Are you planning a trip to Mount Dora and wondering what to do there? No worries! This guide will cover everything!
Mount Dora is a beautiful place to visit near Lake Dora. People who like boating, hunting, and fishing enjoy it, and you can too. Once, Mount Dora was a town, and now it's a small city with about 13,000 people. If you want to feel the charm of an old town, Mount Dora is the perfect spot. It is known for lots of oak trees, historic buildings, shops with handmade and old things, and annual festivals. If you're thinking about going to Mount Dora for your next vacation, knowing what to do there will make your trip even more special.
Below are all the cool things you can enjoy in Mount Dora and how to make the most of your visit.
Mount Dora: An Overview
Mount Dora is a small town in central Florida, only about 35 minutes from Orlando. It is part of the Golden Triangle, which also includes the towns of Tavares and Eustis. This region takes you back to old Florida vibes and is set beside the beautiful Lake Dora.
The city has been ranked as one of the best and friendliest small towns in Florida, welcoming millions of visitors every year. This historic town is over 100 years old and sits 184 feet above sea level on a small “hill” in Florida! Despite having a population of only roughly 13,000 people, there is so much to do here. Mount Dora is known for its historic buildings, more than 30 annual festivals, antique stores, parks, and beautiful lake.
So, if you want to ride a train, visit museums, shop for vintage and handcrafted items, or join fun festivals like a blueberry festival, bike fest, or antique festival, you're in for a treat. The city has fantastic restaurants, such as 1921, specializing in Florida cuisine. You can also take flights above Lake Dora or play golf. The Mount Dora attractions are endless! Whether you're planning a romantic getaway, a weekend with friends, or a family trip, Mount Dora has something for everyone!
14 Cool Things to Do in Mount Dora on Your Visit
1. Take a Scenic Boat Tour on Lake Dora
Location: Lake Dora, Mt. Dora, 239 W 4th Ave, FL 32757
One of the best things to do while visiting Mount Dora is to take a scenic boat tour of Lake Dora. Lake Dora was a popular hunting and fishing spot in the late 1800s. Even today, this approximately 5,000-acre lake is a popular destination for anglers.
The lake is part of the Harris Chain of Lakes, and it connects to the St. Johns River, Ocklawaha River, and eventually the Atlantic Ocean. Lake Dora is also linked to the nearby Dora Canal. Many people love the Dora Canal for its mangrove trees, calm waters, and wildlife. It's a famous spot for boaters, kayakers, and canoeists.
There are numerous boat tours available to explore the area.
The first is Rusty Anchor, which is owned by a fourth-generation Floridian. They offer cruises on the lake and the wildlife-filled Dora Canal. CatBoat Adventure Tours is a good option if you want to go fast. They depart from the Mount Dora Boating Center & Marina and take you on a two-hour catamaran tour. Premier Boat Tours is also a great option. They provide relaxing pontoon trips where you can admire the beautiful Dora Canal. They also offer sunset trips if you want to book later in the day.
2. Downtown Mount Dora
Mount Dora is famous for its vibrant downtown district, which is lined with antique shops, restaurants, and boutiques, surrounded by palm trees. The town has been around for over 100 years and is considered one of the best small towns in the country.
Many of the town's festivals take place in the historic downtown. Mount Dora hosts more than 30 festivals throughout the year! From arts and crafts to seafood, music, blueberries, antiques, and bike festivals, there's something for everyone. Check the town's calendar to see the list of events!
After shopping for antiques, you can relax at one of the 20 restaurants in the three-block downtown area. Don't forget to visit the famous Donnelly House and Florida's oldest continuously operating hotel, the Lakeside Inn, a building from the 1880s. Grab a drink or a meal at the historic Tremain's Lounge, a great restaurant in Mount Dora!
