Kissimmee is next door to the exciting attractions and theme parks of Orlando, FL and has many offerings of its own. Thrill-seekers can go on helicopter rides, jet ski, zip-line, fly warplanes, and speed across the water in airboats. Conservation lovers will enjoy Gatorland or kayaking on Shingle Creek or Lake Toho to see gators in the wild. There is much human history in the area and it can be explored in a variety of museums, a pioneer village, or on cultural tours.
1. Museum of Military History
© Museum of Military History
The Museum of Military History pays tribute to those who have served the United States in warfare; its prime objective is to help visitors understand what is was like to be in the armed forces in times of conflict. It covers World Wars I and II, the American Civil War, the Korean and Vietnam wars, and the conflicts in the Gulf, Iraq, and Afghanistan.
It has exhibits of military artifacts, including uniforms, weapons, and vehicles as well as plenty of photographs and oral and written accounts of time spent overseas serving the country. The museum is a new venture that opened in 2012 and is still growing; its exhibits are increasing as people donate funds and artifacts to the museum.
5210 W. Irlo Bronson Memorial Hwy., Kissimmee, FL 34746, Phone: 407-507-3894
2. Lake Tohopekaliga
© Courtesy of Louis - Fotolia.com
Lake Tohopekaliga, commonly known as Lake Toho, derives its name from the Seminole Indian word meaning “we shall gather here together." Lake Toho is world renowned for the excellence of its bass fishing and many marinas line the shore of this huge (22,000-acre) lake.
There is also a vast array of waterfowl here as well as gators and otters. On the north side of the lake, Lakefront Park has a scenic walking trail open to pedestrian traffic, chairs, sun loungers, barbecues, restrooms, and picnic shelters. It also has a children's playground and a splash area for toddlers and preschoolers.
3. Boggy Creek Airboat Rides
© Boggy Creek Airboat Rides
Boggy Creek Airboat Rides in Kissimmee, Florida, brings visitors into the cypress-filled wetlands and swamps that mark the headwaters of the Everglades. On seventeen-passenger U.S. Coast Guard approved airboats, the excursions allow riders a view of native Florida alligators, turtles, and an astonishing variety of bird life. Boggy Creek Airboat Rides offers half-hour and hour-long day trips, sunset tours, and 45-minute long nighttime voyages that guarantee alligator sightings.
At their boat launch on Southport Road visitors may dine at the new BBQ restaurant, have a close-up look at reptiles in the gator enclosure, and walk through an informative Native American village that demonstrates how early Americans hunted, cooked, and lived.
2001 E. Southport Road, Kissimmee, FL 34746, Phone: 407-344-9550
4. Extreme Jet Ski of Orlando
© Extreme Jet Ski of Orlando
Extreme Jet Ski of Orlando is actually located on the shores of a large lake in Kissimmee, Florida. This company is renowned for its excellent jet ski rentals and friendly instruction. The company rents out Yamaha, Seadoo, and Honda jet skis; all of them are extremely fast, but the large lake gives riders plenty of room to accelerate safely.
Riders will be thrilled by the speed with which they can zoom across the surface of the large, calm lake. Extreme Jet Ski also rents out paddle boats, fishing boats, kayaks, and fishing equipment for use on the lake. Fuel is free, and the friendly staff will make sure that every visitor has a wonderful experience.
4836 W. Irlo Bronson Memorial Hwy, Kissimmee, FL 34746, Phone: 407-390-9200
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5. Old Town
© Old Town
No visit to Kissimmee is complete without spending some time in Old Town, a popular entertainment district in the city. This beloved attraction is a throwback to the city’s yesteryears, when lines were shorter, crowds a bit smaller, and fun a little bit simpler than it is now. The best way to enjoy Old Town is on foot, as the entertainment district features 18 lovely acres of tree-lined brick paths, boutique shops, family-owned restaurants, as well as some of the more mainstream establishments. In the evenings, visitors can also enjoy car shows like the Friday Nite Muscle Car Cruise or stop by small scale theme parks with great rides for older and younger generations to enjoy together.
5770 West Irlo Bronson Memorial Highway, Kissimmee, Florida 34746, Phone: 407-396-4888
6. Fish Orlando Trophy Bass Guide Service
© Fish Orlando Trophy Bass Guide Service
Fish Orlando Trophy Bass Guide Service is owned and operated by a former marine and tournament angler with over 30 years of experience bass fishing in Kissimmee area lakes and rivers. His expeditions go out on Lake Toho, Lake Harris, and the St. Johns River in a tournament bass boat.
