Located in central Florida, Kissimmee is your gateway to some of the state’s best sights and attractions. The small city is just a short drive from Orlando, and Florida’s most popular theme parks – including Walt Disney World and Universal Studios – are all within easy reach of Kissimmee.
If amusement parks aren’t your thing though, then Kissimmee is surrounded by beautiful natural scenery and intriguing history. The city is built by the banks of Lake Tohopekaliga, where you can find walking trails and an abundance of local nature.
Adventurous travelers can even take to the creeks in search of alligators, and there are regular kayaking or airboat trips leaving daily from Kissimmee. If you’re interested in the local history, then plan a visit to the museums or to call in at the excellent Pioneer Village.
To inspire your trip to Florida, here are the best things to do in Kissimmee.
Don’t leave home without: Lonely Planet Florida (Travel Guide)
Things to do in Kissimmee, Florida
Kayak at Shingle Creek
One of the best waterways to explore close to Kissimmee is Shingle Creek. This is the most northerly part of the Everglades, and it’s a beautiful place to visit.
The creek flows directly into Lake Tohopekaliga, and the regional park that protects the ecosystem is home to wildlife and walking trails. The best way to see Shingle Creek though is to kayak along the water, as a 7-mile long paddle trail extends along the creek.
Despite being right in the city, you are instantly swept away into a nature oasis. You can hardly hear any road noise and once you get into the thicker parts of the forest, you feel very remote and wild.
We spent 2 hours kayaking here and saw a large variety of animals including turtles, frogs, snakes, water birds and birds of prey. There is so much going on back there that you never get bored.
Lake Tohopekaliga is the large lake that extends to the south of the city, and one of the best things to do in Kissimmee is to explore its beautiful shoreline. Lake Toho as it’s known to the locals has long been an important meeting point for the indigenous Seminole people who call the area home and it’s a place that’s steeped in legend.
You’ll soon realize why when you first see the sunlight shimmering off the water, or as you immerse yourself in nature and wildlife. There are walking trails around the lake and some lovely parks and recreational areas around its edge.
If you’re interested in learning more about the local wildlife, then one of the best things to do in Kissimmee is to visit Gatorland. Alligators are Florida’s most famous animal, and Gatorland is home to hundreds of these fearsome creatures.
As well as providing dramatic shows to visitors, and allowing tourists to learn more about alligators, Gatorland is also a sanctuary, as the park takes in many animals that would otherwise be put down in the wild for causing trouble to humans.
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If you’re not theme parked out yet then another great place to visit is Legoland Florida. This is one of the newest additions to the Orlando amusement park scene, and if you’re on vacation with the kids then this is the best place to take the whole family.
Legoland Florida has over fifty rides and attractions, spread over several different themed worlds, ranging from pirates to ninjas. There’s Lego everywhere of course and you’ll happily spend hours enjoying all the fun of the park!
Our top recommended tours of Legoland Florida:
One of the best things to do in Kissimmee is to shop, eat and drink at Old Town. The name might suggest that this is a historic part of the city, but actually, it’s a relatively new shopping area.
The name comes from the fact that the many restaurants and bars here have old school themes, and it’s a great place to spend the evening dining out and enjoying the laid back nightlife, in a unique setting.
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Busch Gardens is another of the iconic theme parks found in the area, and it’s another great chance to have an action-packed day out! Busch Gardens is one of the oldest and most iconic theme parks in Florida, and it’s just a short drive away in Tampa Bay.
The amusement park is African themed and is home to hundreds of different species of animals as well as roller coasters and rides. It’s a part theme park and part safari, and it’s a great place to be thrilled and to learn about the animal kingdom.
Our top recommended tours of Busch Gardens:
Monument of States
A curious thing to see while you’re in Kissimmee is the Monument of States. This unique statue is constructed from rocks and stones that were sent to the city from across America, and it was conceived as a work of art to signify unity amongst the different states.
It was built during World War II, when the city wanted more unity across the country, and it has since become a popular tourist attraction in Kissimmee.
