TO L A KE CO U N TY
PEDAL THROUGH THE HEART OF LAKE COUNTY ON THE COAST-TO-COAST CONNECTOR
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WELCOME TO LAKE COUNTY F E AT U R E S 14 NAVIGATING LAKE COUNTY
You won’t be disppointed wherever you travel through the north, south, east, or west.
SAFE, SCENIC, AND SUN-SATIONAL
The Coast-to-Coast Connector will offer bicyclists a chance to pedal across Florida and right through the heart of Lake County.
42 FISH TALES
Lake County has hosted numerous fishing tounaments. Being home to 1,000+ lakes makes it an ideal spot for those who love fishing.
46 QUIET HARMONY
Central Florida offers lots of adventures and thrills, but when your vacation calls for the quiet harmony of nature, head to Lake County. After all, it’s “Real Florida. Real Close.”
D E PA RT M E N T S 8 12
WELCOME TO LAKE COUNTY CALENDAR
GUIDES ABOUT THE COVER
Bicyclists will soon be able to travel from the Atlantic to the Gulf of Mexico via the Coast-to-Coast Connector (C2C). At the heart of the 250-miles trail from Titusville to St. Petersburg is Lake County, which makes it the place to go if you’re an avid cyclist. DIRECTION | JAMIE EZRA MARK PHOTOGRAPHY | FRED LOPEZ | PHOTOSHOP | JOSH CLARK MODEL | LOCAL PLASTIC SURGEON RICK BOSSHARDT, M.D.
TO L A KE CO U N TY
PEDAL THROUGH THE HEART OF LAKE COUNTY ON THE COAST-TO-COAST CONNECTOR
4 WELCOME TO LAKE COUNTY
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PUBLISHING The magazines of Akers Publishing – Healthy Living, Style/Lake & Sumter Edition, Style/The Villages Edition and Lake Business Magazine – set the standard by focusing on the communities in which they serve. Each magazine provides upto-date, entertaining and thought-provoking content that thoroughly represents the people and places that make these communities special.
LIVING THE DOG LIFE October
VILLAG ember E EDI TION
READY TO STRIKE AGAIN
7 AMAZING CANINES THAT SHOW YOU THAT “GOING TO THE DOGS” IS A GOOD THING!
BACK IN THE GAME WITH A NEW KIND OF CLUB!
Discover trailblazing technologi es from LAKE EYE Read more on page 80
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DO I NEED AN ADVISOR?
The local boy inspiring people around the world!
If you have to ask, you probably
SAVED BY THE BELL (PEPPERS)
The LIFE IN THE FAST(ING) LANE GO AGAINST THE GRAIN SUPPLEMENTS GO ON THE PILL
F O O D Issue SPECIAL BLESSINGS
There’s joy in raising children with disabilities
FOSTER CARE FOR TEENS
PART III : It Takes A Village series
SOMETHING TO CELEBRATE
Revealing the benefits of revelry
America’s consumer warrior discusses his hands-on approach to healthy finances!
Get the inside scoop on poop
A local bakery employs autistic adults
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MAKE SPECIAL DIETS YOUR CUP OF TEA
A look at the many well-known national brands that are made right here!
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6 WELCOME TO LAKE COUNTY
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Welcome to Lake County, May 2016. Published by Akers Media, 108 South 5th Street, Leesburg, FL 34748. All editorial contents copyright 2016 by Akers Media. All rights reserved. Welcome to Lake County is a registered trademark of Akers Media. Nothing may be reprinted in whole or in part without written permission from the publisher. For information, call 352.787.4112. Return postage must accompany all unsolicited manuscripts and artwork if they are to be returned. Manuscripts are welcomed, but no responsibility can be assumed for unsolicited materials. “Special Advertising Feature” denotes a paid advertising feature. Publisher is not responsible for claims or contents of advertisements. The ideas and opinions contained in this publication do not necessarily reﬂect the thoughts or opinions of Akers Media.
7 WELCOME TO LAKE COUNTY
Welcome to Lake County
ongratulations! You have discovered one of Florida’s best-kept secrets: Lake County. Just a 30-minute drive from metro Orlando—but a million miles from all of the hassles—Lake County represents the perfect “real Florida” getaway. Picturesque lakefront downtowns, gently rolling hills, thousands of acres of parks, and of course, as our name implies, more than 1,400 lakes and rivers make Lake County a prime vacation destination for those looking to escape the shadows of massive theme parks, mega malls, and crowded beaches. Whether you’re a Central Floridian searching for a romantic getaway at a quaint bed and breakfast or a die-hard kayaker seeking the perfect blueway, it is with great pleasure we welcome you to Lake County. Whatever the occasion for your trip, we appreciate that you have chosen to spend your time here with us.
We are confident you will enjoy your stay and find Lake County a warm and welcoming community that provides an ideal balance of excitement and relaxation. Lake County Economic Development and Tourism is committed to ensuring you find exactly what you are looking for during your stay. We want you to receive the fullest Lake County experience. Whether it’s a seaplane ride out of Tavares, also known as “America’s Seaplane City,” or a biking experience on one of our many paved trails, we invite you to get to know the many facets of Lake County. You will find a wealth of resources about Lake County within this tourism guide. For additional information, visit our website at realfloridarealclose.com/ welcome to learn more about what makes Lake County “Real Florida. Real Close.” Best regards, ROBERT L. CHANDLER IV DIRECTOR, LAKE COUNTY ECONOMIC GROWTH
8 WELCOME TO LAKE COUNTY
Maximize your experience
F a m i ‘ ly F r i e n d ly ’
Experience Real Florida. Real Close.
now this about visiting Lake County: you don’t have enough time to see and do all the awesome things people flock here for … unless you move here. Even then, you’ll be challenged. There are so many things to do you may not know where to start. Here are a couple of options: Hop on the Bus, Gus! LakeXpress describes itself as “The Way to Go” and we can’t argue the point. The buses are clean and quiet, spacious and comfortable and downright affordable. A one-day pass for unlimited rides is just $3. Riding the bus is a great way to get acquainted with our county. Visit ridelakexpress.com for more information, including route maps that show common destinations and points of interest. Taste Lake Of course, you shouldn’t travel on an empty stomach. So why not silence your tummy rumble while becoming familiar with one of the most popular cities in Lake County? Taste of Our Town Tours offers a guided tasting tour of local food and wine in historic Mount Dora with a dash of history and scenic highlights. Tours are offered on Thursday, Friday and Saturday and originate from the Mount Dora Chamber of Commerce at 341 Alexander St. There is a fee. Visit mountdoratasteofourtown.com. Tour from Home Using the Internet is a great way to zero in on things you want to do and places you’ll want to visit. We’ve included a number of web links in the following pages to help you learn all you can about Lake County. Visit www.visitlakefl.com.
Visit Lake County, Florida and get your fill of ripe strawberries, blueberries and citrus from our U-pick farms. Or take a day-trip to the vineyards, where wine is always in season. Get to know the real Florida, just outside Orlando.
9 WELCOME TO LAKE COUNTY
WHERE FISHING STORIES AREN’T EXAGGERATED
Lake C ounty, Central Florida’s premier fishing destination.
Lake Eustis Lake Harris Lake Griffin Johns Lake Lake Dora
“As a professional bass fisherman there is no better place to live and practice than in Lake County, Florida. With well over 1,000 named lakes and countless miles of rivers and canals, Lake County is an ideal location to hone my skills and test new equipment.”
Tim Frederick, FLW Tour Angler To plan your next fishing trip, visit www.LakeBigBass.com/Welcome.
MISSION INN IS . . . WEDDINGS
Specializing in “Happily Ever After” Central Florida’s preferred location for wedding celebrations. Forever starts at Mission Inn Resort. With more than 1,100 acres of outdoor beauty, Mission Inn offers European inspired outdoor plazas, lakeside tree-lined sunsets and a backdrop picture-perfect for memorable wedding ceremonies and receptions.
H ow e y - i n - t H e -H i l l s , Fl
TWO GOLF COURSES • SPA • TRAP & SKEET • DINING • MARINA • 30,000 SQ. FT. MEETING SPACE • OUTDOOR COURTYARDS • 19 MEETING ROOMS
Lake County is home to many small but vibrant communities that host various festivals year-round. Find a treasure, take a bite, or see something truly unforgettable. orchid growers and includes native plants, butterfly-attracting perennials, herbs, roses, camellias, and begonias with a complete selection of rare and unusual tropical plants.
FESTIVAL S & S P ECIAL EVEN TS JANUARY
CIVIL WAR REENACTMENT
Renninger’s Antique Center, Mount Dora Get a taste of history with live Civil War reenactments, weaponry demonstrations, cavalry, soldiers in period costume, and a Civil War-era ball.
MOUNT DORA SCOTTISH HIGHLAND FESTIVAL
Gilbert Park and Simpson Cove, Mount Dora Celebrates Scottish culture with Highland athletics, music, dancing, clan tents, and vendors.
The streets of downtown Leesburg come alive with the sights and sounds of New Orleans, including three parades, jugglers, fire eaters, stilt walkers, live music, festive foods, and vendors.
LADY OF THE LAKESRENAISSANCE FAIRE
MOUNT DORA ART FESTIVAL
Downtown Mount Dora A two-day juried fine arts festival for art lovers, casual festivalgoers, and families. Approximately 250,000 visitors expected.
Ferran Park, Eustis A century-old three-day festival to celebrate George Washington’s birthday. MARCH
PIG ON THE POND
Waterfront Park, Clermont This event enables more than 20 local nonprofit organizations to conduct fundraising efforts at the Waterfront Park. It has raised $700,000 since 2003 for scholarships and education for South Lake.
ANTIQUE BOAT FESTIVAL
Wooton Park, Tavares This annual event offers visitors an opportunity to view some great antique boat restorations.
LEESBURG FINE ART FESTIVAL
Downtown Leesburg Organized by Leesburg Center for the Arts, this event features exhibitors, food vendors, live music, car show, kids area, and student art exhibit. APRIL
LAKE COUNTY FAIR Lake County Fairgrounds The ever-popular Lake County Fair runs 10 full days and includes a carnival, vendor booths, live entertainment, creative arts, horticulture displays, and livestock shows.
FRUITLAND PARK DAY
Shiloh St. and N. Dixie Ave., Fruitland Park An annual family event
that begins with a Saturday morning parade complete with local entertainment and marching bands. Includes music, vendors, food, and games.
LEESBURG BIKEFEST Downtown Leesburg Lake County comes alive with the roar of motorcycles and more than 200,000 visitors for one of the most popular motorcycle rallies and music events in the world. The four-day event includes live entertainment, demonstrations, shows, and contests at 12 venues. OCTOBER
MOUNT DORA BICYCLE FESTIVAL Downtown Mount Dora Florida’s oldest and largest bicycling event, is
12 WELCOME TO LAKE COUNTY
expected to attract over 1,300 cyclists. Includes rides of varying lengths and skill levels, for cyclists of all ages.
FLORIDA BLACK BEAR & WILDLIFE CONSERVATION FESTIVAL
Cadwell Park, Umatilla This fun educational event increases awareness and promotes safe coexistence of humans and wildlife. The festival focuses on appreciating the Florida black bear and other native Florida species. NOVEMBER
MOUNT DORA PLANT AND GARDEN FAIR Sunset Park, Mount Dora Florida’s top growers bring more than 12,000 plants. The event features
State Rd 19 and County Rd 448, Tavares Step back in time at the annual Lady of the Lakes Renaissance Faire, recently expanded to two weekends at a new location in Sherwood Forest. F O O D EXP OS & CO M P ETI TI O N S FEBRUARY
Lakeridge Winery & Vineyards, Clermont Winefest XXVI offers an opportunity to enjoy the fruits of the year’s harvest while browsing the wares of 80 local artists and crafters and listening to live music on an outdoor stage. MARCH
TASTE OF MOUNT DORA
Sunset Park, Mount Dora An evening of culinary
H O LI DAY E V E N TS JULY 4
FOURTH OF JULY CELEBRATION delights prepared by the city’s finest restaurants. Dress in country western attire and be a high roller at the blackjack, Texas Hold ’em, roulette, craps, and poker tables.
MOUNT DORA CRAFT FAIR Downtown Mount Dora The annual Mount Dora Craft Fair, a nationally ranked juried event, continues to attract more than 200,000 visitors and over 350 of the best crafters in the country.
BBQ, BLUES & BREWS
Downtown Leesburg This Leesburg Partnership-sponsored event offers all you can eat from the area’s best backyard barbecue competitors, plus live blues music, and ice-cold beer.
Elizabeth Evans Park. MU SI C FE ST I VA L S & CO NCE RT S
S P O RTI N G E V E N TS
Downtown Leesburg This event, centered on famous Zellwood sweet corn, features festival food, live entertainment, vendors, games, and contests for children and adults. NOVEMBER
LEESBURG CRAFT BEER, WINE, & FOOD FESTIVAL
Venetian Gardens, Leesburg This popular annual event allows attendees to travel booth-to-booth sampling over 25 craft beers, wines, and signature fair. Tickets are $35 at the door.
