Mount Dora: Vibrant Town in the Hills and Lakes North of Orlando

Mount Dora is a beautiful lakefront town of about 12,000 people in the wooded hill and lake country some 45 minutes northwest of downtown Orlando. 

Mount Dora Florida LighthouseMount Dora, Florida Lighthouse

There are many things to do and see in this small town.  This page is your guide through your Mount Dora adventure.  If you'd rather not scroll, click on the link of your interest below.




DOWNTOWN MOUNT DORA

Mount Dora is known as a place to shop for antiques.  There is a huge antique center called Renninger's on the outskirts of town.  Renninger's also has a very large flea market adjacent to the antiques center site.

Mount Dora overlooks beautiful Lake Dora, one of the prettiest lakes in the famous Harris Chain, offering one of the nicest views in the state of Florida.

One of the most unusual attractions for this lakefront town is the Mount Dora lighthouse. It is one of only three freshwater lighthouses in Florida.  The view of - and from - the lighthouse are favorite photo opportunity locations.

The citizens of Mount Dora got together and financed it. It was built in 1988 and is owned and operated by the City of Mount Dora.

The lighthouse is a favorite photo backdrop for residents and tourists alike, and is a featured attraction on the local Segway tour.

Another waterfront feature is the Unity in the Community Archway.  It is constructed of 750 individual tiles hand painted by school children in honor of Adrienne Lowe.  She was a beloved local woman known by many in the community as "Mother J".

A recently installed giant chair in the park near the lighthouse is another favorite photo spot.  

Petite Woman in Large Photo Opportunity Chair in Gilbert ParkPetite Woman in Large Chair in Simpson Cove, a Mount Dora Park

The compact downtown area of Mount Dora is one of the main attractions for locals and visitors.  There are many restaurants, gift shops, art galleries, coffee houses, wine bars, and benches for sitting and people watching.

Lakeside Inn Mount DoraLakeside Inn, Mount Dora, Florida

The Lakeside Inn is the centerpiece of downtown Mount Dora.  Locals and visitors alike enjoy sitting in a rocker on the spacious veranda while watching the famous Mount Dora sunsets over Lake Dora.  The hotel was built in 1883 and is on the U.S. National Register of Historic Places.
Learn more at the Lakeside Inn Website.

Most restaurants with outside dining are pet friendly, so bring him or her along.  

There are also several shaded parks, a children's playground, museums, and visitor parking areas.  The Ice House community theater is a few blocks from downtown.

Mount Dora City HallMount Dora City Hall

The attractive Mount Dora City Hall is located on the north side of Donnelly Park, the city's centrally located park.  

Mount Dora Community BuildingMount Dora Community Building

Adjacent to the City Hall is the historic Mount Dora Community Building.  It's the site for large meetings, plays, and performances.

Historic Train Depot is now the Chamber of CommerceHistoric Train Depot is now the Chamber of Commerce

The Chamber of Commerce at 341 Alexander Street is located in the well preserved historic railroad station.  The Chamber has a handy free map that shows every shop and restaurant in downtown Mount Dora.

Congregational Church on Donnelly Street, Mount Dora, FloridaCongregational Church on Donnelly Street, Mount Dora, Florida

The entire downtown area and surrounding neighborhoods are in a Historic District where homes and buildings are carefully preserved and where renovations are subject to approval by a city board.

A Historic Home in Mount DoraA Historic Home in Mount Dora

The Donnelly House is on Donnelly Street, the main drag of Mount Dora.  It was built by an early mayor and is on the National Register of Historic Places.  It is used today as a Masonic Lodge, and is usually open to the public during the many festivals.

Mount Dora Florida Donnelly HouseDonnelly House, Mount Dora, Florida

Well meaning Yankees often refer to the small town of Mount Dora as the "New England of the South."  The welcome mat is always out for locals and visitors alike.

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FESTIVALS AND OTHER EVENTS IN MOUNT DORA

Mount Dora always seems to have something interesting going on. The town hosts an annual art festival, craft fair, plant and garden show and many other special events including classic car shows.

Here are some examples of recurring events that will give you a reason to visit Mount Dora several times.  You can use this as your upcoming monthly events calendar.

JANUARY

    Renninger's Antique Extravaganza. The extravaganzas are held on the third weekends of January, February and November at Renningers Twin Markets of US-441 in Mount Dora, Florida.
    Each one of them is a large gathering of more than 1500 antique dealers hauling in their goods from all over the country. For more information, call 352-383-8393.
Renningers Mount DoraRenningers Twin Markets

FEBRUARY

    Annual Arts Festival is held on the first Weekend in February. This nationally recognized fine arts festival attracts almost 300 artists from all over the country and other nations.
    The art is displayed on the streets of downtown Mount Dora and attracts thousands of art lovers. For more information call the Mount Dora Center for the Arts. 352-383-0880.