Participants can use live bait or artificial lures and the knowledgeable tour guides will help each visitor learn proven bass fishing techniques. Participants must have a Florida fishing license. The guide service offers morning, afternoon, and all-day fishing trips, with bait and tackle provided, and a money-back guarantee if no fish are caught. Sunscreen, hats, and polarized sunglasses are strongly recommended for all participants.
201 Lakeview Drive, Kissimmee, FL 34787, Phone: 321-689-1941
7. Fun Spot America
© Fun Spot America
Have the best day ever at one of Kissimmee’s most beloved theme parks, Fun Spot America. This family-owned theme park promises buckets of fun and attractions to entertain every visitor, no matter what their preference. Some of the most popular rides at the park include the Mine Blower Coaster, which boasts an incredible 80-foot drop, the Headrush 360, which will turn every rider’s world upside down, and the tallest Sky Coaster in the world called the Sky Sled. Some of the other rides include, but are not limited to, the Hot Seat, the Hurricane Coaster, and the Crazy Couch. From thrill-seekers to people who just want to chill, Fun Spot America is bound to deliver priceless memories that you and the family will look back on fondly.
2850 Florida Plaza Boulevard, Kissimmee, Florida 34746
Gatorland is a wildlife preserve and theme park in Orlando, Florida, famous for its conservation efforts and for its four exceedingly rare leucistic “white" alligators. Thousands of alligators and crocodiles reside in a natural breeding marsh, which can be viewed from a boardwalk or from observation towers. The park offers educational programs, reptile shows, a petting zoo, and an aviary.
The newest additions to the park are zip-lines, one 1,200 feet long that takes riders over a pool of alligators and the other a little shorter but accessible to guests with mobility issues. Special programs include opportunities to feed the alligators in the breeding marsh, venture out onto the boardwalk at night, and pose with 8-foot alligators in the arena.
14501 S. Orange Blossom Trail, U.S. 441, Orlando, FL 32837, Phone: 407-855-5496
9. Island Grove Wine Company at Formosa Gardens
© Island Grove Wine Company at Formosa Gardens
Create incredible memories in a stunning destination when you visit the Island Grove Wine Company. Nestled within the Formosa Gardens, this winery is home to a massive 13,000-square-foot winery in addition to 3,000 square feet of event and restaurant space. The winery is dedicated to setting a constructive example of sustainable enterprise and environmental responsibility to other establishments. As such, they make every effort to source sustainable produce, and to make their wine in a way that cares for the environment but also delivers utmost flavor to their vintages. When you come to Island Grove, don’t just stop at sampling their wine. Be sure to try their craft beers and to pay a visit to their gardens which share knowledge with visitors about natural produce growing methods and honey farming.
3011 Formosa Gardens Boulevard, Kissimmee, Florida 34747, Phone: 407-507-9888
10. Busch Gardens Tampa
© Busch Gardens Tampa
Busch Gardens Tampais one of the most popular theme parks in the United States, with visitors traveling from all over the world to experience many thrilling rollercoaster rides, encounters with animals, and child-friendly fun. Busch Gardens is dedicated to animal conservation across the globe, and the animals in the park are meticulously cared for and are part of the park's breeding and education initiatives.
The park has guided animal tours both during the day and at night, the most popular being the Serengeti Safari, in which visitors ride in open-air touring vehicles for photo-worthy viewing of zebras, giraffes, ostriches, and other residents of the African plains. The park has several casual restaurants, a multitude of shops, and gives kids and their families the chance to dine with favorite characters.
10105 N. McKinley Drive, Tampa, FL 33612, Phone: 813-884-4386
11. Legoland, Florida
© Legoland, Florida
Legoland in Winter Haven, Florida, was built on the former site of Cypress Gardens and is a Lego-themed park designed for families with children aged 2 to 12. There are more than 50 family-friendly rides, attractions, shows, and restaurants as well as a botanical garden and a newly erected hotel. Family rollercoasters and children's rides, including a two-story carousel, are spread throughout the park and there are many opportunities for youngsters to use their building skills to create Lego masterpieces.
