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10 Ways to See Wildlife in Kissimmee

Giant gators, beautiful birds, elusive panthers—oh my! The local wildlife around Kissimmee is definitely diverse, and there are so many fun-filled ways to experience it.

A woman greets a sloth at Wild Florida

Meet and greet incredible creatures at Wild Florida

From elegant hot air balloon rides to pulse-pounding off-road excursions, wildlife is all around when you adventure in the great outdoors around Kissimmee. Check out ten ways to see wildlife in Kissimmee below.

1. Hike Pristine Nature Preserves

Discover 1,000 native Florida animal species over 12,000 acres of pristine nature preserve at the Disney Wilderness Preserve. Although it’s owned by Disney, you won’t find any rides here. This is natural Florida at its finest. You can spot some really rare species like the bald eagle and the elusive Florida Scrub Jay, plus the Southeastern big-eared bat and the gopher tortoise. Even the iconic Florida panther has been known to pass through!

2. Set Out on a Fishing Excursion

Lake Toho (Lake Tohopekaliga, to be specific) is famous for its bass fishing, and the area’s natural beauty is simply stunning. Charter a boat and head out on the water, where you’ll encounter turtles, alligators, and more. Fellow anglers won’t be your only competition—eagles and osprey often dive in to swipe their daily catch.

3. Zoom on a Zipline

Looking for a little excitement? Gatorland's Screaming Gator Zip Line has been voted the best zip line in the USA by AOL Travel. You can zip along at 1,200 feet at speeds up to 30 miles per hour. But remember, don't smile as you pass over the crocodiles!

4. Drive Through a Safari Park

Driving through 170 wilderness acres at Wild Florida gets you up and personal with more than 150 native and exotic animals. You'll encounter giraffes, zebra, antelope, and bison. When you're ready to get out of the car, be sure to visit the Gator Park to view 200 additional animals.  And you won't want to miss Crusher, the 1,000-pound American Alligator. 

5. Jet Around on an Airboat

An airboat ride is a must-do when you visit Kissimmee, and for good reason! Skim across tall grasses and water plants at 45 mph on an exciting tour that will stay with you long after your vacation is over. Head to Wild Florida for this unforgettable experience, where you’re sure to see gators and rare white ibis, vultures, and beautiful boat-tailed grackles.

6. Flock to Birdwatching Spots

Located on the Great Florida Birding Trail, avian enthusiasts can enjoy fantastic birdwatching outings in Kissimmee. Gatorland Bird Rookery is home to over 20 bird species and offers photographer’s passes from February to June that allow for more time to snap some great shots of our winged residents. For a beautiful sunset birding experience, visit the Joe Overstreet landing at Lake Kissimmee to see meadowlarks, crested caracaras, whooping cranes, kestrels, and many others.

7. Soar in a Hot Air Balloon

Spy wildlife from a different perspective with a peaceful balloon ride over Kissimmee. From heights that tickle treetops to altitudes around 1,000 feet, watch for deer and gators in orange groves and swamps on a tour with Bob’s Balloons. 

8. Use a Little Paddle Power

Kayaking, canoeing, and paddleboarding are excellent ways to see the best of natural Florida while fitting in some exercise. Set your sights on Shingle Creek at the headwaters of the Everglades for endless opportunities to view wildlife from the water. The Paddling Center at Shingle Creek has everything you need for rentals, and they even offer a guided manatee paddle tour! Shingle Creek is also an excellent birdwatcher stop, with White Ibis, Downy Woodpeckers, Eastern Phoebes, and Red-Shouldered Hawks calling these waters home.

9. Go Off-Roading

If you’re not afraid of a little (or a lot) of mud, an off-road adventure is an excellent way to experience nature and wildlife in Kissimmee. And if four wheels won’t do, Revolution Off Road has eight-wheeled, four-person amphibious vehicles known as Mighty Ducks, sure to get your motor running and give you great views of local wildlife.

10. Saddle Up for a Horseback Ride

A trip to Lazy H Ranch will surely get the hitch out of your giddy-up! Owned and operated by sixth-generation Floridians, the Lazy H Ranch is the place to be for a trail ride that provides an authentic look at our region’s fascinating cattle ranching heritage. 

A trot at the ranch will take you from the open prairies to shady trails under hundred-year-old oak trees to the shores of Lake Toho, all while you have the chance to saddle up and bond with your horse. How long do you want to be out on the dusty trail? No problem! Lazy H Ranch offers 60- and 90-minute rides, so you can choose the perfect length that works for everyone. 

Jade Meadows Stables provides another terrific opportunity to experience the joy of horseback riding through Florida's unspoiled wilderness. The stable offers one and two-hour excursions on safe, seasoned horses and ponies. Highly experienced instructors lead all tours.

Where will you spot wildlife on your Kissimmee vacation? Please keep us in the loop on social with #MyKissimmee, and show us your best photos of our local creatures! For even more outdoor adventures and activities, learn more here.