Where is Mount Dora located?

The charming and unique town of Mount Dora is located in Central Florida. It is under 1 hour from Orlando and under 2 hours from Tampa. 

Is Mount Dora worth visiting?

Yes! Mount Dora is totally worth visiting. This cute little town is full of things to do. You can have a low-key weekend or an action-packed weekend all in this little area. Mount Dora has festivals almost every month; there are picturesque lakes and landscapes all around and unbelievable sunsets, but above all, the hospitality and the warmth you feel from locals and business owners is what makes Mount Dora someplace special.

What is special about Mount Dora

In my opinion, Mount Dora might as well be called “Mount Dorable.” There are no high-rise condos, chain hotels, or chain restaurants, and we love everything about it.

Mount Dora has received many honorable mentions. It has been named one of the Top 100 Great Towns of America, One of the Best Romantic Escapes in Florida, One of the Best Small Southern Towns, and “Friendliest Small Town in Florida.” Mount Dora is a perfect destination for a long weekend getaway.

Is Mount Dora walkable? 

Yes. Mount Dora can be explored by foot. There is a lot to do and see. Mount Dora is a walkable town. Once you park, you can get to most locations on foot. You can also rent bikes using your smartphone. This time we walked everywhere. Bring a good pair of shoes. I enjoyed my flat sandals, and Bas wore his comfy Converse chucks.

Walking Mount Dora

How long to stay in Mount Dora

Mount Dora can be easily explored in a weekend. This should be more than enough time to explore this charming place.

How high is Mount Dora?

The town sits on a plateau that is 184 feet above sea level. That’s definitely mountain-worthy in Central Florida.

Where to stay in Mount Dora

Lakeside Inn on Lake Dora Once you pass the stone gateposts, you will feel like you stepped back in time. The entire property is surrounded by huge moss-draped oak trees and acres of beautifully landscaped grounds that sweep down to the white sand shoreline of Lake Dora. This beautiful hotel was built in 1883 and is the oldest continuously operating hotel in the State of Florida. This is a beautiful hotel for families and couples. 

Lakeside Inn
Lakeside Inn
Lakeside Inn Mount Dora

Heron Cay Lakeview Bed and Breakfast is a storybook Victorian Estate in Mount Dora, Florida. When you stay at this gorgeous Bed and Breakfast, you will have embroidered robes and a gourmet breakfast waiting for you every day. It is truly an escape to a place lost in time. 

The Heirloom Inn is located in the historic downtown of Mount Dora making it a walkable distance to the main attractions. It has six newly remodeled suites with interiors that meet old-world charm. 

Mount Dora Townhome in Historic District This lovely three bedrooms 2, bathroom home is the perfect place to stay with your family as you explore Mount Dora. Lake Dora is located less than 1 mile from this property. 

Quaint and Dreamy Mt. Dora Cottage Close to Lake is a dreamy place to stay infused with a bit of a cute retro vibe. 2 bedrooms. 

Charming Mt. Dora Home with Shared Patio and Yard is a two bedroom home with a shared yard and outdoor space to grill and enjoy the Florida sun. Lake Dora is about 1 mile away.

Hampton Inn Mount Dora This Mount Dora, Florida hotel offers free breakfast and high-speed internet access. The Mount Dora, Florida Hampton Inn hotel, is minutes from the historic downtown. Orange Tee Driving Range is just a short drive from the hotel.

Where to eat in Mount Dora

The BeauClaire Dining Room at the Lake Side Inn is a popular place for breakfast and brunch. On the weekends, it can get jam-packed, so be sure to plan accordingly. We put our name on the list and requested to sit on the wrap-around balcony overlooking Lake Dora. The inside dining room had no wait, but the wait time was about 45 minutes for the balcony. We decided to enjoy a leisure walk around the property.

