In Kissimmee you can't go far without coming across sun-loving wildlife, hiking trails shaded by majestic oaks or an opportunity for thrills (Central Florida has seven of the best theme parks in the world). But my hands-down favorite perk of living here is the consistent balmy temps. With that in mind, my boyfriend and I recently embarked on a mission to soak up the Florida sun and enjoy the perfect weather. Living here, we realized that we sometimes overlook spectacular adventures right in our own backyard, and we decided to get out there and see what we've been missing.
Fly through the sky!
Living here means I get to stay outdoors all year long for thrills like airboating, horseback riding or hopping on an ATV. So on a recent 70-degree day in November with blue skies and a light breeze, my boyfriend and I decided to try zip lining above American alligators and jumping Cuban crocs at Gatorland, a 110-acre theme park and wildlife preserve known as the alligator capital of the world.
I gleefully hurled myself off the launch pad for an introductory zip at about 15-mph. The scenery below: Gatorland's star reptiles, a tropical waterfall and the surrounding lush and rugged landscape. To my delight, as we continued on, the zips became longer and faster. Not to mention, at one point I was flying over 100 of Gatorland's largest alligators in the world-famous Alligator Breeding Marsh. By the end of it, my boyfriend had conquered his fear of heights and I was smiling from ear to ear. This was only our first adventure of the mission, but we were already seeing a new side of Kissimmee.
For something a bit calmer, we headed to The Nature Conservancy's The Disney Wilderness Preserve, a little-known getaway that protects the headwaters of the Everglades ecosystem.
During our short hike to Lake Russell, we saw Florida scrub-jays and sandhill cranes and were delighted to see the lakefront's pristine condition. In fact, it's what most of Florida once looked like. It's what locals call "Old Florida," and it has a very calming atmosphere.
We were surrounded by bald cypress trees and pine flatwoods, after all, and we had 2.5 miles of trails to choose from. Soaking up the sunshine, we snacked on peanut butter sandwiches and chatted about doing this more often.
Experiencing these adventures together was bonding us in a way that daily life doesn't, and we loved it!
Rest and relaxation
As much as I enjoy adventuring, I also plan time to recuperate. Inspired by my rekindled love of exploring all that Kissimmee offers, my sister and I made a trip to Relâche Spa & Salon at the Gaylord Palms Resort & Convention Center.
Here, the scent of eucalyptus immediately put us at ease. We arrived 30 minutes before our appointments and made a beeline for the Eucalyptus Steam Room. Simply put, it was beyond refreshing. And there was still more to enjoy!
I indulged in the deep tissue massage with lemongrass-infused oil to nourish the skin. After my recent activities it really hit the spot. Next, I washed it all off in one of the spa's duper-super showers. I'm talking seven shower heads shooting from all directions, plus your choice of lighting and music. It was every bit as fanciful as it sounds.
Spending time in Kissimmee, especially in the wintertime, is a no-brainer. I am never disappointed. It has a way of transforming my attitude, giving me piece of mind and a renewed outlook on life. It helped me form closer bonds with my boyfriend and sister, and that's priceless.
Plan your own thrilling Kissimmee adventure today with the free Area Guide!