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Mount Dora is one of the most beloved small towns in Florida. The charming downtown and the beautiful views of the lake make it one of the most picturesque towns in central Florida. It is located just northwest of Orlando which makes it one of the best day trips in the area.
The town is a host for numerous festivals throughout the year from art festivals to antique festivals, blueberry festival and an annual sail boat regatta. Whether you want to join the festivities, explore the outdoors, peruse the antique shops, or learn all about the history, there is something for everyone in this delightful town.
Mount Dora is a popular small town destination so it is always brimming with events. Discover all of the fun things to do in Mount Dora for your next visit and it is sure to become one of your favorite small towns in Florida.
Have Brunch Overlooking the Main Street
If you start exploring Mount Dora early in the day and want to get some brunch, one of the best places in town is the One Flight Up Cafe. Even though the café has indoor and outdoor seating, it is known for the balcony that overlooks the main street.
Not only are the views great but the food is delicious as well. For an appetizer try their smoked fish dip with a variety of gourmet crackers and veggies platter. The fish dip is absolutely delicious and pairs well with the variety of gourmet crackers, especially the herb infused ones. Their sandwiches are great for a main meal and you can get specialty frozen drinks and coffee too which you can take to go.
The balcony definitely fills up the closer it gets to lunchtime so consider going either a little earlier or a little later than the peak hours to grab a seat there. If you do end up wanting to go to a different café for brunch, another great option is Cody’s on 4th.
Walk Around Downtown
Strolling the downtown area and main streets of Mount Dora, you’ll find many cute shops, cafes, restaurants and other points of interest. Be sure to stop in the boutique shops filled with unique home goods, décor, plants, art, beauty products, and clothing. There are also antique shops, book shops and specialty salts and spices shops so every kind of traveler can find something special to take home.
The streets of the downtown area are very charming with some of the buildings dating back many years. The historic buildings are a very special part of Mount Dora which give the town its charm and beauty. You will feel like you have stepped back in time with the town’s historic architecture.
The downtown area has plenty of free parking so if you can’t find a space along the streets, you are sure to find a spot in the parking garage. After parking, stop by the historic train depot to pick up maps of the area as well as the best tips.
Mount Dora Marketplace
The Mount Dora Marketplace is a collection of shops and restaurants ready for exploring. At Lulu Candles you can find all kinds of fragrances including candles, perfumes, and diffusers. Grab a bite to eat at the eateries or just a refreshing drink.
If you’re looking for the marketplace, you can’t miss it. It has a very colorful and beautiful alley where you can go to relax and enjoy a break. The vibrant local food scene of the town is evident in this small marketplace.
Relax On A Bench Overlooking the Water
Elizabeth Evans Park is located just at the end of Donnelly Street and it’s the perfect place to enjoy the lake views. Walking down the street from the downtown will bring you to the park where you will find park benches and even a hammock to enjoy the nature views. From here, you can see the Mount Dora lighthouse with its red and white stripes standing out against the blue and green hues.
One of the best parts of the town is Lake Dora which offers stunning views as the sun glistens over it. It is known as one of the biggest and best lakes in the Harris Chain of Lakes. Stretching for nearly six miles, it offers a large recreation area all around. With beautiful flowers blooming and lots of greenery around, it doesn’t get more beautiful than that.
The lake offers an opportunity for fishing so if that’s what you love to do then don’t forget your fishing gear. Just be aware that there are gators lurking around in the waters so be sure to always be aware of your surroundings if you get near the water.
Farmer’s markets are very popular throughout Florida towns and cities and Mount Dora’s Farmer’s Market is one to visit. Every Sunday, the vendors gather near the downtown area in Sunset Park from 9am – 2pm with many local and tasty goods. There you’ll find fresh produce, eggs, cheese, seafood, bread, and a variety of crafts. It is one of the best things about this small town so if you’re visiting on the weekend be sure not to miss it.
Grantham Point Park & Mount Dora Lighthouse
At Grantham Point Park you will find one of the most iconic things about Mount Dora, the lighthouse. It is known as the lighthouse park or the Port of Mount Dora being next to the Mount Dora Marina and the public boat ramps. As one of the most well-known landmarks in Mount Dora, the lighthouse stands 35 feet tall and does actually send out a guiding light after dusk.
The park is a short walk from downtown Mount Dora or you can drive around and park in the spacious parking space. Across the street of Grantham Point Park there is also another park with plenty of space to run around and a playground for the kids.
Palm Island Walk Boardwalk
The Palm Island Walk Boardwalk is situated next to Grantham Point Park and is one of the best things to do in Mount Dora. The boardwalk is a relatively short walk but filled with many things to see along the way. As soon as you step on the boardwalk, look around in the water because chances are very high that you will see an alligator or two. They like to hang around the shallow waters near that area.
Not only alligators love to hand out here. It’s the perfect place for birdwatching, seeing fish, turtles, squirrels and butterflies. All of this wildlife is in the midst of the most beautiful greenery and grand oaks with moss draping the boardwalk beautifully.
A unique museum in the town is the Modernism Museum. It is only open Friday through Sunday from 10am – 5pm so its one of the best places to visit if you are there on a weekend trip. The museum features an intriguing collection of art and furniture that are unique.
The mission of this museum is to inspire people through their collections. To enter, the admission is $8 for adults and $5 for children. After the museum, visit the museum shop where you can find your very own unique souvenir.
Get a Refreshment
Walking around Mount Dora can get pretty hot especially if you are visiting in the summer. So, take a break and grab a drink from one of the many places. One of our favorites is the MagicTea Market in Mount Dora. Their drinks are very delicious and aesthetic. They can even make little foam bears that float on top of your drink.
