City Profile: Mount Dora

By: VISIT FLORIDA staff

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This beautiful small city is rich in history and country charm.

Mount Dora was founded in 1874 when homesteaders first discovered the gently sloping lakeside hills rising to 184 feet above sea level. Ancient oak trees line streets that weave through 19th century clapboard houses and serene, country-style residential neighborhoods. Located 25 miles northwest of Orlando, Mt. Dora is able to maintain its laid back country charm while resting on the perimeter of a bustling city.

Mount Dora is a city of parks. Tree-shaded Donnelly Park occupies a full block in the center of town, and welcomes picnickers, tennis and shuffleboard players to enjoy its lush environs. Within walking distance of downtown is Palm Island Park, adjacent to Gilbert Park, and home to one of the most beautiful nature walks in the state. Also available are a playground, lighthouse, fishing dock, boat ramp and picnic pavilions.

Various historic buildings in town have been combined into a self-guided tour. The oldest structure, established in 1883, is the 86 room Lakeside Inn. The 1893 home of the first mayor, J.P. Donnelly, and the Mount Dora Area Chamber of Commerce in the 1915 railroad depot are both Mount Dora attracts a wealth of international tourists, and has developed a sister-city affiliation with the Forres region to the north of Scotland. Forres (9,000 population) is a 2,000-year-old Royal Burgh, and is the United Kingdom's top award winning floral bloomtown. The Forres region was also used by Shakespeare as a backdrop for the play "Macbeth." Specialty shops and boutiques are plentiful in the downtown area, and border the famous Renninger's Florida Twin Markets, a flea market with a vast assortment of antiques and collectibles. There are plenty of fascinating artifacts to observe in the art galleries and antique shops throughout Mount Dora, and the annual art festival attracts as many as 200,000 visitors to the community.

For leisure time activity Mount Dora offers year-round tennis, swimming, fishing, boating, water-skiing, windsurfing, racquetball and golf. Games of difficult skill and strategy are popular amongst visitors and Mount Dorans alike. Some of the favorites are shuffleboard in Donnelly Park and fiercely competitive, championship-level lawn bowling at the clubhouse and rinks of Evans Park. Mount Dora has the relaxed, scenic ambiance of a small town with the amenities of a modern, thriving community.

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