This Florida ‘Mountain’ Town is a Rare Gem Waiting to Be Discovered

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Nestled in Central Florida, the charming town of Mount Dora offers a delightful escape from the bustling city life of Orlando.

Known for its serene lakes and Old Florida country living, this quaint destination is a haven for visitors seeking relaxation, scenic beauty, and a touch of history.

Mount Dora boasts a range of attractions, including cozy country inns, unique shops, delicious dining options, and an old railroad station, all within walking distance of each other.

Explorers can enjoy year-round festivals and events, such as antique fairs held at Renninger's Vintage Antique Center, making every day a perfect time to visit.

Outdoor enthusiasts will also appreciate Mount Dora's beautiful surroundings, particularly the picturesque Lake Dora.

Whether you're shopping for antiques, soaking up the vibrant arts scene, or simply strolling through the historic downtown area, there's truly something for everyone in this idyllic town.

Welcome to Mount Dora sign, This Florida 'Mountain' Town is a Rare Gem Waiting to Be Discovered

Welcome to Mount Dora sign, This Florida 'Mountain' Town is a Rare Gem Waiting to Be Discovered

Welcome to Mount Dora sign, This Florida 'Mountain' Town is a Rare Gem Waiting to Be Discovered

Welcome to Mount Dora sign, This Florida 'Mountain' Town is a Rare Gem Waiting to Be Discovered

History of Mount Dora

If you're enticed by this description of the serene town, let's delve into its history to appreciate how this tranquil sanctuary came to be.

Early Settlement

Mount Dora's captivating history began with a lady named Dora Ann Drawdy, who made a homestead in the mid-1800s.

This beautiful lake city was later named in her honor. Around the 1850s, African-Americans had already settled into the area of East Town, looking for better lives and co-existing with white settlers.

Growth and Development

The town of Mount Dora continued developing and was finally incorporated, having J.P. Donnelly elected as the first mayor.

In 1915, the railroad depot was constructed, now owned by the Chamber of Commerce, housing offices and the visitor center.


Donnelly Park was created in 1924 in the city center on land bought from J.P. Donnelly for $45,000. Mount Dora flourished from these beginnings into the charming city it is today.

Attractions and Activities

Understanding the history and the path that led Mount Dora to its present state provides context for its charm.

Now, let's explore the myriad attractions and activities this delightful town offers.

Downtown Mount Dora

A view of Downtown Mount Dora

Downtown Mount Dora is a charming area filled with historic buildings, antique shops, and art galleries. You can visit the Lakeside Inn and the Donnelly House for a glimpse of the city's past.

People gathering Renninger's Vintage Antique Center

Some popular spots include:

  • Renninger's Vintage Antique Center
  • Farmer's Flea Market

Parks and Lakes

Mount Dora offers beautiful parks and lakes to explore. Enjoy a walk along Lake Dora's boardwalk which winds through eight acres of preserved land.

Must-see parks include:

  • Trimble Park
  • Palm Island Park

Annual Events

The city is known for hosting exciting annual events, such as:

  • Mount Dora Art Festival
  • Mount Dora Spring Festival

Enjoy your time in Mount Dora by discovering these attractions and activities!

Mount Dora's Vibrant Art Scene

A testament to the town's artistic spirit, Mount Dora is a haven for creatives, proudly boasting numerous galleries and museums that highlight the talent and diversity of its local artists.

The Modernism Museum stands as a beacon of creativity, showcasing works from some of the most influential modernist artists of our time. Its ever-changing exhibits ensure that there's always something fresh and exciting to explore.

In the heart of downtown, the Mount Dora Center for the Arts serves as an artistic hub. It not only hosts captivating art exhibitions but also provides educational opportunities with various art classes and workshops.

Annually, the center organizes the renowned Mount Dora Arts Festival, which attracts artists from all over the country.

These venues make Mount Dora a dynamic and inclusive art community, appealing to both artists and enthusiasts alike.

