A guest post by our friends at Florida Vacation Homes by Owner
Central Florida’s an intriguing place. There’s the tourist-oriented stuff like theme parks, resorts, and International Drive. Then there are arts and cultural treasures, innovative dining, and other unique offerings in Orlando. We also have beautiful city and state parks teeming with wildlife, as well as a variety of smaller towns and cities to explore.
Here at Florida Vacation Homes by Owner, we connect tourists—particularly from the UK—with rental vacation homes. We also publish information to help vacationers plan their perfect trip. So, we get a good deal of questions about things to do in the area, including day trip and weekend getaway destination recommendations.
So, when our friends at Infinity Realty Group gave us the chance to write something for new and future residents of west Orange County, FL, we thought a day trip suggestion would do nicely. We settled on one of our favorite smaller cities in Central Florida—one that never fails to delight locals and tourists alike: Mount Dora.
This nearby Lake County city is only about half an hour north of Winter Garden, another 10 minutes or so from Windermere, and just a few minutes farther from Dr. Phillips. Below are just some of the reasons we like to refer people to Mount Dora.
In addition to its charming downtown, Mount Dora has lots of rolling, relatively high hills for what is mostly a very flat state. There are also more than 1,000 lakes within the city limits that draw amazing wading birds, large expanses of untouched wilderness, and many historic old-Florida homes. All in all, this is arguably the most scenic, romantic city in Central Florida.
If you’re into antique and craft shopping, Mount Dora’s your place. It’s nationally renowned as an antiquing destination, in fact. Renninger’s Twin Market features nearly 120 acres of antique and other vendors every weekend, and it also hosts the South’s biggest antiques event three times per year, on the third weekends of January, February, and November. There’s also The Village Antique Mall, Oliver’s Twist Antiques, and Mermaid Juice—an antique shop combined with a microbrewery and wine bar, just to name a few other options.
There’s often an exciting festival, special event, or cool gathering going on in downtown Mount Dora. To list just a few of the major ones and give you an idea of the diverse offerings:
- Mount Dora Arts Festival
- Mount Dora Music Festival
- Renninger’s Antique Extravaganza (mentioned above)
- Mount Dora Spring Collectibles & Crafts Show
- Mount Dora Annual Regatta
- Earth Day Mount Dora
- The Florida Storytelling Festival
- Mount Dora Florida Highwaymen Art Show
- Taste of Mount Dora
- Blues ‘n Groove Weekend
- Mount Dora Bicycle Festival
- Mount Dora Plant & Garden Fair
The Mount Dora Museum of Speed
Vintage and muscle car enthusiasts must take a trip to this lesser-known, unique Central Florida attraction at some point. In addition to all the beautiful antique autos, there’s a collection of vintage road signs, lots of classic rock ‘n roll and country music memorabilia, and lots more classic car related memorabilia and exhibits.
Dining and Shopping
Mount Dora’s downtown is a quaint and pleasant place to stroll around, shop, eat, and drink. Along with all the independent stores, there are plenty of great eateries and bars—many but not all downtown—like The Goblin Market Restaurant, 1921 by Norman Van Aken, One Flight Up Cafe, Copacabana Cuban Cafe, Pisces Rising, Mount Dora Streat Corner (no, that’s not a typo; it’s how they spell it), Sugarboos Bar-B-Que, Mr. Cebiche, and Mount Dora Brewing & Rocking Rabbit Brewery.