It was so relaxing to walk towards Lake Dora, take the scenery in, sit down, relax, and see some of the boats go by. You genuinely feel like you are in a storybook, surrounded by nature, animals, a magical view, and the beautiful setting of the Lake Side Inn. We were able to spot different kinds of birds and even a baby alligator. The breakfast was delicious, and the service was impeccable. I had the Farmer’s Omelet, and Bas had the Eggs Benedict. It was so lovely to drink our coffee and enjoy our meal with that stunning view. After a long school year as a teacher, I immediately felt renewed. The Beauclaire Room features Southern fine dining for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. A Sunday champagne brunch is available as well. 

Gianni’s Italiano Restaurant: After our delightful afternoon, we drove back to Mount Dora, and we decided we were in the mood for some yummy Italian food. We had dinner at Gianni’s Italiano Restaurant. “Chef Gianni received his formal training in Ascoli Piceno, Italy, although his first teacher was his mother Giovanna in a small village of Comunanza, Italy.” There are a few tables downstairs when you walk in, but we were pleasantly surprised to see the charming dining room upstairs. The service was superb. The fresh bread was to die for, and the dinner was delicious. I had the Chicken Pasta Carbonara, and Bas had the Rigatoni Bolognese.

The Salted Fry: We had heard about The Salted Fry, and we wanted to try their yummy fries. They offer Delicious ‘Pomme Frites’ Belgian-Style Fries, and they are located on one of the little side streets. The storefront is gorgeous and inviting. Once you walk in, you feel like you are somewhere else. Perhaps a gnome village or a fairy village. We ordered a large truffle fries to share, and we sat outside. 

Scoops on 5th is perfect for ice cream in Mount Dora. Back in town, most stores were already closed, but people were still enjoying life in the restaurants and common areas of the town. We were not hungry as we had eaten all day throughout the Farmer’s Market and the coffee shops. Instead, we decided to go for ice cream. We followed the crowd to “Scoops on 5th“. We each grabbed a cone and walked the town to the light of the moon.

Alyson A Bake Shop has delicious iced and hot coffee. What a beautiful bakery. The decor was to die for. We had a coconut cheesecake and two iced coffees, both incredibly delicious and fresh. We hung out here for a little bit to cool down and relax before heading out on a boat tour with Rusty Anchor.

What to do in Mount Dora

There is so much to do in Mount Dora. Mount Dora has festivals almost every month; there are picturesque lakes and landscapes all around and unbelievable sunsets, antiquing, shopping, nature parks, fast pace adventures such as catboats, tours, etc.


Some of the festivals year-round include: The Bicycle Festival, Annual Craft Fair, Plant & Garden Festival, Renniger’s Antique Extravaganza, The Christmas Light Festival, Annual Scottish Highland Festival, Annual Arts Festival, Mount Dora Taste, Blueberry Festival, Seafood Festival. For a list of festivals check out the Mount dora Chamber of Commerce calendar.

Antiquing in Mount Dora

Mount Dora is also known as a place to go antiquing. There is a humongous antique center called Renniger’s right outside of town. Renniger’s is our favorite place to look for antiques and unique finds.

Downtown Mount Dora

We explored the charming downtown. It is lined with historic buildings, quaint little stores and boutiques, coffee shops, antique stores, and more than 20 restaurants with all cuisine styles from Florida Classics, Seafood, Indian, Italian, and German. I loved exploring the little stores and boutiques. You can find very unique gifts and home decor, but above all, I enjoyed talking to the business owners or other visitors around us.

Shopping in Mount Dora

Checkered Moon: One of my favorite stores is The Checkered Moon. We have visited this store on many different occasions. The owner is a lovely lady from Chicago who has lived in Florida for a while. We have also met her sister-in-law, and they both are very courteous, caring, and attentive. They have beautiful things for all ages, and I absolutely love their Florida-themed merchandise. Simply adorable. 

FYI Creations: One of the coolest stores in Mount Dora is FYI Creations. We talked to Ronnie, the owner, who told us that he and his wife make the famous chill sticks from driftwood from the springs. They love to give this wood a second life. This wood has been in the spring water for hundreds of years to be corroded like this to later become chill sticks in their new life. 

When we asked Ronnie to tell us what a chill stick is, he told us that a chill stick is a decorative art piece that incorporates driftwood from the great outdoors embellished with ambient accent pieces to set a relaxing mood. The FYI gallery/store is set up to guide the visitor through a journey. Each room is different, and every item is unique and beautiful. 

