Mount Dora is a popular winter retreat situated along Lake Dora.
Hunters, fishermen, and boatmen have traditionally loved the place, and it can be your next destination as well.
The oldest hotel, The Alexander House, was founded way back in 1883, and is still operational, with the new name of Lakeside Inn.
What was once a country town is now a beautiful small city of about 13000 residents.
If you want to experience a quaint, old-town charm, Mount Dora is the place to go.
The city is known for its various historic buildings, canopies of oak trees, antique and handicraft shops, and a number of yearly festivals.
If you are planning on visiting Mount Dora for your next getaway, knowing about the things to do once you get there will make your trip even more special.
Let's have a look at what you can experience in Mount Dora, and how to get the most out of your visit.
Mount Dora Lighthouse
Though the Mount Dora Lighthouse is officially listed as an inland navigation aid, many people consider it to be a faux lighthouse.
Nonetheless, tourists flock to this lighthouse every year for its amazing architecture and scenic beauty.
To get there, you have to take a short walk along the beautiful roads of downtown Mount Dora.
You will pass the serene lakefront along the banks of Elizabeth Evans Park and Mount Dora Marina.
Then you will reach Gilbert Park and Simpson’s Cove, where you can see the public boat ramps.
Your final destination is Grantham Pint, also called the Lighthouse Park.
The lighthouse was built with money which the civic bodies and citizens of the city raised themselves.
They made use of road rubble and made the lighthouse with bricks covered with stucco.
You can enjoy a local Segway tour or a guided boat tour here.
Many tourists also love to have their photos clicked in front of the iconic lighthouse.
The Palm Island Park is close to Mount Dora lighthouse, and it is the second destination on our list.
Palm Island Park
When tourists visit Mount Dora lighthouse, they seldom leave without catching a glimpse of the beautiful Palm Island Park.
It is a paradise for bird watchers, and you will spot an occasional alligator as well.
Along your boardwalk on the far shore, you see oak, tall cabbage, and ancient cypress trees.
These trees attract a huge number of birds every season.
In addition to the boardwalk, this 8-acre natural park has 3 picnic pavilions and nature trails.
The park stays open from sunrise to sunset.
It is better to avoid visiting at dusk, as birds come back to roost then, and visibility is low.
You can even fish here from the shoreline or dedicated platforms.
The parking area leads to the paved path across the park gate.
You can take left to go through the cypress or take right to go through the boardwalk.
You can find the Palm Island Park at the end of Liberty Avenue, on Lake Dora.
For all the nature lovers and birdwatchers, this place is a must-visit.
Village Coffee Pot
Village Coffee Pot is arguably the most popular coffee joint in the city.
They specialize in Cuban coffee, high-octane espressos, cappuccinos, and lattes.
They also have cold beverages, sandwiches, cookies, cakes, and more.
So whether you are a coffee connoisseur or not, Village Coffee Pot will satisfy your cravings.
Mount Dora Blueberry Festival
In recent years, Mount Dora has stepped up as a leading producer of Blueberries.
To celebrate this achievement, the Mount Dora Blueberry Festival is celebrated every year with grandeur and festivities.
Central Florida was mainly known for citrus fruits, that is until the successful cultivation of a southern highbush variety of blueberry at the University of Florida.
In April-May each year, more than ten blueberry farms offer you the opportunity to pick and buy your own berries.
These blueberry farms are also a commercial success, with huge produces shipped across the country.
Visiting the festival is a great way of supporting local farmers while getting produce like no other.
Blueberry farmers hand pick berries from their farms for this annual festival.
The best thing about it all, this is a free event.
Apart from blueberry sellers, you will find crafters, live music, pancakes, blueberry beer, wine, and blueberry pie eating contests.
You will find delicacies like blueberry chicken, sausage with blueberry salsa, blueberry shortcake, and blueberry arepas here.
Don't miss this festival if you are a food lover, especially a berry lover.
Renninger's Twin Market-Antique Center
Two of the largest markets in Lake County are the flea market and Renninger's antique center.
These two are popularly known as the Twin Market.
They are spread over an area of 140 acres towards eastern Mount Dora.
There are both indoor and outdoor shops in the Antique Center.
The air-conditioned building houses about 200 shops, and you will find many shops outside as well.
Shopkeepers are very keen on helping, and you can ask for any assistance you need.
Don't miss the Street of Shops consignment area, as it has more than 30 booths and 40 cases.
The things you can get here include old, priceless furniture, handmade ornaments of gold and diamond, paintings, historic books that have been passed down, antique & vintage glassware.
You also get products made of china and porcelain.
They have a great collection of primitive collectibles as well.
A popular eatery named Grub Hub is close by, and you should have a meal there.
Their open hours are: Fridays 10 am to 4 pm.
Saturdays and Sundays: 9 am to 5 pm.
The Flea market in Renninger's Twin Market
The Flea Market, similarly, has both open-air vendors and an air-conditioned enclosed building with many shops.
This place is an absolute gem for people who love shopping.
From bicycles to clothes to gadgets to food -- everything you can wish for is here under the same roof.
The air-conditioned building has over 100 booths, and the outdoor pavilion has over 400 vendors.
That is not the end of it.
There are even more vendors in the open-air areas.
Hundreds of business owners flock to the flea market every week, and thousands of transactions are made.
The Flea Market remains open on Saturdays and Sundays from 8 am to 4 pm.
Downtown Mount Dora
Downtown Mount Dora is small yet full of things to do and enjoy.
