Toho Sunrise

A Three-Day Safari of Kissimmee-St. Cloud

Day One

Take a morning stroll along the waterfront of Lake Tohopekaliga in Kissimmee, or "Toho" as the locals call it, but don't forget your binoculars.

The draw-down of the 22,000-acre lake, one of the nation's top bass fishing spots, provides a bonanza of food for the resident bird population. Heron, egret and osprey are just some of the benefits of an environmental restoration project done right.

Breakfast at one of Kissimmee's finer establishments; Susan's Courtside Café or Joanie's Diner will leave you feeling full. Next, proceed to Lanier's Historic Downtown Marketplace on Broadway and pick up a brochure for a self-guided walking tour of the old downtown. Sights include the Monument of States, which contains 1,500 stones representing every U.S. state and 20 foreign countries; Makinson Hardware, the oldest operating hardware store in Florida; and The Osceola County Courthouse, dedicated May 6, 1890. The Osceola County Historical Society Museum and Pioneer Villageis near downtown at 750 N. Bass Road, just off Highway 192. It has a "Cracker house," general store and blacksmith shop from the same era nestled under trees more than 100 years old.

Day Two

Fishermen from all over the country come to the Kissimmee-St. Cloud area in search of lunker largemouth bass.

"Lake Toho is probably the most well known," explains local pro-bass angler Terry Segraves. "But we are blessed with so many good lakes around here that when Toho slows down, we always have somewhere else to fish."

Since fishing unknown waters can be frustrating, the best bet is to hire a guide your first time out. You can find plenty of experienced anglers-for-hire at East Lake Fish Camp. While you're there, swap fish tales at the quaint country restaurant.

Later, head over to Boggy Creek Airboat Rides for an adventure on the water.

Wrap up the day with another adventure unique to Central Florida: A nighttime reptile hunt at the internationally acclaimed Gatorland, "The Alligator Capital of the World." This 110-acre theme park, founded in 1949, features thousands of gators, and with reservations, an opportunity to see these giant reptiles at night when they are most active.

Day Three

Start your day with a morning hike through the Three Lakes Wildlife Management Area in Kenansville, home to a large number of bald eagle nests. Named for the three lakes that it borders – Kissimmee, Jackson and Marian – this prime piece of public land has more than 30 miles of trails and a very good chance to see America's national symbol in the wild.

For a guided tour, head to Forever Florida in nearby St. Cloud, a 4,700-acre eco-ranch and wildlife conservation area. Choose a safari by coach, on horseback or hanging from a zipline 55 feet above the ground. You might spy alligators, black bears, white tail deer or even the endangered Florida panther.

Snake lovers will find the daily venom-milking show at the family-run Reptile World Serpentarium a worthy diversion. Located somewhat off the beaten track, once there you'll find more than 50 of the world's most exotic snakes, including a rare 18-foot king cobra. Stop by at noon or 3 p.m. and you'll see owner George Van Horn extract venom from one of his rattlesnakes, a risky operation that has resulted in more than one bite over the years.

If you are lucky enough to be in town on the last Saturday of the month, drop by the Kissimmee Sports Arena for a taste of one of Florida's favorite native sports: the rodeo. Long before The Mouse came to the Sunshine State, cowboys ruled the scrubland. These "crackers," so named for the sound of their distinctive whips, had the unenviable job of rustling cows among the swamps filled with alligators and snakes. Yee-haw!

For information on the activities listed above and more ideas for outdoors excitement, visit or call the Kissimmee Convention & Visitors Bureau at 407-742-8200.

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Anonymous April 12, 2008 12:00 AM
Need info. for a chuch group of about 30. A one day trip from Orlando. Historical points and buffet dining restaurants, or whatever