A Night Out in Mount Dora

Florida's Festival City
By
Amira Shomr
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Nestled between the canals of Lake County is the quaint and charming city of Mount Dora. Known for its antique Victorian-style architecture and small-town charm, the city has become a thriving epicenter for artists, craftsman, and nature lovers to visit. Established in 1874, the town and nearby lake were eventually named after Dora Ann Drawdy, an early settler beloved amongst travelers and her growing community. Having invested greatly in the industrialist wave transforming the nation, the city quickly developed modern infrastructure, railroads, water systems, and roads. Mount Dora’s progressive growth was largely due to the contributions of its residence, and that pride and sense of community strength has flourished into the inviting, exciting city that it is today. You won’t take a step into Mount Dora without feeling like you’ve just returned home.

For most people looking to explore Florida’s local hotspots, the beaches and state parks are often at the top of the list. But for the history buff who wants to travel the unbeaten path of big-city beats and beaches, Mount Dora is a satisfying blend of old-world charm perfectly encapsulated in a modern downtown cityscape. From shopping to water-sports, there is little this town doesn’t offer between the beautiful nature preserves, provocative museums, and expertly crafted local goods. The city is equally as rich in history and tourist-worthy landscapes to explore as it is in entrepreneurs and town staples that define Mount Dora as that very unique someplace special. If you’ve got a holiday weekend or special event to celebrate, Mount Dora is the place to experience a little piece of Florida that you’ll definitely find #instaworthy. Follow our short tour through the city to find out what’s waiting just across the Dora Canal.

 

Village Coffee Shop
Photo by Village Coffee Pot 

Coffee at the Village Coffee Pot 

To start the Mount Dora adventures on the right foot, you’ll need to get some pep in your step with an indulgent cup of coffee to set the mood. The first stop is the Village Coffee Pot of Mount Dora to get a freshly brewed cup of their premium Cuban coffee. Kick back with your favorite roast, classic coffee beverage, or hot tea, and grab a slice of pound cake to compliment the exquisite simplicity of an amazing cup of coffee. The café prides itself on small-brewed, ethically sourced coffee that fills every cup with a uniquely bold flavor.

The options don’t stop at just great coffee. The café serves up milkshakes, hot and iced specialty drinks, or even sherbet and ice cream to compliment your breakfast. If you’re stopping by for lunch, don’t miss out on the fresh sandwiches and wraps offered at the adjoining deli, or opt for soup and a salad to keep your meal light and leave room for dessert (did I mention they serve Gelato). If you’re in the market for trying something funky and new, check out the daily specials board posted on the café’s website to explore tasty options like seasonal Pumpkin Swirl ice cream or a refreshing Black Widow Mocha. Once you’ve got your fill of sweet treats and caffeine, it’s time to head over to the next stop in our Mount Dora adventure.

CatBoat
Photo by Village CatBoat Adventures

Tour the Canal with CatBoat Adventures

Grab your life jacket and sunscreen because it’s time to start a grand journey down the Dora Canal on a CatBoat Adventures tour. This guided tour offers everything a novice boater would need, complete with complimentary water bottles for that vital hydration in the Florida sun. Learn about the history and ecosystem of Florida’s lakeside marshes and forests with detailed narrations by knowledgeable tour guides as you take a leisurely cruise downstream. The two-hour tour covers everything from native plant species along the banks to famous visitors and historical events that occurred right on the shore. Bring a pair of binoculars to get a close-up view of the vast wildlife that surrounds the lakes and canals, or simply soak in the beauty of Florida’s nature on the cool waters.

If you’re a more experienced boater and want to amp the tour up to something a bit more high-speed, CatBoat offers individual catamaran rentals for the avid thrill-seeker. Take to the lakes and set off on your own adventure in the sunset or rent boats for a group to get the whole family involved in the excitement. If you’ve got a waterproof camera, this is a great opportunity to snap candid shots of the variety of birds, reptiles, and fish out on the waters, or to get that #perfectsunset on the water shot. Try not to get too wet while you enjoy the tour, we have much more to see in Mount Dora!

Piglet's Pantry
Photo by Piglet's Pantry

Shop at Piglet's Pantry

Mount Dora isn’t just a weekend paradise for the bipeds in your life. Piglet’s Pantry offers an array of gifts and goodies for your four-legged furry friends. The dog bakery specializes in gourmet customizable cakes, cookies, and chewy treats made with safe ingredients for your pet, and even offers adorable Pupcakes to get your pups barking with joy for every special occasion. All furry friends are welcome to roam while you browse the essentials like pet loofahs, bath tubs, collars, and apparel to keep your pet squeaky clean and always fashionable. Piglet’s Pantry includes a sizable selection of feline-friendly options for treats and apparel as well, including an array of small-batch catnip. The bakery supplies busy pet owners on the go with convenient local delivery of all their unique pantry items. Skip the line and get all your pet’s favorites delivered right to your front door.