TAVARES SPRING THUNDER REGATTA
Community Building The Mount Dora Music Festival is dedicated to presenting an annual, multi-genre, highquality, cross-cultural celebration of music.
Wooton Park, Tavares Vintage and classic race boats return to Lake Dora in Tavares, Spectators can also view the boats closeup in the pit area.
Elizabeth Evans Park, Mount Dora This weekend event continues a tradition of bringing fabulous blues and groovy music to the Mount Dora Waterfront at the gorgeous, lakefront
Mount Dora Yacht Club The Sailboat Regatta is the oldest regatta in the state and a fun weekend for the whole family.
WINGS & WILDFLOWERS FESTIVAL Venetian Gardens, Leesburg Celebrate Lake County’s birds, wildflowers, and natural resources during the area’s premier birding event: the annual Wings & Wildflowers Festival. The festival offer eco-tours and field trips, and features unique birding and wildflower programs by acclaimed speakers and writers, as well as birding and native plant experts. Visit www.wingsandwildflowers.com.
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Downtown Leesburg This free event features a classic car cruise-in, live entertainment, a free movie, and food tucks lining downtown. Movies, musicians, and trucks change regularly. For more info, visit foodtrucknflick. leesburgpartnership.com SATURDAYS
CHRISTMAS EVENTS AND FESTIVALS Various Locations Holiday Parades and city festivals occur throughout the season in cities throughout the county. Festivities include food trucks, carolers, and even the arrival of Santa Claus.
MOUNT DORA MUSIC FESTIVAL
Venetian Gardens, Leesburg A fun-filled evening with live entertainment, traditional summertime food, kids’ games, baseball, and spectacular choreographed fireworks over Lake Harris.
LEESBURG FOOD TRUCK ’N FLICK
REO CC U RRI N G & M O N TH LY E V E N TS JAN / FEB / NOV
RENNINGER’S ANTIQUES EXTRAVAGANZA
Renninger’s Antique Center, Mount Dora Three times a year, Renninger’s Antique Center hosts nearly 800 dealers from across the country offering an array of items including high-quality antiques and collectibles, clothing and oddities.
LEESBURG SATURDAY FARMERS MARKET
Downtown Leesburg Gathering of local farmers and artisans. Browse produce, leather goods, jewelry, and more as you enjoy live music. For more info, visit leesburgsaturdaymorningmarket.com. FIRST FRIDAYS
MUSIC ON MONTROSE
Downtown Clermont Enjoy the free music series on Montrose, downtown Clermont. Features food trucks and local talent. To see the line up of either visit clermontdowntownpartnership.com/otherevents/first-Fridays. FIRST FRIDAYS, 6P–10P
Downtown Eustis Features vendors and two stages with live entertainment. Enjoy the lovely local shops and eateries.
Close your eyes and point at a Lake County map and you wonâ€™t be disappointed if you follow your finger. Each region has its own special appeal. Adventure and tranquility await whether you head north, south, east or west.
NAVIGATING LAKE COUNTY
ALTOONA | ASTOR | UMATILLA Ideal for camping and kayaking, the rustic towns surrounding the Ocala National Forest and Alexander Springs are places fishermen dream of. Astor is the place to dock if you're an avid fisherman, with half a dozen boat ramps and Powell's Campground for campers wishing to have an extended trip.
The St. John’s River and Lake George, both located on the border of northern Lake County, are known for some of the best catfish and trophy largemouth bass fishing in the state. The area’s waterways host three of the county's blueways, or state-designated water trails. By canoe or kayak, travelers
along the St. Francis/Dead River Run, Stagg Mud Lake Run or Blue Creek Run can take in picturesque views of wading birds, alligators, otters and eagles, or see remnants of the ghost town of St. Francis, also formerly known as “Old Town.” The area’s unique ecosystem focuses on wildlife preservation.
FRUITLAND PARK | LADY LAKE | LEESBURG | THE VILLAGES Small-town charm has a party edge in Northwest Lake, where Bikefest and Mardi Gras festivities are balanced by parklands. Leesburg is a place for lively festivals. Whether it’s family-friendly events, or the world’s largest three-day motorcycle and music party, there always is action in the
county’s oldest city. Leesburg hides a hidden gem of native plants, wildflowers and migrating birds. The Palatlakaha Environmental and Agricultural Reserve (PEAR) Park offers miles of trails, a nature center, and excellent birding. Lake Griffin State Park, in Fruitland
Park, has boating on one of the best lakes for bass fishing on the Harris Chain of Lakes. Lady Lake in the midst of great growth while retaining its small-town charm. The Villages, the largest retirement community in the world, is a hub of beautiful homes, dining, shopping, golf
ASTATULA | EUSTIS | HOWEY-IN-THE-HILLS | MOUNT DORA | TAVARES | YALAHA Eustis, Mount Dora, and Tavares make up the Golden Triangle, but the entire area is known for lakes and old oaks draped in Spanish Moss — a place where seaplanes, antique shopping, and Sunday brunch are customary. Quaint bed and breakfasts draw travelers
to Mount Dora, not to mention the historic Lakeside Inn (built in 1883), which offers spectacular views of Lake Dora. Live music streams nightly from eclectic restaurants, pubs, and wine bars. For a romantic meal, the Goblin Market offers fine dining at its best.
Watch seaplanes take off and land while dining at Puddle Jumpers in Tavares, or take a ride for yourself. By air, land or sea, Tavares Pavilion on the Lake is a sight to behold with its scenic pier at Wooton Park. Downtown Eustis boasts old-fashioned charm, great dining, and family fun.
CLERMONT | GROVELAND | MASCOTTE | MINNEOLA | MONTVERDE Clermont’s distinct elevation changes and gently rolling hills lend to exceptional triathlon courses frequented by serious athletes. But casual hikers, bird watchers, and romantic vacationers also are drawn here. This area is home to Sugarloaf Mountain,
the highest point in peninsular Florida, and Green Mountain Scenic Overlook and Trailhead in Ferndale boasts a boardwalk with views from 130 feet above sea level. In Groveland, enjoy wildlife viewing while learning about Florida’s only endemic
15 WELCOME TO LAKE COUNTY
bird, the Florida Scrub Jay at The Florida Scrub-Jay Trail. Unwind at Lakeridge Winery and sample wines made from locally grown Muscadine grapes, or take an eco-tour on the world’s largest ATV at Showcase of Citrus.
F O R E S T G AT E WAY
GATEWAY TO PEACEFULNESS
Lake George State Forest
ASTOR Alexander Springs Wilderness
Lake Norris Conservation Area
Lower Wekiva River Preserve State Park Seminole State Forest
ou donâ€™t need a secluded, faraway island to break away from modern-day chaos. The northeast tip of Lake County is known for quiet, rustic life far removed from the mainstreamâ€”a destination where canoeing, kayaking, hiking, biking, four-wheeling, and horseback riding are top priority for the day or for a lifetime. Flanked by the dense and buffering Ocala National Forest to the north, towns like Umatilla, Astor, and Altoona offer life unplugged. Each community is known for relaxing, carefree activities and dining, outdoor living, and nature walks. Towns are close together, so you can swim in crystal-clear water, enjoy a chili cook-off, and take in a horseback ride, all in a day.
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POPULATION: 1,560 SIZE: 2.34 SQUARE MILES
The tiny town of Astor, located on the St. John River in an area once inhabited by ancient Native American and Spanish civilizations, once had a promising future as the dream of William Backhouse Astor Jr., of New York. He purchased 12,000 acres of land in 1874 to establish a town he called Manhattan. Accessible by steamboat, new arrivals settled the land owned by one of the nation’s wealthiest men. Astor built a church, schoolhouse, botanical garden, free cemetery, hotel, sawmill and even a railroad, which connected the settlers to Eustis and Leesburg. The town grew, but the name never caught on. After his death, the town was renamed Astor in his honor. His son, John Jacob Astor
ALTOONA POPULATION: 88 SIZE: .5 SQUARE MILES
Altoona may be a small town, but it has a big heart, as evidenced by attractions dedicated to a war veteran and a horse. McTureous Homestead and Museum and McTureous Memorial Park on State Road 19 honor the memory of Altoona’s only native World War II Medal of Honor recipient: Private Robert M. McTureous. He was the son of Robert M. McTureous, Sr., Altoona’s one-time postmaster and justice of the peace, and his wife, known to the community as “Aunt Bessie.”
Fiddlers Green Ranch offers full-service vacation villas for horse and nature-lovers in a cozy setting overlooking ranch grounds. Fiddler’s famed 100-mile equestrian trail in the Ocala National Forest is popular with endurance and competitive trail-riders, local riding groups and individuals. Great for family reunions, company retreats, club outings and seminars, the ranch provides cable TV and Internet Wi-Fi, plus kitchens and dining rooms, decks, and grills.
17 WELCOME TO LAKE COUNTY
IV inherited the estate and continued his father’s legacy, town and business interests in Florida. He died on board the Titanic when it sank in 1912. His son, Vincent, did not have the same interest in Florida as his father and grandfather, and sold off all area assets. That, combined with a significant drop in steamboat travel, ended the town’s prosperity, prominence and promise. Today, Astor holds many “well-kept secrets.” With numerous eclectic places to stay (the Blackwater Inn and Astor-Florida Inn), eat (William’s Landing, Castaways on the River, and Sparky’s Place), and sightsee along the river (Captain Ernie River Tours). The area is devoted to tourism. Enjoy a leisurely boat ride
F O R E S T G AT E WAY
through the many tributaries along the St. John’s River aboard the St John’s River Tour. You’ll observe native plant and wildlife, such as alligators, bald eagles, manatees, ferns and large cypress trees. Tours depart from the Blackwater Inn, a picturesque mainstay along the byway. Blackwater Inn provides a mouthwatering menu. Williams Landing, located upstairs, offers an informal lunch and dinner with full bar. Try the house special – a smoked fish dip appetizer made from yellow tuna. Castaways on the River on State Road 40 is a great place to relax, have a drink, watch the boats and eat a meal. The owners also have a modest motel and boat rentals. Sparky’s Place, also on State Road 40 in Astor, is another local favorite serving breakfast, lunch and dinner. Swamp Shack, previously O’Brien’s, is the newest eatery on the byway. They also are open for breakfast, lunch and dinner. According to Debi Dyer, tourism program supervisor of the Economic
Development & Tourism, no tour of the area's natural wonders is complete without a visit to the St. Francis Dead River Run, one of nine Lake County Blueway Runs. A blueway is similar to a hiking trail, only physical and geopositioned markers are used to guide trail users through the waterways. The St. Francis/Dead River Run traverses the river of the same name. The trail passes the ghost town of St. Francis, formerly known as “Old Town,” located 20 miles south of Astor. Paddlers can observe where the town was built from pilings in the water that indicate where a grand motel stood on the shore. Even the most knowledgeable Floridians would be surprised to know that St. Francis is one of Lake County’s 30-plus ghost towns. It quite possibly was the most prolific during its heyday. Once a thriving port on the St. Johns River, St. Francis had its own newspaper, post office, general store, warehouse, wharves and hundreds of citrus acres. The town was abandoned after the devastating Big Freeze of 1894-’95 destroyed the local citrus industry.
