With a neighbour like Orlando sitting on the doorstep, you might think Kissimmee is just the doorway to where the real Florida fun is.
After all, Orlando is famously the theme park capital of the World and as theme parks go, it does have a very impressive line up. But hold on a minute, with fame comes fortune, and cost is a major factor in any family trip.
So it comes as no surprise, many holidaymakers choose to base themselves in Kissimmee’s more affordable accommodation and take the short drive across to Orlando’s parks. But being “over the border” just for accommodation is merely scratching the surface of what Kissimmee offers, after all, it was a tourist destination long before Orlando was even a dot on Disney’s map.
This is where Florida history really began; the cracker cowboys, the pioneering farmers, the Everglades. Just check out the Osceola Pioneer Village and the Welcome Center to get a taste of what life was really like.
History apart though, Kissimmee and Osceola County has more than enough going on to keep you out of Orlando even if it’s a day or two!
So, here are my recommendations for the best attractions in Kissimmee. it is all well and good being neighbourly, but sometimes good things are right on your doorstep! The best attractions in Kissimmee are right here:
Fly a P-51 Mustang
If, like me, you find flying one of the coolest things in the world, head over to Stallion 51 and fly the legendary P-51 Mustang for over an hour. You don’t need any experience, because these planes are one of the few left in the world with dual controls, but even if you are a qualified pilot you’ll still get a buzz.
The whole experience lasts for 3 hours, from the pre flight briefings to climbing into the cockpit, taking off and doing everything from basic manoeuvres to high performance aerobatics. With a skilled instructor behind you of course!
Discover Sam Haught’s swamp wonderland at Wild Florida. Over 100,000 acres of protected natural swamps, marshes and rivers deep in country without a car or a truck in sight. Take an iconic Floridian airboat and glide across the swamps getting close and personal with all kinds of wildlife including alligators and eagles. Sam has created a stunning facility here with breathtaking views, a myriad of animals in his wildlife park and probably the best pulled pork sandwich you might ever taste!
They tell me Gatorland is Kissimmee’s oldest them park. That said, this is not a rest home for theme parks. Far from it. This is one of the best opportunities for alligator encounters I have been to, with literally hundreds of them in all sizes and colours (Albino white gators are a rare sight indeed). Regular alligator shows keep up the gator interest, although chomping on a gator sandwich while watching a live show is perhaps not in the best of tastes. The highlight however is a zip lining course across the whole park, where you find yourself flying down from multi level launch pads on towers over 7 storeys tall across hundreds of seemingly ravenous gators. The finale walk across the rope bridge is too terrifying to even think about!
Dive of the World’s tallest Sky Coaster
If you think diving of a platform 300 feet high is your idea of the perfect thrill then you have found heaven at the Fun Spot Kissimmee. The Sky Coaster dive is clearly the flagship attraction throwing on a harness and elegantly screaming your way down across the Fun Spot Lake solo or with up to three friends. There’s also 2 multi level forty foot high go kart tracks, 2 more flat tracks, and the rock star roller coaster, a great ride where you control how fast your car spins. You can buy a one-price-for-all ticket.
Where to eat
Savion’s Place downtown on Dakin Avenue. Chef Pouchon always has one of his mothers Haitian specialities on offer,
Columbia Restaurant is a beautiful colonial style Spanish restaurant in the heart of Celebration, a 50’s esque community township born and bred by Walt Disney himself. The folklore is he built it as a homage to his hometown state of Illinois. Columbia is Florida’s oldest restaurant and still operated by the fourth and fifth generation of the same family. Servings are huge. Service is excellent. the 1905 salad is a must.
Virgin Atlantic twice daily to Orlando from London Gatwick. Prices start from £189 plus £328 tax. For more information please visit www.virgin-atlantic.com or call 0844 209 7777
Virgin Atlantic flies daily to Miami from London Heathrow. Prices start from £260 plus £356 tax. For more information please visit www.virgin-atlantic.com or call 0844 209 7777
Gatwick Express, the non-stop rail-air service between Victoria station and Gatwick Airport, departs every 15 minutes with a journey time of 30 minutes. Gatwick Express is the fastest and best way to travel between central London and Gatwick Airport with return tickets starting from £27.40. With an ongoing 10% discount, it is always cheaper to buy your ticket online.
Holiday Extras makes travel easy with hassle-free extras for your next holiday, from airport parking to lounges and overnight hotels. Book in advance for The Sofitel Hotel at Gatwick airport, just £116 for a double room, saving £74 off the standard rate.