Forget frost on the pumpkin, fall chills and other scary things outside that have nothing to do with Halloween. Escape to Kissimmee, where “autumn” still technically means “summer” in terms of swimsuit temperatures, thrill rides, playing outside and precisely the vacation you’ve dreamed about.
Best of Times
Fall means the end of summer crowds at the theme parks, so your family has the chance to see and do more. Leaves don’t drop here, but hotel rates do. Plus, Kissimmee has put together added incentive in the form of its Great Fall Getaways promotion – savings on everything from accommodations and dining to shopping and attractions. Visit www.VisitKissimmee.com to scan all the discounts.
Feeling disconnected from the natural world? Unheard of in Kissimmee, where families find opportunity to engage in outdoor recreation and wildlife education at every turn – from acres of challenging golf courses and academies to biking the trails at Triple N Ranch.
Forever Florida near St. Cloud takes your family on the coolest possible eco-safaris. You have your choice of traveling Old Florida wilderness by swamp coach, horseback or ziplining through the treetops. Along the way, deer, alligators, panthers, bald eagles and other magnificent birds impress all ages.
Horse World Riding Stables in Kissimmee is another place to saddle up and explore nature. If you’d rather hoof-it on two legs, visit Peghorn Nature Park in St. Cloud, which welcomes you to its trails with a Cracker village.
Along Kissimmee’s Chain of Lakes and Boggy Creek, you might even spy the rare snail kite. A number of nature tour operators will take you out in search of birds and other wildlife. Especially popular with families, zippy airboat tours skim along shallow waters and habitat that other boats can’t reach. Or hire a fishing charter into Lake Tohopekaliga, where largemouth bass, bluegills and crappies are the catch of the day.
For your fix of salt water, ocean and golden beaches are less than an hour’s drive away on Florida’s Space Coast (Cocoa Beach, Melbourne, etc.). They range from natural, protected national seashore to surfing excitement.
A sure sign of fall in Kissimmee? Special events for all ages and tastes start in September and run through Halloween.
One of the world’s most celebrated, Epcot International Food & Wine Festival at Walt Disney World appeals to adults with wine and food tasting and live music, but kids have fun, too. It runs Sept. 25 through Nov. 8 in 2009.
Both Disney and Universal Orlando Resort host top-name music events on the weekend of Sept. 11-12, 2009: Universal’s Rock the Universe and Disney’s Night of Joy.
Then the mood turns ghoulish as Halloween approaches. Universal’s Halloween Horror Nights, Sept. 25 through Halloween, is legendary for its terrorizing special effects. SeaWorld Orlando’s Halloween Spooktacular, starting Oct. 3, is a kinder, gentler trick-or-treat experience with an underwater theme. At Disney, Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party kicks off Sept. 1 and appeals to smaller children, too, with a “boo-free” parade and fireworks.
October also brings hometown, old-time celebrations to Kissimmee, including Pioneer Day on Oct. 7 at Osceola County Historical Society's Pioneer Center, and Viva Osceola on Oct. 10, a Hispanic fiesta downtown.
During the entire month of October, Green Meadows Farm enchants families with hands-on farm tours, hayrides and a visit to the pumpkin patch, where kids get to pick their free Jack-o-lantern makings.
This article is brought to you by the Kissimmee Convention & Visitors Bureau. To plan your own getaway, visit www.VisitKissimmee.com.