Several years ago, we decided to buy a second home in Kissimmee, Florida. We were tired of our long Michigan winters and wanted to purchase a second home in a sunny city that's 10 minutes from theme parks. When Covid hit, however, we feared we made a huge mistake. The Disney parks immediately shut down and we were afraid property values would inevitably take a dive.
Surprisingly, despite the pandemic, home values in Orlando have increased, as home demand in on the rise. According to the Orlando Regional Realtor Association, in 2020 Orlando home sales increased 3.8% from July to August due to low interest rates, home construction decline, and the low supply of homes in the $160,000-$400,000 range. We were relieved to hear the real estate market in Orlando was so stable, despite the catastrophic state of our economy. At the same time, we were a little lost without the hustle and bustle of the populated theme parks. Previous to the pandemic, the location of our home in relation to Disney was more valuable than the house itself. With the parks shut down, what would we do to occupy our time in Kissimmee?
Typically, on non theme parks days we would take advantage of the clubhouse pool and fitness center located within our gated community. But since the pandemic, we've found our private pool is far more relaxing and safer than our community pool. We don't have to worry about carrying hand sanitizer with us or wiping down public longe chairs. Our private spa brings us closer as a family, as it gives us time to talk and relax, without having to rush around the crowded parks. My son plays the guitar, and we enjoy hearing his classic rock tunes while we float around the pool or relax in the hot tub.
Another advantage to staying at home in Kissimmee is taking in the breath-taking scenery. My kids are taking a photography class at school and love to shoot images of picturesque palm trees, rainbows, and sunsets that are visible on our nightly strolls around the block.
Enjoying our second home in Kissimmee has given us family memories in a safe atmosphere. But of course, it's fun to venture out on occasion. We've found Kissimmee to be relatively affordable with its dining and entertainment options. Before we travel to Kissimmee, however, we use a Family Budget Planner to determine how much we should spend on food, recreation, and transportation costs. By simply plugging in our income and desired budget into a simple software program, we get instant results on how best to budget our money for our trip.
Another great way to save money is using the coupons on the site Orlandofreecoupons.com, where you can get deals on golfing, go-carts, jet ski rentals, bowling, dinner shows, and balloon rides. One of our favorite coupons is for Chocolate Kingdom in Kissimmee. First you can tour the chocolate factory and marvel at the chocolate river. Afterwards, you can purchase fun chocolate novelties, such as chocolate flip flops.
On nights we dine out, just down the street is a large Key West Style housing complex called Margaritaville that has an array of unique restaurants. Typically, they are not crowded and do not require reservations, unlike the ones near Disney. Most have outdoor seating, so it's easy to social distance ourselves. One of our favorite restaurants in this complex is Ford's Garage. The Ford theme is fun with the gas pumps and vintage Ford cars. I love their Model A burger and their Motor-jito.
Another unique dining option is Yeoman's Cask and Lion, an American/English pub. I love their shepherd's pie and their local Florida brews. Their 3 Daughter's Key Lime Cider beer really hits the spot on a hot evening in Kissimmee.
Our family's favorite place for dessert is SmallCakes. This family owned "cupcakery" and creamery serves ice cream and gourmet cupcakes in flavors such as Banana Split, Black Forest, Hummingbird, and Cream Soda.
My all-time favorite dining establishment in Kissimmee is Island Grove Winery at Formosa Gardens. They have a delicious and affordable weekend brunch with omelets (you can build your own!) Belgian berry waffles with homemade maple berry sauce and $5 Sangrias and mimosas. My husband and I love to sit on a picnic bench on their outdoor patio, where we take in views of the vineyard while we eat.
While we still enjoy the Disney attractions, we've grown accustomed to our scaled back lifestyle in Kissimmee. We've grown closer as a family and made our our vacation house a home. The Disney parks are still down in capacity due to Covid, but our family time in Kissimmee has lifted our spirits and given us some cherished memories.
Hi, I'm Jennifer-the creator of What's Baking, Babycakes? Here you'll find easy to make desserts, frozen treats, healthy salads, and hearty casseroles. I love baking, and spending time with my family and two Papillions! Find out more in the "about section." Happy baking!