UMATILLA POPULATION: 2,214 SIZE: 3 SQUARE MILES
Umatilla feels a bit like Mayberry, the fictional small town on the Andy Griffith Show, except it is prettier. Fittingly, the City of Umatilla recently adopted the new slogan, “Nature’s Hometown.” The Umatilla Chamber of Commerce, however, maintains its longstanding motto, “Gateway to the Ocala National Forest.” Both are appropriate. Enjoying the great outdoors is important here. That’s obvious when you visit North Lake Regional Park, which opened in 2009. The primary purpose of the park is to offer recreational sports fields for league play and general use – two baseball fields, two softball fields, two soccer
18 WELCOME TO LAKE COUNTY
fields, and three multi-use fields. Other amenities include an expansive playground, four picnic pavilions, two restroom facilities, two basketball courts, six tennis courts, four sand volleyball courts, concession stands, a 1.4-mile perimeter trail loop and a .75mile nature trail. Several citrus trees remain from when the site was an orange grove. The downtown Umatilla historic district has a collection of late 19th century Victorian and old Floridastyle homes, many recently restored. There also has been an increase in new unique shopping experiences at Umatilla Antique Market, Serendipity, Retail Shop, an old-fashioned ice cream parlor
and other businesses. There are several popular restaurants, including Umatilla Inn & Restaurant, the Mason Jar, Old Crow Barbecue, and Greg’s Haystax. Downtown Umatilla comes alive with “Evening on the Avenue,” a quarterly event featuring live entertainment, street vendors and specialty activities. Locals also are fond of the annual chili cook-off. And more events are being planned. “We are seeking events on a quarterly basis in downtown now that our community is becoming more walkable,” said Executive Director of the Umatilla Chamber of Commerce Susan Martin. For information on the industries that thrived in early Umatilla – like citrus and beekeeping – visit the Historical Society and School House Museum on Crowell Avenue. The School House Museum was built in the mid-1940s, then repurposed as a museum 10 years ago. Martin calls it Umatilla’s “well-kept secret.” It is open by appointment. For tours, call Martin at the Chamber of Commerce. The outskirts of Umatilla is the premier location to observe the Florida black bear in its natural habitat. The Florida Black Bear and Wildlife Conservation Festival, in its 16th year, is a fun and educational event that increases awareness and promotes safety. It also is the most unique wildlife centered festival in the Southeast. The focus is on education: how to coexist and preserve the ecosystem that is so important
for the livelihood of local business, while educating people on bears' migration habits, so as to best preserve wildlife habitat. “With bears being in the news more and more these days, it is important that we continue to have a strong education message about coexisting safely,” said Martin. “We are starting to see more wildlife travel from the southern part of our state, the area known as the Florida Wildlife Corridor.” The festival promotes awareness of how to best preserve their habitat—the Wildlife Corridor—to allow natural migration that does not deviate into human populations. The goal is education to keep humans and bears in a safe environment. For starters, proper disposal of organic waste and livestock maintenance that does not
attract hungry bears and other predatory wildlife is vital. There’s plenty to see and do in Umatilla, but the city also is a stepping stone to paradise. A Lake County landmark has returned to Umatilla—the big orange, the one-time symbol of this area's citrus farming. Restored to its original beauty it now sits in front of the gift shop at Sunsational Citrus on State Road 19. Umatilla borders nearby Alexander Springs, and provides access to the southern end of the Florida National Scenic Trail: an unpaved trail 60 miles long. Both attract eco-tourists from all
over the country for its ideal swimming, fishing, camping and hiking. “The first leg of the Florida Trail is just outside of Umatilla on County Road 42 on the way to Paisley,” said Martin. Located in the Ocala National Forest, the Alexander Springs Recreation Area offers a floodplain forest of maples, sweet gum, and cabbage palm. These create a subtropical area where alligators, turtles, raccoons, back bear, and birds make the wilderness their habitat—a perfect place for birding and wildlife watching. Fishing and canoeing are accessible from platforms along the Timucuan Trail—a 1.1mile interpretive loop trail set on a boardwalk over the spring and through palm trees into the Alexander Run. The 22mile Paisley Woods Bicycle Trail also is nearby. The landscape is predominantly upland forests of oak, cedar and pine perfect for photography, birding and ecology studies. Take the Spring Boils Trail to Jody’s Spring, named after the spring described by Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings’ American Literature classic, “The Yearling.” For gorgeous views of Lake George, choose the alternate Lake George Trail, which passes through the uplands to the cypress shoreline.
UMATILLA boasts one of the last municipal airports, with lots of fly-in traffic. People fly in from across the state to spend the day in Umatilla. The airport with a hometown feel has a fuel station and provides courtesy cars to get around throughout the day. Great for festivals.
19 WELCOME TO LAKE COUNTY
NORTHWESTLAKE ALIVE WITH OPTIONS
EL CAMINO REAL
ROLLING ACRES RD
BUENA VISTA BLVD
Lake Deaton Lake Okahumpka
468 LEWIS RD
POPULATION: 4,251 SIZE: 3.7 SQUARE MILES
S DIXIE AVE
LAKE ELLA RD
BUENA VISTA BLVD
LEESBURG Lake Harris
ich with history and full of lakes and parks ideal for outdoor activities, community-oriented Northwest Lake County has many options for visitors and residents to explore and enjoy their surroundings by sea, land and air. Where else can you water ski in the morning, enjoy a music or arts festival in the afternoon and end the day with a sunset dinner and live entertainment at a local town square? Or take the family on a kayak trip from the river of a landmark park to one of the lakes the county is famous for, visit a farm where you can pet and get to know the animals, or discover the heritage of riding carriages? Northwest Lake County is ideal for a family day, date night or retreat, and the main cities and towns are so close together, you can visit two or more communities in a day.
Fruitland Park is a typically quiet place to enjoy life’s simpler treasures, like “Nawlins Style French Toast” and 50-cent coffee at Fruitland Park Café or homemade corned beef hash and fruitfilled muffins at Rae Rae’s. The secluded charm of Fruitland Park’s neighborhoods, lakes and parks are neatly tucked away from busy Highway 441 by massive oak trees. The soft, gentle nature of the town presents a natural inclination for hospitality, thus Fruitland Park is known as “The Friendly City.” Leesburg’s neighbor to the north draws visitors and new residents with old-fashioned rustic charm and natural
20 WELCOME TO LAKE COUNTY
appeal. The community is known for history, outdoor life and its own take on performing arts and attractions – rodeos and racing. The tranquility of nature flourishes at Lake Griffin State Park, just off Highway 441. With 40 camp sites (supplied with fresh water and electricity), showers, restrooms and laundry facilities, picnic area, nature trails, canoe and kayak rentals and boat ramp, the 620-acre state park is a great place to camp, hike, picnic, kayak or canoe. It's a great site for nature watching, where visitors might glimpse a gator and see wading birds. The must see tip: Lake Griffin State Park is home to one of Florida’s largest mammoth
oak trees. It is 300-500 years old and the second largest live oak in Florida. The tree sits at the end of the half-mile nature trail, at the southeastern corner of the park. A nearby bench is the ideal spot for quiet reflection. For entertainment, locals love Windy Acres Farms on County Road 466A, which offers rodeo, barrel racing and the Leesburg Saddle Club. A favorite event is the Fruitland Park Founders Day Bulls and Barrels Rodeo in March. More than 100 rodeo contestants, judges, scorekeepers, stock handlers and volunteers are on hand to greet more than 1,000 spectators. According to rodeo organizer and Windy Acres Farms owner, Bill Galbreath, more than 20 riders enter “the most dangerous eight seconds in sports.” Afterward, five of the best barrel-racers with five of the best horses in Florida vie in a winner-take-all quest for a big cash prize. Fruitland Park Day, held in the spring, is a fun-filled family event that kicks off with a parade in the morning, featuring local entertainers and marching bands. The day is filled with live bands, disc jockeys, free train
rides, rock climbing, photo booth, bounce houses, space ball and face painting. There are plenty of fun, family-friendly activities for everyone in Fruitland Park. Adrenaline junkies of every age will love Speedway Park on Micro Racetrack Road. Kids as young as 5 race on the track, and adult carts reach speeds in excess of 60 mph. The park offers both lessons and racing. Open since 1958, the “Original Speedway Park” is Florida’s oldest and premier 1/6-mile dirt go-kart track. Today, the track is recognized as a World Karting Association Master Track. In addition to go-kart racing, Speedway Park hosts: the Motorcycle Flat Trackers, Southern Dirt Track Association, BikeFest SDTA Motorcycle Event, and BikeFest Camp & Race Weekend. The regular season for carting includes 16 races from January through November. Gardenia Park Recreation Complex, operated by the City of Fruitland Park, offers a popular skateboard park. The complex also features a pool, soccer/football field, handball court, playground, walking trail, and sheltered pavilion.
LEESBURG POPULATION: 21,142 SIZE: 24.5 SQUARE MILES
Leesburg’s combination of calm water, clear blue skies and picturesque terrain offers an ideal balance between passive serenity and opportunities for energetic activity – a perfect blend of small-town atmosphere and nature. The "Lakefront City" has numerous community-oriented activities, fabulous shopping, scenic gardens, fascinating history, artful pursuits and lively festivals. Leesburg is a place to repeatedly visit or stay forever. Lined with colorful shops, appetizing restaurants and historic buildings, Leesburg has one of Lake County’s most active downtowns. Locals love the Saturday Morning Market. The one-of-a-kind Food Truck-N-Flick Night hosted by the City of Leesburg is just as popular. Young and
old enjoy delicious fare from gourmet food trucks lined up on Main Street and enjoy a blockbuster movie on the outdoor screen in Towne Square. “Leesburg is real Florida,” says Sandi Moore, executive director of the Leesburg Area Chamber of Commerce. The city represents what people truly want—a friendly, southern atmosphere where you can feel safe and welcomed. Downtown is known for friendly, quaint places to shop. Victoria’s Antique Warehouse offers everything from vintage to trendy, from American and French antiques, rare heirloom pieces, primitive, and reclaimed treasures to custom, urban/industrial, shabby chic, and accessories. Collectibles
THE HOLY TRINITY EPISCOPAL CHURCH, listed on
the National Register of Historic Places, is home to the oldest "lynchgate" in Florida, presented to the church in 1889 by Emily Tatham.
21 WELCOME TO LAKE COUNTY
and country gifts can be found at Morning Glori Antique Mall, among its antiques and primitives. Search for musthave items at Another Look Consignment Boutique or Alada’s China & Gifts. Share stories over a glass of wine and live jazz at Sip Jazz and Wine Bar after picking up one-ofa-kind women’s apparel and jewelry at Doggiebags or the Shoppes on Main. Leesburg also represents what Florida was meant to be: beauty and nature. “I think a ‘must do’ is to get out on the lakes,” said Moore. Canoe, kayak, boat rentals and tours are available to explore the lakes. The inviting, lush greenery of peaceful Venetian Gardens implores visitors to walk through its 64-acre park on the west shore of Lake Harris. For family fun, Venetian Gardens has a public pool with bathhouse. Adventurous types can get their adrenaline surge with water skiing at Ski Beach. Bourlay Historic Nature Park offers nature lovers another alternative. This 88-acre park is the site of the city’s first steamboat landing and first Methodist service. Visit a “shotgun” style Cracker House while bird-
watching along Lake Griffin’s lakeside trails. To learn about Leesburg’s rich past, visit the Leesburg Historic Museum and the historic district, which has a number of interesting landmarks. A standout, the Mote-Morris House, was built in 1892 and has been on the National Register of Historic Places since 1974. Finally, the Tropic Theater on Main Street, built in 1932, is the oldest movie theater in Central Florida. The theater is now
L O C AT I O N
MELON PATCH THEATER
311 N. 13th St., Leesburg, FL 34748 352.787.3013 Melonpatchplayers.com
home to the Tropic Troupe Children’s Theatre Group. Leesburg hosts several lively and crowd-pleasing annual events, including Mardi Gras: 12 Hours of Madness Party in the Street in February. The event transforms Main Street into Bourbon Street as jugglers, fire eaters, stilt walkers, brass jazz bands, face painting, kidfriendly rides and games, and three parades keep the party going into the night. The Leesburg Bikefest in April is an even wilder, adultoriented event. Turn to the list of festivals to learn more about “the world’s largest three-day motorcycle and music event.” The Spring Fish Fry at the
22 WELCOME TO LAKE COUNTY
Mote Morris House in April is a time-honored tradition where you can have all the fish you can eat while enjoying live entertainment. The Craft Beer, Wine and Food Fest, held in November at Venetian Gardens, is a colorful, popular event with live music that encourages revelers to travel station to station sampling craft beers or wines from around the world, plus a variety of food from top restaurants. All for $25 per person. What’s new in downtown? Plenty. Leesburg Main Street’s $3.8 million streetscape is complete and provides a wide welcome to visitors.
LADY LAKE POPULATION: 14,247 SIZE: 6.7 SQUARE MILES
The Town of Lady Lake is a charming alternative to their large and lively next door neighbors—The Villages and busy Highway 441. It's a cozy neighborhood canvassed by tree-lined streets draped with Spanish moss, surrounded by countryside dotted with orange groves and sparkling lakes. Attractions include the Lady Lake Historical Society Museum, the famed Log Cabin and Uncle Donald’s Farm. Town Squares in The Villages nearby offer plenty of shopping and recreation. Gain new insights into the heritage of diversity and transformation of the town at the Lady Lake Historical Society Museum. Founded in 1992, The Lady Lake Historical Society collected artifacts, furniture, decorative arts, photographs and more. It soon outgrew the Log Cabin, now the official home of the Lady Lake Area Chamber of Commerce. In 2000, the museum acquired
the town’s old train depot, previously used as Lady Lake’s first public library. Major renovations occurred not long ago. The society completely changed the interior of the museum, creating an interactive environment that transports visitors into the past. Exhibitions include Early History, Founding Families, Military, Agriculture, Early Schools, Early Churches and the Beginning of The Villages. Uncle Donald’s Farm is like a dude ranch for farmers, a place where urbanites can milk a goat, pet a bristly pig, touch a chicken, and feed a cow. Established in 1980, Uncle Donald’s Farm connects visitors with a variety of domesticated and wild animals. Experiences range from hand feeding cattle to watching for llamas and ostriches on the hayride. Attractions range from mild to wild: from the poultry patch, consisting of many “heritage” breeds of chickens, like Jersey Giants, New Hampshire and lots of fancy bantams, to the wildlife display: home to panthers, deer, birds of prey, tortoises and exotic animals. Don’t forget to look inside the old red barn. Hint: close contact with the reptilian kind. The Villages is a huge retirement community that welcomes visitors to its three town squares for shopping, dining and nightly entertainment. Spanish Springs Town Square is the original
town square of the popular retirement community. It has the look of a southwestern settlement with a variety of restaurants, shops, and the popular entertainment venue The Sharon. With familiar places like McCabe's Pub and the Rialto Theater, it's a favorite hangout of residents and visitors alike. As always, there's live entertainment nightly in The Gazebo that sits amid the bubbling fountains.
