Kissimmee is a city in Osceola County. Kissimmee is a popular Central Florida tourist destination because of its sunny weather, spring training baseball for major league clubs, and close proximity to Disney World, Universal and SeaWorld.
It is located just south of Orlando in what is commonly referred to as the "Kissimmee-St. Cloud" area, due to the short distance between it and the adjacent city of St. Cloud.
Cocoa beach is the closest beach on the Atlantic Ocean. If you are lucky enough to be there on a day that there is a launch, you can watch a shuttle propel into space right on the beach since it is next to the Kennedy Space Center.
Swim, snorkel or scuba dive at Blue Spring State Park, De Leon Spring State Park, Moss Park/Split Oak and Sebastian Inlet State Park.
Climate Kissimmee has a warm and humid subtropical climate, with two distinct seasons: hot and rainy, lasting from May until October, and the other cooler and drier, from November through March. In the summer the daytime average temperature is 32 C and strong afternoon thunderstorms occur almost daily. During the winter season, average lows are around 10 C and the highs average near 22 C.
The city is located more or less in the middle of the state of Florida, on the northwest shore of Lake Tohopekaliga. The city of Kissimmee is the county seat of Osceola County. Kissimmee, with a population of around 65,000, is a Principal City of the Orlando-Kissimmee, Florida, Metropolitan Statistical Area.
History Kissimmee was founded in the mid-19th century as Allendale. The name was changed when the city was incorporated in 1883. The growth of Kissimmee can be credited to Philadelphian Hamilton Disston, who based his two-million acre drainage operation out of the small town. The steamboat industry roared until the railroads expanded into the region. The short lived glory days soon ended with the Panic of 1893, the worst economic crisis to hit the nation in its history to that point, then back to back freezes in 1894 and 95 wiping out the citrus industry. Cattle ranching became the backbone of the local economy until the opening of nearby Walt Disney World in 1971. Tourism became and remains the centerpiece of the area's economy.
Nature The Arboretum of the University of Central Florida contains more than 600 species of plants, including more than 100 bromeliads, in cultivated gardens. Its cultivated areas currently include a Conservatory Compound, a Bromeliad Sanctuary, Cycad Garden, Fern Garden, Palm Collection, Rose Garden, Swamp Habitat, and Wetland Plants Display.
Harry P. Leu Gardens has landscaped gardens and lakes, featuring flora gathered from around the globe since 1936. Here you will find the largest rose garden in Florida and America's largest Camellia collection outside of California. The Leu House dates back to the 1880's. Tours are offered every 30 minutes.
An interesting visit is the World of Orchids, which features thousands of blooms in an enclosed tropical rainforest. This is a working greenhouse shipping orchids and other plants nationwide. There is also a long boardwalk meandering off into nearby wetlands.
The Central Florida Zoological Park is home to a butterfly garden, herpetarium, and numerous tropical animals.
Unique to Here The Kennedy Space Center offers visitors a unique opportunity to tour launch areas, see giant rockets, try modified spaceflight simulators, and much more. The center may not be open on certain launch days so call ahead.
There is also the Astronaut Hall of Fame and a Space Center bus tour with stops at an observation gantry and the Apollo / Saturn V Center. Other guided tours include NASA Up Close, Cape Canaveral: Then and Now, and Lunch With An Astronaut.
Orlando International Airport Airport Tax : Departure tax is usually included in your ticket price, inquire on booking. Distance from Airport : 25 km to Kissimmee, 35 km to Walt Disney World Tourist Office : 1925 E. Irlo Bronson Memorial Hwy. (U.S. 192), Kissimmee. Phone: 800/327-9159 or 407/847-5000 Tourist Season : Year round but peak season is from June through August; as well as Christmas, New Year week, March spring break and Easter week. Festivals & Events January - Annual Capital One Bowl and CompUSA Florida Citrus Bowl, Zora Neale Hurston Festival of the Arts and Humanities, Walt Disney World's Indy 200
February - Silver Spurs Rodeo, Bach Festival hailing the birth of composer Johann Sebastian Bach, Mount Dora Arts Festival, Central Florida Fair
March - Kissimmee Blue Grass Festival, St. Patrick’s Day Party, International Orchid Fair, Disney's Easter Parade
April - Orlando International Fringe Festival, JazzFest Kissimmee, Rajuncajun Crawfish Festival
May - Orlando Carnival, International Flower and Garden Festival
June - Fulton's Crab House Seafood Alaska Festival, Florida Film Festival
July 4th - Kissimmee Old Fashioned Celebration or Lake Eola Picnic in the Park
August - Summer Music Games World Championships
September - Osceola Art Festival, Annual Mexican Fiesta
October - Polish Fest, Halloween Horror Night, International Food and Wine Festival, Walt Disney World/Oldsmobile Golf Classic
November - Festival of Trees, Annual Candlelight Processional
December - Christmas in the Park at Winter Park’s Charles Hosmer Morse Museum for the annual lighting of century-old Tiffany windows, Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Parade and Party, Orlando Citrus Parade
Transportation Most visitors arrive at the Orlando International Airport. There are several shuttle companies running from the airport to various points, including Kissimmee, theme parks, and the cruise port at Port Canaveral. Some charter flights arrive at Kissimmee Gateway Airport.
