Updated September 3, 2020
Mount Dora, Florida is a beautiful lakefront town of about 12,000 people in the wooded hill and lake country some 45 minutes northwest of downtown Orlando.
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.
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 giant chair in the park near the lighthouse is another favorite photo spot. (Note: as of August 2020, the chair has disappeared. We will leave the photo here in case it returns.)
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.
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.
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.
The attractive Mount Dora City Hall is located on the north side of Donnelly Park, the city's attractive centrally located park.
Adjacent to the City Hall is the historic Mount Dora Community Building. It's the site for large meetings, plays, and performances.
The Chamber of Commerce at 341 Alexander Street is located in the well preserved historic railroad station. The Chamber has a handy free map, frequently updated, that shows every shop and restaurant in downtown Mount Dora.
The Congregational Church on Donnelly Street was established in 1883. The steeple and exterior were recently renovated and the church has an active congregation.
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.
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.
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.
Another popular feature on the shore of Lake Dora next to Gilbert Park is Mount Dora Boating Center and Marina. This facility sells and rents boats, and provides repair service along with dry and wet storage.
The owner decorates his buildings each Christmas season with a spectacular array of multi-colored lights and moving displays.
He does this at his own expense to show his appreciation for the community and it is a seasonal favorite.
People come from miles around just to look at the Marine Center and take photographs
The Sonnentag Theater at the Ice House is a 270 seat performing arts center on the north side of Mount Dora. It has been presenting community theater and musicals since 1958.
Boathouse Row is a historic residential community on the shore of Lake Dora in Mount Dora. Back in the day - late 1800s and early 1900s - Lake County was a prosperous citrus growing area.
Many of the boat houses were originally built to serve boats hauling citrus to various locations around the county. In the 1920s a small boat builder moved into one of the buildings. Wise Boat Works built several boats for locals.
People began to remodel and convert the houses to apartments and residents in the 1940s and 1950s. Today there are about 20 residences on Boathouse Row.
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.
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.
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.
Mount Dora Annual Seafood Festival, usually the last weekend
in September. Two days of fresh seafood, crafts, music and
general fun, rain or shine.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
It is pretty difficult for me to visit all of the great restaurants in our area, so Tripadvisor reviewers have done that for me. Take a look.
We also have a link to Tripadvisor restaurants at the bottom of this page.
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.
Mount Dora Boating 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 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.
Renningers for Antiquing and Flea Marketing. There are two separate businesses under the one owner on the same large property with plenty of parking on the edge of Mount Dora. Some weekends they have collector shows, car displays, and other special events.
Renninger's Antique Center
20651 US-441, 352-383-8393
This large single story building and grounds are home to hundreds of independent antique dealers. You name it, it's probably here.
Open Friday 10 AM to 4 PM, Saturday & Sunday 9 AM to 5PM
Renninger's Florida Twin Markets (Flea and Farmer's)
20651 US-441, 352-383-3141
These markets are on the north side of the Renninger property and provide typical flea market products and fresh produce. It's huge.
Open Saturday and Sunday, 8 AM to 4 PM
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.
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.
Sunsets Over Lake Dora
Lakeside Inn, Gilbert Park, Lighthouse Park, Elizabeth Evans Park, Pisces Rising, and dozens of other locations. Mount Dora has some of the best sunsets anywhere.
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.
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