Catboats in Mount Dora

At 6:15 p.m., we headed towards the marina to meet our Captains for our Catboat Sunset Adventure

We did the Lake Beauclair, Lake Carlton & Sunset Guided Tour. Although we had seen the sunset the night before, we were thoroughly excited to see it from the water. It had been magnificent the night before as we experienced it from the land, so we knew it had to be a unique experience with our front row seats from the water.

Once we got in the boat and backed out of our “parking” space at the marina, it was super fun. First, you start out pretty slow as everyone in the tour catches up. We first passed the Lake Side Inn, but we stopped for a few minutes to meet two resident gators that the locals recognize. These two were bigger than the babies we had seen earlier. You would think I panicked, but no, it didn’t happen. I felt super safe in the catboat and enjoyed watching the alligators sunbathe from a distance.

From there, we followed our Captain as we went full speed, in what felt like we were flying over the waters of Lake Dora. The thrill was fantastic, and we thoroughly enjoyed it. Captain Todd told us about the Lake Side Inn, some of the famous houses in town; we admired very expensive mansions and looked for wildlife together. We spotted alligators, birds, and bald eagles. In some parts of the tour, we had to go in a single file line and very slow, and in some instances, we were free to speed up as long as we followed along. We enjoyed hearing about the history of Lake Beauclair, Lake Dora, and Lake Carlton. If you want to hear more about it, be sure to watch our video.

After an hour and a half of speeding through the waters of Mount Dora, we returned to the area right in front of the Lighthouse from where we had watched the sunset the night before. We were drenched in water but having a great time. The sun was starting to come down, and it was already a spectacle worth watching. From the water, we could see that the Lighthouse Park was packed with families and people enjoying the sunset. We, however, were sitting in what felt like front row seats to one of the most spectacular sunsets we’ve ever experienced. Everything around us radiated in a deep orange, yellow and red light. Mount Dora sunsets are definitely something worth making time for.

Farmer’s Market in Mount Dora

We love Farmer’s Markets, and the Mount Dora Farmer’s Market is fantastic. The Downtown Mount Dora Village Market happens every Sunday from 9 – 2, and it has over 40 vendors. There is so much to see and to taste. We started out at the European Breads and Pastries stall, and we indulged in a delicious pastry and a breakfast muffin. We bought a few extra pastries to carry with us throughout the day.

As we walked the market, we were captivated by the delicious aroma coming from a Thim Thai with a nice gentleman and sweet lady. The gentleman shared with us that his wife, a native of Thailand, has always loved to cook and that she genuinely enjoys sharing her cooking with everyone at the market. Food means much more to us than just a meal. Food to us means connections, a good time, stories, etc. We decided to try the Pad Thai. The smell was amazing. Well, let me tell you … the flavor was even more impressive—hands down, the best Pad Thai we both have ever had. At this point, it wasn’t yet 11 a.m, and we have had pastries and the Pad Thai. I have never had Pad Thai for breakfast, but I cannot wait to revisit Mount Dora and have this delicious meal again.

The Pad Thai left us thirsty, so we indulged in a delicious concoction at a juice stand. I had a Coconut Limeade Smash, and Bas had a Peach Mandarin Smash. Both, amazingly refreshing, natural, and delicious.

We walked the rest of the market and enjoyed talking to many people.We met Mr. Wayne, The Broom Artist, and his wife. He makes brooms from natural fibers. His brooms are functional, and some are decorative too. It was so interesting talking to him and learning how brooms are made the old-fashioned way.By then, we had walked enough that we had a sweet tooth craving.

We stopped at the Uncle Phil’s Fudge, and I fell in love with the Dulce de Leche Fudge, although they had over 25 flavors to choose from. So delicious! We both truly enjoyed it. We also enjoyed talking to the owners Uncle Phil and his wife.

