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Mount Dora, FL

About Mount DoraAs you stroll the downtown streets, you may see a passerby or a shop with a T-shirt sporting the phrase “I climbed Mount Dora”—an inside joke among locals and in-the-know tourists. Mount Dora, named for its location on a plateau with a 174-foot elevation, is certainly no mountain, but it’s considered pretty high in the relatively flat state of Florida.

Boutiques, antique malls and restaurants sometimes draw throngs of people to the old-fashioned downtown. On Donnelly Street between 5th and 6th avenues stands the 1893 Queen Anne-style Donnelly House, former home of the town’s first mayor and now a Masonic lodge. This grand yellow and white house features colorful stained-glass windows and a large wraparound porch. Across the street is Donnelly Park, a focal point of downtown with benches and shuffleboard and tennis courts. The park is particularly lovely during the holiday season when nearly 2 million Christmas lights adorn the trees. The lights are lit at Light Up Mount Dora in late November and continue each evening through the season.

Lake Dora, one of seven lakes comprising the Harris Chain of Lakes, draws boaters and fishers. Several parks line the waterfront. Elizabeth Evans Park at the end of Donnelly Street offers benches, picnic tables and a small covered gazebo right above the lake—a great place for viewing the water and local wildlife in the shade. It’s also home to the Mount Dora Lawn Bowling Club. Spectators are permitted; phone (352) 383-2294. A boat ramp is available at nearby Grantham Point, where the highlight is a red-and-white-striped inland lighthouse.

Adjacent Palm Island Park offers grills, a small covered pavilion with tables, and a nature trail that includes a boardwalk jutting out into Lake Dora. As you stroll along you’re likely to see a variety of birds and if you keep your eyes peeled on the water, you might even see a turtle or alligator. Across the street is Gilbert Park, which has a large children’s playground area. Contact the parks and recreation department for more information; phone (352) 735-7183.

Mount Dora History Museum , 450 Royellou Ln., is filled with photos, memorabilia, period clothing and other items of interest to local history buffs. It is operated by the Mount Dora Historical Society; phone (352) 383-0006 for hours of operation.

The city hosts a major festival nearly each month, including the Mount Dora Arts Festival in February, the Mount Dora Regatta in March or April and the Craft Fair in October. There are special events held throughout the year, too, like outdoor movies in Donnelly Park on the second Friday of each month.

The IceHouse Theatre Company performs at the 270-seat Sonnentag Theatre at the IceHouse at 1100 N. Unser St.; phone (352) 383-4616 or (352) 383-3133.

Visitor Centers Mount Dora Chamber of Commerce 341 N. Alexander St. Mount Dora, FL 32757. Phone:(352)383-2165

ShoppingDowntown Mount Dora is a delightful shopping destination offering many types of items, including antiques, books, clothing, collectibles, dolls, gift items, homemade dog treats, jewelry, kitchen and bath items, scrapbook supplies, shoes and toys. The chamber of commerce, housed in the former railroad depot, offers shopping directories and maps.

Two more options for antique shopping are not far from downtown. Village Antique Mall, 405 N. Highland St., features more than 60 dealers; phone (352) 385-0257. The biggest draw to the region, though, is Renninger's Florida Twin Markets at 20651 US 441, which is open Friday through Sunday. It caters to antique and flea market fans alike. On one side is the Farmers & Flea Market, and the Antiques Center with about 200 dealers is on the other. A guitar, antique car and motorcycle swap is held the second Sunday of the month. Three-day antique fairs (Friday through Sunday) are held the third weekend of the month March through October and in December and bring additional dealers—sometimes up to 200—who set up on the grounds and in covered outdoor pavilions. The January, February and November third-weekend shows are extravaganzas, and with more than 1500 dealers on the site these 3-day shows are the ultimate destination for antique collectors. Throughout the year a variety of special events are held on the grounds, too. For more information about Renninger's phone (352) 383-8393.

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Mount Dora, FL

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