Kissimmee has been one of our favorite “go to” family vacation spots for years now. A step away from the hustle and bustle of the major theme parks, Kissimmee is centrally located to a whole lot of fun, offers budget-priced accommodations and has many action-packed attractions of its own for visitors. A few weekends ago, the boys and I were given the opportunity to experience some of the best that Kissimmee has to offer while attending the RAM National Circuit Finals Rodeo.
We headed down to Kissimmee to attend the rodeo finals, and had ourselves the perfect weekend of adventurous family fun. We had a blast taking in some of the great eco-tourism and adventure travel options that the area has to offer while also experiencing one heck of a show each evening at the rodeo. Check out how the RAM National Circuit Finals Rodeo became the perfect center point of our weekend of adventure.
On Thursday we arrived in Kissimmee by early afternoon. The best thing about Kissimmee is that there are plenty of laid back attractions and opportunities to really take it easy. This is a stark contrast to the theme parks that are just miles away, and it truly allows you to experience the best of both worlds.
The Paddling Center
Our first stop in town was the Paddling Center at Shingle Creek. During our kayak trip down river we spotted turtles sunning themselves on the sticks, plenty of birds, and yes, even a massive alligator. I’d be lying if I said that an alligator larger than your kayak wasn’t a little intimidating, especially when he is no longer perched in his “spot” upon your return trip back up river, but we had a blast. Kayaking through the cypress stump forest was so relaxing and really gives you a taste of “authentic” Florida.
The Paddling Center offers hourly, half day or full day rentals of kayaks, canoes and stand up paddleboards. They also offer camping complete with pre-packaged camping equipment, and provide the perfect place to “escape” right in the heart of Kissimmee.
Fun Spot America
Our next adventure was one the boys were really looking forward to. We headed on over to Fun Spot America for a taste of good old-fashioned American fun. Fun Spot America in Kissimmee offers a variety of rides for the whole family at an exceptional value! Parking, admission and wifi is always free, and you can ride all day for one low price with the wrist bands. Online, you can score a wristband for just $39.95 for those over 54″ tall and $29.95 for those under 54″, Most rides are accessible to those of all ages, but some of the go-kart tracks require you to be at least 54″ tall to ride.
I can’t tell you how many times we rode the tilt a whirl, or ran back and forth through the park from ride to ride, but I can tell you that Fun Spot America has some of the most incredible and innovative go-kart tracks you will ever find. Two of their tracks are multi-level, and if that weren’t enough, one comes with a breathtaking surprise. I won’t ruin it for you though, you’ll just have to stop by and see for yourself! Fun Spot America is also home to the intimidating Sky Coaster. If you are an adrenaline junkie, trust me when I say this one’s for you. We weren’t brave enough to try it on this visit, but plenty of people did and loved it while we were there.
Legends, A Haunting at Old Town Haunted History Tour
Last time I visited Kissimmee, I was sans children, and I had the pleasure of experiencing the incredible fright generating monster that is the Legends, A Haunting at Old Town haunted house. I don’t think I have ever been so terrified in my life, but in a good way. This time around, the boys and I enjoyed taking a step into the past and strolling the vintage streets of Old Town while taking in the haunted history of the area instead.
The Legends, A Haunting at Old Town Haunted History Tour takes you through Old Town, introducing you to some of its most evasive residents. You then get a behind the scenes peek into the haunted house and the haunted history that lies within not only the building itself, but even the various props used in the creation of each frightening scene. Afraid your little ones won’t like a haunted history tour? My boys are 14-9 and really got into the tour once they realized that the haunted house wasn’t in “show” mode. Tickets start at just $15 per person!
Orlando Tree Trek
After a first day packed with plenty of adventure and fun for the whole family, we headed out bright and early the next morning to hit the trees. Yes, we were headed to the tree tops for a little Tarzan like adventure at Orlando Tree Trek. Built in a 15-acre tree canopy, Orlando Tree Trek offers visitors 6 color-coded courses full of various obstacles for kids, juniors and adults.
The park has a total of 97 different obstacles to encounter during your tree-top adventures, including swinging logs, suspended bridges, zip lines and scramble nets. One of the most important things I can say to you about Orlando Tree Trek is that they most definitely put safety first. We have been to a few different places similar to this in the past, and Orlando Tree Trek definitely has the most in-depth and secure safety measures in place.