UNIQUE COMMUNITIES SPARKLE LIKE GEMS
LIMIT AVE OLD
448A JONES AVE
S CLAYTON ST ALT RTE 441
452 MOUNT DORA
POPULATION: 1,298 SIZE: 2.2 SQUARE MILES
akefronts, friendliness, seaplanes and hometowns are the playful identities of what’s known as the Golden Triangle — Eustis, Tavares, Mount Dora and nearby towns. Each community offers numerous distinctive reasons for visiting for a day or putting down roots and staying for life. Here are some established must-do things and places to see that make this region a sparkling gem in Lake County’s crown.
Astatula sits on the eastern shore of Little Lake Harris and is known as a transportation hub with access to major highways and roads. But it's off-roading that draws many to Astatula. Coyote Mud Bog features mud pits, motocross tracks, trails for all-terrain vehicles, camping and an amphitheater. Stanley Pond Adventure Farm is another popular place for family fun. Astatula is a great place to enjoy the natural beauty and charm of Old Florida.
24 WELCOME TO LAKE COUNTY
POPULATION: 15,106 SIZE: 9.7 SQUARE MILES
The downtown waterfront district lends itself to festivals and events with the beautiful Lake Walk and renovated Ferran Park, site of the Mediterranean-style Alice McClelland Bandshell. Small-town charm, unique restaurants, museums, fishing, sailing and sunsets on Lake Eustis (one of the largest lakes in the Harris Chain of Lakes) and a variety of entertainment options make Eustis a popular destination. Start downtown. Walk down Orange Avenue and patronize a vibrant collection of restaurants, bars and shops. Walk off your meal on the Lake Walk, which extends a quarter mile and features four gazebos with benches, plus 20 boat slips. Enjoy panoramic views of Lake Eustis from a seawall extending along the entire shoreline to the historic bandshell listed on the National Register of Historic Places. If you enjoy history, you must visit the Eustis Historical Museum housed in the one-
time residence of G.D. Clifford, who established the Clifford General Store and began the first mail service for the new settlement that became Eustis. The Clifford House on Bay Street is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The museum features the “Indiana Jones Room” dedicated to the memory of Dr. Edgar James Banks, an antiquarian and archeologist. On the first Friday of every month, the City of Eustis throws a community street party with live bands, aromatic food and a kid’s area. Adults won’t want to miss Main Street’s famous margaritas at the beer and wine tent. On the fourth Saturday of every month, historic downtown revs up with the Downtown Classic CruiseIn Car Show. For a night out on the town, everyone is buzzing about one of the best hot spots, 1884 Restaurant and Bar. Housed in the old Ferran’s Department Store, 1884 gets raves with Executive Chef Jay Davis’ superb menu, deliberately limited for flair. Another new hot spot is the award-winning Barnwood Bar-B-Que. Owners Dan and Elaine Backhaus have gone up against some of the nation’s top barbecue teams and emerged victorious. Vegans will love the superb gluten-free and vegan friendly options at the brand new 31 Magnolia, a late-night venue with romantic setting and live music. A popular
choice among music lovers is Magnolia's Cafe, which has open mic sessions that attract up-and-coming musicians and Team Trivia with Dominic. If music is the town’s heart, art is its soul. Nine pieces of museum-quality art, including the iconic “Heron” sculpture by artist Doug Hays in Ferran Park, are sprinkled throughout the historic downtown area. The event season kicks off with the African American Heritage Festival and Parade in February, one of the longest running events in the region. By far the largest and most anticipated event in Eustis is
25 WELCOME TO LAKE COUNTY
GeorgeFest, the second-oldest festival in the nation celebrating George Washington’s birthday and the longest-running festival of any kind in Florida. Eustis also is proud to host the annual Lake County Fair. Generally 80,000 people attend each year for the carnival, booths, live entertainment, creative arts, horticulture displays and the livestock shows. The Lake County Folk Festival, held in October and sponsored by the Lake Eustis Institute’s Public Art & Music Committee, is “… considered one of the top five acoustic music festivals in Florida,”
HOWEY-IN-THE-HILLS POPULATION: 1,122 SIZE: 1.9 SQUARE MILES
The state’s first citrus juice plant was built here in 1921 by William John Howey, the town’s founder. Today, the charming town is known as the home of Mission Inn Resort and Club, one of Florida’s
said Miranda Burrows, public relations manager of Eustis.
premier golfing and spa destinations. It’s also home to the quaint Howey Market, which offers groceries, made-to-order sandwiches, fresh produce, ice cream and more than 100 different cold craft beers. Howey-in-the-Hills still offers the same unparalleled natural beauty that attracted early residents with its Griffin Waterfront Park and the Sara Maude Mason Nature Preserve. With so many outdoor activities available, Howey-in-the-Hills has become a natural ecotourism destination.
TAVARES POPULATION: 9,700 SIZE: 7.5 SQUARE MILES
The identity of Tavares and subsequently every facet of the town’s social, business and cultural life changed one day in 2006 when City Administrator John Drury walked to get lunch at a local restaurant. He observed a seaplane land and watched the pilot wallow through mud and reeds to get to O’Keefe’s Irish Pub. He thought, “Why not build a seaplane ramp for easy access?” Drury imagined a new identity for the City of Tavares. He imagined seaplanes landing in Tavares as a stopping point that
would galvanize the people behind a new motto: America’s Seaplane City. In 2010, he realized his dream. With an $8.3 million investment, Tavares Seaplane Base & Marina opened, immediately attracting seaplanes and businesses catering to seaplane pilots. Next, familyfriendly businesses arrived, which led to the revitalization of Wooton Park with kid-friendly attractions like the whimsical seaplane-themed Splash Park and the Orange Blossom Cannonball steam engine train
ride. Behind the playground, you can ride the vintage train cars of the Orange Blossom Cannonball, an authentic steam engine locomotive known as the "movie train" because it appeared in so many films. The ride between Tavares and Mount Dora takes 90 minutes round trip (with a 45-minute layover in either town), and includes pizza and wine tastings, themed parties and staged train robberies. With the addition of the fabulous new pavilion just paces away, the Tavares downtown area has become a new premier hot spot for those seeking perfect balance between entertaining activity and smalltown atmosphere. While on the waterfront, you may desire to do some shopping. In addition to the Prop Shop and the Orange Blossom Cannonball Train & Gift Shop, you’ll find specialty items in a number of unique boutiques, including Hoity Toity Mercantile, LadyBugs Gifts & Sundries, Bill Squires Copper Creations, and Pat’s Fabulous Finds. A short drive or long walk away, the Historic Lake County Courthouse houses the Lake County Historic Museum. Like Leesburg, Tavares has several lively and crowdpleasing festivals — 18, in fact.
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The Rotary Club of Lake County Golden Triangle hosts the Central Florida Dragon Boat Festival in March, which is the main event of the year. “Racers from all over the world compete,” says Colleen McGinley, executive director of Tavares Chamber of Commerce. Planes, Trains and BBQ in April provides precision flying demonstrations and freefall maneuvers by the U.S. Special Operations Parachute team. On the ground, revelers enjoy train rides on the Orange Blossom Cannonball and award-winning barbecue. Some of the festivals are downright unique, such as the Spring Sea Plane Fly-in in May, which attracts seaplanes of every kind from all over the country; the Hydro Drag Jet Ski Nationals/Pro Hydro X Tour in June; the newest event, Rifles, Rails & History: Steam Back to the North and South, in September (a living history encampment that transports visitors and guests back 150 years to the Civil War) and the Howl-O-Fest in October.
MOUNT DORA POPULATION: 12,534 SIZE: 8.02 SQUARE MILES
POPULATION & SIZE REFERENCES: (2010 CENSUS) HTTP://FACTFINDER.CENSUS.GOV/FACES/NAV/JSF/PAGES/COMMUNITY_FACTS.XHTML#NONE
Mount Dora made three impressive lists in 2014. Smithsonian.com ranked Mount Dora 14th on its “One of the Best Small Towns to Visit” list; Best Choice Reviews named it
24th in a ranking of 50 Best Small Town Downtowns in America, and the American Planning Association bestowed its first annual Florida Great Places—People’s Choice Award to the city. Now the world knows what long-time Lake Countians have always known: Mount Dora has charm galore, wonderful events that draw people from all over the world, a lakefront, fantastic dining and entertainment, super shopping, abundant natural beauty, and a thriving arts community. Mount Dora, in a word, is distinctive. After all, how many towns have a lighthouse? How many are built upon a mountain, albeit a small one?
Recent improvements to downtown’s popular Sunset Park and other public facilities have enhanced the city’s already strong appeal. “Bustling” is another word that describes this vibrant community. Mount Dora hosts 10 major festivals a year. The biggie is the nationally acclaimed Mount Dora Arts Festival in February, although the annual crafts fair in late October draws a quarter million people each year. Mount Dora’s diverse roster of events includes festivals for bicycle enthusiasts, antique collectors, gardeners, and antique boat owners. Many visitors head straight to one of Mount Dora’s unique dining spots. Treat yourself to a memorable culinary experience at The Goblin Market, Mount Dora Brewing/Rocking Rabbit Brewery, Mr. Cebiche, Copa Cabana, Frog and Monkey,
Pisces Rising, Vitality Bistro or Magical Meat Boutique. Mount Dora presents an inviting blend of new and old. A few common sight: Segways parked outside of Uncle Al’s Time Capsule and Oliver’s Twist Antiques & Appraisals; young couples walking along the pier behind the 102-yearold Mount Dora Yacht Club, kids riding bikes past oldtimers playing bocce at the Mount Dora Lawn Bowling Club, which was founded in 1928 and is the oldest such club in the nation. There’s always something going on in Mount Dora, but that’s not to say the pace is fast. The city has 12 major parks and eight minor ones for relaxation and repose. One of the most popular places for quiet reflection is the rebuilt boardwalk at the end of Liberty Avenue that leads to Palm Island, an eight-acre nature preserve.
POPULATION: 1,364 SIZE: 14.8 SQUARE MILES
Settled in the mid-1800’s and surrounded by bodies of water, including Lake Harris, the community of Yalaha is nestled between Howey-inthe-Hills and Okahumpka, on County Road 48, accessible via U.S. Highway 27 or U.S. Highway 19. Many years ago, Yalaha was the shipping point to the North until the Jacksonville-Tampa railroad was constructed in 1884. Today, locals know Yalaha for one thing, the
Yalaha Bakery. Designated “A bakery like no other,” the family-owned bakery founded in 1995 serves genuine German breads and old-world tortes and pastries. The philosophy is to provide quality, fresh natural and organic products, while keeping the German recipes of old prevalent throughout the bakery. While the theme may be time-honored and traditional, dietary needs such as gluten- and sugar-free are an integral part of the menu.
L O C AT I O N
8210 County Road 48, Yalaha, FL 34797 352.324.3366 Yalahabakery.com
27 WELCOME TO LAKE COUNTY
FAMILIES, NATURE LOVERS AND ATHLETES SAY "YES" TO SOUTH LAKE
Lake Harris A D
Little Lake Harris
LAKE APOPKA RESTORATION AREA
FL OR MINNEOLA ID AT
50 Lake Minnehaha
CLERMONT Lake Louisa
true nature lover’s paradise, South Lake County has been dubbed Runner & Bicycle Friendly by Road Runners Club of America and The League of American Bicyclists, respectively. Home to over 80,000 residents, family-friendly South Lake County is centrally located to many area attractions, parks, golf courses, lakes and trails, theatres, shopping and dining options. While rich with history from those who first settled here, the cities of Clermont, Groveland, Mascotte, Minneola, and Montverde are moving onward and upward to accommodate citizens' needs. A diverse population ensures there’s literally something for everyone.