The Amtrak train station provides service to Miami or points north up to New York. Greyhound provides commercial bus service between different cities in Florida.
A rental car is the easiest and most convenient way to get around. The roads are all wide and easy to drive on with all the major areas signposted, but traffic jams are common in the afternoons. Avoid the I-4 at all cost as the traffic can be horrendous. Taxis are generally expensive, but available at almost any time and place. Kissimmee’s public transportation is the Lynx bus service.
Activities & Sports
Hike, swim, go boating, canoe, kayak, bicycle, snorkel, or scuba dive in one of the many surrounding parks. Try the Blue Spring State Park, De Leon Spring State Park, Hontoon Island State Park, Lake Eola Park, Lake Louisa State Park, Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge, Moss Park/Split Oak, Sebastian Inlet State Park, Tomoka State Park and Wekiwa Springs State Park.
A few places offer horseback riding tours, like the Grand Cypress Equestrian Center, Horse World Riding Stables and Westgate River Ranch.
At last count, the area with Orlando counted around 170 golf courses. This could be considered a golfer’s paradise for sure. Here are some favorite public courses to help you pick which to play when you visit:
Boggy Creek Golf Club, Cypress Creek Country Club, Dubsdread Golf Course, Eaglewood Golf Club, EastWood Golf Club, Fairways Country Club, Faldo Golf Institute by Marriott, Grand Cypress Resort: Four Courses, Grande Pines Golf Club, Lake Orlando Golf Club, MetroWest Golf Club, Ritz Carlton Golf Club, Shingle Creek Golf Club, Stoneybrook Golf Club, and Ventura Country Club.
Boggy Creek Airboat & Swamp Buggy Rides offer airboat or swamp buggy rides for an up-close look at exotic birds, turtles. Naturalists often refer to Boggy Creek wetlands as The Central Florida Everglades. Lake Tohopekaliga is the largest lake in Osceola County, and is renowned for some of the best bass fishing in the state.
Archaeology The Orange County Regional History Center has exhibits and artifacts from the earliest days of this region, the Seminole Indians, to the modern day history, including the Civil Rights era and the Disney period.
Attractions & Sights Disney World is THE famous attraction. The Walt Disney World resort is the area's largest attraction with its many facets such as the Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Disney-MGM Studios, Disney's Animal Kingdom, Typhoon Lagoon, Blizzard Beach, and Downtown Disney. There are also dozens of hotels, plenty of shopping and dining districts, and eight golf courses.
Next in fame is Universal Orlando Resort, comprised of Universal Studios, CityWalk, and the Islands of Adventure theme park.
SeaWorld Orlando, is a large adventure park that features numerous zoological displays and marine animals alongside an amusement park with roller coasters and water park. Right across the street is Discovery Cove, which lets you get even closer to the sea life by allowing you to swim with fish, stingrays and the park's main attraction, Bottlenose dolphins. Only 1,000 visitors are admitted daily so it is often sold out, even with its steep admission fee.
Gatorland houses thousands of alligators and crocodiles. The park combines a petting zoo, bird sanctuary, mini-water park, eco-tour and outdoor entertainment, including daily alligator wrestling.
There are many, many more theme parks and family attractions such as: Wet 'N Wild water park, Cypress Garden Adventure Park, Dinosaur World, Green Meadows Petting Farm, Ron Jon Surfpark, Silver Springs, and Wonderworks.
