Kissimmee is a city in central Florida’s Osceola County, just south of Orlando. It’s defined by its proximity to the region’s multitude of amusement parks, including the massive Walt Disney World Resort complex. The city lies along the northwest shore of Lake Tohopekaliga (nicknamed Lake Toho), and its verdant Kissimmee Waterfront Park encompasses walking paths, playgrounds and a fishing pier.
Located in central Florida’s Osceola County, Kissimmee is home to some of that state’s largest and most popular attractions and is equidistant from the Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico coasts.
At the time of the last census, Kissimmee had a population of nearly 60,000 residents, though during the peak tourism season, its numbers swell significantly.
The Kissimmee area was first explored by Spanish missionaries and treasure seekers over four centuries ago. The city’s name was derived from the language of a local Native American people who lived there for generations before it was officially settled.
Once dominated by citrus groves and cattle ranches, Kissimmee is now the site of prominent golf courses, including ones designed by Jack Nicklaus and Greg Norman. Shingle Creek, considered the northernmost headwaters of the Florida Everglades, is popular for canoeing and kayaking.
The creek joins Lake Toho, where guided boat tours pass alligators, eagles and herons. The city is home to the Museum of Military History, with interactive exhibits intended to illuminate the American military experience. A prominent landmark is the 1890 Osceola County Courthouse, with classic Romanesque revival design.
Below are things to do in and around Kissimmee that you won’t want to miss.
1. Walt Disney World
Of all of Florida’s popular family destinations, Walt Disney World may be the most well-known; for those visiting Kissimmee with children, it deserves a top spot on your itinerary.
With attractions such as Hollywood Studios, Epcot, and Blizzard Beach Water Park, Walt Disney World is part zoo, part museum, and part amusement park.
With so much to see and do and so many dining and lodging options available nearby, many families choose to spend the majority of their vacation inside the park.
During peak times, it can get crowded; though admission isn’t cheap, it’s often possible to find coupons and other special offers online and in travel and tourism magazines.
2. Kissimmee Lakefront Park
Located on East Monument Avenue, Kissimmee’s Lakefront Park may be the yin to Walt Disney World’s yang.
You won’t find life-sized movie characters or roller coasters at Lakefront Park, but you will find an interesting and historically significant monument dedicated to those who fought and died during the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.
The monument was the brainchild of a patriotic local doctor and is made from rocks donated by people from each state in the union.
The park sits on the north shore of Lake Toho and is a popular area for picnickers, bird watchers, and fishermen.
3. Boggy Creek Airboat Adventures
There’s no better way to get up close and personal with Florida’s murky swamps and glades than by airboat.
Located on East Southport Road in Kissimmee, Boggy Creek Airboat Adventures operates a fleet of airboats that can hold nearly 20 passengers; they specialize in animal viewing tours in the Everglade’s headwaters.
Gators, snakes, turtles and a variety of wading and predatory birds call the area home, and there are a variety of tour packages of differing lengths available.
There’s a new barbecue restaurant, Native American Village, and gator farm at their headquarters as well, so plan on spending at least a few hours. Source: Boggy Creek Airboat Adventures
4. Oaks National Golf Club
With such a dizzying array of options for golfers visiting the Sunshine State, it may be difficult deciding where to play.
Named after the majestic, century-old oak trees that line many of its manicured fairways, Oaks National Golf Club is a championship caliber course that’s surprisingly affordable when compared to many of the area’s other elite courses.
The course features a variety of water hazards and sand traps to keep things interesting, and it’s not uncommon to see eagles and wild turkeys during your round.
The club features a full-service restaurant, pro shop, and pre-round practice facilities as well. Source: oaksnationalgolfclub
5. Museum of Military History
Kissimmee’s Museum of Military History is located on West Irlo Bronson Memorial Highway and has been open since 2012.
With exhibits, artifacts, and displays covering nearly every war in the country’s history, it’s a must-see for amateur historians and military personnel, and the cost of admission won’t break the bank.
The items on display include uniforms, weapons, vehicles, and a large variety of photographs, letters, and other firsthand accounts, many of which are very graphic and poignant.
Consider spending an hour or so at the museum when the weather isn’t cooperating, or when you’ve reached your limit of fighting hordes of tourists. Source: Museum of Military History
6. Lake Tohopekaliga
With too many syllables for most mouths to spit out correctly, locals refer to Lake Tohopekaliga as Lake Toho.
Lake Toho is big by any standards; its surface area is more than 20,000 acres, making it a prime outdoor recreation hotspot for nature lovers and outdoorsy types.
The lake’s native wildlife includes gators, otters, wading birds, and a healthy population of Florida-strain largemouth bass that are known to grow to massive proportions.