    Annual Mount Dora Music Festival, held on the third weekend in February. Presentation of artistic music including classical, big band and jazz. For more information call 352-385-1010.

One Flight Up Downtown Mount DoraOne Flight Up Downtown Mount Dora

MARCH

    Mount Dora Annual Spring Show, held on the fourth weekend of March. 200 vendors display their crafts on the streets of downtown Mount Dora, Florida. For more information call Mount Dora Village Merchants & Business Association, 352-735-1191.

APRIL

    Festival of Reading, held on the first weekend of April. This experience includes writer's contests, meeting your favorite authors and hearing various readings. Held at the W.T. Bland Public Library. For more information call 352-735-7180.

    Annual Sail Boat Regatta, held on the first weekend of April. The oldest regatta in Florida is fun for the entire family and takes place on Lake Dora near the Mount Dora Yacht Club. For more information call 352-383-3188.

    Annual Blueberry Festival, usually on the last weekend of April. The great freezes of the 1980s destroyed many citrus groves in Central Florida, and this festival celebrates the millions of blueberries now grown on former grove land.

    Elizabeth Evans Park, 100 N. Donnelly Street. For information call Janet Gamache at 352-217-8390.

MAY

    Annual Taste in Mount Dora, held on Third Sunday in May. People join their friends to enjoy a delicious evening of fantastic food prepared by the finest restaurants in the Golden Triangle Area of Mount Dora, Tavares and Eustis held at Lake Receptions between 5-8 PM. Contact Mount Dora Chamber of Commerce, 352-383-2165.

JULY

    July 4th Independence Day Celebration. A great celebration of our Independence Day of the United States of America with a parade, food and live music.
    It starts with a downtown parade at 10am, then other activities from 5-9 pm at Gilbert Park with fireworks about 9 pm. For more information please call 352-383-2165.

SEPTEMBER

     Mount Dora Annual Seafood Festival, usually the last weekend
     in September.  Two days of fresh seafood, crafts, music and
     general fun, rain or shine.

OCTOBER

    Annual Bicycle Festival, second weekend in October. This major event draws more than 1,000 cyclists. It is Florida's oldest and largest bicycling event, with rides of varying lengths and levels of skill and difficulty.
    Cyclists of all ages come and see why Lake County is recognized as one of the best places in the world to ride according to the March 1998 edition of Bicycling Magazine. For more information call 352-383-2165.

    Annual Craft Fair, fourth weekend in October. This nationally ranked juried event continues to attract over 250,000 visitors and over 350 of the best craftspeople in the country. It is held on the streets of downtown Mount Dora. For more information call 352-735-1191

NOVEMBER

    Annual Mount Dora Plant & Garden Fair, held in early November. Admission is free. Central Florida plant growers display more than 12,000 plants at Simpson's Cove on the downtown Mount Dora waterfront.
    There are orchid displays and exhibits of native Florida plants, perennials, herbs, roses, camellias, begonias and rare tropical plants. Garden antiques and unique containers are also on display. For more information call 352-729-2170

    Lake and Hills Garden Club Annual Garden Tour, first weekend in November. The club will lead tours of several distinctive gardens. Club members will be on hand to describe each garden and answer questions.

    Cost is $12 prior to the event and $15 day of event. Tours begin at the Country Club of Mount Dora. For more information go to lakesandhillsgardenclub.com.

    Annual Scottish Highlands Festival, held in mid November.  Scottish bands and musicians plus highland games on Friday and Saturday.  Elizabeth Evans Park at the far south end of Donnelly Street.

    Annual Light Up Mount Dora, is held the Saturday after Thanksgiving. There is a lighting ceremony between 5 and 9 pm each year in downtown Mount Dora at Donnelly Park, with the lights actually being turned on at 630 pm.

    Close to 2 million sparkling lights are illuminated and Santa Claus makes a visit! For more information call 352-383-2165.

Light Up Mount Dora, Donnelly ParkLight Up Mount Dora, Donnelly Park

DECEMBER

    Christmas Walk, a holiday street party on the second Friday after Thanksgiving. Sometimes this is in November, sometimes in December, with music, Santa and shopping in downtown Mount Dora between 6 pm-9 pm. For more information call 352-383-2165.

    Annual Christmas Parade, first Saturday of December, held at 10 am on the streets of downtown Mount Dora. For more information call 352-735-9629.

    Lighted Boat Parade, first Saturday of December, held each year on the Mount Dora waterfront near the Mount Dora Yacht Club. For more information call 352-735-9629.

