So, you think the rodeo sounds like a good time and you’re considering visiting Kissimmee for the Wrangler Champions Challenge this October. You’d have to drive an hour or two, though, so you’d like to make a day of it, or even stay overnight. You’ve probably done the Disney and Universal thing. Or maybe you’d rather take your kids when they’re older, or you just can’t justify the expense of theme park tickets right now.
Are we preaching to the choir yet?
We love Walt Disney World and Universal Studios, but there’s so much more to Kissimmee than characters and rollercoasters! We want to help you make a quick vacation (or staycation for the locals!) out of your trip to Kissimmee. Here are some of our favorite things to do in Osceola County:
1. Explore Historic Downtown Kissimmee
Located just 10 minutes from the Silver Spurs Arena, take a trip down Kissimmee’s own memory lane. Just by walking down Broadway – Downtown Kissimmee’s main drag – you’ll see the influence that rodeo and ranch life has on this community. Lamp posts and sidewalks are decorated with bronc riders, cowboy boots, and the iconic American Brahman cow. Along with the cowboy details on the streets, you’ll find scenic street art on some buildings, giving you a glimpse of Kissimmee’s history. Wander in and out of the shops along Broadway and check out Kissimmee Main Street’s Sculpture Experience (totally FREE; takes 2-3 hours). Historic Downtown Kissimmee is walking distance from the newly renovated Kissimmee Lakefront Park. Take a stroll along the shore of Lake Tohopekaliga, and let the kids burn off some energy at the playground and splash pad. Grab an appetizer before the rodeo at one of downtown’s delicious restaurants.
2. Ecotourism Attractions
One of the more underrated things to do in Kissimmee/St. Cloud is visiting one of several ecotourism attractions. Our lakes, creeks, and canals are the Headwaters of the Florida Everglades! You only need one hour on an airboat to experience the “real” Florida. On these tours, you’ll be able to see native wildlife, such as American alligators and birds of prey (like bald eagles and hawks) in their natural habitat. These attractions are hidden gems! Just remember to keep some sunscreen and hair ties handy while you experience Florida’s natural beauty! (A one-hour airboat tour costs about $40 for an adult; $35 for kids.)
3. Travel Along Famous Highway 192
Whether you’re a Kissimmee native or a first time visitor, it will be hard not to travel down Highway 192. Serving as the gateway to the tourism industry, Highway 192 has tons of restaurants, small attractions, and shops that will fulfill all of your gift-giving needs! While some shops may have the standard Florida-themed shirts, refrigerator magnets, and sunglasses, you can also pick up some unique items such as orange blossom perfume from Orange World, or an assortment of mineral keychains from the Black Mineral Market at Old Town! Trust us, you’ll find something for everyone you know along this road!
4. Osceola County Welcome Center and History Museum and Pioneer Village at Shingle Creek
Whether you’re a history fanatic or you’re just curious about the history of Osceola County, you’ll want to stop by the Osceola County Welcome Center and History Museum to learn more about the pioneer ranching families that helped establish Osceola’s successful cattle industry, and the science and economics of Central Florida’s ecosystems (you can see the museum for FREE!). When you visit the Pioneer Village at Shingle Creek, you’ll be transported back in time while walking through a collection of authentic structures that were once located throughout Osceola County ($7 for adults; $3 for children). Looking for something outdoorsy to do? You can rent canoes, kayaks, and stand up paddle boards at nearby Shingle Creek Regional Park (a tandem kayak costs $16 per hour with a two-hour minimum).
5. Eat Good BBQ
There’s some debate about whether Florida is a true “Southern” state, but there’s no doubt about it – we know how to cook some mean BBQ! Florida is tenth in the nation in beef cattle production, it’s safe to say we know a thing or two about smoked beef, brisket, and burgers. You’ll find a variety of local joints throughout Osceola County serving up some of America’s classic dishes from pulled pork sandwiches to baby back ribs. Fat Boys, Meat n Fire, Big John’s Rockin’ BBQ, Jimmy Bear’s, Rosie’s Smokin’ Hot Bar-B-Que – they’re all winners in our book! You might even lick your plate clean!
All of these attractions are close to the Silver Spurs Arena, so you’ll have plenty of time to do a little sightseeing and still make it to the Silver Spurs Rodeo!