While neighboring Orlando and its famous mouse often snag all the vacation hype in central Florida, it’s the quaint, lakeside town of Mount Dora that should really top your summer bucket list. It’s a special place where shimmering Lake Dora is the star attraction, Instagram-worthy sunsets are a main event and the natural wonders of Florida come alive. Free from the eye clutter of high-rises, streets are dotted with charming historical homes and rows of eclectic, locally-owned shops and restaurants. With everything in walking distance of downtown, days are spent exploring on foot, while evenings are meant for sunset celebrations on a patio overlooking the tranquil lake, where even during the summer, a breeze keeps things cool.
Mount Dora: Cool for the Summer
Live the lake life in the breezy Florida city of Mount Dora.
Never Utter the Word “Bored”
Don’t mistake Mount Dora’s small-town charm for sleepy — you’ll dare the kids to utter the words, “I’m bored.” Rocket through Lake Dora on your own boat, rent a kayak for a leisurely paddle, or cruise under the moss-draped trees of the Dora Canal looking for alligators, birds and other wildlife on a pontoon boat tour.
While the theme parks are only 30-minutes away, Mount Dora is all about pristine community parks with green spaces and lake views. At popular Grantham Point Park, peep Florida’s only freshwater lighthouse, an ideal spot for sunset photos; Gilbert Park sports a pirate-ship themed playground that’s sure to wear out the little mates; and winding Palm Island Boardwalk, which extends into and along Lake Dora, offers an up-close experience with nature. If you’re not into walking, hop on a Segway tour that also zips along the scenic Boardwalk.
Fest with the Best
Nicknamed “The Festival City,” there’s something to celebrate almost every month in Mount Dora. Get a fresh taste of summer at the annual Blueberry Festival, watch colorful fireworks reflect off the lake in July and end the summer enjoying the bounty of the sea at the Seafood Festival. For the cyclists in the family, there’s even a huge bicycle festival that draws people from all over the country.
Many diverse artists call Mount Dora home, which means locals and visitors benefit from their creativity. Escape the summer heat and head to the Mount Dora Center for the Arts, where fine art shows and exhibitions are always changing. The center also plays host to the nationally recognized Mount Dora Arts Festival. At the Modernism Museum, expect cool exhibits like the recent “Space Oddities” which showcased a collection from pop icon David Bowie.
Food for Every Palate
Pizza, again? Nope. With more than 30 restaurants in the downtown area — and not a chain restaurant in sight — create your own dine-around-the-world game with options like Cuban, Jamaican, German, Italian, Asian and more. Chat up the locals at a boisterous British pub, sip a new-to-you vino at a wine bar or treat yourself to a fancy night out at a chef-driven restaurant. Kid’s faces will light up as they wander downtown’s sweet shops where they can indulge in a delicious sugar rush of candy, cupcakes, ice cream and gelato. Because even kids know Mount Dora is someplace special.
This article was sponsored by the city of Mount Dora.