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Mount Dora, Florida
With a Pretty Lakeside Setting, Picturesque Mount Dora is Reminiscent of a Quaint New England Village and is Known as Florida's Friendliest Small Town
Nestled in gentle hills along the edges of Lake Dora in central Florida, Mount Dora (population 14,500) came into being in 1874 and is one of Florida's prettiest towns, reminiscent of a quaint New England village. In fact, "Little New England" is its nickname. It has been a railroad hub and a winter retreat for such famous characters as inventor Thomas Edison, car maker Henry Ford and President Calvin Coolidge.
Mount Dora is one of three historic, lakeside towns that make up an area known as the "Golden Triangle." It has been named by Florida Living Magazine as Florida's "Friendliest Small Town" and is a popular place with retirees.
In fact, 50% of residents age 45 or better. Thirty percent of all locals hold at least a four year college degree, and politics lean to the right. Mount Dora has grown 15% during the last decade. Its crime rate meets the national average. The cost of living is 3% below the national average.
Leafy neighborhoods with manicured gardens boast an eclectic mix of housing, from traditional Florida crackers and Victorian painted ladies to newer construction and gated communities. The median home price is $395,000, reflecting a 31% increase since last year.
Moss-draped hardwoods and palm trees shade waterfront parks and line tidy streets that wind around nine shimmering lakes. The picturesque downtown, nestled along the waterfront, impresses with a good collection of locally owned shops, outdoor cafes, art galleries, quaint inns, markets and New England architecture.
The historic Lakeside Inn, where the rich and famous once came to stay, is still the village's preeminent landmark. Its large front porch overlooking the lake is a relaxing place to enjoy some lemonade and cookies.
Residents have plenty to do. Swimming, boating and golfing are all popular, and free concerts take place in Donnelly Park. Palm Island Park has one of the longest and prettiest lakeside nature walks in Florida. A stroll along the boardwalk brings a chance to glimpse blue herons, ospreys and an occasional eagle. Mount Dora is also home to one of the largest lawn bowling clubs in the country.
Festivals and events abound. Each February, the town hosts the two day juried Mount Dora Arts Festival, which draws 300,000 visitors and is considered one of the top art shows in the country. Mount Dora Center for the Arts sponsors this event, as well as year-round concerts and recitals by international artists, gallery openings, classes and ongoing exhibitions.
The Mount Dora Music Festival brings well known acts to town each February, and October's craft fair is always well attended. The Mount Dora Ghost Walk is a theatrical tour of the city, and the IceHouse and the Bay Street Players produce live theater shows throughout the year.
Mount Dora has some of the best antique shopping in the state of Florida. Renningers' Flea and Farmers' Market and Vintage Antique Center have hundreds of shops and booths. Art galleries are found all over town.
The unfortunately named Bland Public Library has a good collection of materials, as well as computers with Internet access, free wi-fi for laptops and a books by mail program. It also hosts quilting shows, classic film festivals, living history presentations and more.
The Elder Affairs Coordinating Council, which has been established by the Lake County Board of County Commissioners, is charged with protecting seniors' rights. It does, however, seem to be playing catch-up as Mount Dora senior services are limited.
Mount Dora does not have a hospital, but Florida Hospital Waterman in Tavares, about five miles away, is accredited by the Joint Commission. Medicare patients are accepted. Orlando, with all of its medical infrastructure, is 45 minutes away.
LakeXpress provides public transportation and operates Monday through Friday. The regular adult fare is $1, but people age 60 years and better ride for 50 cents. The county also has a complementary paratransit program.
When it comes to the weather, October through March are the best months of the year. Temperatures are mild, with the mercury hovering in the 60s and 70s. Summers are hot and humid, with temperatures in the 90s. On average, the area receives 48 inches of rain per year. Remnants of hurricanes are occasionally felt.
Recommended as a Retirement Spot? Yes | Is Florida Tax-Friendly for Retirement? Yes
Mount Dora really is a charming place, and retirees seem to enjoy living here. It is worth consideration when retirement time arrives.
Named Pascua Florida by Juan Ponce De Leon, the Sunshine State did not enter the Union until March 3, 1845. Balmy mild winters began attracting snowbirds to the state in the late 19th century. Retirees continue to flock to the state. It's not hard to see why tourism has become the leading industry.
International trade and citrus are also major contributors to the state's economy. Eighty percent of the nation's oranges and grapefruits are grown here, and 40 percent of all U.S. exports to Latin America flow through Florida.
Florida's landscape includes uplands and coastal plains. It contains more than 11,000 miles of waterways and about 4,500 islands spread across 10 acres.
The state has 1,250 golf courses, more than any other state in the Union. The 47 mile Pinellas Trail is the longest urban trail on the east coast. Orlando theme parks attract more visitors than any other theme parks in the U.S. The only place in the world where alligators and crocodiles co-exist is in National Everglades Park.
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