If you are looking for a peaceful and relaxing activity to do as a family in Central Florida then you should look into Makinson Island in Kissimmee, FL. Our #disneyglobalevent group boarded a tour boat and enjoyed the glassy water of the Tohopekaliga Lake (or Lake Toho for short).
As we slowly meandered down smaller canals we also received a history and nature lesson. Our guide was fantastic at pointing out the different birds, fish and trees that we passed. I learned that this lake is known for the amount of large mouth bass. Many fishermen come from around the world to fish in this lake.
I also learned that this area is home to a large percentage of the countries population of Snail Kite. 80% in fact! These birds feed on tiny snails that bread upon Lake Toho’s waters. On just about every speed sign or no-wake zone pillars were Osprey nests. Osprey’s are also known as a Fish Eagle because they have phenomenal eye-sight, important for spotting their food…fish.
Finally our island was in sight. Makinson Island has a rich history. Tohopekaliga means fort-like or fence. The Seminole Indians used this fortress as protection from the soldier attacks. The Seminole women would scream “Kish-a-me!” which means “No Kill” – and this is where the name Kissimmee was born. More recent the island became a home for large exotic animals. The state bought the island in 1999 and preserved the lands for a park. You might not see a llama, but you could come across a wild goat or hog.
Arriving on the island I immediately noticed the wide open field surrounding by woods, a massive oak tree, a gazebo and covered picnic area. Some folks had set up camp and were strumming on guitars. There were latreens available which brought me back to my Girl Scout camping days. The ranger informed us that they constantly check to make sure they are stocked with toilet paper. Thank you, Mr. Ranger!
Off to explore. The island offers three and a half miles of hiking trails. Our guide took us on the half route. Even though the temperature was warm the tree coverings provided much protection. On our hike, which was not treacherous at all, we saw a massive Eagle’s nest. We also had the amazing opportunity to spot a juvenile Eagle. We may have been fooled since this youngster will still fully brown. Did you know that Osceola County is ranked #2 in the country for the amount of Eagles they have?
When the trail ended we walked down a path with very high grasses that led us to an old orange orchard. This was a wonderful experience. If you are in Florida and looking for a local nature-filled getaway I highly recommend Makinson Island. You can rent canoes or if you have a larger group charter the tour boat. Pitch a tent and get back to nature!
What to wear on a day of exploring and hiking? It’s Tea for me! That’s right – and I was extremely comfortable in my Dewa Eyelet Top from Tea Collection. The breathable fabric left me cool on a very hot day, yet I was still photo-ready.