The park has lifelike Lego recreations of New York City, Las Vegas, Washington, D.C., and many Florida landmarks. Legoland Florida has a waterpark that was created with families in mind, with a gentle wave pool, waterslides, a lazy river, and toddler and preschooler fun zones.
1 Legoland Way, Winter Haven, FL 33884, Phone: 877-350-5346
12. Monument of States
© Monument of States
In Kissimmee's Lakefront Park stands an unusual monument known as the Monument of States. After the attack on Pearl Harbor in World War II, local doctor Charles Bressler-Pettis decided that the area needed a symbol of American Unity. He wrote to the governor of every state (there were only 48 states at the time), asking them to send local rocks to him.
When he received the rocks, he made a tower, embedding the rocks into garish concrete slabs and labelled each rock with its origins – which state it was from and who had sent it. Over the years, time took its toll on the monument, but it was repainted and revitalized in 2001 by local business owners and it is certainly worth a trip to Lakefront Park to see this curious cairn.
300 E. Monument Avenue, Lakefront Park, Kissimmee, FL 34741, Phone: 407-847-2821
13. Orlando Helicopter Tours
© Orlando Helicopter Tours
Orlando Helicopter Tours have two locations in Kissimmee, Florida, from which visitors can fly over all the exciting attractions in Orlando. In a Bell Jet Ranger helicopter, passengers can look down upon Epcot, the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, SeaWorld, Downtown Disney, Animal Kingdom, local resorts, and the Butler chain of lakes.
In the evening there is a flight over the fireworks display at Epcot. To help orient you, the knowledgeable pilot will give commentary on what you're seeing from the air. There are many different flight packages and something to fit everybody's budget. Orlando Helicopter Tours also offers aerial photography and videography for a variety of different clientele. Phone: 407-397-0226 or 407-507-2682
14. Orlando Tree Trek Adventure Park
© Orlando Tree Trek Adventure Park
Orlando Tree Trek Adventure Park is an exciting adventure high above the ground. The aerial excitement begins and ends with zip-lining and includes nets, Tarzan-style swings, a wobbly suspension bridge, climbing walls, and obstacles such as swinging logs. The course gets progressively more difficult before culminating in a long zip-line that riders can use as many times as they like.
Visitors can also choose to zip-line only, without the other aerial options. Magnetic harnesses make the entire course safe for everyone. There are packages for adults as well as special courses designed for teens and for children aged 7 to 11.
7625 Sinclair Road, Kissimmee, FL 34747, Phone: 407-390-9999
15. Osceola Arts, Kissimmee, Florida
© Osceola Arts
Osceola Arts is Central Florida's thriving arts center, offering area residents the chance to participate in and view the artistic talents of the local community. There are two theaters in the Osceola Arts building, a larger one where Central Florida actors put on Broadway-style shows and a smaller studio theater where modern and often avant-garde plays are performed. There are acting classes for teens and adults in conjunction with the theater.
Osceola Arts offers monthly fine art exhibits with works by local artists as well as classes and workshops in drawing, pottery, painting, and other media. There is a dazzling array of programs for youth, including a young actors company, summer camps, art classes, homeschool classes, and a youth orchestra.
2411 E. Irlo Bronson Memorial Hwy., Kissimmee, FL 34744, Phone: 407-846-6257
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16. Osceola County Historical Society Pioneer Village
© Osceola County Historical Society Pioneer Village
The Osceola Pioneer Village is a permanent collection of authentic late 19th century buildings from Osceola County, brought together to make this village and to show how early pioneers lived in the area. There is a blacksmith's shop with a working forge and a citrus packing house from 1890 in which early citrus farmers packaged their crops for distribution.
The Tyson House is a one-room log shanty typical of the homes of the average farmer; it dates from 1892 and was inhabited by James C. Tyson, his wife, and their 11 children. The Lanier Crackle House is a better class of architecture and has a central breezeway that acted as natural air-conditioning for the home. The pioneer village is adjacent to a Seminole village with its open-sided homes and a nature preserve kept in a manner consistent with late 19th century settlements.
2491 Babb Road, Kissimmee, FL 34746
17. Osceola County Welcome Center and History Museum
© Osceola County Welcome Center and History Museum
Visitors to Osceola County will find the welcome center a handy resource. There are maps, guides, coupons, and a small gift shop here, with knowledgeable staff to help you find your way. In the same building is the history museum, which consists of four dioramas, each displaying one of the different habitats of Osceola County: Swamplands, pine flatwoods, oak hammock, and lakefront.
