11 outdoor adventures you had no idea were possible in Kissimmee, Fla.

What does “outdoor adventure” mean to you? Does it mean paddling the headwaters of the Everglades? A sloth hanging from your arm? Maybe piloting a vintage airplane, or navigating through the treetops of a cypress forest? In Kissimmee, it means all of the above. Plan your perfect summer trip with these 11 outdoor adventures — that you’ll never believe are all in one place.

This post is proudly produced in partnership with Experience Kissimmee.

1. Airboating through the headwaters of the Everglades

Skim across the water at 45 mph, cruising around the Central Florida Everglades at their most uncharted. These wetlands hide alligators, turtles, and birds galore — so don’t go too fast. Spot wildlife, snap photos, or take in the stars (yep, there are night tours, too) at Wild Florida. Or be the captain of your own destiny, and airboat, with Boggy Creek Airboat Adventures. Either way, it’ll be a splashy journey careening around the tall grasses of these wetlands, cruising to spots humans rarely get a chance to see.

Photo: Experience Kissimmee


2. Kayaking under Spanish moss minutes from theme parks

One minute you’re trying on mouse ears…the next you’re paddling under Spanish moss. Ten miles east of Walt Disney World Resort lies a whole ‘nother kind of adventure, and a whole ‘nother “most magical place on Earth.” It all starts at The Paddling Center at Shingle Creek, where you’ll put in at the headwaters of the Everglades — in a canoe, kayak, or on a stand-up paddleboard — pass into palmetto forests and between cypress trees, and spy for half-hidden alligators. You can go at it on your own, take a guided eco-tour, or opt for a full-moon paddle.

Photo: Experience Kissimmee


3. Ziplining over cypress forests (and even alligators)

At Orlando Tree Trek, you’ll zoom above Kissimmee’s pine forest after navigating swings, ladders, and suspension bridges and practicing your Tarzan call. Or head to Forever Florida for a zipline course — it includes three sky-bridges, 10 observation platforms, and seven lines, some 200+ yards long. And don’t miss their Rattlesnake Zipline Roller Coaster, the only zipline roller coaster in the US. You could also fly up to 30 mph over alligators and crocodiles on Gatorland’s Screamin’ Gator Zipline. The Gator Gauntlet at Gatorland, a wheelchair-accessible zipline, is fun for everyone, enabling you to glide over — you guessed it — gator after gator after gator. One hundred thirty of them, to be exact.

Photo: Experience Kissimmee


4. Floating over orange groves in a hot air balloon

Get sky high, casually floating in a hot air balloon over orange groves and alligators, or scoping out Walt Disney World Resort from the air. Take a romantic ride just the two of you with Bob’s Balloon Rides, or hop aboard the nation’s largest hot air balloon with 23 friends at Orlando Balloon Rides. Once you’re back on the ground, you have even more options: Sip mimosas. Indulge in a breakfast buffet. Celebrate with a champagne toast. What sounds good to you?

Photo: @annalieseew


5. Hang gliding with the birds

Glide over Central Florida, coasting on your wings like a bird riding the wind. At Wallaby Ranch, you can hang glide via their aerotow system, where you and a trained instructor will be lifted up, up, and away by a small plane. You’ll be safely attached until…bam! You’re unhooked, flying freely 2,000 feet above the ground. Afterward, the staff will whip up a complimentary breakfast to make sure the experience has a chance to fully sink in.

Photo: Experience Kissimmee


6. Seeing how wild Florida can get

When you think “Animal Kingdom” and “Florida,” don’t immediately skip to “theme park.” Here, it’s about sloths. Porcupines. Lemurs. Big cats, dolphins, and albino gators. Not all in one habitat, of course. What we’re talking about are: individual animal encounters at Wild Florida (have you ever pet an African crested porcupine?); working as trainer for a day at Gatorland; walking through a big-cat habitat at Central Florida Animal Reserve; and making friends with dolphins at Discovery Cove.

Photo: Experience Kissimmee


7. Biking through Celebration

In the ‘90s, Disney decided its happiness shouldn’t be sequestered — and Celebration, a whole planned town, was formed. It’s super bikeable, and with Celebration Bike Rental, you’ll learn about the area’s history, see Disney versions of city architecture, get up close with area wildlife (this is still wild Florida, after all), and find out what it’s like to live in a town built on a Disney mindset. It’s 90 minutes and seven miles of discovery — from vibrant downtown to waterfront trail. And if you can time your visit to coincide with the Great American Pie Festival, odds are you probably won’t regret it.

Photo: Experience Kissimmee

8. Horseback riding, Old-Florida style

Why does the Wild West lay claim to cowboys? Florida had conquistadors — and their horses and cattle — as early as 1521. Other states can’t hold a candle to this history, and today, the descendants of those animals are keeping the Sunshine State’s cattle ranching and cowboy heritage alive (and well). With the Cowboy for a Day program at Forever Florida, you’ll hop on a Florida cracker horse, moseying through the cypress and palm forest, seeing Old Florida as its first European settlers did. Lazy H Ranch, on the other hand, will guide you across the open prairie, through dense oak hammocks, and along the shores of Lake Tohopekaliga. If you can’t decide between the two, know that doing both is allowed.

Photo: Experience Kissimmee


9. Flying your own vintage aircraft

Grab the yoke. Rotate the control wheel. Foot on the rudder pedal. Get ready to roll! Okay — maybe not roll just yet, but you should still get into the pilot’s seat of one of the WWII aircraft from Warbird Adventures or Stallion 51, like a P-51 Mustang or the T-6 Texan. With either setup, an instructor will be riding alongside you, but you’ll have a full set of controls. If you’re ready to do loop-de-loops and barrel rolls, have at it! Maybe you truly would have been one of the daring aces of yesteryear.

Photo: Experience Kissimmee


10. Catching a big one in local lakes

Kissimmee is covered with lakes filled to the brim with largemouth bass, crappie, speck, and tons of other iconic Florida freshwater species. Lake Toho is a popular hangout, but fish camps and charters from Orlando Bass Fishing Guides and Big Toho Marina Bait & Tackle will take you wherever you want to go — or wherever their secret spot is that week. If you’ve never caught a big one before, Kissimmee is the place to do it, if for no other reason than your odds of succeeding are so high, you’re bound to be a convert — or at least come back with a story to tell.

Photo: Experience Kissimmee


11. Spotting every color of heron on the Great Florida Birding Trail

Kissimmee is home to plenty of incredible wildlife, but you can add bald eagles (the largest nesting population in the country!), whooping cranes, ibis, hawks, falcons, quail, and herons to the list, too. On the Great Florida Birding Trail, you’ll probably hear them before you see them, so keep quiet. Turn your shutter on silent, and pack the binoculars, just in case you need them — but you may not. Gatorland, Kissimmee Prairie Reserve, and Joe Overstreet Road at Lake Kissimmee are just a few places along the trail renowned as birding hot spots, though you may wind up simply following your eyes and eyes.

Photo: Shutterstock/Shaferaphoto



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This post is proudly produced in partnership with Experience Kissimmee.
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