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10 Mount Dora, Florida

Updated: May 30, 2022

Dates: February 20-21, 2022

My Orlando plans got derailed. I was an hour away and had been messaging with the Vrbo hostess. First, she said paid street parking is scarce AND “if you run into anyone from the apartment’s front desk to tell them you’re visiting a friend”.

Red flags. I’m getting good at spotting them now! Should've known better when booking. It was cheap for a reason.

The last minute detour opened me up for an unexpected find though!

I pulled off the interstate into a Publix parking lot. It was late afternoon. I had time to find somewhere with a sunset!

The Lakeside Hotel is 40 minutes away. Anything close is a box hotel off the interstate. I’m up for trying something new. That's what this whole adventure is all about right?

I pulled into Mount Dora around 4:30PM on Sunday. The town was hoppin’. People everywhere. Another cute downtown that looks like a backdrop for Hallmark. Or maybe a Christmas Lifetime movie.

The hotel was historic. Ahh, you historic charm hotels on Sunday nights get me every time! I brought the median age down significantly from the other hotel guests. It reminds me of Dirty Dancing or something from a 1980s movie where the whole family goes for a few weeks in the summer. And as the name suggested, it’s lakeside.

The main lobby is in one building with the restaurant and bar. The décor reminds me of what the Hardesty House was probably like back in the day. Green carpet. Maroon accents. Wood paneling.

Megan, what’s the Hardesty House? For my non-Kansas readers, this was a hot spot back home in Ashland, Kansas. When I was a kid, it was the fancy place in town to get a steak on Saturday night. They had a brunch buffet on Sunday morning. And it’s decked out in turn of the century (1900’s not 2000’s) décor.

Back to Mount Dora… My room was in a building a few doors down. The sign said it was built in 1914. Here we go again with the historic charm. Lord, please don’t let it be haunted.

I dropped my bags quickly and headed to find the best view for sunset!

Just a block away I find all the happenings. Turns out there was a Scottish festival that day which explains all the dudes in skirts.

I spot a giant patio that’s packed and grab a chardonnay from the bar. I quickly made friends with some locals. We chatted about politics. It felt like home.

I got to watch the sunset on the lake. And enjoyed a few laughs with strangers I will most likely never see again. They do give me hope for our world though.

Would I visit again?

Yes. I’d plan it around a festival if possible and look into Grandview Bed and Breakfast. I caught a glimpse of it heading out of town and it looks charming. The historical non-haunted kind.

Would I live here?

Too soon to tell.

Enthusiasm level: 6 - Having to detour from my Orlando Vrbo and find a place last minute feels like a big waste of time. I will plan better next time. Maybe...

Here’s to the unexpected,

Megan “Change of Plans” Giles

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Drew Bird
Drew Bird

There a few gems like Mount Dora in and around that area. Winter Haven is another cool and surprising place for a wander :)

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