When you’ve got just 36 hours to spend in Kissimmee, the first and most important thing to ask yourself is: To theme park or not to theme park? That is the question.
If you’ve decided you’re going to dash off to Disney, see the sights at SeaWorld, or leg it over to LEGOLAND, then you’ll have absolutely no problem filling up 36 hours (or even three days) at any of these world-famous destinations. But if you want to discover a different side of Kissimmee, here are a few ideas to take you off the theme park path.
Your Map to Kissimmee, Florida
1. 4:00 p.m. – Take a Walk
Once you’ve arrived by plane, train, or automobile, checked in to your hotel, and lightened the luggage load, you might as well start your Kissimmee on-the-road adventures at “the epicenter of awesome.” Universal CityWalk has pretty well everything you could want: unique shops, great souvenirs, dozens of restaurants, movie theaters, live bands and shows like Blue Man Group, and bars open until 2:00 a.m. (Plus, if you really need a theme park fix, you can catch up with Harry and Hermione at Universal Studios FloridaTM.)
2. 8:00 a.m. – Go Big on Breakfast
Depending on how late your night went, you might want to start your morning with some filling fare. Holler & Dash Biscuit House say they’re more than biscuits, but when “Biscuit House” is in the name of a restaurant, should you really be ordering anything else? Try such signature biscuits as the Hollerback Club with bacon, guacamole, and fried green tomato, or the Hamabama with country ham, red-eye aioli, kale, and apple butter. There’s also the family-run Woodsby’s Cafe, where you’ll be served “good food and plenty of it.” Yes, please!
3. 10:00 a.m. – Get Airborne
When it comes to getting high, Kissimmee offers a surprising number of ways to elevate your horizons. Ziplining, indoor skydiving, hot air balloons, broomsticks...the list goes on. But, if you want to see the natural wonders of Central Florida from a completely new perspective, then an airboat ride is the way to go. At Boggy Creek Airboat Rides you can fly through the headwaters of the Everglades at speeds of up to 45 MPH. Or get up close (but not too close) with some alligators and other native wildlife at Wild Florida Airboats and Gator Park.
4. 12:00 p.m. – Do Lunch
All that flying around is sure to work up an appetite, so you can easily do a grab-and-go at any one of the numerous fast-food franchises in the area. (Don’t forget, the clock is ticking.) But if you want to sit down and truly savor a great lunch, Savion’s Place serves up Southern food with a Haitian twist on everything from Lobster Mac & Cheese to Meatloaf, Crab Cakes, and Shrimp & Grits. Founded in 1905, Columbia Restaurant has over a century’s worth of family recipes of Latin flavors. Popular items include the Original Cuban Sandwich, Paella “Espanola”, and the legendary “1905” Salad®, tossed tableside for your convenience and entertainment.
5. 1:30 p.m. – Take a Spin
Just a few blocks from Columbia Restaurant is Celebration Bike Rental Tours & More, the perfect way to both explore the Disney-built Town of Celebration and work off lunch. For just $15, you can rent a bike for two hours (or even rent a bicycle built for two), and cycle through over 10 miles of scenic bike trails, waterfront pathways, and picture-perfect neighborhoods. Cool off afterwards at Le Macaron French PastriesTM with a macaron glacé, otherwise known as a macaron ice-cream sandwich—and yes, you read that correctly!
6. 4:00 p.m. – Hit the Shops OR Go Gatoring
Head to the open-air malls at Lake Buena Vista Factory Stores and Orlando Vineland Premium Outlets for dozens of designer name brands at factory outlet pricing. Then make your way over to Disney Springs for all things Mickey. This outdoor shopping, dining, and entertainment complex is open daily until midnight, so if you want to stay put for the evening, there are lots of restaurants, shows, and live music options to keep you entertained.
However, if you prefer seeing gators in the wild to wearing them on your feet, then a visit to Gatorland is a must. This 110-acre theme park and wildlife preserve features over 2,000 gators, critters and cats, off-road adventures, and putting the “scream” in Screamin’ Gator Zipline, where you can fly over hundreds of alligators and crocodiles at speeds of up to 30 MPH.
7. 7:30 p.m. – Light Up the Night
Once you take the harness off, take a step back in time at Old Town Kissimmee. Here the recreation of a classic Florida town has been reimagined with 18 acres of historical architecture and unique restaurants, bars, rides, games, and shops. And if you happen to be here on the weekend, check out the muscle car and classic car shows on Friday and Saturday nights, starting at 8:30 p.m. For more present-day pursuits, Imperium Food and Wine has an extensive wine list of over 80 wines by the glass or bottle, all of which can be paired with tasty apps and delicious dishes.
Yes, it can be a bit overwhelming when trying to choose between Kissimmee’s 45,000 accommodation options. But since you’ll only in town for 36 hours, treat yourself to a guest room at Bohemian Hotel Celebration or Gaylord Palms Resort & Convention Center (both Marriott-related properties). Or stay at Reunion Resort and have dinner at its steakhouse restaurant, Eleven, where you can take in skyline views, stunning sunsets, and nightly fireworks each night. Because when it comes to Kissimmee, there are always plenty of reasons to celebrate!