About This Episode
Christmas in Mount Dora provides the perfect backdrop for the holidays with must-see seasonal events, sites and shows.
When you visit, you must see Donnelly Park – with more than two million lights which adorn the park. For a truly dazzling display of holiday lights, head south to the Mount Dora Marina where you will be awe-struck at millions of christmas light displays. Discover Christmas in Mount Dora this holiday season.
Mount Dora, Florida is located in the heart of Central Florida just 32 miles northwest of Orlando. The City of Mount Dora truly is ‘Someplace Special,’ a charming, one-hundred plus year old historic village in the heart of Central Florida on the shores of beautiful Lake Dora in the Harris Chain of Lakes. Visit for one of their nationally known annual festivals, go fishing in the “Bass Capital of the World,” or simply relax and escape the hustle and bustle of every day life. Take the entire family and enjoy and old-fashioned, small town celebration.
Situated an easy drive from Orlando, the coasts and so many places tourists, travelers and locals like to go, Mount Dora offers the perfect peaceful retreat, a great small town atmosphere and close proximity to everything there is to do. The next time you’re considering where to stay vs. what to do, consider making Mount Dora your home base in Florida and mix peace with pleasure!
If you have watched any of my episodes on Christmas in Orlando, you know that I believe my city to be one of the best places to celebrate the holidays. However, if I am honest, there is another city in Central Florida that takes its celebration of the season – seriously! While Orlando is great for a modern take on the holidays, what if you prefer a more old-fashioned Christmas – one that hearkens back to a small town feel where local businesses still thrive in a quaint downtown, and the entire city comes together to celebrate?
Okay, to qualify as an official Christmas town – you know, the kind that you see in every Hallmark Christmas movie, you need the following: Picturesque downtown with charming local shops, amazing restaurants and bars, a cozy, comfy Inn that wraps you in the warmth of the season, and of course, spectacular lights and decorations.
Just 32 miles Northwest of Orlando, you will find the city of Mount Dora. When I say Mount Dora is a Christmas town, I mean it! If I had to describe the city during the holiday season in two words, it would be Norman Rockwell. No, really! Nor-man Rock-well! Together we will tour Mount Dora – Central Florida’s Christmas town!
Our old-fashioned Christmas tour of Mount Dora begins with the quaint downtown district with locally owned shops that decorate their windows for the season. If you love to window shop during the holidays, you are going to love this place! Mount Dora has all kinds of unique small businesses that inhabit the downtown area. In fact, there are no large chain stores to be found. You will find gifts, clothing, antiques and home decor you will not find anywhere else.
One shop in particular you must visit is St. Nick’s Holiday Shoppe on Donnelly Street, the main avenue in historic Mount Dora. This is a Christmas shop like no other – with room after room decorated in a labyrinth of festive décor, ornaments and trees.
After all that shopping, you may want to find a good meal. Mount Dora has it all from fresh seafood at Pisces Rising to amazing Thai, Cuban and Indian cuisine, but I’ll give you three of my favorites.
For a quick bite, head to One Flight Up. This is Mount Dora’s local coffee shop, with comfy inside seating and an incredible balcony, ideal for watching the city below. One Flight Up has amazing desserts like their carrot cake, which is moist and flavorful, but never heavy. And of course, hot chocolate because it is Christmas!
If you prefer to hang-out casually with friends, head downstairs to Mount Dora’s only basement pub – The Frog and Monkey, here you can dine casually, listen to live music and enjoy a traditional English pub atmosphere.
If fine dining is what you desire, duck into the alleyway known as Dora Drawdy Way and find the cottage known as The Goblin Market. The intimate interior of the restaurant features book-lined dining rooms, a private shaded courtyard and a garden patio available all year. I love hanging out upstairs in the Library bar which is warm and cozy – especially during the holidays.
No Christmas town is complete without a cozy Inn. So next we’ll head over to the Lakeside Inn – nestled on the shores of Lake Dora. The Lakeside Inn had its genesis in the late 1880s as the Alexander House. Today, Lakeside Inn is a picture-perfect spot to celebrate and enjoy the holidays with family and friends. The Grand Lobby of the Inn welcomes you with festive holiday décor and a roaring fire! The Inns relaxed and intimate lounge, Tremain’s Tavern, is a wonderful way to end your day taking in all the excitement of the season in Mount Dora.
No tour of Mount Dora during Christmas time would be complete without taking a stroll to look at all the lights shining in Donnelly park and the downtown area. Annually, Mount Dora hosts, “Light Up Mount Dora,” the Saturday after Thanksgiving which includes the lighting of the city’s singing Christmas tree complete with dancing lights!
For a real Holiday light show, head over to Mount Dora Marina within walking distance south of downtown, which boasts over 1 million Christmas lights which is an attraction unto itself – and must be witnessed in-person to be believed.
I hope you will find time to visit Mount Dora – truly a Central Florida Christmas town – the next time you visit Orlando. Happy Holidays!