John Zarrella is CNN's Miami correspondent. He has been covering space shuttle launches since 1984. Thursday, the Discovery shuttle will make its last mission, sending a crew of six astronauts to the International Space Station.
It's going to be a mess. Just accept that now.
I'm talking about tomorrow's Space Shuttle launch. Be prepared for bumper to bumper traffic and packed hotels and restaurants. With only two, maybe three flights left, hundreds of thousands of people are expected to descend upon Cocoa Beach, Cape Canaveral and Titusville, Florida.
Here's some advice: take plenty of drinks, snacks and maybe sandwiches for the 3:30pm liftoff. You'll need to stake out your viewing spot hours ahead of time and plan on waiting several hours afterward to get out, or you will just sit in traffic.
But, if you're going to be hanging around the area for a few days, there's no reason to relegate yourself to bologna sandwiches. Whenever my team is at the Cape, we have a restaurant ritual and a few favorite haunts. If you promise not to take our table or at least let us join you, we'll share.
She suggested the Portside at Port Canaveral on George King Boulevard for breakfast. Open for breakfast and lunch, it's a spot most tourists don't know about, but this diner still draws a crowd of locals. The portions are big and the food good. Get in there launch day for breakfast or an early lunch and you won't be hungry until well after liftoff.
Really good restaurants line the water at the Port. If you are there at the right time and day, you can watch as the cruise ships head out.
Grills is our favorite on the waterfront. The front of the menu asks, "Where is a good seafood restaurant?" The answer is right there on the table, laden with terrific local seafood. I always go for the fish of the day, usually dolphin - also called mahi mahi. Kim, my producer, likes the lobster.
If fish doesn't reel you in, there are burgers, chicken, salads and wraps. When the weather is nice, grab a table outside. There's a Tiki bar and many nights, a band. Get there early - before six if you can. Otherwise you may easily wait an hour for a table.
Just south of the Port in Cape Canaveral is Thai Thai on Astronaut Boulevard. It's a small place that fills up quickly and their California roll is almost a meal in itself. I've overeaten more than once getting the roll and then opting for the main course - chicken pad Thai. On our last trip to the Cape, my cameraman got the Volcano - baked mixed seafood atop a California roll, slathered in a special sauce. I tried a bite - excellent - and don't worry; it's not as hot as the shuttle's main engines at liftoff.
Head south on A1A into Cocoa Beach for good barbecue, but if you get to Patrick Air Force Base, turn around - you've gone too far. Slow and Low has been a favorite of ours for years. I like the smoked turkey or the chicken with a nice sweet potato. Here too, you can sit inside or out.
Those are just a few of my team's favorites. They'll leave you with plenty of cash in your pocket for the souvenirs at the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Center - just make sure to leave room for dessert: freeze dried ice cream, of course.
And don't forget to enjoy the launch; it's breathtaking.