3. Grantham Point Park (Lighthouse Park)
Location: 357-499 S Tremain St, Mount Dora, FL 32757
Open Hours: Mon-Sun: 8 am – 8 pm
Grantham Point Park, or Lighthouse Park, is a famous destination for visitors to Mount Dora. It is only a short walk away through the lovely streets of downtown Mount Dora. You'll pass along the scenic lakeside at Mount Dora Marina and Elizabeth Evans Park. This park is located directly across the road from Gilbert Park on Lake Dora.
Here, you'll find the red and white striped tower, a freshwater lighthouse. This 35-foot-tall structure overlooks the Port of Mount Dora and appears to be older than it is. There are benches and picnic tables, and parking is free. The lighthouse has a 750-watt light that helps boats find their way on Lake Dora at night.
You can follow the boardwalk from the lighthouse through the canopy of cypress and oak trees in Palm Island Park. This is a great spot to look for different kinds of turtles, birds, and alligators. Kids will love watching the birds in the water hunting for fish. You can even go fishing together as a family, but remember to get a Florida fishing license.
4. Visit Palm Island Park
Location: 411 S Tremain St, Mt Dora, FL 32757
Open Hours: Mon-Sun: 7:30 am – 8 pm
When people visit the Mount Dora Lighthouse, they usually explore the beautiful Palm Island Park.
Palm Island is a great place to visit in Mount Dora, and the best part is it's free! It is an 8-acre nature preserve with a 1.3-mile nature trail, a wooden boardwalk, and three covered picnic areas. Remember, there are no restroom facilities, but downtown is just a few minutes away.
It is perfect for bird watching, and you might even spot an alligator during your visit. Pack a picnic lunch, stroll along the boardwalk by the marshy shoreline of Lake Dora, or take a nature walk through the preserve. As you walk on the boardwalk along the shore, you'll see old cypress trees, oak trees, and tall cabbage. The parking is free, and you can also bike from downtown, although bikes are not allowed on the boardwalk.
5. Explore Renninger's Antique Center
Location: Renninger's Florida Twin Markets 20651 Mount Dora, FL 32757
Two big markets in Lake County are the Renninger's Antique Center and Flea Market, known as the Twin Markets. They cover 140 acres east of Mount Dora. Renninger's has outdoor and indoor shops, with about 200 businesses inside an air-conditioned building and many more outside.
The shopkeepers are friendly, and there's a consignment area called the Street of Shops with over 40 cases and 30 booths. You can find a variety of items like handmade diamond and gold ornaments, old furniture, paintings, antique glassware, historical books, porcelain, china, and primitive collectibles.
There's also a popular restaurant, GrubHub. The markets are open on Fridays from 10 am to 4 pm and on Saturdays and Sundays from 9 am to 5 pm.
Mount Dora Art Splash is a monthly event that takes place on the second Friday of the month. It's like an outdoor art exhibition where you can walk around and admire the town's creativity. The shops stay open late, and live music makes it more enjoyable.
6. Explore Flea and Farmer's Market
The Flea and Farmer's Market has both outdoor vendors and an air-conditioned building with many shops, making it an excellent place for shopping. You can find a variety of items, such as clothes, gadgets, bicycles, and food, all in one location.
The building has more than 100 booths, and the outdoor pavilion features over 400 vendors. In addition to that, there are even more vendors in the open-air areas. Many business owners come to the flea market weekly, and thousands of transactions occur. The Flea Market is open from 8 am to 4 pm on Saturdays and Sundays.
Renninger's Steampunk & Industrial Show is another exciting event in October. It lasts two days, from 9 am to 5 pm each day. This event is a bit different but definitely worth a look if you're looking for something different.
7. Visit the Modernism Museum
Location: 145 E 4th Avenue, Mt Dora, FL 32757
Open Hours: Fri-Sun: 10 am – 5 pm, Mon-Thur: Closed
If you like visiting art museums, the Modernism Museum is one of the top things to do in Mount Dora! This museum is located in the heart of Mount Dora and takes around one to two hours to explore. It first opened in 2013 and hosts changing exhibits every year.
The Modernism Museum houses an extensive collection of fine art and design from the Style Art Movement. It comprises art from the mid-century to the present. The museum is also famous for its educational programs, exhibitions, large concerts, and family activities. This makes it an ideal destination for a visit.
