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The “Real” Old Town in Kissimmee
Many visitors will no doubt have sampled the many delights of “Old Town” Kissimmee, the amusement, shopping and dining area, which can be found on the 192 near mile marker 9. This charming area is themed to resemble “Old Town America” and is a great place to spend a few hours during your visit to the Orlando area.
However, if visitors were to just continue a few miles further East on the 192 they might stumble upon the “real” Old Town in Kissimmee – that being the Historic District of Kissimmee itself. This charming area is tucked just off the main Highway 192 at the intersection with Orange Blossom Trail on the 17/92.
This area of Kissimmee dates back to the mid 19th Century when it was known originally as Allendale. In 1883 the city was renamed to Kissimmee and enjoyed a short boom period as Steamships sailed into the area and docked at the North West shore of Lake Toho (or Lake Tohopekaliga to give it its full name). The steamship era was short lived however and the town eventually became the hub of a large cattle farming community until Walt Disney knocked on fortunes door and changed the local economy forever.
From the 192 turn down into Main Street which then runs into Broadway. This is “Downtown” Kissimmee and is home to several restaurants, antique shops, furniture stores, clothing stores, drug stores, and more. All of this with the look and feel of a true Historic Downtown area. A quick visit quickly turns into a half day as you are captured by the “small town” charm.
Once you’ve explored the many stores and diners, turn down Monument Avenue towards the train station (another little historical gem) and you will come across Toho Square, which is home to a weekly Farmers Market held every Thursday between 7am and 1pm.
Venture a little further towards Lakefront Park that runs along the shore of Lake Toho. This is a great spot for walking, taking a gentle boat trip out onto the lake, or having a quiet family picnic. Those wishing to venture further into the park can follow many of the hiking trails or hire a bike from one of the local vendors.
Many local events are held in the park area regularly including an annual July 4th celebration, which is well worth a visit if you happen to be in the Orlando area around that time of year. Their annual fireworks display makes a great alternative to that offered by Disney.
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