7 reasons Mount Dora is one of Central Florida's hot spots

Peter Shire Room with Valentine Typewriter | Modernism Museum
Peter Shire Room with Valentine Typewriter | Modernism Museum

The quaint little town has long been a destination for antique hunters – the streets of the downtown area are lined with shops full of collectibles, and nearby Renninger’s holds Antique Extravaganzas three times per year, welcoming vintage and antique dealers from around the country. But it’s not all antiques these days, with a flowering of cultural and culinary activity blossoming. There’s no denying that it’s a gray-haired town, but these are the kind of retirees that really know how to have fun. You’ll see.

Modernism Museum

145 E. Fourth Ave., Mount Dora, 352-385-0034, modernismmuseum.org

The Modernism Museum offers a look at an organic vision of the future, articulated in beautiful midcentury furniture. This year's show, an exhibition of pieces from David Bowie's personal collection of pieces by the Italian design movement Memphis, is a barnstormer that you'll curse yourself for missing. What are you waiting for?

1921 by Norman Van Aken

142 E. Fourth Ave., Mount Dora, 352-385-1921, 1921nva.com

When celebrated chef Norman Van Aken announced plans to open a resto in Mount Dora, some were surprised – but only those who hadn't already tasted the delights of this little town. Van Aken and his protégé, chef-prodigy Camilo Velasco, create masterpieces the equal of those in the Modernism Museum just steps away from the dining room.

Joy Donuts

Intersection of 441 and Wolf Branch Road, Mount Dora, 702-497-5889, joy-donuts.com

The moist, light, fluffy cake doughnuts served from this little pink food truck will make a believer out of raised-yeast doughnut loyalists. Try the blueberry dip or the vanilla crack.

Palm Island Park

411 S. Tremain St., Mount Dora

An 8-acre nature preserve in the heart of the town where you'll see egrets, ospreys, herons, anhingas, alligators and amazingly lush Florida live oaks, cypress and palms. A mile-long boardwalk takes you on a nature walk loop through the oak hammock.

Lakeside Inn

100 Alexander St., Mount Dora, 352-383-4101, lakeside-inn.com

The Lakeside is the oldest continuously operating hotel in Florida, and watching the sunset from the rocking chairs on its welcoming porch is a Mount Dora tradition.

Pisces Rising

239 W. Fourth Ave., Mount Dora, piscesrisingdining.com

On the other hand, if rocking at the Lakeside isn't quite rockin' enough for you, sunset cocktails on the Pisces Rising patio is the place to be for the under-70 set. Outstanding.

Mount Dora Seaplane Tours

352-508-1800, jonesairandsea.com

Jones Brothers and Co. offers various "flightseeing" tours around the area. Meet them at the Lakeside Inn dock for a splash-and-dash and get a bird's-eye view.

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