The museum brings in exhibits from all around the country, such as the estate of David Bowie, a prominent American furniture artist and sculptor.
The Modernism Museum also displays works by notable modern designers such as Wharton Esherick and Wendell Castle. The entrance fee is $7 for seniors and students, $8 for adults and $5 for children.
8. Relax at Trimble Park
Location: 5802 Trimble Park Rd Mount Dora, Florida
Open Hours: Mon-Sun: 8 am – 6 pm
Trimble Park is one of the most enjoyable things to do in Mount Dora, FL. It has a children's playground, three picnic spots, campgrounds, and a wonderful walking trail. This is an excellent spot to hang out with your friends and family, and you can even plan special events here, such as birthdays or baby showers.
Trimble Park hiking is enjoyable since you may see many animals, enjoy scenic views, and rest on benches. It's a lovely outdoor experience. You can go camping, picnic, and walk along the pathways. Rental services are available in the pavilion. This campground offers 15 campsites and is as beautiful as Mount Dora itself.
9. Visit Donnelly House
Location: 535 N Donnelly St, Mt Dora, FL 32757
Visiting the Donnelly House is one of the fun things to do in Mount Dora. The Donnelly House is owned by the Mount Dora Lodge. On April 4, 1975, the house was listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
The house was built in 1893 by John Donnelly as a gift for his wife. He was the first mayor of Mount Dora. The house, in the Queen Ann Victorian style, is known for its bright yellow color and white trim. Architect George Franklin Barber designed it.
If you visit during the holidays, the house is beautifully decorated with over 2000 lights. The downstairs area is available for events like meetings and weddings.
While you can't tour the inside every day, the house is open for visitors on selective dates. However, Mount Dora Ghost Tours offers a special experience where you can hunt for ghosts inside the Donnelly House. It's like an escape room and lasts for 2.5 hours. You can use cool gadgets to find ghosts and learn about the Freemasons and the Donnellys.
10. Attend Mount Dora Spring Festival of Arts and Crafts
If your visit aligns with the annual Mount Dora Arts Festival, you're lucky. The Mount Dora Spring Festival started as the Mount Dora Antique Show in the 1990s. The concept was devised by some business owners. It is now organized by a non-profit organization named Visit Mount Dora.
Initially, it was mainly about selling collectibles, antiques, and souvenirs. It was hosted alongside another festival, the Antique Boat Show, by Lake Dora.
Over time, it changed into a fair displaying original arts and crafts. There aren't many vintage sellers left these days. Sunshine Artist named the festival one of the Top 50 Classic/Contemporary Craft Festivals in the U.S. in 2020. This yearly event is held every year on the third weekend of March.
It is a popular tourist destination. During the event, people travel from all around the country and even neighboring countries to buy handcrafted products. Over 225 artists are displaying their outstanding products, and they are selected to ensure excellent quality.
Other notable festivals in Mount Dora include the Scottish Highlands Festival, the Florida Storytelling Festival, the Annual Taste in Mount Dora and Craft Beer Fest, the Mount Dora Blueberry Festival, the Mount Dora Plant and Garden Fair, and the Sail Boat Regatta, There is always something exciting going on!
11. Visit Mount Dora Olive Oil Company
Location: 351 N. Donnelly St, Mt Dora, FL 32757
Open Hours: Sun-Thur: 10 am – 6 pm, Fri-Sat: 10 am – 8 pm.
Check out the Mount Dora Olive Oil Company in downtown Mount Dora for a wonderful day. You'll find many fresh olive oils in different flavors here. You can also sample each oil with bread and choose your favorites to take home!
They offer a special “Build Your Own 6 Box” option where you can select from tastes, including basil, green chili, herbs de Provence, blood orange, garlic, wild mushroom, olive wood smoked, and lime.
If you're looking for something a little different, they also offer a variety of Balsamic flavored vinegar like Pomegranate Quince, Cranberry Pear, or Black Mission Fig.