The park at the lake’s north end includes walking trails, barbecues, restrooms, and covered picnic areas, and for the little ones, there is a playground and splash pad too.
Every few years, the venerable American alligator snatches a hapless tourist from the shores of a lake or swamp, but the good news is that it’s never happened at Gatorland.
Located on South Orange Blossom Trail in Orlando, Gatorland is part wildlife preserve, part zoo, and part theme park; it’s full of fun, educational, and exhilarating activities for adults and children alike.
The park’s breeding marsh is full of crocs and gators that can be viewed from an elevated boardwalk or multiple observation towers; their most recent addition is a towering zip line that spans more than 1,000 from end to end.
8. Fish Orlando Trophy Bass Guide Service
For decades Florida had the distinction of being the state in which the world record largemouth bass was caught; though California eventually claimed that title, Florida is still the country’s number one destination for those interested in catching some monster bass.
Fish Orlando Trophy Bass Service specializes in excursions on Lakes Toho and Harris and the St. Johns River.
They offer an array of tour packages of varying lengths, and guests can choose whether they want to fish with lures or live bait. All visitors will need a current Florida fishing license, and it’s wise to bring a hat, sunglasses, and sunscreen.
9. Busch Gardens Tampa
Another of the country’s most popular theme parks that’s close to Kissimmee is Busch Gardens Tampa.
Located on McKinley Drive, one of the park’s most popular features is its one-of-a-kind Serengeti Safari area that’s full of amazing animals native to Africa. Guided tours are available both day and night; they’re given in open-air trucks that make it feel like you’re a lot closer to the animals than you really are.
The park is full of carnival-style rides, movie and fairytale characters, and has a number of shops and restaurants as well. Consider visiting in the morning or during the week if you’d like to avoid the crowds.
Created with children from 2 to 12 in mind, Legoland in Winter Haven is a standout attraction for those traveling with active and creative children.
Part educational facility, part amusement park, and part botanical garden, Legoland has been known to occupy families for hours; there’s even a new hotel onsite that’s perfect for those who want to be close to the action for multiple days.
Some of the park’s most popular attractions are the Lego building areas where kids are encouraged to construct their own masterpieces. Though some rides are open only to older children, there are plenty of options for toddlers as well.
11. Medieval Times Dinner and Tournament in Orlando
There’s nothing quite like gnawing on a turkey leg and watching a little jousting after a long day on your feet; if that sounds like the perfect way to spend an evening, then a trip to Medieval Times Dinner and Tournament in Orlando would be a wise choice.
Set in an impressive reproduction castle and staffed by costumed knights, wenches, serfs and royalty, it’s one of those fun and unique activities that almost always ranks high on the list of most memorable experiences.
Sword fights, falconry, and impressive fetes of horsemanship provide entertainment while you dine on your semi-authentic four-course meal. Source: Medieval Times Dinner & Tournament – Orlando
12. Titanic – The Artifact Exhibition
Comprised of nearly 20 distinct galleries spread over thousands of square feet, the Titanic Artifact Exhibition is the state’s most complete repository of artifacts, memorabilia, and personal accounts related to the tragic sinking of the massive ship more than a century ago.
Due to its sheer scope and poignant nature, guests should plan on spending an hour or two to get the most bang for their buck.
A few of the most popular attractions are the underwater rooms, the full-scale reproduction of the boiler, and the restaurant where many passengers dined for the last time.
There’s a popular dinner theatre option as well. Source: Titanic: The Artifact Exhibition Orlando
13. Manor Professional Wrestling Dinner Show
For weary travelers who long for a few hour’s respite from high-brow art museums and endless cultural and historic sites, spending an evening eating a hearty meal and watching grown men in snug leotards slap each other silly is the perfect antidote.
Featuring a dynamic cast of good guys and bad guys with catchy names like Lady Golden Eyes and Lord Darkness, Manor Professional Wrestling Dinner Show is truly a one-of-a-kind experience that’s relatively inexpensive and appropriate for most ages.
Tickets include a tasty dinner that exceeds most guest’s expectations, and if you’re traveling with a group of more than 15, you may be entitled to special rates. Source: Manor Professional Wrestling Dinner Theater
14. Kissimmee Air Museum
Florida has rich civilian and military aviation histories, and for airplane enthusiasts and amateur historians, there’s no better place to learn all about them than the Kissimmee Air Museum.
The museum displays a variety of historic aircraft that span many eras and come from countries all over the world.
The museum is located at the Kissimmee Gateway Airport; in addition to their non-flying displays, they also offer rides in vintage aircraft.
A favorite of many is the North American P-51 Mustang, which was a deadly fighter plane tasked with escorting heavy and slow-moving bombers on raids over Germany during World War II.