Heading to a doggie birthday party for a friend or family member’s pet? Don’t show up empty-pawed! One unique item that will really get tails wagging at your next pet shindig are Piglet’s Pantry’s doggie gift baskets. These fun baskets are loaded to the brim with pet care must-haves and can be customized based on pet age, breed, and size. The sky’s the limit with endless options to meet any pet owner’s needs, and the basket doubles as extra storage for keep your pet area tidy. Add a new squeaky toy, comfy bed, dog towels, or doggie spa products to make it one birthday party your best barking friend will never forget!

Confectionary
Photo by Mount Dora Confectionary

Treats at the Mount Dora Confectionary

Now that we’ve got a little special something for the pets at home, it’s time to treat yourself and satisfy that sweet tooth at the Mount Dora Confectionary. Take your pick between the finest chocolates, chewy taffies, fruity jelly beans, any dozens of other gourmet delights. If candy confections don’t suit your mood, indulge in the large selection of ice cream and gelato flavors for a cool treat in the summer heat. There’s no shortage of cookie options with a wide selection of Tate’s Bake Shop cookies on display, tempting you with everything from classic chocolate chip to decadent, whole-wheat dark chocolate. There’s always something new to try when you visit, as the candy shop experiments with fun new flavors and offers daily specials like seasonal ice cream flavors or holiday-themed chocolate creations. With sugar-free selections, you can opt for a guilt-free treat without missing any of the fun. Feel like a kid in a candy store again and take home a variety bag of pure, sweet goodness.

If you’re in need of a memorable #throwbackThursday post for your Instagram, visit the retro candy section and take a bite of nostalgia with candies straight from your childhood day. The confectionary designs decade-themed boxes of nostalgic candy mixes that are stuffed with an assortment of the most popular candies from bygone eras. You’ll find every candy in between from the 50’s through the 80’s, and each box comes with full-size packages to maximize your retro munching. There’s something special for everyone in your crew to enjoy, making the confectionary the cherry on top of our Mount Dora tour.

Modernism Museum
Photo by Modernism Museum of Mount Dora 

Experience art at the Modernism Museum of Mount Dora

The charming city of Mount Dora may be known for its natural beauty and outdoor retreats, but it’s also known for the emerging art community that has been making a name for itself through art festivals, galleries, and the Modernism Museum of Mount Dora. A refined collection surveying many expressions of sculptures, paintings, and installations, the museum aims to ignite the imagination through the thoughtful execution of its exhibits. On display, visitors will find authentic, original pieces that tell elaborate stories celebrating ingenuity and innovation. All senses will be provoked with immersion of audio/visual elements and interactive components of the exhibits that set the museum apart from your ordinary historical gala.

The museum hosts an exclusive showcase of premiere exhibits, such as live musical performances by renowned artists Lauren Mitchell and Bill Buchman, as well as exploratory historical lectures and cultural workshops. Wine, dine, and converse with the artists and musicians after each exhibit, or take an up-close personal tour of the exhibit to appreciate each piece. New to the museum is the highly anticipated expansion to the David Bowie exhibit, Space Oddities: The Sequel, immortalizing the postmodern influences on the art collection from Bowie’s estate. Other expressive installations include examples of Cubism, Abstractionism, Progressivism, and functional Modernism. Filled with culture, evolving modern artistry, and the inspiration of making aesthetically inclined, functional pieces, the Modernism Museum of Mount Dora is a singular experience that can be appreciated by any exploring art lover.

Brewery
Photo by Rocking Rabbit Brewery

Brews at the Rocking Rabbit Brewery

It’s time to wrap up your short-but-sweet escapades through the beautifully quaint town of Mount Dora. After a thrilling day of nature, adventure, sweets, and art, we’ll top the night off with a cool drink at the Rocking Rabbit Brewery presented by the Mount Dora Brewery. An experimental journey inspired by the owner’s family tradition of appreciating a good brew, the brewery has become a cornerstone of neighbors and friends celebrating the simplicity of good company and great drinks. Having perfected a brewing method using only organic, wholesome ingredients to procure a refreshingly flavorsome glass of beer, the Rocking Rabbit is the quintessential spot to ditch the drab of quick six-packs for a perfectly poured brew. The location boasts a dining room and outdoor beer garden where you can fuel up on the breakfast or lunch menu and keep the drinks flowing.

The Rocking Rabbit isn’t just great for drinks and eats. The entertainment presented by the brewery is a knockout lineup of open-mic nights and acoustic jam sessions followed by groove sessions with funky local artists like the renowned Brewery Boys Band, Tinder Box Radio, and Bird Dog Bobby & the Honey Hounds. Whether you’re in the mood for Jazz, Blues, or Classic Rock, the Rocking Rabbit Brewery is always lively. If you love a laid-back place to experience the adrenaline of a live concert every Friday night, the brewery is the only place to be. Come for the brews, stay for the tunes!

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A Night Out in Mount Dora
Florida's Festival City
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