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CLERMONT POPULATION: 28,742 SIZE: 13.63 SQUARE MILES
There are many attributes to Lake Countyâ€™s largest city, which continues to grow 20 miles west of Orlando. For starters, the historic downtown and city center continually is progressing without losing its charm. That appeal is enhanced by 23 area parks, lakes and rolling hills that provide ample opportunities for boating, fishing, kayaking, swimming, hiking, walking, running, cycling and more. Other attributes and attractions include: Citrus Tower, the highest observation point in Florida The Clermont Arts and Recreation Center houses the largest performance hall in Lake County and is developing new forms of entertainment for the city. The National Training
Center, a fitness facility, attracts professional and Olympic athletes in various sports, including triathlon, cycling and running to live and train in the area. Lake-Sumter State College and the University of Central Florida have a combined campus that offers many degree programs. Lakeridge Winery & Vineyards The Presidents Hall of Fame Clermont Historic Village Weekly and seasonal festivals such as the Farmers Market & First Friday Food Trucks in downtown. Waterfront Park Clermont Splash Pad, a 3,200 square-foot water play area Clermont Boathouse, headquarters for the Lake County Rowing Association.
L O C AT I O N
LAKERIDGE WINERY & VINEYARDS
19239 US-27, Clermont, FL 34715 352.394.8627 Lakeridgewinery.com
L O C AT I O N
LAKERIDGE WINERY & VINEYARDS
19239 US-27, Clermont, FL 34715 352.394.8627 Lakeridgewinery.com
L O C AT I O N
THE CITRUS TOWER
141 US-27, Clermont, FL 34711 352.394.4061 Citrustower.com
29 WELCOME TO LAKE COUNTY
POPULATION: 8,729 SIZE: 14.98 SQUARE MILES
Groveland, like most cities in the South Lake area, is tucked away far from larger cities, but still holds its own. Accessible by State Road 50, U.S. Highway 19 and U.S. Highway 33, the city feels spread out and consequently, smaller than it actually is.
Bird watchers will enjoy the variety of species visible around Lake David Park, one of five parks, which also includes boat ramps, a playground, basketball courts, picnic tables and pavilions. The historical Community Center is utilized for city council and other events. Veterans Park, dedicated to local Korean War Veterans Association Chapter 188, South Lake County, is a town icon. Groveland’s Historical Museum was established in 2007 and displays relative memorabilia from decades past.
MASCOTTE POPULATION: 8,729 SIZE: 14.98 SQUARE MILES
Mascotte prides itself on celebrating culture and community. The laid back community on State Road 50, just west of Groveland, is one of the fastest growing locales in Lake County, but residents seem determined to retain a smalltown atmosphere. You'll have to go somewhere else if you want to eat at a chain restaurant. The Rainbow Restaurant, which opened in 1964 and serves homemade donuts and a homecooked buffet, suits locals just fine. For nightlife, there's The Breeze, where live music and good times are always on tap. Mascotte has plenty of character, much of it at the Jot-Em-Down Store, which is decorated with service station signs. Inside, shoppers
In 1910, the 20,000 acres of GROVELAND FARMS were divided into smaller tracts and sold primarily to Swedish-Americans from Illinois.
30 WELCOME TO LAKE COUNTY
will find antiques, curious curios including Florida and Lake County memorabilia, Disneyana, home accent pieces, yard art, even the proverbial kitchen sink. At Virginia’s Square Dance Apparel, you'll find dresses, petticoats, pettipants, shirts, blouses, shoes, string ties, neckerchiefs and everything else you need for your next square dance. A number of unique businesses — like Maria's Mexican Store — cater to Mascotte's sizeable Hispanic population. Mascotte is also a wonderful place to enjoy the beauty of nature. One of the most popular spots for relaxing is Sunset Lake Park is a mirror image of Myers Lake from television's Mayberry.
MINNEOLA POPULATION: 9,403 SIZE: 10.34 SQUARE MILES
Minneola, conveniently located along U.S. Highway 27 in a country setting, offers quiet living with quick access to larger surrounding cities. Trailhead Park is a 17-acre park offering a playground, basketball courts, ball field, pavilion and dog park. The scenic park connects to South Lake, Lake Minneola Scenic and West Orange Trails, and gives access to over 30 miles for walking, cycling, skating or running. A community garden allows residents to purchase lots to grow their own organic produce and fruit. Lake Minneola Inn features the Tiki Bar & Grill. Situated
at the water’s edge at Lake Minneola, this locale is perfect for relaxing and enjoying nature, while noshing on American fare. Another fabulous eatery is Jack’s Barbeque. Its slogan, “When the chimney ain’t smokin’, we ain’t open” is pretty accurate. It’s not fancy, but the barbeque speaks for itself. Those with a sweet tooth must visit The Donut King, a local familyowned specialty donut shop featuring homemade donuts, pastries, castle burgers and more. This popular location just a stone’s throw south of Jack’s is open 24 hours. Selfcontrol is encouraged.
L O C AT I O N
LAKE MINNEOLA INN | TIKI BAR & GRILL
508 S. Main Ave., Minneola, FL 34715 352.394.2232 Lakeminneolainntikibar.com
MONTVERDE POPULATION: 1,498 SIZE: 1.8 SQUARE MILES
Montverde’s charm is evident at the civic complex that includes the town hall, the Franklin Pearce Jr. Auditorium, the library, the fire department, post office, picnic pavilions, basketball courts, and an oak-shaded park where movies are shown and festivals held. The 125-acre campus of Montverde Academy is also picturesue, but the 103-yearold private school has also become a prep basketball powerhouse. The Eagles won their third consecutive national championship in April. The Soccer Institute at Montverde Academy also draws first-rate athletes. Montverde Academy has an enrollment of more than 1,000 students, including more than
300 boarding students from 13 states across America and 48 countries. And the school is expanding. The stately academy also has an equestrian center adjacent to the town’s Methodist Church. And speaking of development, Bella Collina's luxury lifestyle in serene surroundings is atttracting new residents. Bicyclists will want to pedal along Green Mountain Scenic Byway (County Road 455) for tranquil views. At Lake Florence Park, a safe place for kids to play and for adults to watch the sun set over the water and hills. Take a good look around, there's plenty to see. When hunger strikes, visit Green Mountain Pizza.
COME AND SEE WHAT WE’RE ALL ABOUT!
Pre School - Grade 12
Competitive Athletic Program
Dual Enrollment and AP Classes On Campus
Quality Fine Arts Program
Accredited by AdvancEd & NCSA
Low Student-Faculty Ratios
MO NT DOR A CHRISTIAN ACADEMY Est 1945
301 West 13th Avenue • Mount Dora, Florida 32757
352.383.2155 • www.mdcacademy.org
MISSION INN IS . . . DINING
From Casual to Candlelight An award-winning team showcases versatile, innovative cuisine. Mission Inn Resort’s four restaurants and two lounges provide guests with superb service, inventive entrées and inspired presentations. Accomplished chefs prepare the freshest, highest-quality fare, from circadian breakfast buffets to weekly all-you-can-eat prime rib and seafood buffets.
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Reser vations 352-324-3930
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SAFE, SCENIC, AND SUN-SATIONAL The Coast-to-Coast Connector will offer bicyclists a chance to pedal across Florida and right through the heart of Lake County. STORY: MARY ANN DESANTIS
he wheels are turning in Lake County to make it one of the top bicycling destinations in the nation. When the Coast-toCoast Connector (C2C) is completed, Lake County will be in the heart of the 250-mile trail running from Titusville on Florida’s east coast to St. Petersburg on the Gulf of Mexico. It will be possible to ride a bicycle across Florida on paved trails designed specifically for bicycles and separated from vehicular traffic. Approximately 70 more miles are needed to link 19 existing paved trails for the Connector to
be continuous across the state. About 30 of those miles are in South Lake, west of the Lake Minneola Scenic Trail, which adjoins the South Lake and West Orange Trails. “We have a good trail system already, but the Coast-to-Coast Connector will set Florida apart from other states and make it even more attractive for tourists,” says Robert Chandler, Lake County’s director of economic growth. Chandler and Lake County leaders foresee an economic boon for communities along the Connector. Existing trails have already had huge impacts
on nearby downtown areas with 1,500-to-2,000 people every weekend who bicycle, walk, run, or rollerblade along the paths that in many areas were once railroad beds. The paved trails are separate from roadways and tend to be safer for cyclists, especially beginners. “Winter Garden on the West Orange Trail is the ‘gold standard’ for what can happen when a trail runs through a town and community leaders embrace it,” says Transportation Planner Mike Woods of the Lake-Sumter MPO. “Already the area around Lake Minneola is
gearing up for new businesses that will accommodate cyclists.” Currently, seven gaps in the Coast-to-Coast Connector need to be closed for the trail to run continuously across the state. “The gaps have been identified, and the Connector could be a reality in the next five years or so,” says Chandler. “It will be a destination within itself because many Europeans and Americans plan trips to ride these kinds of bicycle trails.” While it may seem five years is a long time, planner Woods says things are moving quickly. “In the past, we got three or four miles in a decade,” says Woods. “Now we are talking about 30 miles in five-toseven years.” The idea for a Coast-toCoast Connector began 1990 when the Pinellas Trail that runs from St. Petersburg
TRAIL NECESSITIES Pack your trail bag with these essential items for a more comfortable journey: Water Sunscreen Trail maps (downloadable as PDF files from www.fgtf.org/maps/ UV clothing Helmet
to Tarpon Springs was completed. The Connector is a major priority within the Florida Greenways and Trails System Plan developed by the Office of Greenways and Trails, and the completed portions have already fueled
the economic revitalization of communities along the route. The Connector will encompass the South Lake Trail, which currently ends just west of Lake Minneola. Cyclists can continue on to the General James Van Fleet
Trail by using bike lanes on the roads. The plan, however, is to eventually extend the Connector through Groveland, hopefully reaching completion by 2021. “The trail is pushing the Groveland Roadway Project
37 WELCOME TO LAKE COUNTY
forward because there is so much momentum to see the Coast-to-Coast completed,” says Woods. “Eventually, people will be able to ride or walk through downtown Groveland. It will be the last stop before reaching the much
LAKE COUNTY TRAILS While most avid bicyclists have ridden the 12.6-mile South Lake Trail that runs from the West Orange Trail to Silver Eagle Road, about 25 more miles of bike trails are scattered around Lake County. The following list gives you the starting and ending locations:
APOPKA LOOP TRAIL
Distance: 14.4 miles Start Location: Clay Island Trailhead End Location: Magnolia Park (Orange County)
SOUTH LAKE TRAIL
Connects to West Orange Trail at Old CR 50 and Lake Boulevard Distance: 12.6 miles Trailheads: Killarney Station (Orange County), Minneola Trailhead Park, Waterfront Park, Lake Hiawatha Preserve Start Location: Lake Blvd & Lake County Line End Location: Silver Eagle Rd & CR 565A
HANCOCK TRAIL EXTENSION
Connects to South Lake Trail Distance: 2.4 miles Start Location: Hancock Road & County Road 50 End Location: Cooper Memorial Library & National Training Center
BLACK STILL LAKE TRAIL
Distance: 0.5 miles Start Location: Black Still Lake Road, Clermont End Location: Black Still Lake Road, Clermont
FOUNTAIN LAKE TRAIL Distance: 2 miles Start Location: Canal St., Leesburg End Location: 13th St., Leesburg
GREEN MOUNTAIN TRAIL
Distance: 1 mile Start Location: County Road 455, Montverde End Location: Truskett Park
Designed for walkers & bikers, lined with benches and outdoor exercise equipment. Distance: 0.7 miles Start Location: Mote-Morris House, Leesburg End Location: Palmetto St.
Distance: 3.5 miles Start Location: Downtown Tavares End Location: ViaPort Florida
VENETIAN GARDENS TRAIL
Distance: 0.5 miles Start Location: Venetian Gardens & Canal Street, Leesburg End Location: Magnolia Trail & Bourley Historic Nature Preserve
WILSON LAKE PARKWAY TRAIL
Distance: 3.0 Miles Start Location: Wilson Lake Parkway, Clermont End Location: Wilson Lake Parkway, Clermont
more isolated Van Fleet trail.” In addition to the segments connecting South Lake and Van Fleet trails, a six-mile spur off the Wekiva Trail Project will connect Mount Dora to the Coast-to-Coast. That segment will end at Tremain Street near the historic train trestle. For now, most cyclists come to Lake County for a day trip of riding segments on the existing trails. Both Chandler and Woods hope that will change when the Coast-to-Coast Connector is completed, making the area a cycling destination. “We have to look at cyclists like train passengers who get off to explore,” says Woods.
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“This will be a venue to get riders to explore Lake County, but we have to accommodate them with bike racks and places to eat and stay. With Lake County in the dead center of the Connector, it’s inevitable many bicyclists will be taking a break in one of the many municipalities along the route and looking for places to eat or get a quick bike repair. The goal is to encourage them to spend time here. “Riding your bicycle across Florida will be a destination within itself,” says Chandler. “One continuous trail will be a wonderful thing for the people and the economy.”