The monument has many unique plaques and inscriptions emblazoned across it and it was in recent years restored and refurbished, and even placed on the National Register of Historic Monuments.
If you’d like to get close to wildlife but would prefer to stay away from alligators, then take a trip to Discovery Cove, one of the best things to do in Kissimmee.
Discovery Cove is a great place to interact with marine life, as the amusement park is home to a huge artificial coral reef that’s teeming with fish and rays. Visitors can swim and snorkel over the reef, and get face to face with the tropical, underwater world.
Don’t leave home without: Lonely Planet Florida (Travel Guide)
Around Kissimmee, you can find a huge network of waterways and creeks, which form the beginning of the Everglades, one of the largest wetland ecosystems in the world.
One of the best things to do in Kissimmee is to take to the water by joining an Air-boat tour, and to really experience Florida’s wetlands in the local fashion. Air-boat tours are a thrilling way to see wildlife and nature and you’ll quickly come face to face with the many alligators that live in the area.
Our top recommended Air-boat tours:
- Florida Everglades Airboat Tour and Wild Florida Admission with Optional Lunch
- Florida Everglades Airboat Adventure plus Miami Biscayne Bay Cruise
- Kennedy Space Center and Everglades Airboat Safari
One of the most interesting things to do in Kissimmee is to visit the Pioneer Village. This is a wonderful, living history museum, where you can delve straight into pioneer life in Florida.
You’ll find recreations of pioneer homes from the days when intrepid settlers from the north began to make Florida their home, and walking through the village is like taking a huge step back in time to the 19th century.
Museum of Military History
History fans won’t want to miss out on a trip to the Museum of Military History either when you are staying in Kissimmee. This excellent museum is one of the best things to do in Kissimmee, as it’s packed with history and exhibits that tell the story of the US military, with both a local and international focus.
You’ll find a surprisingly vast collection of military exhibits, including historic weapons and modern tanks and vehicles used by the army. As well as this, you’ll learn first-hand stories and hear accounts from people who have served in the military and fought in wars across the world.
If you’re looking for a slice of local culture when you’re in Kissimmee, then call into the Osceola Arts center. You can find a small art gallery showcasing local artists, while it’s also the best place in the city to catch theater performances and dramatic shows. It’s a great way to see a more creative side of Kissimmee that’s often lost amongst the nearby theme parks.
Walt Disney World
Kissimmee is in the perfect location to make it a fantastic base for visiting some of the most iconic theme parks in the United States, including, of course, Walt Disney World.
Walt Disney World comprises four separate theme parks, two water parks and several hotels and resorts. You can have the classic Disney experience at the Magic Kingdom, get futuristic at Epcot, enjoy a safari at the Animal Kingdom or learn more about the world of movies at Disney’s Hollywood Studios.
Our top recommended tours of Walt Disney World:
- Walt Disney World Private Guide
- Tour of Walt Disney World, Universal Orlando Resort or SeaWorld Parks with Private Guide
In addition to Walt Disney World, one of the best things to do near Kissimmee is to visit the equally popular Universal Studios. Film lovers won’t want to miss out on spending the day riding Hollywood themed roller-coasters and ride, as each area and attraction is based on famous movies.
As well as the rides though, there are different live shows to watch, that take the audience right back into classic action movies such as Indiana Jones, with live stunts and mega pyrotechnics and effects.
The newest and perhaps most popular section of Universal Studios is The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, where you can immerse yourself in all things magic and Hogwarts.
Our top recommended tours of Universal Studios:
Orlando is one of the largest cities in Florida, and it makes for a great day trip from Kissimmee. It’s a lively, busy city and if you’re into shopping then you’ll find plenty of malls across Orlando to visit. There’s more than just retail outlets though, and you’ll find a beautiful city-scape along the waterfront, great restaurants and bars, and plenty of culture too.
Our top recommended tours of Orlando:
- Orlando Sunrise Hot-Air Balloon Ride
- Orlando Helicopter Tour from International Drive Area
- The Wheel at ICON Park
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