The place is full of historic buildings and beautiful streets Three well-known buildings are the railroad depot, the 1883 Lakeside Inn, and the famous Donnelly House.
Downtown has a huge variety of restaurants.
Everything from American to Italian to Indian can be found in the same block.
Mount Dora Golf Club
It doesn't matter whether you are into golf or not, the Mount Dora Golf Club is not to be missed when you visit this charming city.
The golf club has earned itself the title of “the longest 5,700 yards in Florida” - a praise that the locals are very proud of.
Spread over 80 acres area, this golf course has both downhill as well as uphill lies.
It is famed as a challenging golf course for even professional golfers.
The golf course is also extremely scenic, with characteristics of the famous Florida landscape.
The club is member-owned and was established in 1945.
It is open to the public every day from 7 am to the evening.
There is also a putting green and practice area for beginners to train.
This amazing golf club has something to offer for everyone, and we can assure you that missing this place will be a regret.
Rock Springs Run State Reserve
With a 17 mile long trail available for cycling, hiking, and horseback riding, the Rock Springs Run State Reserve is an adventurer's heaven.
You can get trail rides from the Rock Springs Riding Ranch.
Because of the large size of the preserve, it is a convenient way to see the entire place at once.
There are also more than 12 miles of hiking trails through the central Florida black bear territory.
The Rock Springs Run Hiking Trail gives you access to the wild outside Orlando.
Florida jay-scrub sightings are common when the habitat decreases in elevation from the high scrubs.
The trails, however, can be difficult to trace, and some are steeped in sand.
It is not uncommon for hikers to get lost here.
For these reasons, carrying a map, GPS, and compass are mandatory if you are going on a hike through these trails.
All the campsites in the preserve are primitive, and two of them can be accessed by paddlers.
You can even arrange for put-ins from Nature Adventures or King’s Landing in Apopka.
The Wekiva River is not inaccessible from the Rock Springs State Run Reserve.
The Modernism Museum
The Modernism Museum in Mount Dora, Main Street Leasing is the hub of Mount Dora's creative and artistic enthusiasts.
The museum is famous for its high-quality exhibitions, concerts, educational programs, and family activities that established the Mount Dora community’s reputation as a fine arts haven.
The Museum displays a curated collection of Fine Art and Design.
It defines the Studio Crafts Movement by exhibiting works from mid-century to those of today.
The Mount Dora Spring Festival of Arts and Crafts
Originally known as the Mount Dora Antique Show, the Mount Dora Spring Festival of Arts and Crafts is an annual celebration of artistic talents that happens in downtown Mount Dora.
It was conceived by a few business owners jointly in the 1990s.
Now a non-profit by the name of Visit Mount Dora organizes the festival.
In the beginning, the fair was meant as an antique fair.
Collectibles and souvenirs were chiefly sold.
It took place in conjunction with another popular festival, the Antique Boat Show, which happened on the shores of Lake Dora.
Now it has evolved into a fair of original arts and crafts.
Dealers of antiques and collectibles are rarely seen in the Spring Festival of Arts and Crafts.
The Mount Dora Spring Festival of Arts and Crafts has been ranked in the Top 50 Classic/Contemporary Craft Festivals in America by Sunshine Artist in 2020.
Mount Dora Spring Festival is a huge tourist attraction.
People from different parts of the country, and even from other countries, visit Mount Dora during the festival to buy handcrafted goods.
These items are among the best you can find anywhere.
With over 225 artisans gathered at one place, you will be left with a mind-dazzling option of amazing handicrafts.
To ensure high standards, these exhibitors go through a selection process, where judges assess the originality, quality, and practicality of their products.
The Donnelly House is now owned by Mount Dora Lodge.
It was listed in the National Register of Historic Places on April 4, 1975.
It is one of the most historic buildings on Mount Dora.
The structure was built by John P.Donnelly, a native of Pittsburg, who came to Mount Dora in 1879.
John P.Donnelly ended up falling in love and marrying his landlady and prominent figure of Mount Dora, Annie McDonald Stone.
Donnelley went on to become successful in multiple business endeavors.
Donnelly passed away in 1930 and the home was bought by another prominent person of the region, D.F.Gorham.
Gorham's died during the Great Depression, and the landmark home was purchased by the Masons.
It is still known as Masonic Lodge No.1.
The Donnelley house was popularly dubbed "The Gingerbread House" for its distinctly Victorian architecture with its yellow and white paints and stained-glass windows.
Donnelley house, with its great site, gives it an amazing view of Lake Dora.
The Cellar Door
Along East 4th Avenue in Mount Dora, is a beautiful little wine bar known as The Cellar Door.
They have an amazing collection of spirits and alcohols, from classy wines to hard liquors.
The place is also famed for its karaoke, open-mic nights, live music, and other entertainment options.
It is a great place to hang around and have a nice time when you are in Mount Dora.
Mount Dora History Museum
The Mount Dora Historical Society took up the task of setting up a signature museum.
As a result, they designed the Mount Dora History Museum.
The exhibits of the museum detail activities in Mount Dora from the 1880s to the 1930s.
The Historical Society organizes talks and events throughout the year to extend knowledge about the history of the place and its people.
Royal Palm Railway Experience
Orlando & Northwestern Railway’s service called the Royal Palm Railway Experience is a great way to visit in and around Mount Dora.
This route connects Mount Dora to the “Golden Triangle” towns of Tavares and Eustis.
The cars are diesel locomotives, and there are some glass coaches for great scenic views.
The journey is very comfortable, and the trains have the capability to meet all passenger needs.