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MOUNT DORA INNS AND HOTELS

Adora Inn, 610 N. Tremain St., Mount Dora, Florida 32757. Enjoy a gourmet breakfast in the dining room or peaceful front porch, relax in your beautifully appointed guest room or plan you next special event at Adora Inn.

Located in the heart of the historical district in charming Mount Dora, this bed and breakfast is walking distance to the towns restaurants, shops, festivals, parks and only a short thirty minute drive to the Orlando theme parks. Adora Inn is a comfortable retreat for the sophisticated traveler.

It is rated 3 diamonds by AAA, and was picked No. 1 for romantic weekend get-a-way by a Central Florida magazine.

Grandview Bed & Breakfast. 442 East 3rd Avenue, Mount Dora, FL 32757. Tel: 352-383-4440. This lovely inn is just two blocks from downtown Mount Dora. This was originally the William Watt house, built in the early 1900's, and has been restored with rooms having private baths, queen beds, central air conditioning and heat. Full breakfast is served.

Lakeside Inn. 100 North Alexander Street, Mount Dora, Florida 32757. Tel: 352-383-4101. The Inn is the centerpiece of downtown Mount Dora with cozy rooms and good dining right on the shores of Lake Dora. On the National Register of Historic Places, Lakeside Inn was established in 1883. In 2010 a new owner took over who is renovating many of the hotel rooms.

The Beauclair Room is the hotel's main dining room, open to the public, and right next door is Tremain's Lounge, a favorite hangout for locals. On cool evenings a fireplace crackles away in the corner of Tremain's.

The front porch of the hotel is a great place to sit and rock and people watch and gaze out over beautiful Lake Dora.

Learn more at this Lakeside Inn article.

Mount Dora Historic Inn. 221 East 4th Avenue, Mount Dora, Florida 32757. Tel: 352-735-1212. This historic inn is just a block or two from downtown Mount Dora on a shady tree lined street. The inn was built in the 1880's and has been lovingly restored with beautifully appointed rooms with private baths.

Mount Dora also has many listings on the VRBO and Air BNB sites.

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MOUNT DORA RESTAURANTS

Village Coffee Pot, Donnelly Street, Downtown Mount DoraVillage Coffee Pot, Donnelly Street, Downtown Mount Dora

Downtown Mount Dora has several restaurants that are great places to dine and have a drink.  There are also dozens of restaurants within a short drive of downtown.

Mount Dora Brewing, Highland Avenue, Mount DoraMount Dora Brewing, Highland Avenue, Mount Dora

This link takes you to a list of restaurants in Mount Dora, Tavares, and Eustis (the Golden Triangle cities) that I have personally tried and enjoyed.  If it isn't on my list, I either didn't try it or didn't enjoy it.

Mount Dora, Eustis, & Tavares Restaurants

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THINGS TO DO AROUND MOUNT DORA

Many people are just content to stroll around town and enjoy the shopping, dining, festivals, special events, and people watching. 

For those who want a bit more activity, here are some ideas:

Boat Tours on Lake Dora and Dora Canal
Premier Boat Tours, 100 Alexander St., 352-434-8040
Enjoy a tour of Lake Dora, including one that includes the Dora Canal, one of the most beautiful waterways in Florida.   

Boat Rentals
Mount Dora Marine Center, 149 Charles Ave., 352-383-3150
This marina offers boats for rent by the day or half day.  Pontoon boats can handle you entire family and still have room for guests.

Catboat Adventure ToursCatboat Adventure Tours

Catboat Adventure Tours
148 Charles Ave., 352-325-1442
It's located at Mount Dora Marine Center and has a fleet of small two person outboard powered catamarans.  You drive your own boat and follow the tour guide on a trip across Lake Dora to the Dora Canal.

The Modernism Museum
145 E. 4th Ave., 352-385-0034
This museum is a favorite location with constantly changing exhibits of modern art and furniture.

Segway Tours
430 Alexander St., 352-383-9900
You will enjoy riding on a Segway through Mount Dora on a guided tour that will show you the highlights.

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WHAT'S HAPPENING RIGHT NOW IN MOUNT DORA

WEBCAM AT CORNER OF DONNELLY ST AND FIFTH AVE


THE HISTORY OF MOUNT DORA

The vintage postcard below shows Donnelly Street looking south.  If you stand on the same spot on the corner of 5th Avenue and Donnelly Street today, you will recognize most of the features on this card.

Donnelly Street in Mount Dora Looking South, 1940sDonnelly Street in Mount Dora Looking South, 1940s

This history of Mount Dora begins in 1846 when Lake Dora was named for Dora Ann Drawdy, a pioneer who settled with her husband about 2 miles south.  Here are some of the things that happened since then, including a timeline of historic events.

Read more at History of Mount Dora

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