11 Best Things to Do in Mount Dora, Florida

|   Last Updated on July 10, 2021

— MOUNT DORA, FLORIDA — Mount Dora is an easy and peaceful one-hour drive from Orlando. As you follow the curving two-lane road lined with trees and homes scattered sporadically like dominoes, you can feel the stress of life lifting. Though Mount Dora is only a short distance from the busyness of Orlando, it feels as if it is worlds away.

Mount Dora has been named one of the Top 100 Great Towns of America, one of The Best Romantic Escapes in Florida, and the Friendliest Small Town in Florida. Once you visit Mount Dora, you’ll keep coming back for more.


Some of our favorite things to do in Mount Dora.

—Jim & Betsi Hill

1. Historic Mount Dora Tour

History of Mount Dora
©Jim Hill

Take an immersive spin around Mount Dora to become acclimated with all this jewel offers. The tour is designed to be a walking, driving, or tour by golf cart. We did a combination of a walking tour and a tour by golf cart with Mount Dora Transit. The overview by the guide was well done and very informative. It’s a great way to begin any exploration of Mount Dora.

2. Hop on a Segway

Glide Tours on the boardwalk
©Jim Hill

This tour with Glide Adventures is such fun as you roll through Mount Dora. You’ll learn a bit about the history of Mount Dora and catch some fantastic views of Lake Dora, all while zipping along onboard your Segway.

PRO TIP: Segways require some balance to master. If you have any balance issues at all, I recommend another type of tour.

3. Buzz Over the Wavetops

Catboat Tour - Mount Dora FL
©CatBoat Tours

By far the most adrenaline-filled tour we’ve done. These small boats are literally two pontoons with a platform for two seats. They are nimble and quick, but the ride is certainly not a dry one, so be prepared to get wet and laugh a lot. We raced across Lake Dora and headed for the Dora Canal.

The catboats sit on the surface of the water and skim across the top of the water, so if there any waves, you go right through them and end up getting wet, which is part of the fun. CatBoat Tours offers several tours daily, and for the adventurous, it is a must-do tour.

Pro Tip: The CatBoat Tours are definitely for adrenaline junkies. You won’t be disappointed. They offer a whole new perspective on the area by water.

4. Explore the Dora Canal

Boat house from the 1920s
©Jim Hill

The Dora Canal reminds me of the forest primeval because of its rugged, natural look. Most of the trees appear to be centuries old and covered in green moss, with limbs overhanging the canal filled with Spanish moss curtains. The 1951 movie “The African Queen” filmed some of its retakes in the Dora Canal. They chose the location due to the jungle-like look of the channel.

There are several options for exploring the Dora Canal. You can explore via Catboat tours or take a boat tour with Premier Boat Tours or Rusty Anchor Tours.

5. Fly Over the Harris Chain of Lakes

Harris Chain of Lakes
©Jim Hill

Taking a seaplane flight with Jones Brothers Air and Seaplane Adventures is hands-down one of the best tours we’ve taken in Florida. I am just slightly addicted to seaplane tours. They combine my two favorite activities – being on the water and flying above the water.

Jones Brothers Air and Seaplane Tours offers a selection of tours from short to lengthy and everything in between. There is just something magical about skimming across the lake and taking flight high above the water for a true birds-eye view.

6. Take a Sunset Cruise

Take a cruise and toast the end of the day onboard Premier Boat Tours. Feel the sun warming your cheeks and the wind gently blowing through your hair as you close out your day in Mount Dora with a sunset cruise across the lake. Your captain will ensure you are perfectly positioned to see the stunning sunset that nature presents every evening on Lake Dora.

On your tour, you’ll see Mount Dora’s Lighthouse, Florida’s only freshwater inland lighthouse. The lighthouse stands at a stately 35-feet and is constructed from road rubble.

7. Stroll Along the Boardwalk

Anhinga on the boardwalk
©Jim Hill

The boardwalk takes you through the Palm Island Preserve with ancient trees draped in Spanish moss.

If you peer down into the water, you may see a predatory gator or two in search of its next snack. Anhingas (also called snakebirds) hang out on the boardwalk railings to dry their wings, so keep an eye out – you may be able to get up close for the perfect picture.


8. Get Your Retail Therapy

Wine shopping in Mount Dora
©Jim Hill

Mount Dora offers lots of eclectic shops and boutiques that will make even the most discerning shopper happy.

A few of our favorite shops are Julianne’s Coastal Cottage, where you can indulge in one of my personal favorites – wine slushies. Along with wine slushies, you’ll find lots of coastal-inspired gifts for the cook and treasures for your kitchen.

For the nature lover, a stop into Papilio is not to be missed. This shop is full of nature-inspired gifts and art.

PRO TIP: Open carry alcohol beverages are acceptable in Mount Dora’s downtown district, so grab that adult beverage and sip and shop to your heart’s content.

9. Cool Your Thirst

Wolf Branch Brewery - Mount Dora FL
©Betsi Hill

Wolf Branch Brewing Company has a fantastic selection of craft beers for beer lovers. You’ll discover everything from Milk Stouts to Sour Fruited beer to IPAs. At Wolf Branch, you’re sure to find a new favorite brew (or two).

10. Walk in the Footsteps of a President

Lakeview Inn - Mount Dora FL
©Jim Hill

The Lakeside Inn is perched on the edge of Lake Dora. The Inn was constructed in 1883, and in 1930 President Coolidge spent a month of relaxation at the Inn.

Business tycoons, including Thomas Edison, Henry Ford, and Dwight D. Eisenhower, have graced the Lakeside Inn halls over the years.

Stop in and have a drink as you sit on the expansive veranda of the main building and rock in one of the rocking chairs as you relax overlooking Lake Dora.

11. Bivouac at Heron Cay

Heron Cay B&B Inn - Mount Doro
©Doug Thompson

Heron Cay is just a short walk from the downtown historic district. Built on three acres overlooking Lake Dora, the Inn has all the amenities you could want.

Each room has an ensuite bathroom, there is an inviting pool just steps from the backdoor, and the breakfast is sumptuous.

*Opening photo ©Flickr

Conclusion

No matter the length of your stay in Mount Dora, this enchanting town will woo you back. There is so much to do in and around Mount Dora. It’s ideal for a day trip from Orlando or a much-needed getaway.

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Last Updated on July 10, 2021

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