10 Reasons To Stay at the Lakeside Inn – The Oldest Operating Hotel in Florida

Lakeside Inn in Mount Dora, Florida

Nothing says old Southern luxury quite like a beautiful historic hotel with lavish gardens and lakeside views. Even President Calvin Coolidge found quiet refuge here with the First Lady in the 1930s.

The Lakeside Inn at Mount Dora, Florida, is the oldest continuously operated hotel in the state, which opened 140 years ago in 1883. Guests to this tranquil waterfront escape can expect Victorian-era charm, delicious food, horseless carriage rides, incredible sunsets, and more. Here are ten reasons you’ll love staying here.

I had been dreaming of visiting Central Florida, so when Discover Lake County, Florida, invited me to visit for a hosted stay, I jumped at the chance to experience three days in Mount Dora and the surrounding area. All opinions are my own.

1. Old Florida Southern Charm

The Lakeside Inn, Mount Dora

Image Credit: The Happiness Function.

Immediately upon entering the grounds of the Lakeside Inn, visitors are greeted by the cobblestone street, lush gardens, and soft yellow color of the buildings.

An open-air verandah with views of Lake Dora wraps around the main lodge, where visitors enter the Grand Lobby to check-in. Upon entering the lobby, guests see a gorgeous piano, a seating area next to the fireplace, and a bar.

Be sure to sign the guest book after talking with the welcoming front desk hosts.

2. Authentic Florida Stay

The Grand Lobby at the Lakeside Inn

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There are 90 guest rooms and suites to stay in at Lakeside Inn. Each room offers a Victorian-era ambiance with views of the gardens and lake.

I loved how the bathrooms had deco tile and the rooms had huge closets. Yes, there is WiFi, free parking, and rooms have flat-screen TVs. It’s the perfect place to relax and enjoy an “authentic” Florida experience away from the hustle and bustle of Orlando or coastal beach crowds.

Being the oldest continuously operated hotel in Florida, there are always renovation projects occurring to keep up with the maintenance to preserve the Inn’s historic charm and famous Southern hospitality.

3. Fascinating History

Lakeside Inn Presidential Suite

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If you like history, treasures of information are located all over the grounds. Visitors can book a stay in the “The Coolidge Room,” where President Calvin Coolidge and the First Lady stayed in 1930.

The room boasts incredible views of Lake Dora from a study nook the President himself used. And just think, in 1930, the President would have accessed the Lakeside Inn in Mount Dora from the area’s famous chain of lakes and canals connecting from the Atlantic Ocean.

During the Prohibition era, there was a speakeasy under the Grand Lobby. Today, it’s closed off, and a rug hides the sealed entrance to the basement. Guests would never know it existed, but it was a hopping secret at one time.

And that’s not all when it comes to unique stories at the Inn. Visitors can even partake in ghost tours. Being such a beautiful place, it’s no wonder a friendly ghost might be soaking in the glorious views, living their best past-speakeasy life while occasionally entertaining the staff.

Dylan Gamez, the Lakeside Inn’s Marketing & Public Relations Manager, shares, “Some [people] have smelled cigar smoke or heard the piano playing. This is such a beautiful and happy place – no wonder someone wouldn’t want to leave.”

4. Delicious Food

The Lakeside Inn Dock

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Speaking of never wanting to leave, visitors can meet on the verandah every morning for coffee and breakfast overlooking the lake. The hotel has a breakfast, lunch, and dinner menu, but you don’t want to miss brunch and bottomless mimosas on Sundays.

“People that love this town and live here come to Lakeside Inn for brunch,” says Dylan Gamez. You know a place is good when the locals flock there on the weekends.

5. The Swimming Pool

The swimming pool at the Lakeside Inn in Mount Dora

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If you’re like me, the first thing you’ll want to do after checking into your room is slip into your bathing suit, lather up with sunscreen, and hit the pool. The pool is fantastic! You’ll want to spend all day there.

6. Horseless Carriage Rides

Mount Dora Carriage Ride

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Does anything say luxury more than a golden carriage ride? While staying at Lakeside Inn, book a horseless carriage ride with Olde Mount Dora Carriage Company. It’s delightful. Christmas is one of the most magical times of the year to plan this adventure – be sure to make reservations in advance.

7. Sunset Tours on Lake Dora

Lakeside Inn Sunset Boat Tour

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Yes, it keeps getting better. After spending the day galavanting around town or soaking in the sun at the pool, guests can book a sunset tour with Premier Boat Tours. The boat leaves from the docks at the shoreline steps from your room. Don’t forget to bring the “bubbly.”

8. Walk Around Mount Dora

Walking around Mount Dora, Florida

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Another appeal of the Lakeside Inn is its proximity to the town of Mount Dora. It’s a walkable small town full of eclectic restaurants and shops. I highly recommend checking out 1921 Mount Dora or The Goblin Market for dinner – you won’t be disappointed.

And if you’re in the mood for happy hour drinks or spirits, check out the HandleBar or Wolf Branch Brewing Co. – the sangria is delish!

9. Pet-Friendly

Lakeside Inn waterfront

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For folks traveling with their furry family members, there is good news. The Lakeside Inn has pet-friendly accommodations. We saw many adorable couples walking their cute dogs around the resort grounds.

10. Fun Day Trips Nearby

Alexander Springs Recreational Area

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You don’t have to leave the property if you’re looking for a quiet and relaxing stay. But, if you’re interested in exploring more of Lake County and the surrounding area, you’re a short 10-minutes to one-hour drive from some excellent Central Florida attractions like snorkeling at the Alexander Springs Recreation Area, kayaking the Dora Canal with Adventure Outdoor Paddle, visiting the famous Citrus Tower, or going off-road through the forest with Revolution Adventures (I highly recommend renting a mucky duck).

Only an Hour From Orlando

Things to do in Lake County Florida

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Not being from Florida, the Lakeside Inn in Mount Dora felt like everything I thought the area would be – charming accommodations, beautiful gardens, friendly people, and fun outdoor activities.

It’s the perfect place for couples wanting to get away for romantic weekends paired with fun outdoor adventures, parents looking to recover from that epic Disney World trip, or solo travelers seeking a safe and quiet escape from the hustle and bustle of life.

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Ashlee Fechino

Ashlee Fechino is an outdoor recreation and travel writer sharing the best-kept secrets that aren’t in your typical guidebook. Her goal is to inspire people to travel with a sense of adventure by sharing hidden gems across the U.S. and beyond. She is married to an expat Argentine, Pablo. They camp in their Aliner often and love wandering the world. Follow their latest adventures on Instagram @thehappinessfxn.