Greetings Mouseketeers and Wizards of the world, and welcome to Kissimmee, Fla., a city of around 70,000 residents just south of metropolitan Orlando. Most visitors end up in the Kissimmee area because of the Walt Disney World® Resort, Universal Orlando Resort, SeaWorld® Orlando, and LEGOLAND® Florida parks. Amid world-class roller coasters and award-winning shows and attractions, princesses, house elves and droids alike find themselves quite at home in Central Florida.
Things to Do in Kissimmee Florida
One of the most common questions we get as travel experts based in Florida is, “What else is there to do in Orlando / Kissimmee besides theme parks?”
Good news – there’s a ton to do in this area and you never have to set foot in a park or buy a single pair of rhinestone-bedazzled mouse ears if you don’t want to.
Whether it’s your first time at Disney or you’re the most avid theme park fan, sometimes you need a break from the crowds and the kids. That’s why on our latest family vacation to Kissimmee, we broke the mold and skipped the theme parks entirely. Come along as we explore a different side of Central Florida!
Explore the Headwaters of the Florida Everglades
Most folks think the Florida Everglades are confined to South Florida, but that’s not the case! They actually start right here in Kissimmee, Florida. The headwaters begin at Shingle Creek, flowing through Lake Tohopekaliga (nicknamed Lake Toho) and past bald eagles, osprey, herons, alligators and deer.
Our favorite way to get up close and personal with Kissimmee’s wildest residents is by boat. You can hop on an airboat at Boggy Creek Airboat Adventures (watch us do it!) or take a guided kayak tour with The Paddling Center on Shingle Creek. The kayak experience gives you a chance to meander through quiet cypress forests, encountering birds, turtles and possibly even gators if you’re lucky. (Don’t worry – they’re more scared of you than you are of them!)
Tours You Might Like:
Frolic in the Idyllic Town of Celebration
Can you believe this was our first visit ever to Celebration? The town came to be in the early 1990s, designed by the Disney company. Currently the population is less than 10,000, but they appear to be some of the happiest townspeople on earth.
To explore Celebration, you can easily drive around the perfectly planned streets, but if the weather’s nice, consider a bike tour with Celebration Bike Rental. You can go on your own or take a guided tour of the multimillion dollar homes, creeks and ponds brimming with wildlife and unique architecture. Along the way, you can stop for a bite to eat, take a cooking class at U Can Cook or treat Fido to a confection from Woof Gang Bakery & Grooming.
If you can, plan to visit during one of Celebration’s events to get a real peek into life in this ideal town. They host Oktoberfest, a Posh Pooch festival and a huge Independence Day celebration on the 4th of July.
Want to stay in Celebration? Check out pricing and availability for the best hotels here.
Splash Around at Island H2O Live!
Ok, I know I said we weren’t exploring the theme parks during this weekend in Kissimmee, BUT we made an exception to try out a new water park, Island H2O Live!. Billed as the most technologically advanced waterpark in the world, we couldn’t pass this one up. With attractions named Hashtag Heights, Profile Plunge and Reload Rapids, it’s clear this park was designed with a modern consumer in mind! Our favorites were the swirly, whirly group slides where we could all go together (zoom in on me, shrieking all the way). The guys loved racing each other on Reply Racers.
Have you ever watched college football on a big screen from a wave pool? If that sounds like an ideal way to spend a Saturday afternoon, then head to Island H2O Live! on Saturdays. They also feature Current Saturdays Night Swim – Ultra Pool Party, so you can swim, slide and dance the night away.
The cool thing about water parks in Central Florida? They are open year round! If you’re visiting in the winter though, check to make sure the park is open on the day you plan to visit, as they do close if the temperature drops too low.
Book an Amazing Vacation Rental in Kissimmee
Did you know that Kissimmee, Florida, is the Vacation Home Capital of the World? There are 22,000 houses, villas and condos to choose from, just in Osceola County. Whether you’re traveling on a romantic weekend for two or bringing the whole family down, there are vacation rentals to suit every group of every size.
On our recent trip to Kissimmee, we stayed at Reunion Resort just down the road from Disney. Reunion comprises a selection of 1-13 bedroom homes and a traditional hotel. No matter which accommodations you choose, you get all the fun of a fully equipped resort – so playgrounds, a water park, rooftop restaurant with views of the Disney fireworks, pools, a golf course. And if you’re in a villa, you also get the privacy, space to spread out and the comforts of home. (Albeit with optional maid service and catering!)
Our villa, the Liberty Square, was absolutely enormous. It was just our sibling crew this weekend, but once we arrived and saw the size of the place I realized we could’ve brought every cousin we have and still had space. There were so many bedrooms we couldn’t keep track, and ensuite bathrooms in each. Rick and I snagged the master bedroom with a balcony overlooking the pool and golf course, but my favorite bedroom was the character-themed kids bunk bed room. Yes, Rachel and I slept in there one night just for fun, and yes, we want to install a bunk bed room in my house now.
There was a huge, modern, fully equipped kitchen ready for whipping up big family meals, open floor plan with seating for everyone and their mom (for real!), a remote-controlled fireplace and the coolest room in the house, a game room with air hockey and foosball. Please note: there were enough TVs in this house to watch every college football game in the country at once, just in case that’s important to your crew.
There was a washer and dryer upstairs – so important if you’re spending a week or so with kiddos in Kissimmee. We also had our very own pool and outdoor kitchen overlooking the golf course. It was a trip to see the hot air balloons descending into the neighborhood early in the morning.
Have Breakfast Catered at Your Vacation Rental
My favorite part of the Kissimmee vacation rental experience was our catered breakfast. That’s right, we didn’t even have to leave our villa – the chef and the food came to us! We woke up to the smell of crackling bacon and fluffy pancakes and didn’t have to lift a finger. They even cleaned up after – are you kidding me?! I’m not sure I’ve ever loved a resort amenity more in my entire life.
- 16 miles to Universal Orlando Resort
- 6 miles to Walt Disney World® Resort
- 16 miles to Orlando International Airport (MCO)
Our 6-bedroom, 6.5-bathroom villa starts at $360/night. That averages to around $30 per person/ per night for a group of 12. And that includes shuttle service to the onsite water park, where admission is also included. It’s a stellar deal!
For most visitors planning a trip to Florida, basically all you need to know is that it’s probably going to be hotter than you’re used to. In the height of summer, you can expect temps in the 90s-100s with humidity. That heat can be oppressive for those not acclimated, so plan accordingly. Consider a visit between October and March when temperatures are generally milder. It can get chilly here every so often, dropping into the 40-60 degree range in the winter months, but usually only for a few days at a time. We Floridians cherish those days where sweaters are necessary!
Planning a visit in 2020? Ask your questions about things to do in Kissimmee Florida and we’ll answer in the comments!
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