The town of Kissimmee has a few attractions of its own. The Old Town has a classic car show on the weekends, lots of shops and a couple restaurants, and a ferris wheel as well as other rides. The Warbird Air Museum specializes in restoring WW2 aircraft to flying condition. Guided tours are available of the work shops and hangers. Osceola Heritage Park is a complex that includes Osceola County Stadium, Spring Training home of the Houston Astros, as well as Silver Spurs Arena.
Nearby, Downtown Orlando has a lot to offer on its own. Orange Avenue is packed with bars, clubs, and restaurants, so it is closed most nights to cars for pedestrians. Nearby Lake Eola is a picturesque park containing a light fountain that has been established as an icon of the city and a historic outdoor shell theater. The Mary, Queen of the Universe Shrine Catholic church gets many visitors as well.
Several wonderful museums are worth visiting, such as the Cornell Fine Arts Museum, the International Trolley and Train Museum, the Orlando Museum of Art, the Orlando Science Center, and the Morse Museum of American Art located in nearby Winter Park. Two unusual attractions are the Holy Land Experience, a biblical theme park and museum, and Ripley's Believe It or Not! Orlando Odditorium where visitors can explore bizarre artifacts, strange collections, weird art/hobbies and interactive exhibits.
Nightlife The night comes to life in Kissimmee where you'll find a special brand of entertainment the whole family can enjoy. On Fridays and Saturdays classic cars cruise down the streets of Old Town, where rides, attractions, shopping, delicious dining and even two night spots await you.
At the theme parks, there is Pleasure Island at Disney World and the CityWalk at Universal Studios offering entertainment. There is also Hard Rock Café, Hard Rock Live, and Hard Rock Hotel.
Cirque du Soleil performs La Nouba in Downtown Disney West Side. Check schedules for the Orlando Ballet, the Orlando Opera, the Orlando Philharmonic, and other performing art venues.
Side Trips A lovely area to check out is Altamonte Springs, a northern suburb of Orlando, Florida. Here you can visit the Cranes Roost Park, a 37 acre lakeside park featuring a long lit boardwalk and covered pavilions, various ornamental plants and huge shade trees. Catch a local event in its 900 seat amphitheatre. There are several more parks to explore or picnic in around: Hermit's Trail, Lake Lotus Nature Park, Lake Orienta Public Boat Ramp and Recreational Area, Sunshine Park, and Turnbull Avenue Park. Golfers can play a round at The Links golf course featuring 9 holes 1,220 yards par 27.
Busch Gardens, a combined amusement park and top-notch zoo, is a mere 60 minutes out of Orlando. There are rides, shows and the Serengeti Safari Tour.
If you go spend a day at Cocoa beach, make sure to spend some time at the Kennedy Space Center at Cape Canaveral. There are regularly scheduled tours and sites where you can check things out.
Kissimmee/Disney World area has hotels to meet every traveler's need, whether it is a hostel or a 5-star resort. Privately owned vacation rental homes are also very popular especially with families and larger groups. They offer more space than hotel rooms, have kitchenettes, and are often times cheaper.
The Orange County Convention Center offers 2.1 million-square feet of exhibition space and serves as the area's convention and meeting center.
Eating Out The theme parks offer great upscale dining options. A few examples include Sharks Underwater Grill at SeaWorld, Mythos at Universal Studios, or Cinderella’s Royal Table in Disney’s Magic Kingdom. Walt Disney World Resort even organizes meals with some of their famous characters.
The city’s restaurants consist mainly of fast food joints, grandiose buffets, across-the-country chain restaurants, ethnic eateries, and gastronomic tables. Try: Azteca's Mexican Restaurant Bennigans for great Buffalo Wings and BBQ ribs Las Vegas Buffet Inc
There are tons of dinner shows: Arabian Nights, Medieval Times, and Capone's for example.
Shopping There is no shortage of shopping opportunities in Kissimmee and Orlando. Visitors will find a number of major malls, outlet factories and ethnic enclaves:
In Kissimmee: - The Loop is a large shopping center with a wide variety of stores, restaurants, and a movie theater - Downtown Disney has some very fun stores, including a Lego store, a toy store, and a soap store - Lake Buena Vista Factory Outlets
In Orlando: - Florida Mall is the biggest mall in Orlando - Mall at Millenia is Orlando's most upscale and beautiful mall - Fashion Square Mall - West Oaks Mall - Orlando Premium Outlets is home to the top designers - Prime Outlets is also home to many designers