This Boba shop is an experience in itself. From the tasty drinks to the fun Asian treats in the shop, it is a fun stop while exploring Mount Dora. Be sure to try the different flavors of chips that are not common in the states.
Another good, quick option is stopping by Bubbles + Juice just down the street, where you can get a carbonated juice drink as a refreshment.
Stay At the Historic Lakeside Inn
The Lakeside Inn is one of the most historic places in Mount Dora dating all the way back to the 1800’s. Now, the inn is celebrating 140 years and not only is it historic in Mount Dora, it is actually Florida’s oldest continuously operating hotel.
The classic cheery, yellow exterior provides a warm welcome to your vacation. However, it wasn’t always like the hotel you see today. At one point, with declining visitors, the Victorian Era hotel fell into disrepair and became neglected. In 2011, Jim and Alexandra Gunderson purchased the Inn and have been lovingly restoring it.
There are 90 rooms and suites at the inn with traditional décor and a few rooms with beautiful lake views. If you get hungry, you don’t have to go far since there is on-site dining with the two main restaurants being The Beauclaire and The Verandah.
One of the best features of the inn is the pool which stretches the length of the inn and is the place where the whole family will love hanging out. Whether enjoying the pool or relaxing in one of the chairs by the lake, the Lakeside Inn is a special place to stay.
Mount Dora is home to a unique and beloved pastime: lawn bowling. This traditional sport has found its way to this charming town, adding to its old-world charm. The Mount Dora Lawn Bowling Club offers a place where locals and visitors alike can try their hand at this timeless game.
With its meticulously manicured grass and the gentle sound of bowls rolling across the green, the club provides a serene and welcoming atmosphere for players of all skill levels. Whether you’re a seasoned pro or a curious beginner, lawn bowling in Mount Dora offers a delightful way to enjoy the outdoors and connect with the community.
Go On A Boat Tour
Boating in Mount Dora is an experience that perfectly encapsulates the town’s natural beauty and serene atmosphere. From the shores of Lake Dora, boaters can embark on a leisurely cruise to explore the lake’s vast expanse.
Premier Boat Tours is one of the top companies operating in Mount Dora. The tour offers a pontoon boat ride which lasts about two hours. On the ride, the crew share stories and the history of the area while pointing out the best places to see and any wildlife sightings. The tour costs $32 per person or just $20 for a one-hour sunset lake tour.
As you glide across the pristine waters, you’ll be treated to breathtaking views of lush vegetation and an abundance of wildlife. Boating in Mount Dora offers a peaceful escape from the hustle and bustle of everyday life, allowing you to immerse yourself in the tranquil surroundings and create unforgettable memories on the water.
Renninger’s Mount Dora Flea Market
Renninger’s Mount Dora Flea Market is a treasure trove for bargain hunters and antique enthusiasts alike. This sprawling marketplace offers a vast selection of unique and eclectic items, ranging from vintage collectibles to one-of-a-kind antiques. With a large amount vendor booths, visitors can spend hours exploring the aisles and uncovering hidden gems. From antique furniture to retro clothing, there’s something to suit every taste and style.
The location in Mount Dora is one of the two in Florida. So, whether you’re a seasoned antique hunter or simply enjoy the thrill of finding something special, Renninger’s Mount Dora Flea Market is a must-visit destination.
Visit “The Golden Triangle”
The Golden Triangle of Mount Dora is formed by the three towns of Mount Dora, Tavares and Eustis. They are located in close proximity to one another and all have beautiful views of the lakes and small charming downtowns.
At one point you could hop on a train in Mount Dora and it would take you to the other two towns in the triangle but the train is no longer operating in the area. Instead, you will have to take a drive down to these charming towns and see for yourself what they are all about.
The first stop is Tavares which is known as the seaplane capital of Florida. There, you can go on a seaplane tour over the area with Jones Brothers Air & Seaplane Adventures. You can pick which tour you want to do which start at just $89 per person. It is one of the best and most adventurous things to do near Mount Dora.
In Eustis, some of the best things to do include spending time near the lake or stopping by one of the fine restaurants in the downtown area. After exploring the “Golden Triangle”, which can take as little as a few hours, you can head back to your stay in Mount Dora.
Go During A Festival
Mount Dora is renowned for its vibrant and lively festivals that draw crowds every year. Throughout the year, the town comes alive with a diverse range of special events that celebrate art, music, food, and culture.
One of the most popular festivals is The Mount Dora Arts Festival which showcases the works of talented artists from all over the world. Another is the Annual Mount Dora Spring Festival of Arts and Crafts which has arts and crafts vendors who showcase their “spring” creations.
A few times a year, the Renninger’s Antique Extravaganza happens where antique dealers in the south gather with their collections of unique antique finds. From the Annual Sail Boat Regatta to the Annual Blueberry Festival, there are always events and festivals that make this charming town a fun place to visit.
Enjoy Delicious Food
Mount Dora’s restaurants are some of the best in the area to enjoy some great food and sometimes even some live music. One of the most popular restaurants in Mount Dora is Pisces Rising for its waterfront views and delicious seafood. With outdoor seating and the chance to eat dinner with a sunset view, it’s no wonder this restaurant is always busy.
For fine dining, 1921 is an upscale dining experience that stands out while The Goblin Market combines a cozy atmosphere with elevated dishes that makes it one of the locals favorites.
Mount Dora Christmas Lights
At Christmastime, Mount Dora transforms into a festive town with lots of lights and events. Kicking off the season, the town gets illuminated with over 2 million lights from the downtown to Donnelly Park and the main Christmas tree is lit up.
Take a drive to see the historic homes decked out in their finest decorations and be sure to watch the Lighted Boat Parade by the waterfront. If you thought the only missing from these festivities is the snow, then you are in for a surprise. At Donnelly Park you will be greeted with the chance of ice skating and sledding.