Florida Guide > Other Florida
Visit Mount Dora
If you have time to spare, away from all the excitement of the parks, and want to experience a relaxing and leisurely day out, then why not visit Mount Dora? This small town, with a population of just 10, 000 is an historic little settlement, which boasts a rich variety of antique shops, restaurants, and interesting buildings. It hosts many special events during the year, including Arts Festivals and craft fairs. It is easy to find if you take the 429 Toll Rd, off the 192, just west of Disney, and sign-posted Apopka. It is a pleasant drive to this delightful and unique town, with its large oak trees, stunning lake and interesting history.
It is a great place to wander around, as there are numerous speciality shops and a wide variety of restaurants, including a French Quarter. Although it may not appeal to younger children, there are several attractions which older children will find interesting. The first of these is the Mount Dora Trolley Ride, located at the Lakeside Inn. A trip on one of these custom built climate controlled trolleys is a must. You can enjoy a guided, narrated, one hour tour of Mount Dora, taking in the quaint town with its shops, the beautiful Lake Dora, and Lake Gertrude, which is fed by a spring. As well as this you can see the many historic homes, and then walk along the Palm Island boardwalk nature trail to see the lighthouse. The tour costs $13 for adults and $11 for children. You can even enjoy a trolley tour with lunch, including soup, garlic rolls, main entrée, beverage and gratuity for $26. 25 per person. The trolleys themselves are quite remarkable, with their crushed velvet seats, air conditioning, tinted windows and PA system, plus a professional tour guide.
Close by is the Inland Lakes Railway where you can travel on a train for one hour and fifteen minutes, between Mount Dora and Wooton Park in Tavares. With its stainless steel passenger coaches it is the ideal way to see more of the beautiful countryside, as you travel along the shores of Lake Dora. Adults are just $12 and children only $8.
A gentle stroll will take you to the shores of Lake Dora, where you can take an excursion on the lake and through the various canals that link the numerous lakes. If you are lucky you might see alligators or a water moccasin, or maybe a cottontail, one of 6 venomous snakes found in Florida. Of course there is birdlife galore, ospreys and delicate white egrets, blue herons or tiny black moorhens.
Further on, you will come to Gilbert Park and the lighthouse which stands sentinel on the shores of the lake. It is peaceful and calm, and a beautiful place to catch a Florida sunset.
If you are feeling hungry then a short walk up the hilly streets will bring you a variety of options. There is the Windsor Tea Room, owned by a British couple, which serves cream teas and typical meals like Cottage Pie, Cornish Pastie and Ploughmans. But if you want to be a little more adventurous there is Italian, Sushi, Icelandic and French bistros to choose from. You may even decide to have a cup of tea or coffee and a pastry at La Cremerie, on the lakeside, beside the famous Lakeside Inn.
Of course Mount Dora is most famous for its antique shops which appear round every corner, and offer endless opportunities for browsing. But there are also museums and historic houses to view, so you will be spoiled for choice.
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