It is a great place to shop for olive oils and vinegar, with helpful staff to guide you in finding the perfect choices for your taste buds.
12. Visit Mount Dora Golf Club
Location: 1100 South Highland St, Mt Dora, FL 32757
Open Hours: Mon-Sun: 7 am – 6 pm
If you're looking for outdoor activities in Mount Dora, consider a visit to the Mount Dora Golf Club. It started in 1945 when soldiers returning from World War II asked the city to open a golf course. Initially, it was only for members, but now anyone can go.
This beautiful par 70 course, situated on 88 acres, takes advantage of central Florida's landscape, incorporating uphill and downhill features and water elements to add a challenging aspect to the game. The club proudly boasts the title of having the longest 5,700 yards in Florida.
The golf club aims to provide a budget-friendly experience by charging $32 for 18 holes with a cart during the week and $36 on the weekends. Veterans can also get a discounted fee of $26 for 18 holes with a cart. It also has a practice area and a putting green for beginners to hone their skills. The well-kept course guarantees that all visitors have a memorable golfing experience.
13. Royal Palm Railway Experience
Location: 305 E Ruby St, Tavares, FL 32778
Take a nostalgic ride on the Mount Dora Scenic Railway. The Royal Palm Railway Experience in Mount Dora is a unique and historically significant adventure. This service, operated by the Orlando & Northwestern Railway, links Mount Dora to the surrounding towns of Eustis and Tavares, forming the “Golden Triangle.”
The Golden Triangle route takes around 2 hours and will tell you about the area's history. The train is air-conditioned and comfortable, and your ticket is valid all day. That means you can get off at each station, go shopping, eat something, and then get back on the train.
If you like trying new beers, there is the Rails and Brews journey. You can taste beers and enjoy a 5-course meal made by Chef Williams in the Railway kitchen. Another option is the Royal Wine Tour, where you get to taste five different Florida wines along with a 5-course meal.
For families, there are special rides like the Polar Express and Wizard of Oz themes. On weekends, you can join the Pizza Express and have pizza on the train, making it a great family outing. The Royal Palm Railway also has seasonal train rides for different experiences.
14. Visit Long and Scott Farms
Location: 26216 County Road 448A, Mt Dora, Florida 32757
Open Hours: Tue-Sat: 9 am – 5 pm, Sun: 10 am – 5 pm
When you're in Mount Dora, make sure to visit Long & Scott Farms! Long & Scott Farms has been part of the local agriculture scene since 1963. This farm, now in its sixth generation, is committed to sustainable and eco-friendly practices. They have fresh produce like Kirby Pickling Cucumbers, Scott's Zellwood Triple-Sweet Gourmet Corn, and more. You can also get local jams, honey, sauces, and other tasty products.
Long & Scott Farms opens its doors to the public every fall, offering a variety of family-friendly activities. Check out Scott Adventures Park. It is located on seven acres of land and has a corn maze, a jumping pillow, a super slide, a zip line, and more.
After all the fun, treat yourself to a tasty meal at Scott's Country Cafe. Don't miss their delicious food, including fresh corn chowder, sandwiches, and other items from their cafe. Long and Scott Farms is one of the best family-friendly attractions in Mount Dora.
That's all for our list of the 14 cool things to do in Mount Dora during your visit. I hope this guide has been helpful in planning your vacation to Mount Dora. From art festivals to outdoor adventures, Mount Dora has something for everyone to enjoy.
Have you ever been to Mount Dora before, or is it your first visit? Share your experiences and let us know if we missed any must-see spots. Your insights and comments can provide valuable tips for fellow travelers looking to discover the beauty of Mount Dora. Happy Travels!
I’m Steve. I’m an English Teacher, traveler, and an avid outdoorsman. If you’d like to comment, ask a question, or simply say hi, leave me a message here, on Twitter (@thefrugalexpat1). Many of my posts have been written to help those in their journey to financial independence. I am on my journey, and as I learn more I hope to share more. And as always, thanks for reading The Frugal Expat.