creek, which houses the Ulumay Wildlife Sanctuary; making Merritt Island a recreational boater's paradise.
Merritt Island is most famous for being home to Kennedy Space Center, the hub of America’s space program. More than 2.5 million visitors travel to Kennedy Space Center each year to see the latest technological advancements. From the “Rocket Garden,” which displays NASA’s early space crafts, the Apollo and Saturn 5 Center which house the rockets and equipment from the Apollo moon missions, to the Shuttle Launch Experience, Kennedy Space Center visitor complex is out of this world.
Surrounding Kennedy Space Center is the Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge, an unpopulated 140,000-acre protected area, acting as a buffer from Merritt Island's residents and the many rocket launches from Kennedy Space Center. This sanctuary is home to some of the most diverse wildlife in the country, from over 356 species of birds including bald eagles, to alligators, sea turtles, manatees, bob cats and the elusive Florida panther.
Early settlers of Merritt Island cultivated the land, and initially produced pineapples, which later evolved into growing oranges and grapefruit. Orange fields can still be seen passing through north Merritt Island, owned and operated by historic local companies such as Harvey's Groves.
Merritt Island is also home to Brevard County's Veterans Memorial Center and Museum. This non-profit establishment strives to support the welfare and interest of Brevard County's veterans and their families; offering free admission to it's vibrant memorial plaza, library, 82-acre waterfront park on Sykes Creek with fishing pier, and it's museum containing an array of military artifacts from the revolutionary war to present conflicts.
Roughly 34,000 residents call Merritt Island home, and enjoy some of the best shopping and dining Brevard County has to offer. Because of it's central location, Merritt Island contains one of the largest shopping malls in the county, Merritt Square Mall. Here you'll find name brand stores and restaurants such as Macy's, Aéropostale, Outback Steakhouse, and Bonefish Grill.
Nestled in the woods on North Merritt Island sits the oldest house in Brevard County, The Sams Cabin at Pine Island. The home was built in 1875 by John H. Sams, who originally constructed it in Eau Gallie. Deciding to move in 1879, he deconstructed the home, floated it up the Indian River Lagoon, and reassembled it on Merritt Island. The 600-square-foot home housed a family of four adults and six children in three bedrooms. There was no kitchen in the home, as all of the cooking was done outdoors. A larger house was later built in 1888 adjacent to the cabin. Both still stand today and can be toured at the Pine Island Conservation Area.
Merritt Island has also been featured on HGTV's "Dream Home" giveaway. In 2016 the TV network transformed a 3,150-square-foot riverfront home off South Tropical Trail, which was ultimately sold for $1.3 million.