PLACES TO VISIT Seaplane Base • Children’s Splashpark Wooton Park • Waterfront Entertainment District Visit Tavares.org to ﬁnd out more about the area.
every month. everywhere. www.lakeandsumterstyle.com
A Timeless Experience Florida’s Most Historic Hotel, Lakeside Inn, is Located in the Heart of Mount Dora and Features a Timeless Setting for Relaxing Getaways and Special Events. The Inn is Open to the Public and Features: – – – – – –
Nightly Entertainment Complimentary WiFi Casual & Formal Dining Lakeside Pool, Deck, and Bar The Gatehouse Gift Gallery Special Events & Catering
800.556.5016 or 352.383.4101 Lakeside-Inn.com 100 N. Alexander St., Mount Dora 40 WELCOME TO LAKE COUNTY
MISSION INN IS . . . MEETINGS
Complete Meeting Destination Plus plenty to do after the conference convenes. Abundant function space for groups of 20 to 400 people within a complete destination resort. Two large ballrooms and 19 breakouts allow groups to assemble in general session or regional strategic settings. After the conference, relax with golf, tennis, teambuilding, boating or fishing, refreshing spa or a poolside swim.
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Group Sales 352-324-3902
TWO GOLF COURSES • SPA • TRAP & SKEET • DINING • MARINA • 30,000 SQ. FT. MEETING SPACE • OUTDOOR COURTYARDS • 19 MEETING ROOMS
Lake County has hosted the Bassmaster Open Series Fish Tournament, the Fishers of Men National Championship, and the BASS College Tournament, just to name a few. Being home to 1,000+ lakes makes it an ideal spot for those who love fishing.
FISH TALES STORY: JAMES COMBS
42 WELCOME TO LAKE COUNTY
avares resident Phil Kelley has enjoyed fun-filled fishing adventures around the globe, from Mexico and Canada to Australia and Papua New Guinea. He has reeled in everything imaginable—dolphin, tarpon, snook, and redfish. But when it comes to bass fishing, there’s no place the avid fisherman would rather be than Lake County. Since moving to the area in 1996, he has spent hundreds of hours on the Harris Chain of Lakes and frequently caught bass weighing 10 pounds or more. “I refer to Lake County as the center of the earth for bass fishing,” says Phil, who owned a computer services company for 30 years. “In fact, the Harris Chain is where I’ve caught some of the biggest bass in my life.” Because it’s home to both the Harris Chain of Lakes and the Clermont Chain of Lakes, the county attracts locals and out-of-town anglers hoping to catch various species such as largemouth bass, black crappie, bluegill, catfish, and shellcrackers. No wonder Lake County has hosted some of the country’s most prestigious bass tournaments, including the Bassmaster Open Series Fish Tourney, the Fishers of Men National Championship, and the BASS College Tournament. Tournaments such as these draw people from as far away as Minnesota, New York, and Texas. “The anglers who come here eat at our local restaurants, buy gas for their boats at our local convenience stores, and stay overnight in our hotels,” says Adam Sumner, manager of Lake County’s Economic Development and Tourism Division. “They enjoy the experience of fishing here so much that they end up coming back to Lake County with their family members and friends.” The county has also attracted popular fishing shows. In 2015, “The Scott Martin Challenge” was filmed on the Harris Chain of Lakes and aired from
43 WELCOME TO LAKE COUNTY
March 30 through April 5 on NBC Sports. In October 2015, “Jack Links’ Major League Fishing,” which dubs itself the “most-watched fishing show on television,” was also filmed on the Harris Chain of Lakes. “When Scott Martin came to Lake County, it was one of his highest-rated shows ever,” Sumner says. “What’s ironic is reruns of the episode received higher ratings than the original episode. Scott indicated that he would like to do a show here again.” Of course, the Harris Chain of Lakes is not the only game in town when it comes to fishing. There are 13 lakes in South Lake County that comprise the Clermont Chain of Lakes, which are home to largemouth bass, bluegill, sunfish, and crappie. Bass can also be found on the Holly Chain, which consists of three lakes north of Umatilla. For more information, visit the new website www.lakebigbass.com and get more details!
FAVORITE LAKE: For bass fishing, go to Lake Griffin. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission has stocked it with bass. I also like that there is very little development on the north end of the lake. ANOTHER FISHING HOTSPOT: Lake Dorr, located north of Altoona in the Ocala National Forest, is secluded and very few fish there. I’ve caught as many as 50 bass in a day, although not all of them were big.
Here are a few pointers from Phil Kelley for those who are trying to land the big one. TACKLE: A plastic worm with 10-pound test line and a sinker that weighs 1/16th ounce. You can buy a light but strong graphite fishing rod and do all the same things as a pro without spending $300 on a rod and reel. It’s not the tackle or boat; it’s the skill of the fisherman. BEST BASS BAIT: Plastic worm. SEASONAL TRENDS: In the spring, bass bed and lay eggs in shallow areas of the lake. As summer progresses, they move into grassy areas or deeper parts of the lake.
GUIDED FISHING TRIPS
You do not have to be an expert angler or know all the hot spots to enjoy a wonderful day of fishing in Lake County. Let the experts at local companies show you where and how to land the big one. BASS N GAL GUIDE SERVICE 24140 STATE ROAD 46 SORRENTO, FL 31776 866.383.1893 BILL VAN TASSELL FISHING GUIDE SERVICES MOUNT DORA, FL 31757 352.725.1569 FISHING UNLIMITED 24948 BUTLER ST. ASTOR, FL 32102 352.759.2446 GDAWGBASS GUIDE SERVICE TAVARES, FL 32778 352.536.0855
BOAT RAMPS AND MARINAS ASTATULA BOAT RAMP 12703 FLORIDA AVE. ASTATULA, FL 34705 352.253.4950 GET WET WATER SPORTS 1000 W. BURLEIGH BLVD. TAVARES, FL 32778 352.253.0585
44 WELCOME TO LAKE COUNTY
UNWIND the GRIND f ro m
Experience ‘Real Florida. Real Close.’
NELSON’S OUTDOOR RESORT 19400 S.E. HWY. 42 UMATILLA, FL 32784 352.821.3474 PALATLAKAHA RIVER PARK AND BOAT RAMP 12325 HULL ROAD CLERMONT, FL 34711 352.253.4950
www. MOUNT R eal F lorida RDORA eal C lose.com/Welcome BOATING
Lake County is known for its picturesque lakefront downtowns and unique, exciting attractions. Discover the “Real Florida,” just 30 minutes from metro-Orlando.
CENTER AND MARINA 148 CHARLES AVE. MOUNT DORA, FL 32757
PALM GARDENS MARINA AND RV PARK 1661 PALM GARDENS ST. TAVARES, FL 32778 352.343.2024
45 WELCOME TO LAKE COUNTY
TAVARES SEAPLANE BASE AND MARINA 150 E. RUBY ST. TAVARES, FL 32778 352.742.6267 VENETIAN COVE MARINA 250 BALLPARK ROAD LEESBURG, FL 34748 352.728.0901 REVOLUTION OFF ROAD 4000 STATE ROAD 33 CLERMONT, FL 34714 352.400.1322
QUIET HARMONY Central Florida offers lots of adventures and thrills, but when your vacation calls for the quiet harmony of nature, head to Lake County. After all, it’s “Real Florida. Real Close.” STORY: MARY ANN DESANTIS
ayaking, birding, paddle boarding, boat tours, hiking, biking, and fishing are just scratching the surface when it comes to ecotourism in Lake County. With more than 1,000 freshwater lakes and rivers, the county is a haven for water enthusiasts. You’ll also find thousands of acres of preserves, state parks, and even a national forest where you can view wildlife, take award-winning nature photos, and rejuvenate with healthy activities that keep the environment pristine and undisturbed—an important goal of ecotourism.
BIRDING Lake County is part of the fastest growing, outdoor sport in the nation: bird watching. The lakes and natural areas have attracted more than
200 different species of birds. Environmentally protected by the Green Swamp to the south, the Ocala National Forest to the north, and the Wekiva River Basin to the east, Lake County offers 19 identified locations to go birding (see sidebar). The following are among the best places for spotting multiple bird species: Just south of Leesburg on U.S. Highway 27, the Palatlakaha Environmental and Agricultural Reserve— also known as PEAR Park—is a hidden gem filled with native plants, wildflowers, and migrating birds, as well as a Florida Scrub-Jay restoration area. Considered one of the best birding locations in Lake County, the 318-acre park offers several miles of hiking trails, a nature center, and a brand new Wildlife Watch Post that promotes
ecotourism. The 320-squarefoot steel bird watching and wildlife viewing blind combines native landscaping and environmentally balanced architecture to harmonize with nature and provide a functional structure for nature lovers. Also new to Lake County is the Green Mountain Scenic Overlook, a 132foot elevated boardwalk and overlook that offers exceptional views of Sugarloaf Mountain, Lake County’s highest point. Popular with bicyclists traversing the Green Mountain Scenic Byway, the overlook is an ideal location for bird and butterfly watching with nearly 100 species of birds and 20 species of butterflies already observed
lovers. Its Timucuan Trail is a 1.1-mile interpretive loop trail that highlights vegetation used by early Native Americans. Nearby is the Florida National Scenic Trail, which runs 66 miles through the Ocala National Forest. Another popular location for beginning and advanced birders is the Emeralda Marsh Conservation Area, a site on the Great Florida Birding Trail located east of Lake Griffin. Lake County’s annual Wings and Wildflowers Festival held each October has secured Lake’s spot on the map as a premier birding destination with many field trips showcasing the county’s best bird-watching areas.
at the property. Located at 20700 County Road 455 in Ferndale, the overlook is open daily from 7 a.m. to dusk. Several other Lake County locations have been popular with nature enthusiasts for years. Alexander Springs, in the Ocala National Forest, is an excellent destination for swimmers, hikers, campers, birdwatchers, and wildlife
KAYAKING ON THE BLUEWAY TRAILS
Wildlife Watch Post at PEAR Park
48 WELCOME TO LAKE COUNTY
There’s no better way to experience Lake County’s scenic and wildlife areas than along the shorelines of its nine blueway trails. Physical and geo-positioned markers guide kayakers, canoers, and paddle boarders through the waterways. The following trails are within the areas of
BIRDING LOCATIONS Lake County has 19 designated bird-watching locations. Most are open from sunrise to sunset, seven days a week. For complete details, see www.wingsandwildflowers.com/Birding/BirdingSpots.
BOURLAY HISTORIC NATURE PARK
700 N. Canal St., Leesburg
CROOKED RIVER PRESERVE 11121 Lake Louisa Road, Clermont
PALM ISLAND BOARDWALK
Located at the end of Liberty Avenue in Mount Dora.
PALATLAKAHA ENVIRONMENTAL AND AGRICULTURAL RESERVE (PEAR) PARK
U.S. Highway 441 in Tavares
U.S. 27, Leesburg (Entrance at the end of University Avenue)
EMERALDA MARSH CONSERVATION AREA
SARAH MAUDE MASON NATURE PRESERVE
FLAT ISLAND PRESERVE
SAWGRASS ISLAND PRESERVE
Between state roads 42 and 44, on the east side of Lake Griffin and west of County Road 452 2301 Owens Road, Leesburg
HIDDEN WATER PRESERVE
Country Club Road, Eustis
LAKE APOPKA CLAY ISLAND
Between County Road 48 and State Road 455, west of Lake Apopka.
LAKE NORRIS CONSERVATION AREA Lake Norris Road, north of County Road 44A
LAKE LOUISA STATE PARK
Off Lakeshore Drive and Buckhill Road, Howey-in-the-Hills
12050 Sawgrass Island Road, Umatilla
SCRUB-JAY TRAIL 11490 Monte Vista Road, Clermont
SEMINOLE STATE FOREST
Located between state roads 46 and 44 near the Lake and Seminole county line.
TROUT LAKE NATURE CENTER 520 East County Road 44, Eustis
7305 U.S. Highway 27, Clermont
OCALA NATIONAL FOREST (ALEXANDER SPRINGS)
WEKIVA SPRINGS STATE PARK (LOWER WEKIVA RIVER STATE PRESERVE AND ROCK SPRINGS RUN STATE PRESERVE)
49525 County Road 445
109 E. Dixie Ave., Leesburg
State Road 46 near the Lake and Seminole county line.
the St. Johns River, Golden Triangle, Palatlakaha Basin, and Ocklawaha Basin:
Blue Creek Run Golden Triangle Run Helena Run Lake Griffin Run Lake Harris Run Palatlakaha Run Stagger Mud Lake Run St. Francis/Dead River Run Lake Eustis Run Each trail offers different experience levels for blueway users. The Golden Triangle along Lake Dora’s shorelines in Tavares and Mount Dora is suitable for novices and casual use; the trails along the St. Johns are considered “wilderness” areas, more appropriate for experienced users. For more information about the Lake County Blueways, visit www. paddlelake.com.
