Located right in the center of Florida, Kissimmee is what the sunshine state is all about. A wealth of attractions, dozens of great outdoor areas, and hours of sunshine almost every day of the year makes it the perfect choice for short stays and long vacations.
Its proximity to those world-famous theme parks is a plus. Kissimmee is exactly half way between Disney World and St. Cloud, while other parks like Universal Studios and SeaWorld are within easy reach of the city.
And, Kissimmee has lots of attractions of its own to shout about. Try the Screamin Gator zipline at Gatorland, or take the plunge on the tallest sky coaster in the world at Fun Spot America.
There's more to Kissimmee than theme parks, and you'll love exploring the city's beautiful parks and gardens, visiting local museums and galleries or shopping for the latest fashions at its malls and boutiques.
Theme parks are hard to avoid in central Florida and Kissimmee is close to some of the best. Make a date with Mickey and see the spectacular nightly closing parade at Disney World or meet Florida's scariest residents up close at Gatorland.
Rush through the forest canopy on the world's only zipline rollercoaster at Forever Florida Ziplines, or try the 68-foot Panther Pounce tower jump or the Peregrine Plunge. Alternatively, speed across the water on an airboat at Cypress Lake, or go canoeing at Shingle Creek Regional Park.
See the city and central Florida from a different angle as you soar over the treetops in a hot air balloon or head to nearby Orlando for a turn on the Orlando Eye - you can see as far as Cape Canaveral on a clear day.
The city boasts several malls and outlets including Perfume Paris for discount designer fragrance and the Nike Factory Store for sports clothing. You're also close to Orlando Premium Outlets, Burberry Factory Outlets, and Lake Buena Vista Factory Stores.
The Kissimmee Chain of Lakes is popular with anglers who come to hook largemouth bass in over 80,000 acres of prime fishing waters. It's also a haven for nature lovers and home to hundreds of bird species and a variety of wildlife, including alligators.
This is the largest and most frequented vacation park in the world, and for a good reason - it boasts four different theme parks and a never-ending program of fun for the whole family. The Magic Kingdom exudes classical Disney, while Epcot celebrates a diversity of cultures from around the globe. Hollywood Studios makes movie-making magic come to life, and Animal Kingdom is the place to celebrate the natural world. And of course, your favorite characters are found at every stop along the way.
A mega-theme park combining the famous Universal Studios with the more specifically themed "Islands of Adventure", this resort experience rivals Walt Disney World with an immersive movie experience. Walk through mind-bogglingly accurate recreations of Hollywood and New York, and let your favorite famous actors guide you down the rabbit hole.
For a break from the famed theme parks, visit Downtown Kissimmee. A gorgeous recreational park awaits, complete with playgrounds, waterside piers, boat slips and social spaces. Take a trip on Tohopekaliga Lake and explore the Floridian flora and fauna, or stay on land to check out the different entertainment spots. An outdoor theater hosts a slew of performances, or you can put one on for yourself...
Both an amusement park and shopping mall at the same time, Old Town is not actually old - it is a retro recreation of decades past, inviting locals and visitors alike on a nostalgic trip. The influence is American through and through, and compared to the other local theme parks in the area, this one is the destination for relaxation. Classic cars abound, and the food is in line with the theme. Fun Spot next door fulfills the adrenaline needs of those still looking for a kick.
Florida is famous for alligators, creatures that have always inspired fear and fascination. At Gatorland, the great reptiles can be both admired and understood. This wildlife preserve breeds and maintains thousands of different species, and boasts a world-class and entirely safe observation deck for introducing the elusive gators to eager visitors, who can also discover them riding the Gatorland Express Railroad. If safety is not your thing, you can also enjoy the Screaming Gator Zipline...
The fantastic Florida climate makes Kissimmee a great option at any time of year. There are three high season periods: spring break from March to April, summer break from June to August, and winter break from December to mid-January. The city tends to be busier at these times and attractions like Disney World are packed. October is one of the best months for a vacation in Kissimmee. It's still warm, the city is less crowded, and there are Halloween events at Universal for adults and Disney World for children.
Many visitors choose to fly and Orlando International Airport (MCO) is just 15 miles from the center of Kissimmee. Rent a car for the short drive via the Florida Turnpike or take the Line 407 bus for $2. A taxi from the airport should cost $50-55.
Amtrak Silver Meteor and Silver Star trains travel to Kissimmee from New York in the north and Miami in the south. All trains stop at Kissimmee Station on Dakin Avenue close to the city center.
It's an easy drive to Kissimmee on the Florida Turnpike toll road. Take exit 242 if you're coming from the north or exit 249 from the south. Those traveling from Daytona Beach or the Tampa Bay area can take Interstate 4.
Greyhound buses connect with Kissimmee from all parts of the country. Bus is a cheap alternative to air or rail travel and a one-way ticket from New York, for example, costs just $73.
Everyone can find accommodation to suit their tastes and budget in Kissimmee. Affordable hotels include Best Western Lakeside and Masters Inn Kissimmee while mid-range options like the Travelodge Suites Kissimmee and Westgate Towers are ideal for families. Naturists can choose the Cypress Cove Nudist Resort, while those looking for somewhere a little special may enjoy a stay at the Gaylord Palms Resort & Spa just five minutes from Disney World.
Downtown - the area around the intersection of Highway 17/92 with Highway 192, downtown Kissimmee, has lots of good restaurants and small specialty stores. You won't find skyscrapers here; the tallest building is Osceola County courthouse.
Kissimmee Historic District - the area bordered by Aultman Street, Penfield Street, Monument Avenue, and Randolph Avenue. A designated US Historic District since 1994, there are 189 buildings of interest in the neighborhood.
Celebration - one of the city's most expensive residential areas, Celebration is northwest of the city center. A planned community that was once part of Walt Disney World holdings, the lakeside district's attractions include Celebration Golf Club.
The Lynx bus service covers the city and the surrounding district. A single journey costs $2 with transfers included.
Taxis are an easy way to get from A to B but they can prove expensive. A taxi to the airport costs $50, while the fare to Disney World is $42. Uber is a cheaper alternative but Uber cars are not allowed to enter the Disney World transportation center.
Car rental is an excellent option if you intend to visit several theme parks or plan day trips and outings to the coast or Cape Canaveral. Major brands like Avis can be found at Orlando International Airport and a compact car starts at $20 per day.
You will enjoy exploring the city's large, modern shopping malls like The Loop, where you'll find popular brand names, sporting goods, specialty stores, restaurants, and a movie theater. Pick up gifts and souvenirs at Lanier's Historic Downtown Marketplace or Disney-related items at Downtown Disney at Lake Buenavista.
Local supermarkets such as Publix, Walmart, and Winn-Dixie offer a wide range of produce and basics. Try Unidos Supermarket or Kissimmee Meat and Produce for fresh fruit, vegetables, meat, and poultry. A quart of milk costs $0.91 and a dozen large eggs $3.29.
Foodies love Kissimmee, and everything from steaks and BBQ to Mexican and Chinese food can be found close to the city center. For a special night out, try Medieval Times on Irlo Bronson Highway, where dinner is accompanied by medieval entertainment including jousting in an authentic castle. The Bahama Breeze Island Grille offers diners a taste of the Caribbean while Cafe d'Antonio on Front Street serves tasty Italian dishes in a beautiful lakeside setting. Don't forget dessert; kids will love seeing ice cream made with liquid nitrogen at Abracadabra Ice Cream Factory on N Main Street. A basic lunch in the city center costs $13 and a meal for two in an upscale restaurant starts from $65.