Oakland Nature Preserve





Oakland Nature Preserve located at 747 Machete Trail in Oakland. Walk on a boardwalk to Lake Apopka or hike the green, blue or red trail in the preserve where native plants flourish and over 180 butterflies thrive.






The gray snake and softshell turtles that live in aquariums both found in the southernmost part of the United States. Many different exhibits shown inside the Education Center. Fossils on display of the many tribes that vanished. Oakland’s historic past includes photographs of J.O. Brock’s grocery store, businesses in the town square and artifacts found during an archeological dig. Tools that the early settlers used displayed.






The Florida Black Bear standing tall encased in glass. Different species of animals mounted on the wall. The remains of animals on a touch table help children identify them.

PICT1668Sit in one of the rocking chairs donated by organizations or individuals. Read one of the wildlife books. Take a book but leave a donation.

Check out the many programs offered at the preserve. Entrance to the preserve is free but donations are accepted. Hours of operation on the website.


Central Florida Railway Museum

PICT1638The Central Florida Railway Museum located on 101 South Boyd Street in Winter Garden. The museum is the former depot for the Tavares and Gulf Railway. People boarded the Tavares and Gulf Railway in Tavares that served many towns along the route. The railroad founded by Maj. Abrams in the early 1880s.


Railroad collectables throughout the museum. The family of Paul H. English, a telegraph operator dedicated a permanent memorial to him. A timeline chronicles the history of the Pullman car. Old No. 9 the first Pullman car built in 1867 to The Observation Dome Sleeper built in 1956. Chapman S. Root, grandson of the designer of the Coca-Cola Bottle loved traveling by train. He owned 5 vintage railroad cars. After his death, the family donated his collection of tableware and silver service. Tableware, silver and glassware from the Louisville & Nashville, Baltimore & Ohio and the New York Central.

An on-site museum gift shop includes engine youth and adult hats, magnets, post cards, magazines and prints. The museum is free and hours of operation are on the website.


Winter Garden Heritage Museum

PICT1612Winter Garden Heritage Museum located on the site of the old railroad depot built in 1918. Train Service began in the late 1880s by The Orange Belt Railway established by Peter Demens a Russian immigrant. The railway served towns from Sanford to the new town of St. Petersburg that he named after the town in Russia where he grew up. The trains carried freight and passengers. One hundred people lived in a settlement called Winter Garden at the turn of the century.


A room is dedicated to the Citrus Industry, which was the main crop. Black and white photographs of the First National Bank, First Brick Streets and Main Street line the walls of the museum. Four display cases filled with memorabilia. Photographs of the fire department and Dave Starr the longest serving sheriff from the late 1940s until 1971.

Citizen Heroes – George McMillan who served with the Flying Tigers during WWII. William S. Maxey and his wife Juanita founded the first African-American School.

PICT1621-1J. L. Dillard the first city commissioner who also served in the Florida Legislature. Mr. Dillard built the Shelby Hotel in the early part of the 20th century that housed early settlers and also served as a boarding house for men who worked on farms and packing houses.

PICT1610After visiting the museum, stop by the Visitor Information Center. We listened to a local proudly tell a story of early Winter Garden. Pick up a brochure of local events and take a 40-minute self-guided tour.

Free entrance to the museum, hours of operation on the website. Visiting small town museums gives me a close look of what life was like for the early settlers.



Goldenrod Museum

goldenrod museum (2)Goldenrod Museum established in the year 2000 located in the old Fire Station at 4755 Palmetto Avenue in the community of Goldenrod. A mural on the wall depicts life in Goldenrod from 1850 through 1959. Two community firsts; Walter Spelzhausen served for 25½ years as the first postmaster and Suburban Homes the first development.

dinky train lineThe tour made more interesting because of our museum guide’s family ties to the Goldenrod Community. The Parkers, Mathers and Hull some of the early settlers. Two speakeasies located in Winter Park during Prohibition and the most famous speakeasy the Eco Lodge in Goldenrod owned by Johnny Apperson. The Orlando-Winter Park Railroad owned the Dinky train line that began service in the late 1880s. The 6-mile train line ran from Orlando to Winter Park eventually extended service to Oviedo and by the late 1960s service ended.

Goldenrod file 870A single wheel hoe and weed cultivator two of the turn of the century tools unearthed. Photos and memorabilia that includes fire equipment from the Goldenrod-Dommerich Fire Department and a glass case of photos and memorabilia of Goldenrod’s war veterans. An Eisenhower and a Civil Air Patrol Jacket. The Florida East Coast Civil Air Patrol conducted anti-submarine patrols from 1943 until 1965.

A quilt exhibit includes a feedsack quilt. Used to store food and other household items the women discovered the many uses of the feedsacks. Some of the quilts included in the photo collage are the flower garden quilt, embroidered apron and Victoria Crazy Quilt. Free admission to the museum donations accepted. Hours of operation on the website.