Donnelly House

We truly enjoyed stopping by the Donnelly House and admiring the intricate detail of this historic home. The Donnelly House is a charming historic home in the heart of town. It has yellow siding, blue accents, and gingerbread house-style details that make it hard to miss. The home features Queen Anne architecture and has been included on the National Register of Historic Places since 1975. Currently, it is not open to the public as it is a Masonic Lodge but still a beautiful piece of history to stop by, admire, and maybe take a photo

Grantham Point Park

We finished the day at Grantham Point Park next to the Mount Dora Marina. We spotted the Unity in the Community Archway. It is made out of 750 individual tiles that were hand-painted by school children in honor of Adrienne Lowe. She was a woman known and loved by many in the community. The monument is beautiful. We took time reading each time and admiring the area.

As we got further into the park, we noticed many people congregating in this area for the evening.

Mount Dora Lighthouse

Within Grantham Point Park, you can find the iconic Mount Dora Lighthouse. Its red and white candy cane-like look makes it the perfect place for photos. The park’s lakefront views are ideal for photographers and videographers looking to capture the area’s fantastic beauty. The 35-foot Lighthouse was dedicated on March 25, 1988, and it is one out of three freshwater lighthouses in Florida. From this point, you can see Lake Dora and enjoy the beautiful sunset. It was just as breathtaking as the locals describe it.

Van Gogh House in Mount Dora

The next day, as we drove into Downtown Mount Dora, we saw the famous Van Gogh House. We had heard about it from locals, but we had not seen it yet. It is not hard to spot since it is a clear representation of the masterpiece “Starry Night”. The locals shared that the house belongs to a couple who has a special needs son who loves the before-mentioned painting. Because of this, the family painted the entire place to represent “Starry Night” with a bit of Mount Dora twist. You can walk to it from Downtown Mount Dora. Look for the blue house.

Elizabeth Evans Park

We spent some time at Elizabeth Evans Park, a little park that overlooks Lake Dora. There was plenty of seating and some hammocks. We relaxed in the hammocks and watch the boats go by.

Palm Island Park

Right before the entrance to the boardwalk of Palm Island Park, we saw a giant alligator statue honoring “Old Joe” – a 15 ft alligator that used to live in the area. The story about it is fascinating and super cute.

When we finally got to Palm Island Park, we were amazed at the beautiful 8-acre natural preserve. The boardwalk we saw was only a tiny part of it as it extended all throughout the park. We also walked along the trails and experienced the beautiful recreational path. We saw alligators, turtles, birds, and magnificent views of Lake Dora. This would be a great place to bring your binoculars or your camera.

Rusty Anchor Excursions in Mount Dora

Rusty Anchor has all sorts of excursions. In the past, I have done one of their 2-hour cruises and have thoroughly enjoyed them, but today we took the 30-minute cruise for $10 per person to spend some time in the water. The Captain was very informative and funny. We enjoyed hearing about the mansions in the area, the local fauna, and nature, and we even spotted alligators at the alligator cave. While on board, we enjoyed the pastries we had bought at the Farmer’s Market earlier on.   

Dora Queen Paddlewheel Boat, Tavares, Florida

We then took a short drive to the City of Tavares (on the other side of Lake Dora). There, we went aboard the magnificent Dora Queen Paddlewheel Boat. The Dora Queen is a luxury 80-foot New Orleans-style paddlewheel boat. We took a 2-hour afternoon cruise through Lake Dora while enjoying live music and talking to the crew about the area. Halfway through the cruise, we found ourselves looking at the Lake Side Inn from the water. Breeze in my hair, diet coke in my hand, and perfect weather on Lake Dora. What else could I ask for? It was a beautiful way to spend the afternoon.   


Mount Dora is totally worth visiting. This cute little town is full of things to do. You can have a low-key weekend or an action-packed weekend all in this little area. Mount Dora has festivals almost every month, there are picturesque lakes and landscapes all around, and unbelievable sunsets, but above all, the hospitality and the warmth you feel from locals and business owners is what makes Mount Dora someplace special.

This summer, we are visiting cities and towns around Florida. I have been living in Florida for almost 25 years. Although I have explored many cities, towns, and off-the-beaten paths, there is still so much more to discover. 

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