For one reason or another, until our last trip to Florida this spring we had never visited Mount Dora! Sadly the train is no longer working (we didn’t get to Cypress Gardens before it closed either – or for that matter Splendid China and we drive past that every day when in Florida) but there is so much here to make it worth getting in the car.
Driving (in our Intermediate SUV) into what appears to be a sleepy downtown off US 27 you do relax and can enjoy the well tended gardens and pretty architecture of some of the homes. We managed to find on-street parking because we arrived quite early in the day. I would recommend that perhaps you travel a bit later, perhaps arriving for lunchtime, as quite a few of the shops keep later hours – no 24 hour WalMart here!
The shops are the browsing type, the sort where you can lose yourself for hours just looking at things you didn’t realise you might ever need or want. One of the first we went into was full of glassware of the decorative kind. Beautiful multi-coloured glass water feeders for birds that the lady revealed many people purchase for indoor decoration and I can quite believe her. I restricted myself to a wine bottle stopper as I had more hope of getting it home safely!
As we drifted up the bench lined street we came across Piglets Pantry clearly indicating the level of local income! We took an early snack in the One Flight Up Café which gave us a birds eye view of the street below, including the most annoying traffic lights ever heard. Clearly to assist the more elderly residents the traffic lights chirrup when it is safe to cross the road. Seat yourself on a bench too close to the crossing and you may regret it!
Browsing back up the other side of the road we found a wonderful store (Whispering Winds) with a variety of home décor, garden décor, toys and books. Very eclectic, but we managed to find a guide to the flora and fauna of Florida that we had been seeking for a number of years to leave at the house. Another little stroll took us to a Hollywood memorabilia store (Uncle Al’s Time Capsule) full of old and new posters of films and film stars along with busts, models, statues, cups, piggy banks and any other item that pre-dates the commercial merchandise tat of modern children’s films. Just up from this store was what looked like a home décor shop but sold the most divine ice cream and whoopee pies. Following advice from the owner we took dishes of his home-made and award-winning ice cream over the whoopee pies.
We then headed along to Gilbert Park overlooking Lake Dora with this delightful lighthouse. Fish were teeming in the lake and the seagulls were very busy. Next time we will take a picnic for the park, and then browse around the town before taking an early supper in one of the many restaurants. Because Mount Dora is a tourist town it is open year around including Christmas and Easter which can be tricky times if you are a tourist and looking for somewhere different to the theme parks!
Mount Dora is about an hour from the Orlando area, depending on whereabouts you are staying. It is not reachable by public transport for tourists, so you really will need to hire your own car to explore this part of Florida, but it is well worth the trip.