16 Best Things To Do in and Around Mount Dora, Florida
Sunset cruises, a trendy downtown, lake views, and a historic inn make Mount Dora, Florida, the perfect place to plan a weekend getaway. Full of authentic Florida Southern hospitality, visitors to this unique destination can experience the charm and magic that makes the area so appealing.
Suppose you are parents looking to recharge after an exciting weekend at Disney, a solo traveler needing a break from the daily grind, or a couple seeking a romantic and fun weekend full of outdoor adventures. In that case, Mount Dora is the place for you.
Best Things To Do in Mount Dora, Florida
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. Here are the best things to do in Mount Dora, Florida!
1. Go on a Golden Carriage Ride
How does touring the cobblestone streets in a horseless golden carriage at sunset sound? It sounds dreamy, right? Visitors can book an electric carriage ride to cruise the quaint streets along the lake and to the iconic Mount Dora Lighthouse. It’s magical and fun.
If you’re visiting in December, be sure to book this wildly popular attraction in advance.
2. Take a Sunset Boat Ride
The fun doesn’t stop with golden carriage rides. Sunset is the best time of day to be outdoors in Lake County, Florida, and there are options to book a sunset cruise on Lake Dora. Head over to the famous Lakeside Inn and docks to catch a cruise you’ll never forget.
3. Stay at the Oldest Hotel in Florida
Speaking of the Lakeside Inn, it is the oldest continuously operating hotel in Florida. It opened in 1883 – over 140 years ago and has a captivating history. Even President Calvin Coolidge and the First Lady stayed here in 1930. And yes, you can book a stay in the presidential suite.
If a waterfront retreat with elegant Victoria-era accommodations, delicious food, and a serene pool sounds like your idea of a vacation, you’ll love staying at the Lakeside Inn.
4. Indulge in Delicious Dining Options in Mount Dora
Going out to eat is one of the best parts about being on vacation, and Mount Dora doesn’t disappoint with their lively food scene. Be prepared for trendy dining options, from casual finger foods, bakeries, and desserts to upscale dining.
For dinner, make reservations at 1921 Mount Dora or The Goblin Market. For breakfast, grab a quiche at Cody’s on 4th and an iced latte at Allyson A Bake Shop, or Sunday brunch at the Lakeside Inn.
There are so many restaurants to choose from – you won’t go hungry!
5. Go Bar Hopping and Enjoy Tasty Spirits
You’re on vacation, and happy hour is calling your name. There are lots of excellent places to grab drinks in Mount Dora. For casual brews and tasty sangria, pop into Wolf Branch Brewing Co. If fancy spirits are more your vibe, head over to the HandleBar and get a margarita.
6. Splurge a Little Shopping in Mount Dora
Mount Dora is a walkable community, so if you stay at the Lakeside Inn, head down the street to enjoy all the cute local boutiques and restaurants. My favorite part was seeing all the colorful murals and beautiful gardens for establishments with outdoor patios.
7. Get Spooked on a Ghost Tour
With so much history surrounded by such beauty, it’s no wonder a few spirits have never left. If you are curious about the area’s history or want to get spooked, book a Mount Dora ghost tour or Lakeside Inn ghost tour. Everyone will get a kick out of this paranormal adventure.
8. Go Antiquing
Renniger’s Flea Market and Antique Shop is a place for those who love and appreciate old things. With thousands of almost 5-star reviews on Google, you’ll have to see for yourself what the hype is about!
Ideas for Exciting Day Trips From Mount Dora
Basing out of Mount Dora for more adventures around Lake County is a great idea. Mount Dora is quiet and peaceful with an elevated vibe, and there are many excellent things to do in the surrounding area within an hour. Here are a few more attractions to add to your trip.
9. Swim and Snorkel at Alexander Springs Recreation Area
Who said you must be on the Gulf to enjoy snorkeling in turquoise blue waters? At Alexander Springs Recreation Area, roughly 40 minutes from downtown Mount Dora, visitors can enjoy a “day at the beach,” swimming and snorkeling in the crystal-clear freshwater springs. The springs stay at 72 degrees Fahrenheit year-round. Don’t forget to bring your snorkeling gear. People like to SCUBA dive here as well.
Along with enjoying water activities, the park has public restrooms and places to enjoy picnicking and camping in the Ocala National Forest. This is one of 27 first-magnitude springs in the great state of Florida.
10. Kayak the Scenic Dora Canal
The Dora Canal connects the chain of lakes in the area to each other, and people use it as a “water highway” to get to different bodies of water. The canal goes all the way to the Atlantic Ocean! One of the coolest ways to see the area is by paddling the canal—rent gear at Adventure Outdoor Paddle to kayak the Central Florida landscape and see native wildlife. We saw lots of birds and even alligators! It was a blast.
11. Watch Seaplanes in Tavares
After swimming at Alexander Springs or kayaking the Dora Canal, stop into Tavares to get some grub and watch the seaplanes come and go on the lake. If you like burgers, Puddle Jumpers is your place. Tavares is roughly 10 minutes away from Downtown Mount Dora.
12. Check Out the Citrus Label Tour
This part of Florida was originally orange groves, but the croplands have disappeared. However, Lake County continues to pay tribute to the area’s humble beginnings through the Citrus Label Tour.
The brand labels helped consumers pick their favorite farms back in the day. And the Citrus Label Tour is a recreation of this. There is a map where visitors can go on a self-guided tour to see all the citrus labels in the county.
13. Go to the Top of the Citrus Tower
Speaking of Citrus, visitors can tour the iconic Citrus Tower roughly 40 minutes south of Mount Dora in Clermont. The tower was initially constructed in 1956 to pay tribute to the area’s vibrant citrus economy. Farmers would bring their crops to the building for distribution. But in the 1980s, the citrus groves never recovered from a disease that spread through the area.
Today, tourists can grab a coffee and then take the elevator to the top to see how far off in the distance they can spot their homes or favorite Florida landmarks.
Clermont is also known for being an Olympic training ground.
14. Visit Pick Your Own Citrus Groves
There are a few citrus groves operating in the area where visitors can pick their own citrus. This makes for a fun day trip from Mount Dora.
15. Get Tasty Treats at the German Bakery
If you decide to head to Clermont from Mount Dora, make a pit stop at the Yalaha Bakery. It’s an authentic German bakery serving up the most mouthwatering pastries. Don’t go there on an empty stomach – your eyes will be bigger than your stomach.
They even have gluten-free options. I highly recommend the flourless chocolate cake and almond bar if they have them. I got three pastries and ate them all on the same day! Just saying… it’s good.
16. Go Off-Road With a Mucky Duck Tour
Now you might be asking what a “Mucky Duck” tour is. Let me tell you. It’s an amphibious eight-wheeled vehicle that can go on land and in the water. You can cruise off-road on land and then drive right into the lake, and it floats like a boat.
This isn’t just an adventure for your husband or boyfriend; the ladies will also scream from the fun! It’s the perfect day trip if you like off-road adventures. Revolution Adventures is an hour south of Mount Dora.
Relax and Enjoy an Authentic Florida Experience
For an authentic Florida vacation that doesn’t include beach or theme park crowds, Mount Dora is a wonderful place to visit and base a Central Florida getaway from. It’s peaceful and beautiful. It has an elevated trendy small-town feel.
There are many options for dining and things to do, and being only an hour from Orlando makes it easy to get to if you’re flying in from another place.
Even local Floridians love this place – come and see why. It’s one of the cutest small towns in America.