Updated September 4, 2020
Clermont Florida has something in common with many other small towns and cities in the state. You have to get away from the main highways to discover the real town.
The main highways in the Clermont area are US-27 (a major north-south highway), and State Road 50 (a major east-west highway that runs from Titusville in the east to Weeki Wachee Springs in the west).
Downtown Clermont is west of the intersection of these two highways. Over the years, major commercial and residential development has taken place around this intersection until the real nature of Clermont is obscured by the hundreds of chain restaurants, service stations and shopping malls.
The town now has about 30,000 people; most of them live in the new developments.
A little searching will take you to historic downtown Clermont. One way to find the original downtown area is to take State Road 50 west from US-27 a few blocks and turn north on 5th Street.
You will begin to see historic buildings and know you have stepped back into Old Florida. There is a great city park on the south shore of Lake Minneola, and a historic village that has preserved some of the city's old houses and buildings.
The historic area of Clermont was platted and laid out on the rolling hills between Lake Minneola to the north and Lake Minnehaha to the south. It was founded in 1884, and incorporated in 1916.
The town was named for the birthplace of one of the founders, A. F. Wrotnoski. It's probably fortunate they didn't name the town after Mr. Wrotnoski himself. It doesn't sound as melodius as Clermont.
In 1922, a developer named Edward Denslow organized something called The Postal Colony Company. He bought 1,000 acres and planted citrus groves. The groves were owned and tended by the retired post office employees. Clermont became one of the foremost citrus growing towns in the United States.
One of the most popular tourist attractions in Central Florida was built in Clermont in 1956: the Florida Citrus Tower. An elevator takes visitors to the top of the tall tower built on a hill northeast of town on US-27. The top of the tower is the highest point in Florida.
You could see hundreds of thousands of acres of Citrus in the old days. There was no Walt Disney World or other big theme parks then, and tourists loved the Citru Towere.
Now you can still see all the way to Orlando, but the view is no longer of citrus, but of thousands of homes and shopping centers.
Read more about it here: Citrus Tower.
A serious freeze in the early 1980s destroyed most of the groves in this part of Central Florida. The Orlando metro area was booming, and the land became worth more as residential subdivision property than as groves. Almost nobody replanted their groves, and the result is the populated area you see today.
I moved to Florida in 1960, and the old Clermont downtown looks pretty much the same as it did back then, but nicer, with a lot of buildings being restored, trees planted, streets resurfaced. The rest of the area looks like much of the rest of Florida but with lots of rolling hills. A nice place to visit north of town is the Lakedridge Winery.