ECOTOURISM ADVENTURES You may want to add a few thrills to your quiet harmony with nature. If so, plan to spend a day at the Showcase of Citrus, where
you can take an eco-tour of a 2,500-acre working citrus and cattle ranch on the world’s largest ATV. Open since 1961 on U.S. Highway 27 near Lake Louisa State Park, the showcase offers 100 percent “pure Florida fun” with the highly modified giant trucks designed for safe rides through native woodlands, pastureland, swamps, and groves. To see the vast beauty of Lake County from the air, take a seaplane ride with the Jones Brothers & Co. Air and Seaplane Adventures in Tavares. Also in Tavares, you can climb aboard the historic Orange Blossom Cannonball train, which delivers you to the charming city of Mount Dora and back. Finally, a trip to Lake County should include a boat tour, especially along the famed Dora Canal, described as the “most beautiful mile of water in the world.” Lined with cypress trees, the Dora Canal is one of the best waterways for wildlife viewing because it is a safe haven for nesting ospreys, herons, and egrets. Most scenic boat cruises leave from shores along U.S. Highway 441 in Tavares.
Culture • Opportunity • Vitality
SHOPPING, DINING & OUTDOOR EVENTS IN HISTORIC DOWNTOWN MONTHLY! FIRST FRIDAY STREET PARTIES FOURTH SATURDAY CRUISE-IN CLASSIC CAR SHOWS
FOR MORE INFO VISIT EUSTIS.ORG
SO MUCH TO DO Lake County is a great place for active and lively people, and there are enough activities for all of them, even with all the diverse interests and abilities, to never be bored or idle a single day. There are nature walks and spas available too if you just need a little R&R. Here’s a list to whip out when someone asks “What’s there to do around here?”
NATURE THE GREAT OUTDOORS
CANOEING ON LAKE LOUISA
WATER Lakes, creeks, and springs abound. You may already have your favorite fishing spot or lake side hangout, but maybe it’s time to try something new. People come from all over to fish like a local in Lake County. The Lake Harris Chain of Lakes is a big destination for serious bass fishers. It has been the backdrop for quite a few nationally televised
competitions. The waterways are well stocked with large bass but are not for easy fishing, making it perfect for adding a competitive edge. Fishing here is challenging but rewarding, with some anglers boasting 14-pound catches. At a little bit slower pace is the Heritage Lake tours. The “Sea Heaven” embarks with Capt. DJ and Lynne Hollander from the Palm Gardens Fish Camp, in Tavares, six
days a week. Their aim is education in action, and their favorite show and tell is the 25 bird species that nest along the banks of the Dead River and Dora Canal. Visitors can enjoy access to champion fishing and personal wildlife encounters everywhere they turn. The Hickory Point Park in Tavares and Lake Minneola’s Waterfront Park in Clermont are some favorite spots locals use. Pack
52 WELCOME TO LAKE COUNTY
a lunch, claim a picnic table and a spot on the pier or bank, and cast. It’s a no-brainer for a good time. Need a place to launch? Access local lakes at Florida Avenue West ramp in Astatula; Singletary Park in Leesburg on U.S. Highway 27 and Venetian Gardens off of State Road 44 in Leesburg. A lot of these bodies of water are not only good for fishing, but other water activities
like paddling, water skiing, wake boarding, etc. Never donned a pair of water skis? There are several local schools waiting to make that happen: Benzel Ski in Groveland, Sunset Lakes in Okahumpka, and Swiss Ski in Clermont. Flyboarding is another option for the adventure-minded. This sport involves using a jet pack or jet boots to propel the user into the air above the water. Yes, this is a for real thing. Check out Quest Air in Groveland or Hanson's World Wakeboard Center. Or maybe you’d just like to go floatin’. No matter, the water is a great place to spend the day. Alexander Springs State Park, with its waters at a constant 72 degrees, is a great place to beat the Florida heat—while it lasts—and remains manageable in the cooler months. Here you find adventure beyond the water’s edge. There is a whole world of fresh water creatures to be found with a pair of goggles and a snorkel. One place for water fun that you may not know is Wekiva Falls in Sorrento, an RV Park with its very own two-slide water park, which splashes into an inviting sulfur spring. The park paints itself as a daily hangout spot; and it is for
L O C AT I O N
many who park there; it can be for you too. On holiday and select weekends they host a local DJ. Individual daily admission is only $8 per adult and $6 per child (ages 2-11), or price per carload is $25 (maximum 6 guests per vehicle), which ends up being about $4 a person! A day of fun that’s cheaper than your coffee order. The kids will have a ball with any of these activities, but if you want something geared specifically toward them, the area is littered with splash pads and water parks. Tavares’ Seaplane-themed splash park operates seasonally and is near Wooten Park. So much fun, adults have a hard time remembering it’s for the kids. Other splash stations include Clermont Champions Splash Park at Waterfront Park, The Wet Zone at Family Adventure Camp on the Withlacoochee River, and the Wharton-Smith Tropical Splash Ground at the Central Florida Zoo.
SWISS SKI SCHOOL
13114 Skiing Paradise Blvd., Clermont 352.429.2178
MORE WATER FUN: GET WET WATERSPORTS
1000 West Burleigh Blvd., Tavares 352.253.0585. DORA CANAL PREMIER BOAT TOURS
100 N Alexander St., Mount Dora 352.434.8040
CLERMONT WATERFRONT BIKES AND BOARDS
15 Second St,. Clermont 352.394.0535 FLORIDA FROM A KAYAK
352.406.0904 LAKE SUMTER LINE BOAT TOURS
Lake Sumter Landing, The Villages 352.751.7110
BJ’S AIRBOAT ADVENTURES
RUSTY ANCHOR MOUNT DORA
8271 County Road 48, Bushnell 321.442.3464
400 W. Fourth Ave., Mount Dora 352.383.3933
CAT BOAT TOURS OF MOUNT DORA
ST. JOHNS RIVER TOURS
FIRESTORM AIRBOAT TOURS
311 South Tremain St., Mount Dora 352.816.9339 CENTRAL FLORIDA NATURE ADVENTURES, LLC
53 WELCOME TO LAKE COUNTY
55716 Front Street, Astor 866.349.0674 BOATING TOURS OF LAKE DORA AT WOOTON PARK MARINA
150 E. Ruby St., Tavares 800.847.6363
LAND While many take naturally to the water, the land too, has a distinct legacy in Lake County. The area began and some parts remain, largely rooted in agriculture. We use the land to provide a livelihood, but it also serves us as a source of great joy, providing the setting for many of our timeless recreations. Whether exploring nature by foot, bike, or horseback, visitors engage their bodies, the land, and a history. One benefit of being a grouping of mainly smaller cities and towns is how much we are able to preserve of the land through a vast system of national, state, and community parks. These parks provide a myriad of activities and accommodations. The sheer number of trails they house make it impossible to list them all. Lake County has a division called “Parks & Trails,” which indicates how important trails are to the area. There’s a kind of magic when
you lace up your tennis shoes and hit the dirt on a trail that winds through storied oaks and palms. Signing up for the Parks & Trails newsletter on the Lake County website can be a great resource. They have practical information about trails and parking accommodations, but you can also be included in various events that incorporate the trails. These include numerous plant and wildlife festivals. They also have a Facebook page that posts regularly, so you stay involved even when you’re not kicking up dirt. Something you may not know, even as a local, about many of the trails is that they were scouted for involvement in an expansive project to link the Atlantic and the Gulf of Mexico. The project has been underway for some time now with some success achieved, and some success still needed. The C2C, as they call it, will cover more than 270 miles from the Pinellas Trail Head in the gulf to Titusville on the coast.
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Many expansions were funded for Lake County connections to the trail. Clermont became “2014 Bicycle Friendly Community of the Year” due to these expansions. If things go well, the C2C will be finished in 2021, with the possibility of bringing a whole new bout of tourism to Lake County. Visitors will be introduced to the trails locals know and love, as well as the land they so proudly preserve. To keep up with the projects progress, trek over to The Florida Greenways & Trail Foundation website, fgtf.org, for more information, videos, and to sign up for a progress newsletter. To experience the trails and their new expansions, head to the Lake website (lakecountyfl.gov/parks) for maps and other reference material. For a more personal look into the trails, check out local hiking blogs; the writers love exploring and share photos, findings, musing, and tips they’ve gathered along the way. Floridahikes.com is currently posting about the experience of biking the C2C in their blog section. This site is also a great “go to” for finding and planning your venture. They list trails and walkways by helpful categories, and you can search and take advantage of the interactive map. Floridatrailblazer.wordpress.com is a blog that follows a Florida native who seeks out “Ghost Towns” while hiking. He recently found one in a Lake County section of the Ocala National Forest. These are interesting reads and you may gather ideas for one of your own expeditions.
HORSEBACK RIDING Just shy of Ocala horse country, Lake County has its own love affair with these beautiful animals. Raising and boarding horses is a lifestyle and a livelihood, making riding a beloved sport and past time. Many places offer this experience to the public.
OTHER POPULAR NATURE-TIVITIES:
BIRD WATCHING There is a growing interest and a complete community forming for birdwatching in our area. Lake County claims to be home to over 200 bird species. It is also home to the annual Wings & Wild Flowers festival, which is held in October. The festival’s website, wingsandwildflowers.com/Birding, serves as a year-round guide for bird watching in Lake County, complete with a check list, special locations, and tips.
GEOCACHING Putting an edge on the traditional hiking and exploring gig, geocaching is a nature-based activity that is a mixture of treasure hunt and time capsule. The premise is simple, you connect to the geocache community by downloading an app or signing up for a free profile online at geocaching.com, and then you pick a geocache to find near you. Once you find that geocache, which is not always so easy as they are often hidden or require a journey, you sign the log book and check in online that you found it. You can also leave something and/or take something as a memento of your experience. People swap Knickknacks via geocache, or you can log a geocache coin. Coins are set up for the purpose of tracking migration through the community, the places they’ve been may astound you. The great thing about this activity is not only do you interact with your own immediate community, but with the global community as well. There are almost 2 million Geocache sites to be found around the world.
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AIR The best way to get to know the area may be from above. From the air we can apply a new perspective to the place we call home. You may think this experience is a bit inaccessible to you, but it’s not! Some planes are privately owned, but many pilots jumped into the public sphere and made flight possible for the average Joe and Jane. You are not subject to limited options, from a one-time scenic joy ride to private lessons, from a seaplane to a hang-glider, you can get in the air a number of ways. SunAir Aviation is based out of the Leesburg International Airport and offers several professional aircraft services. If you’ve always wanted to fly, maybe it’s time to look at one of their training courses, which include the prestigious Utah Valley Degree Program. Whether your interest caps at novice or extends to professional, their four well -weathered instructor pilots have the experience to get your dreams in the air. Visit their website, sunairaviation.com, and discover what they have to offer. Seaplane rides are popular, as many know, for adventureseekers, and it makes sense with all the water surrounding the area. Tavares is known as “America’s Seaplane City,” and the community has embraced this branding and made the seaplane an integral part of their social and economic identity. The Jones Brothers Co. is the name for seaplanes in Tavares, and they offer unique experiences at reasonable prices. Rides are as low as $39, and they offer a special called the “Lake Dora:
Land, Air, and Sea package,” which takes you on full-fledged journey beginning with a boat cruise up the Dora Canal. You then take flight to some gorgeous views, returning via an authentic steam-engine locomotive. Jones Brothers Co. is in the business of making any day exceptional, book a tour by calling 352.508.1800. or checking firstname.lastname@example.org. There’s also Beaver Air Tours based in Mount Dora that flies November to May. Call 218.682.2006. The next set of activities are made for the real thrill seekers. If you’re feeling intrepid you can glide or dive your way through the skies. Quest Air in Groveland offers hang gliding at their self-proclaimed “Florida’s Extreme Sport Paradise,” a 170acre property complete with pool, hot tub and tiki bar for post flight relaxation.
If sky diving isn’t your thing, take a hot air balloon ride with Florida Balloon Adventures based in Mount Dora. Take a cue from the storybooks and join Captain Bill Whidden, a certified ballooner with over 2,800 hours logged, for some pure magic. For more information, call: Quest Air, 352.429.0213; Florida Balloon Adventures, 407.414.7451.
IN THE GAME
THE WORLD'S BEST ATHLETES TRAIN RIGHT IN OUR BACKYARD
n the smaller but active communities, sports take precedence. There may not be major league teams here, but there are many proud fanatics. Parts of Lake County has become a hub for training and competitions, and local programs turn out champions. The area is filled with state-of-the-art facilities, community programs, as well as professional and amateur athletes of all levels seeking healthy competition.
Tavares Skate Park is a complete facility. A highly urban centered sport, areas for practice and performance are limited in our area. But as the community expands and develops, however, so will the need for such complexes. So it is good news that locals do not have to trek south to Orlando, or North to Ocala to get in their kick-push.