After a short safety demonstration and some time on the practice course, the boys were let loose, and they had an incredible time. This was the first time zip lining for three of my four boys, and they both fearlessly embraced it. At the end of the courses there are two large ziplines that all ages can do. Each boy begged to do them again once they were done. Orlando Tree Trek is definitely our perfect idea of outdoor family fun, and you should not hesitate to check out the various tree-top packages they offer.
The Osceola County History Museum and Pioneer Village
When you visit Kissimmee, an easy place to overlook is the Osceola County Welcome Center, but if you miss the opportunity to stop by this cultural attraction, you are definitely missing out. The Osceola County Welcome center is also home to the history museum, which has free admission and explains a wealth of area history with a variety of hands on exhibits. Here, kids can learn how early pioneers lived, try on period clothing and even pretend to be birds in a giant nest.
After checking out the Osceola County History Museum, we took a short drive down the road to the Osceola County Historical Society’s Pioneer Village. Here, the boys got to step back in time and see a variety of early pioneer homesteads. Each of these homesteads while different in their arrangement and design, are restored original homes from the area.
Perhaps the most intriguing fixtures at the village for us were the Seminole Indian dwellings. Only Seminole Indians can build these dwellings by Florida law, so members of the tribe came up and built some for the village. Seeing the craftsmanship really gave the boys a deep sense of understanding for their culture and history. The Pioneer Village offers admission of just $7 for adults and $3 for children ages 4-12.
The RAM National Circuit Finals Rodeo
As much fun as we were having in Kissimmee, we were all super excited to finally be heading over to the rodeo. It was our first time ever attending a rodeo, and even though it was raining, we did not let that put a damper on our fun. We arrived a bit before the 7pm show in order to go through the “Fan Zone” and attend the first annual Florida Heritage BBQ Classic. BBQ champions from all over the country gathered at this event to not only compete to win a piece of the $25,000 purse, but to serve up some of the most delicious BBQ I have ever had. The beans and short ribs were honestly to die for.
Finally, the time had arrived and we filed into our seats in the arena. Attending a rodeo
was always something that we had wanted to do, but it never worked
out timing wise. Who would have known that we would have gotten the
chance to attend not just a rodeo, but the national circuit
championships practically in our own backyard?
We cheered ourselves hoarse watching cowboys and
some tough as nails cowgirls compete in events including barrel
racing, tie down roping, steer wrestling, team roping, saddle and
bareback bronc riding, team rope heeling and the not-to-be-missed
We woke up raring to go knowing that the final day of our adventure weekend in Kissimmee would be spent entirely at the RAM National Circuit Finals Rodeo. We headed to the Silver Spurs Arena at 11am, just in time for lunch before the 1:30pm rodeo event. What’s the best thing to do before a rodeo? Eat some incredible BBQ of course. We sampled baked beans, riblets, smoked chicken wings, beef brisket and a pork sandwich as we sat down to a shared feast.
The boys has some time to spend in the free “kids zone” before the show started. This is where they would spend the majority of their afternoon before that night’s final rodeo event at 7:30pm. Complete with inflatable obstacle course, bounce house, giant slide, rock climbing wall and even laser tag, they spent hours playing together while I soaked up some incredible Florida sun in the cool Spring air and relaxed at one of the nearby tables.
The afternoon rodeo event was incredible. You could tell that tensions and expectations were mounting as the cowboys continued to duke it out to see who would make the cut for the final four in each event in order to compete for the win in each event at that night’s show.
Another trip to the Fan Zone, and we enjoyed the complimentary photo booth, Joshua climbed aboard the mechanical bull, grabbed some autographs, and then it was time to head back to the kid zone for more energy burning fun. My sister joined us at some point in the afternoon and was a real trooper, even joining in and entering one of the competitions on stage. What did she do? Squealed like a pig folks! Yep, that’s my sister.
I will tell you, the RAM National Circuit Finals Rodeo is not just a rodeo, it is a true event. One that you can easily build an entire weekend of fun around. That night’s final competition was insane. We were on the edge of our seats cheering and holding our breath all night. The rides were intense, and the cowboys didn’t walk away without their bumps and bruises, but in the end, the champion in each even was crowned!
This was perhaps one of our favorite trips to Kissimmee, and we have had many. Luckily, the RAM National Circuit Finals Rodeo has struck a deal to be hosted in Kissimmee for 10 years! That means, that you have the chance to create a weekend of adventure of your own for next year. The rodeo finals will be returning to the Silver Spurs Arena in Kissimmee April 6-9 next year. Head to Experience Kissimmee and ProRodeo.com to start planning your perfect family adventure today! Individual and weekend event passes are available for purchase.