The dioramas help to explain how history and nature are tied together and each includes interactive displays and a scavenger hunt. From the welcome center, there is a 1.6-mile trail leading to the Historical Society's Pioneer Village.
4155 W Vine St, Kissimmee, FL 34741, Phone: 407-396-8644
18. Spirit of the Swamp Airboat Tours
© Spirit of the Swamp Airboat Tours
Spirit of the Swamp Airboat Tours is the best way to see the swamps and marshes that make up the headwaters of the Florida Everglades and to see the wildlife that inhabits the area. Spirit of the Swamp offers family-friendly tours on small, six-passenger boats and has 60-minute, 90-minute, and 2-hour excursions.
Everyone in the boat wears a headset with a microphone so that all can hear the guide and have the chance to ask questions. Private trips are available for no extra charge. Among the wildlife that visitors see on these tours are adult and juvenile alligators, turtles, frogs, armadillos, and a great variety of birds such as herons, egrets, ibis, bald eagles, and osprey. Advance reservation is required.
2830 Neptune Road, Kissimmee, FL 34744, Phone: 321-689-6893
19. Stallion 51
© Stallion 51
Stallion 51 is a warplane lover's dream: It offers rides in dual cockpit/dual control P-51 Mustangs and T-6 Texans, allowing passengers not only the opportunity to fly in a heritage aircraft but also to help fly it. The owners and staff of Stallion 51 are experts in historical aircraft and aviation and have warbirds that they show at airshows all across North America.
People looking for flight certification and training in WWII aircraft can get instruction and credentials at Stallion 51. Visitors not wishing to fly can enjoy watching the aircraft circle the airfields and get a close-up look at the warplanes in the hangars.
3951 Merlin Drive, Kissimmee, FL 34741, Phone: 407-846-4400
20. The Paddling Center at Shingle Creek
© The Paddling Center at Shingle Creek
Shingle Creek comprises part of the headwaters of the Florida Everglades; it is a pristine cypress swamp, serene and beautiful. The Paddling Center at Shingle Creek offers guided tours and equipment rental; visitors may rent single or tandem kayaks, canoes, or stand-up paddleboards. All tours offered are given by guides with CPR and first aid training as well as a profound knowledge of the ecosystems of the Florida swamps. All tours include instruction, snacks and drinks, and life jackets.
The 2-hour Cypress Forest Guided Eco-Tour takes kayakers into old-growth cypress swamps, while the 2.5-hour Ecology Transition Tour extends its paddling and crosses into Lake Toho. There is a 4.5-hour sea kayak tour to Makinson Island, which is designed to enhance already present kayaking skills. Visitors looking to learn how to use a stand-up paddleboard can join the 1.5-hour tour of the swamp, which includes instruction. Advance reservation is required.
4266 W. Vine Street, Kissimmee, FL 34741, Phone: 407-343-7740
21. Silver Spur Rodeo
© Silver Spur Rodeo
Would you happen to be looking for the largest rodeo to the east of the Mississippi? You’ll find it in none other than Kissimmee, Florida, at the Silver Spurs Rodeo. The rodeo finds its origins in 1941 when the Silver Spurs Riding Club was formed. Soon after, they held their first informal rodeo, which set in motion events that would lead to the Silver Spurs Rodeo becoming one of the PRCA’s, or Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association’s, top 50 sanctioned events. Visitors to the rodeo can see cowboys ride some of the fiercest and feistiest bulls and horses, participate in rodeo parades, watch riders and their horses square dance, and so much more.
Osceola Heritage Park Arena, 1975 Silver Spur Lane, Kissimmee, Florida 34747, Phone: 321-697-3495
22. Island H2O Water Park
There’s a new kid on the block, Orlando, and its name is Island H2O Water Park! Island H2O is the newest water-themed amusement park to open in the area, and it promises an unparalleled experience when it comes to incorporating technology to the park and providing guests with unique water park encounter. With their innovative and state-of-the-art park wristband, guests can access facilities, take photos at selfie stations, capitalize on video booths, or even snag on-ride photographs. Amazingly, guests can even customize their tube slide experiences by selecting their own lighting and music. A trip to Island H2O delivers all of the best experiences a traditional water park has to offer, then tops it all off with incredibly immersive and interactive features.
3230 Inspiration Drive, Kissimmee, Florida 34747, Phone: 407-910-1401