Flying to Orlando with kids is a fairly regular occurrence for many families living in the US. If you listen closely, you will hear many of our international neighbors checking in at the airport as well, and for good reason. Central Florida is filled with family-friendly attractions. The big question is however, where is the best place to set up camp to see and experience it all?
Kissimmee with kids is your best bet for when you want to hit the theme parks. You can also visit the Space Coast, the Florida beaches, and maybe catch a gator or two, all within 60 minutes of your hotel or rental home.
But let’s get your beds sorted out first.
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Where to stay in Kissimmee
Renting a vacation home is a great plan when traveling in Florida with kids. If you have more than two people in your party, you’ll generally save money and get more space than with a typical hotel.
With renting a home or condo, you’ll also be able to prepare meals and save even more money. When it comes to those 6am breakfast times younger children require (Why, oh why, can’t my 6-year-old son sleep past 6am?), having kitchen access just might save your sanity as well.
Good news—grocery stores, like Publix, and Walmart are both within an easy drive of many Kissimmee vacation homes. Drop the kids off with one parent so everyone can swim, while the other parent hits the store. I promise everyone, including the employees at the store, will be a lot happier if the whole family doesn’t trek along to the store. I’ve been that mom. It’s not fun.
The Vacation Homes Collections has a variety of accommodation styles, from townhouses to single family homes that you can rent for a weekend, week or more depending on your needs. Many come with private pools and access to clubhouses with larger pool complexes, waterparks and fitness centers.
If you can’t find a place to suit your needs in Kissimmee, the Vacation Home Capital of The World®, you aren’t looking hard enough.
Kissimmee Restaurants and beyond
If you need a night off from cooking, there are plenty of great spots to eat around Kissimmee. Disney Springs is just down the road, offering Planet Hollywood, The Boat House and Morimoto Asia. Or you can go for one of our favorites, Bongos Cuban Cafe, which is owned by Gloria Estefan. Anytime we can get decent Cuban food, we go for it.
Speaking of amazing Cuban food, the little town of Celebration, FL, right next to Kissimmee, is home to Columbia Restaurant, which serves up many Cuban and Columbian favorites. We love ordering a plate of Ropa Vieja (slow-roasted beef with peppers and rice), grilled snapper, empanadas and key lime pie. My youngest son, who is my very picky eater (he only eats beige foods most days) loved our last visit so much he demolished my Ropa Vieja. I had to order another plate for myself.
Celebration is also home to the only Holler & Dash location in the area. This biscuit spot is great for parents looking for a quick, yet hearty, breakfast. Parents will rejoice when learning they also carry our favorite Stumptown Nitro Brew to get going in the morning. Phew!
What to do in Kissimmee and a bit farther afield
Most attractions you’ll want to visit in Florida with kids are about an hour’s driving radius of Kissimmee. This includes all things Walt Disney World, Universal Orlando Resorts, LEGOLAND, the Kennedy Space Center, and even a few beaches for dipping your toes into the ocean (or Gulf for that matter). Here’s a quick rundown of a few places we’ve checked out… so far.
Walt Disney World
No. You cannot see all of Walt Disney World in a day, but you can in three. You’ll be surprised by how much you can squeeze in. If you plan to visit more than just Disney while in Florida, pick one park to visit for the day. Disney World isn’t going anywhere. It will still be there when you come back. Kissimmee has a lot for families beyond Disney World. Take advantage of it.
Read our 3-Day Disney Itinerary
Universal Orlando Resorts
While Disney can get overwhelming, and feel too young for bigger kids, Universal Orlando Resorts can be done in a day (if you go into hyper drive). Arrive early so you can run in as soon as it opens. Book a VIP tour, so you are able to really maximize your time and get on the rides you want to without having to wait in line. The Wizarding World of Harry Potter alone is worth the price of admission, and that’s not just because I cried the first time I visited (I’m not ashamed to admit it!)
Kennedy Space Center Visitors Complex
If you have a kid who has ever loved airplanes and rocket ships, you need to get them to the Kennedy Space Center Visitors Complex in Cape Canaveral, FL. Even if your kids have never expressed an interest in space, take them there anyway. It’s an educational experience in disguise.
We live near the National Air & Space Museum in Washington, D.C., and still had no idea what the space program was working on in Florida. You will get a deeper appreciation for where your tax dollars are going, and how important NASA is to our country.
Florida is known for her gators and for good reason. Those tropical climates and swampy lands provide a nice breeding ground for these critters. However, gators aren’t always welcome at every outdoor BBQ in the state.
Opened in 1949, Gatorland is home to 2496 alligators, as well as crocodiles, flamingos, snakes, tortoises and a whole lot of nesting birds. While gators are activity breeding at the park, many of the big guys (and gals) are rescued from trappers who thought to sell the gators as meat.
Alligator skin may seem like a lovely idea for a purse, but we prefer to see those creatures hanging out with their buddies in the massive ponds across the property.
There are endless activities to explore and experiences in Kissimmee with kids. The ideal place to stay, relax and explore the surrounding areas, Kissimmee can’t be beat.
This post is part of a paid partnership with Experience Kissimmee. As always, my opinions are my own. When they aren’t, you will be the first to know.