GATE­WAY TO FUN

Cen­tral Florida’s Kis­sim­mee an ex­cit­ing hol­i­day ad­ven­ture

RSWLiving - - DEPARTMENTS - BY MARIA HAYWORTH

Cen­tral Florida’s Kis­sim­mee an ex­cit­ing hol­i­day ad­ven­ture

Kis­sim­mee is the “Gate­way to Fun” for vis­i­tors of all ages. In ad­di­tion to the ex­cite­ment of Walt Dis­ney World Re­sort, Uni­ver­sal Or­lando Re­sort, SeaWorld Or­lando and LEGOLAND Florida theme parks, Kis­sim­mee is home to the ex­pe­ri­ences and com­ple­men­tary ac­com­mo­da­tions that thrill and im­print mem­o­ries. And it’s just three hours from Fort My­ers. If theme parks aren’t your thing, Kis­sim­mee’s off-the-beat­en­path at­trac­tions and nat­u­ral ad­ven­tures may fit the bill. There’s zip-lin­ing over al­li­ga­tors at Ga­tor­land, tak­ing part in the fighter-pi­lot-for-a-day pro­gram at War­bird Ad­ven­tures, hot-air bal­loons, or the rush of the world’s tallest sky-coaster at Fun Spot Amer­ica.

Or con­sider Wild Florida, its cy­press trees and grassy swamp, soar­ing birds, sun­bathing 'ga­tors, nest­ing bald ea­gles and other amaz­ing wildlife on an air­boat tour. A wildlife park home to more than 200 types of an­i­mals is an­other key fea­ture of Wild Florida. Other air­boat tour op­er­a­tors in­clude Boggy Creek Air­boat Rides, Marsh Land­ing and Spirit of the Swamp.

Dur­ing the win­ter months, cen­tral Florida’s tem­per­a­ture is ideal for ex­plor­ing “Old Florida” beauty. One such place is Shin­gle Creek Re­gional Park, which is per­fect for bird-watch­ing, bik­ing or walk­ing along trails that show­case Florida’s nat­u­ral land­scapes. The nearby Pad­dling Cen­ter at Shin­gle Creek al­lows vis­i­tors to take in the vista in a kayak or ca­noe, en­joy­ing the seren­ity and calm of the wa­ter­way feed­ing the Florida Ever­glades.

For a glimpse into some of the area’s pi­o­neer­ing her­itage― in­clud­ing cat­tle ranch­ing that still thrives to­day―then the Osce­ola County Wel­come Cen­ter & His­tory Mu­seum should be on your list of places to visit. Be­fore Dis­ney, cat­tle ranch­ing was Osce­ola County’s largest in­dus­try, and there’s still plenty of ev­i­dence at­test­ing to a cow­town past. Each Fe­bru­ary and June, the Sil­ver Spurs Rodeo show­cases au­then­tic cow­boys in ac­tion at the largest rodeo east of the Mis­sis­sippi River. If you fancy your­self a cow­boy or cow­girl and want in on some of the ac­tion,

If the theme parks don’t suit your fancy, Kis­sim­mee’s off-the-beaten-path at­trac­tions and nat­u­ral ad­ven­tures may.

then the all-new Cow­hand for a Day pro­gram at For­ever Florida is for you. The ex­pe­ri­ence al­lows you to spend the day with the ranch fore­man and do ev­ery­thing he does, from ro­tat­ing cat­tle, fix­ing fences, ear-tag­ging cows, help­ing an an­i­mal in dis­tress, res­cu­ing cat­tle that have es­caped the ranch prop­erty, train horses, help birth a calf and more (you never know what’s go­ing to hap­pen that day). Get ready to crack a cow whip and use a lar­iat, among other tools of the trade.

Whether you are a pro­fes­sional an­gler or a be­gin­ner, you are sure to get a bite in Kis­sim­mee. Among the 80,000 acres of fresh wa­ter is Lake To­hopekaliga (Lake Toho), known for its tro­phy bass. For those who would rather swing a club than

drop a line, Kis­sim­mee boasts nearly a dozen cham­pi­onship golf cour­ses as well as The David Lead­bet­ter Golf Acad­emy at Cham­pi­ons Gate, The Golf Acad­emy at Cel­e­bra­tion and The AN­NIKA Acad­emy at Re­u­nion Re­sort.

Af­ter a day in the sun, re­lax in your home away from home. Known as the “Vacation Home Cap­i­tal of the World,” Kis­sim­mee’s op­tions fit any style or price point rang­ing from lux­u­ri­ous six- to 14-bed­room houses, to beau­ti­fully ap­pointed three- to five-bed­room vil­las, and two- to four-bed­room town­homes and con­dos. These pri­vate homes are fully fur­nished and fea­ture ameni­ties such as gourmet kitchens, home the­aters, game rooms, pri­vate pools and more.

So as the hol­i­day takes shape, plan a visit to the Sun­shine State’s “Gate­way to Fun.”

Dur­ing the win­ter months, cen­tral Florida’s tem­per­a­ture is ideal for ex­plor­ing “Old Florida” beauty.

Feel the thrill of an air­boat rush as you glide across head­wa­ters of Florida's mys­te­ri­ous Ever­glades.

Zip- line over ' ga­tors at Ga­tor­land ( above left), pad­dle along scenic wa­ter­ways or con­sider a stay in the Vacation Home Cap­i­tal of the World. And there's al­ways golf at the area's many chal­leng­ing cour­ses.

Take a horse­back ad­ven­ture on his­toric trails or soar above them in a hot- air bal­loon.

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