Culinary Delights of Mount Dora

Offering everything from cozy coffee shops to gourmet restaurants, the culinary scene in Mount Dora is as diverse as it is mouthwatering. The town presents an impressive variety of cuisines, promising a gastronomic adventure for every palate.

Take a culinary journey around the world without leaving town at places like the Goblin Market, renowned for its eclectic menu and cozy, literary-themed interior.

Alternatively, enjoy fresh, local seafood with a waterfront view at Pisces Rising. For those seeking a fine dining experience, 1921 Mount Dora provides a unique culinary experience, boasting modern Floridian cuisine served in a charming, historic building.

Each eatery in town offers a distinctive dining experience, making every meal in Mount Dora a treat to remember.

Outdoor Adventures and Natural Beauty in Mount Dora

Beyond its artistic and culinary delights, Mount Dora is also a haven for nature lovers and outdoor enthusiasts.

Bask in the town's serene beauty with a leisurely stroll through Palm Island Park. This nature preserve is a treasure trove of natural beauty, offering boardwalk trails winding through preserved land and providing ample wildlife viewing opportunities.

White wooden beach chairs with a full view of Lake Dora

Experience Lake Dora's calm waters and stunning views through a scenic boat tour.

Embarking on a catboat adventure presents a unique vantage point, allowing you to explore the vast lake and its natural surroundings from a refreshing, on-the-water perspective.

This combination of tranquil landscapes and thrilling outdoor adventures makes Mount Dora a wonderful destination for those who appreciate nature's charm.

These added dimensions of art, cuisine, and nature contribute to Mount Dora's rich tapestry, making it more than just a town but a true experience for all visitors.

Each visit promises new discoveries and memories to be made, in this charming Florida destination.

Accommodations and Dining

With a heart full of experiences from the exciting events and tranquil parks, it's time to find a cozy retreat for the night and indulge in the local culinary delights.

Hotels and Inns

Mount Dora offers a range of accommodations for visitors. The Heron Cay Lakeview Bed & Breakfast is a charming option with a patio or terrace, free Wi-Fi, and a seasonal outdoor swimming pool.

Another choice is The Hideaway, featuring air conditioning, a fully equipped kitchen, and a flat-screen TV in each room.

For more hotel options, check out this list of the 10 best hotels in Mount Dora, which includes budget, mid-range, and luxury hotels.

Restaurants and Cafes

Mount Dora has a wide array of dining options for travelers. Mount Dora Marketplace is home to several eateries, including a bakery, a poke shop, and a Lebanese restaurant.

If you're looking for a refreshing drink on-the-go, Bubbles and Juice offers mimosas to go at the Marketplace.


To explore more dining options and other resources, the Mount Dora Area Chamber of Commerce Visitors Guide provides comprehensive information on the local dining scene, shopping, and entertainment.

Travel Tips and Information

Having covered the best places to stay and dine, it's important to prepare for your trip to Mount Dora. Here are some useful tips to help you plan your visit.

Getting Around

To explore the charming town of Mount Dora, renting a car is best for convenience. You can also opt for guided CatBoat Adventure Tours to experience the area's beautiful lakes.


Mount Dora has a warm, humid climate, with temperatures ranging from 57°F to 82°F throughout the year. Be prepared for occasional rainfall and pack accordingly.

Best Time to Visit

The ideal time to visit Mount Dora is between November and April, when the weather is most comfortable and the town hosts numerous events, including art festivals and holiday celebrations.

For a more relaxed experience, consider visiting during the week, as weekends can get busy.

Exploring Mount Dora Should Be On Your Itinerary

As your adventure draws to a close, it's clear that Mount Dora is more than just a quaint town in Central Florida.

Its rich history, stunning natural beauty, vibrant events, and old-world charm make it a truly unique destination.

Regardless of what brings you to this magical place—be it the allure of antiquing, the serene lakeside vistas, the taste of local cuisine, or the pull of history—one thing is certain: a visit to Mount Dora is a journey into the heart of Old Florida country living.

So take a break from the rush of everyday life, and let yourself be captivated by the enchanting appeal of Mount Dora. You'll leave with memories to cherish and a longing to return.

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