Seeking that magical vacation spot where everything for the ideal getaway is right outside your door or a within a short drive? Where you can spend one day lounging on a stretch of golden beach and the next day zip-lining amidst the treetops of pine forests – or visiting a world famous theme park?
Kissimmee is not only geographically located in the heart of Florida, it is the heart of Florida family fun. Theme parks, beaches, lakes and outdoor activities are all right here or close by (east coast beaches are only one hour away and west coast beaches can be reached in less than two).
Theme parks aside, there is a world of discoveries to be made. One of the most unique opportunities can be had at Forever Florida, where you can choose one of three safaris: horseback, zip line or coach. Ride through a 4,700-acre wildlife conservation area and see white-tailed deer, wild turkeys, endangered Florida panthers and lots of Old Florida pines. It’s the Florida safari of a lifetime.
Prefer to swing a club than photograph nature? Kissimmee is known for its golf. Whether it’s on mini courses with volcanoes or championship courses designed by PGA pros, you can tee it up all over Central Florida. Check out some of Kissimmee's best golf at ChampionsGate Golf Club, Reunion Resort Golf Course, Mystic Dunes Golf Club, Falcon’s Fire Golf Club and many more. Get tips on your swing at one of Kissimmee's premier golf academies: ANNIKA Academy, David Leadbetter Academy and Golf Academy at Celebration. One of the favorites for mini golfing is Congo River Golf. You can even feed one of 25 gators at their onsite gator pit!
Prefer to watch someone else do the alligator feedings – and wrestling? Bring your crew to Gatorland. This 110-acre park is at the head of the Everglades and is known as the international gator capital of the world. There’s even a Gator Gully Splash Park so bring those swimsuits.
For animals a little tamer in nature, Green Meadows Farm is where you need to be. "Kids love our critters" is a slogan you’ll hear at this happy place, and it’s no wonder. With more than 300 farm animals to see and touch, along with pony rides, it’s ideal for visitors from one to 101.
What about shopping? The short answer is yes. For a taste of southern charm, visit Downtown Kissimmee; it will take you back to yesteryear with its antiques stores and restaurants, some painted with colorful murals. You can also spend the day browsing the shops and boutiques in St. Cloud and Celebration. If you bring the kids, pack suits and a towel because the fountain in Celebration (and Downtown Disney) is famous for being irresistible! Best of all, it’s free entertainment.
There are dozens of wilderness preserves and lakefront parks in Kissimmee, too. The best part: park entrance fees are painless, and you can bring your own picnic. St. Cloud Lakefront Park has a white-sand beach right alongside beautiful East Lake Tohopekaliga. You can picnic under the pavilions, walk the paths, fish from the shore and get wet at their Splash Pad. Shingle Creek Park's northern end is a quiet retreat with citrus trees and winding hiking trails. Bring your own kayak or canoe to Steffee Landing and explore 2 miles of Shingle Creek. Journey from the late 1800s to modern day at Peghorn Nature Park and Trail in St. Cloud. See a Cracker Village as well as wetland and trails, which teach kids about the "real" Florida they don't often get to see.
When the sun goes down, there’s still plenty of fun to be found. See the sights from 60 feet in the air when you take a seat on the Century Ferris Wheel at Old Town. With free parking and free admission, plus lots of shops, restaurants and rides, it’s a must-see for the family set.
Ready for a nice dinner with a heaping side of live entertainment? Experience one of the area’s dinner shows. Favorites are Medieval Times Dinner & Tournament and Capone's Dinner & Show in Kissimmee, where dinner shows got their start. Pirate’s Dinner Adventure is another option in nearby Orlando.
This is only a small sampling of the good times to be had in Kissimmee. No matter what your budget, Kissimmee delivers what you seek. You can definitely have your vacation your way, in Kissimmee.
This article is brought to you by the Kissimmee Convention and Visitors Bureau. To plan your Kissimmee family vacation, request a 2009 Kissimmee Visitor's Guide at 800-333-KISS or find more details at www.VisitKissimmee.com.