One of my favorite hidden gems in Central Florida is the charming small town of Mount Dora. Located just about 30 minutes northwest of Orlando, Mount Dora is the perfect getaway for anyone who wants to feel like a tourist without having to venture too far.
As many of my readers may know, I absolutely love historic downtowns. We don’t have too many of them in South Florida where I grew up, so I’m always excited to stumble upon an eclectic Main Street and really get a chance to explore.
A great place to begin your visit is the Lakeside Inn, which was built in 1883 and is the oldest continually operating hotel in the State of Florida. As part of the National Register of Historic Places, this hotel has also housed VIPs like Calvin Coolidge! During my last visit, my family and I ate at the inn’s restaurant, Tremain’s, which was the perfect stop for salads, sandwiches and other lunch fare.
Another stop on my most recent visit was the Modernism Museum, which features David Bowie’s own private collection by the Memphis Design Group. These pieces invoke a lot of color and a variety of art styles, including some Art Deco inspiration. You’ll also want to look out for a beautifully designed glass chair, named for Blanche DuBois from A Streetcar Named Desire. The museum is small, but the installations will truly capture your eye.
No trip to Mount Dora is complete without a visit to the iconic Lighthouse. Visitors can also wander throughout the downtown area to visit antique shops and other local businesses. To this day, my favorite food stop in Mount Dora is the delicious Windsor Rose Tea Room, which boasts a variety of breakfast, lunch, and tea options, along with an impressive high tea. My mom and I visited a couple of years ago, and absolutely loved the restaurant’s Asian Chicken Salad.
If you’re a fan of Van Gogh, you’ll absolutely fall in love with the Starry Night house, which mixes Van Gogh’s famous Starry Night painting with elements of Mount Dora, like the lighthouse. This is a private home but definitely worth driving by, and you can learn more about the background behind this house here. It’s truly an incredible story!
Visitors should also stop by Renningers, a marketplace for antiques where you can be sure to find a few treasures (and a few more interesting pieces). Renningers hosts events regularly at the market, which you can find on their website and Facebook page.
From art to antiques and everything in between, Mount Dora is the perfect place to enjoy your next staycation getaway. For those who have visited before, what are your favorite things to do in Mount Dora?