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Florida: Kissimmee, Free or Almost Free Family Vacation Fun.217KISSFamilyonSidewalk Some of Kissimmee’s best kept secrets are free. From weekly activities at Old Town and awesome nature trails to fishing spots and free museum days, everyone can use a free day once in a while and on vacation what could be better?
 
Free days mean it is not about spending money to have fun but spending time together making one-of-a-kind discoveries and doing things on your vacation that are often only enjoyed by locals.

Take your own “been there, guess where?” photos.
Only in Kissimmee can you enjoy the Kissimmee Sculpture Experience. Grab your camera and look for this year’s new art created by popular artists and installed along tree-lined streets throughout the community center or head to Lakefront Park for ice cream, but be sure to check out the Monument of States along the way.

Just go fishing for free. Simple fun and free for kids, fishing in the area is easy. Osceola County is world famous for fishing so what better place to go fishing with your kids. Drop a line into one of lakes surrounding Kissimmee and see if the bass are biting. Lake Tohopekaliga, conveniently located next to downtown Kissimmee, is known to avid fisherman around the world and is a fantastic place to perfect angling skills. Brinson Park also has a fishing pier adjacent to a family friendly picnic area. Lakefront Park fishing pier on East Lake Toho in St. Cloud anchors the waterfront park with a beach, a playground, and several marsh fishing spots. Need to know: A fishing license is required for non-residents but youth younger than the age of 16 and seniors older than 65 do not need a fishing license, but they must abide by all other fishing regulations including gear type, bag, and size limits.
 
Take a hike or walk above the marsh. Enjoying a vacation free day with Mother Nature makes sense for many reasons beginning with carefree, cheap, easy and fun. Add to that general well being and stress free with opportunities to learn about, interact with, and experience nature first hand. Even a short walk searching for frogs and reptiles or looking for ant mounds and cutter beetles will likely be rewarding for your child. One of the most rewarding spots in the area is Osceola County Schools Environmental Study Center located within a Reedy Creek Swamp. The center offers an elevated observation boardwalk, three hiking trails and indoor educational displays. Another sure bet is Peghorn Nature Park and Trail in St. Cloud with several marked trails within almost 60 acres of real Florida. Bonus points: Checkout the 1800’s Peghorn Cracker Village created to depict Central Florida’s earlier years.
 
Bring your binoculars and count the birds. Central Florida is still for the birds even with the theme parks and super highways. In fact Kissimmee/ St. Cloud area (Osceola County) has the largest population of nesting bald eagles in the continental U.S. It’s also one of the country's few re-introduction sites for the endangered whooping crane. Natural birding spots along the Great Florida Birding Trail include Lake Lizzie Nature Preserve, the Osceola County Environmental Center, and in the Wildlife Management Areas of Bull Creek, Prairie Lakes, Three Lakes, and Triple N Ranch. Need to know: If you need more reasons to take a free day with your children in Last Child in the Woods - Saving our Children from Nature Deficit Disorder, author Richard Louv links the absence of nature in our wired children's lives with the rise in obesity, attention disorders and depression.217KISSWatergirl

Go for the cars and stay for the music. Old Town is the home of Florida's largest weekly car cruises, the Saturday Nite Cruise®, with more than 300 classic cars and the Friday Nite Cruise with vehicles 1975-1987 plus newer customs & exotics with free rock & roll for everyone. Wrapping up the weekend free "Groovin’ and Cruise In On A Sunday Afternoon” and each Wednesday night checkout Dwight Icenhower as The King of Rock n' Roll.  Free and fun, the Old Town complex includes shops, eateries and an amusement park with Ferris wheel, go-carts and cotton candy.  Parking is always free.
 
Experience life in a cow camp. Lake Kissimmee State Park sits amid the headwaters for the Florida Everglades. It is a calm, shady park refuge and an ideal place to hike, ride horseback, fish, camp, and picnic. The general campground is located in a hardwood hammock with a dense canopy of live oak trees and plenty of protection from the sun. The family campground consists of 60 campsites accommodating RV's or tents. While the park does not have any designated swimming areas, families can launch a canoe or kayak into a canal and head toward the waters of Lake Kissimmee. The wet prairie around the lake is natural pasture land that has been utilized for livestock grazing since the early 1800s. Bonus points: Free and educational, park rangers conduct “Cow Camp" living history sessions on weekends and holidays. The camp vividly portrays the life of early pioneers and their life working with cattle. Need to know: The Cow Camp is open October 1 through April 30 and only on holiday weekends from May 1 through October 1 each year.
 
Free fun at the YMCA. If your family has an active Y membership and your card has the word “away” on it you are entitled to 14 free visits at Osceola County YMCA Family Center in Kissimmee. The updated facility offers new exercise equipment and a new swimming pool with a zero depth entry, water features for children, and diving boards. The center also has a gymnasium, teen center, lighted sports fields, and a childcare facility. Classes and activity classes include cardio Zumba, kickboxing, power yoga, Latin dance, pilates, kickboxing, and martial arts. There's even a special kids fitness class subtitled "Dance, Jump, Wiggle, Scream, and Shake".
  217KISSButterflychild
 
Make it happen. The Kissimmee CVB website showcases oodles of vacation ideas often with savings.  Many hotels offer transfers to the major attractions either for free or for a small fee. The special family vacation offers change frequently, so to stay in the information loop sign up for the free e-newsletter, checkout Kissimmee on Facebook or follow the latest news on Twitter. See what others are saying about Kissimmee at Kissimmee's blog, i.SeeKissimmee.com and to explore all of the options log on to www.VisitKissimmee.com.

Planning Details
Old Town 5770 W. Irlo Bronson Memorial Hwy. Kissimmee, Florida 34746. (407) 396-4888 or www.old-town.com.
Brinson Park 406 Neptune Rd. Kissimmee, FL 34741. (407) 343-7175. 
Lakefront Park & Dan Tarrell Memorial Point 1104 Lakeshore Blvd. St. Cloud, FL 34769. (407) 957-7243. 
Osceola County Schools Environmental Study Center (Open to the public on weekends.) 4300 Poinciana Blvd. Kissimmee, FL 34758. (407) 870-0551 or www.myfwc.com.
Peghorn Nature Park and Trail 2101 Peghorn Way St. Cloud, FL 34769. (407) 957-7243.
Lake Kissimmee State Park 14248 Camp Mack Road, Lake Wales, FL 33898. (863)696-1112 or www.floridastateparks.org/lakekissimmee.
Osceola County YMCA Family Center 2117 W. Mabbette St. Kissimmee, FL 34741 2117 West Mabbette Street Kissimmee FL 34741. (407) 847-7413 or  www.centralfloridaymca.org.

Content researched and compiled by Nancy Nelson-Duac, Editor, FTF. Images provided by Peghorn Nature Preserve and Kissimmee CVB.Updated copyright 2014.
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