Forever in the shadow of Disney World and surrounding theme parks, Kissimmee often gets stereotyped as a place where there’s nothing to do. But that’s not true – you just have to know where to look. For kitschy attractions and tourist thrills, head down Highway 192 to check out Capone’s Dinner and Show or the Visitors Flea Market – and if you’re feeling a little bougie, enjoy a Mediterranean feast at Villa de Flora at the Gaylord Palms Resort & Convention Center. The downtown streets boast quaint boutiques and historic architecture that makes for a picturesque postcard. And the rest of Kissimmee has a raw spirit that can only be observed, never tamed – from the alligators that roam the waters at Shingle Creek Regional Park to the cowboys who wrestle steers at Silver Spurs Rodeo. Kissimmee is a lot of different things – but dull is not one of them.
5770 West Irlo Bronson Memorial Highway, Kissimmee, 407-396-4888, myoldtownusa.com
Will you have to employ some questionable methods to find parking? Yes. Is it worth it? Also yes. Old Town looks like a classic Florida town full of eccentric shops, a haunted manor, robot fortuneteller machines and a rainbow Ferris wheel. Every week, owners of classic cars bring their prized vehicles for a little cruising.
Fun Spot America 2850 Florida Plaza Blvd., Kissimmee, 407-397-2509, fun-spot.com
Next door to Old Town is this small theme park that boasts a wooden rollercoaster, a four-story high go-kart track and the SkyCoaster, a thrilling flight above the crowds.
131 Broadway Ave., Kissimmee, 407-483-7813, facebook.com/buchitorestaurant
This small business feels more "abuela" than "mom-and-pop." Buchito combines authentic Cuban dishes like picadillo and ropa vieja with a lot of café con leche. After rifling through the antiques at nearby Lanier's Historic Downtown Marketplace, make your way to Buchito for a Benny Cuban.
16 E. Dakin Ave., Kissimmee, 407-572-8719, savionsplace.com
Chef Pouchon Savion brings a modern spin to traditional American staple dishes in downtown Kissimmee. Try the fried plantain bowl with grilled chicken or their famous lobster bisque.
3160 Vineland Road, Kissimmee, 407-397-7666, tropicomofongo.com
Get authentic Puerto Rican delights at this small restaurant like mofongo con camarones, habichuelas guisadas and all the roast pork you can handle.
Kissimmee Lakefront Park
201 Lakeview Drive, Kissimmee, kissimmee.org
This lovely park at the edge of the water features a small lighthouse, strolling paths and a great place to have a picnic. Walk over to the Monument of States nearby – a 1943 folk art piece dedicated to the bond formed between states after the Pearl Harbor attack.
Marsh Landing Adventures
2830 Neptune Road, Kissimmee, 407-624-0973, orlandoairboattours.com
Explore Florida's swamps and the creatures that live in it on the best form of transportation – an airboat. Marsh Landing Adventures will take you through the enclaves of Shingle Creek, the headwaters of the Everglades.
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