HICKORY POINT BEACH
This recent addition to the Hickory Point Sport Complex in Tavares is Floridaâ€™s largest permanent volleyball complex, featuring 21 professional sand volleyball courts. It was built to make Lake County a destination for professional volleyball, but courts are open to locals too.
COYOTE MUD BOG
For a complete off-road experience, this Astatula park offers four motor cross courses, ATV/UTV trails, and a 400x600 mud pit. Open every weekend from Friday 9a.m. to Sunday 6p.m., it is a separate fee to run each course, but most spectator activities are free.
TAVARES SKATE PARK
12,000 square feet of concrete dedicated to skateboard and inline skating makes the Tavares Skate Park, located within the Woodlea Sports Complex, more than a resource. Itâ€™s a destination! Few parks in the area have designated areas for skating, Lake David (Groveland), Lake Pan (Lake Panasoffkee), and Gardenia Parks (Fruitland Park) are, but
CLERMONT ARTS AND RECREATION CENTER
69,000-square-foot complex with an air conditioned gym that is a go-to for organized
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OLYMPIC SPRINTER TYSON GAY TRAINS AT THE NATIONAL TRAINING CENTER
COYOTE MUD BOG
Among the various other activities the park fosters, more and more athletes are using the fitness trail that extends for 30 miles. There is also a 10-mile clay trail in the park. It is filled with runners because of its softer surface.
given to the area’s youth but welcomes athletes of all ages. This sizable building houses basketball courts, 16 volleyball courts, 14 outdoor beach volleyball courts, a concession area that doubles as a teaching kitchen, detail and pro shops, a game room, as well as a Health & Wellness center. The Big House is geared toward making a place for the community. They host various sports events and competitions throughout the year. The space is used regularly as a sports training space for local programs, but it can also be rented out.
THE BIG HOUSE
NATIONAL TRAINING CENTER
This Tavares landmark is the envy of all facilities; it was created to ensure opportunity is
In 2001, the facility had two group fitness studios, an aquatic center, athletic fields,
sports and pick-up games. In addition, the large pool and two wading pools are big attractions. The facility includes Lake County’s largest performance center, a 230-seat theatre. CLERMONT’S WATERFRONT PARK
FORMER MLB OUTFIELDER CHET LEMON BUILT 'THE BIG HOUSE' FOR ATHLETES OF ALL AGES
L O C AT I O N
THE BIG HOUSE
1544 Lane Park Cutoff Rd, Tavares 352.562.7878
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HICKORY POINT SPORT COMPLEX
and a lab for sports performance testing. Today the NTC is what many would consider futuristic athletic training. Few places in the country have the elite equipment, facilities, and training personnel under one roof that NTC has:
• Olympic lifting platforms • Selectorized, plate-loaded strength equipment • Zumba, Schwinn cycling, Yoga, Pilates, and TRX fitness classes • Outpatient rehabilitation • General strength classes • 400-meter synthetic track • Long jump & triple jump runways
• Pole vault runways • Javelin runways • Shot Put/Discus/Hammer Cages • 70-meter x 25-yard pool with 27 lanes • Outdoor heated pool • Aquatic programs • 5 grass fields for baseball and
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softball (4 lighted) Under-roof batting cages Concession stand Weight-loss programs Classrooms for film review and pregame meetings • Locker rooms with showers • Sports performance staff • • • •
TAKE A LOCAL SWING BOGEY, PAR, OR BIRDIE — GOLF YOUR WAY IN LAKE COUNTY
here are a lot of places to golf. Of the 1,153 square miles that make up Lake County, roughly 99 miles are fairways and greens. And as The Villages expands, so will the number of courses, as each new community brings with it their own course. This ensures variety and luxury at your fingertips. Here’s a snapshot of places to play.
HARBOR HILLS COUNTRY CLUB
ARLINGTON RIDGE GOLF CLUB
6,910 yards, par 72. Rating: 72.5 with slope of 126 6583 Lake Grifﬁn Road, Lady Lake harborhills.com
4,877 yards from front tees, 6,610 from back tees. Rating: 71.2 with slope of 117 4463 Arlington Ridge Blvd., Leesburg arlingtonridgegolfclub.com
LAKES OF LADY LAKE
MISSION INN RESORT & CLUB - EL CAMPEON
6,005 yards, par 71. Rating: 68.0 with slope of 118 4720 Plantation Blvd., Leesburg plantationleesburggolf.com
6,923 yards, par 72. Rating: 74.2 with slope of 135 10400 County Road 48 Howey-in-the-Hills missioninnresort.com
PLANTATION AT LEEBURG OTTER CREEK
4,174 yards, par 63. Rating: 59.3 with slope of 96 503 Canopy Lane, Lady Lake 352.750.4474
ORANGE BLOSSOM HILLS COUNTRY CLUB 6,095 yards, par 72. Rating: 69.1 with slope of 117 Water Tower Circle, The Villages golfthevillages.com 352.753.5200
MISSION INN RESORT & CLUB - LAS COLINAS 6,867 yards, par 72. Rating: 73.3 with slope of 132 10400 County Road 48, Howey-in-the-Hills missioninnresort.com
WATER OAK COUNTRY CLUB ESTATES
MONARCH AT ROYAL HIGHLANDS
5,944 yards, par 72. Rating: 68.4 with slope of 117 605 Hickory, Lady Lake wateroakcountryclub.com
6,018 yards, par 72. Rating: 68.9 with slope of 119 5325 Saint Andrews, Leesburg monarchgolf club
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THE CLUB AT PENNBROOKE FAIRWAYS 32900 Countryside Blvd., Leesburg pennbrooke.org
PLANTATION AT LEEBURG CRANES ROOST
6,264 yards, par 72. Rating: 70.0 with slope of 127 4720 Plantation Blvd., Leesburg plantationleesburggolf.com
BAYTREE GOLF COURSE
BELLA COLLINA GOLF CLUB
3,752 yards, par 62. Rating: 57.8 with slope of 95 129 Juniper Way, Tavares baytreegolf.com
BLACK BEAR GOLF CLUB 7,002 yards, par 72. Rating: 74.7 with slope of 134 24505 Caluso Blvd., Eustis blackbeargolfclub.com
COUNTRY CLUB OF MOUNT DORA 6,571 yards, par 72. Rating: 72.1 with slope of 125 1900 Country Club Blvd., Mount Dora ccofmtdora.com
EAGLE DUNES GOLF CLUB
7,500 yards, par 72. 16355 Vetta Dr., Montverde bellacollina.com
CLERBROOK GOLF CLUB 5,154 yards, par 67. Rating: 63.4 with slope of 108 20005 North US Highway 27, Clermont clerbrook.com
GREEN VALLEY COUNTRY CLUB 6,645 yards, par 72. Rating: 71.8 with slope of 128 14601 Green Valley Blvd., Clermont gvcountryclub.com
7,024 yards, par 72. Rating: 73.7 with slope of 135 24000 Marbella Dr., Sorrento eagledunes.com
KINGS RIDGE GOLF CLUB
INTERNATIONAL GOLF CLUB
LEGENDS GOLF AND COUNTRY CLUB
6,852 yards, par 72. Rating: 73.8 with slope of 133 18000 Eagles Way, Tavares deerislandgolf.com
MOUNT DORA GOLF CLUB 5,719 yards, par 70. Rating: 67.9 with slope of 114 1100 South Highland St., Mount Dora mountdoragolf.com
RED TAIL GOLF CLUB 7,152 yards, par 72 21600 Covered Bridge Ln., Sorrento redtailclub.com
WEDGEWOOD GOLF COURSE 1,400 yards, par 27. 12635 County Road 44, Grand Island
6,269 yards, par 71 1950 Kings Ridge Blvd., Clermont kingsridgegc.com 6,652 yards, par 72. Rating: 72.5 with slope of 133 1700 Legendary Blvd., Clermont legendsgolfcc.com
PALISADES COUNTRY CLUB 7,004 yards, par 72. Rating: 73.8 with slope of 127 16510 Palisades Blvd., Clermont golfpalisadescc.com
SANCTUARY RIDGE GOLF CLUB 7,005 yards, par 71. Rating: 74.2 with a slope of 139 2601 Diamond Players Club Dr., Clermont sanctuaryridgegc.com
SWISS FAIRWAYS 6,725 yards, par 70. Rating: 72.3 with slope of 126. 13144 Skiing Paradise Blvd., Clermont swissskischool.com
EL CAMPEON AT MISSION INN
UNWIND the GRIND f ro m
Experience ‘Real Florida. Real Close.’
www. R eal F lorida R eal C lose.com/Welcome
Lake County is known for its picturesque lakefront downtowns and unique, exciting attractions. Discover the “Real Florida,” just 30 minutes from metro-Orlando.
ATTRACTIONS Pick a month, any month. Choose a community, any community. Lake is full of special places for those who want to delight their senses or expand their knowledge.
PLACE OF ART A LOOK AT THE LOCAL ART SCENE
MODERNISM MUSEUM MOUNT DORA
WENDELL CASTLE AT THE MODERNISM MUSEUM
hough it's an area known for outdoor fun, Lake County has much to offer fans of visual and performance arts. Venues all over the county have exhibits of fine art, and promote and support the work and education of local and regional artists.
145 EAST FOURTH AVE., MOUNT DORA 352.385.0034 MODERNISMMUSEUM.ORG Art deco modernist furniture design is at the forefront of visionary expressionism in the visual arts. How fortunate to have a museum dedicated to the genre here in Lake County of the same caliber as the Museum of Modern Art in New York, Vitra Design Museum in Weil am Rein, Germany, and Les Arts Décoratif in Paris, France —the new Modernism Museum Mount Dora. The museum’s exhibit, Esherick to Nagashima, adds George Nagashima, an internationally acclaimed woodworker honored by the American Institute of Architects in October 2015. A series of work by esteemed artists Sam Maloof, Arthur Espenet Carpenter, and Albert Paley displays their influences and individual styles later. The Modernism Museum has resonated with artists and art aficionados since opening. Visitors arrived en masse for the premier exhibit: Wharton to Wendell, a celebration of pioneering icons Wharton Esherick and Wendell Castle. The Modernism Museum features usable art like the one-of-a-kind Steinway piano designed by Castle, known as “The Calgari.” The whimsical piano is still a musical instru-
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ment. A few times a year, the museum’s gallery is transformed into a mini concert hall for intimate evenings of jazz. Castle created unique pieces like the Calgari piano for more than five decades, consistently challenging the traditional boundaries of functional design and establishing himself as the Father of the American Studio Art Movement.
Fortunately, many of the Wharton to Wendell works will remain in the gallery as part of the permanent collection. Known for many years as a quaint antique town, Mount Dora has morphed through the years as a fine arts and crafts community. As such, more galleries are opening all the time. Several artists have studios. The transition has many local supporters, like Juliette Davis, director of the Modernism Museum. Davis emphasizes the museum’s commitment to highlight fine art and provide
the canvas from each end to center stage at Donnelly Park. According to Beth Miller, executive co-chair of Mount Dora Center, the festival boasts 285 participating artists and 300,000 annual visitors. Listed in the top 100 festivals
an educational map as well for fine art patrons that live in Mount Dora, in addition to attracting international fine art aficionados to the area. “Our intent is to reinforce what Mount Dora is all about, and support the transition into an art community through the integrity of the museum and the art pieces on display,” Davis said. “We all need to get behind what Mount Dora is trying to establish—what it wants to transition to in addition to an antiques town—as a genuine fine arts destination.” This unique museum exists due to the hard work and dedication of a team of people, museum sponsor Main Street Leasing; an anonymous private collector who donated the collection; and by the museum’s distinctive board: John Sollo, David Rago, and Suzanne Perrault, all three authorities on 20th century decorative arts and furnishings. They are also appraisers for the television show “Antiques Roadshow”; Paul Eisenhauer, curator of the Wharton Esherick Museum; and Robert “Bob” Aibel, founder and
owner of the Moderne Gallery in Philadelphia. The Esherick to Nagashima will be available until late 2016.
MOUNT DORA CENTER FOR THE ARTS
138 EAST FIFTH AVE., MOUNT DORA 352.383.0880 MOUNTDORACENTER FORTHEARTS.ORG
Mount Dora captured the national spotlight as a genuine arts destination through the Mount Dora Center for the Arts signature event: the Fine Arts Festival held annually during the first week of February. The combination of New England architecture of downtown Mount Dora and breathtaking views of Lake Dora serve as the ideal backdrop for the scenic event, which just celebrated its 40th year. The festival consists of endless rows of various fine art mediums: oil paintings, watercolors, acrylics, clay, sculpture, and photography and local and regional musicians dotting
in the nation by Sunshine Artists, it is among the top 20 for Central Florida. “The festival is the cornerstone of the organization,” she said. Mount Dora Center serves an important role for the blossoming fine arts community. The oldest art center in the county offers educational programs, exhibits, and a seven-week summer camp for children, many on scholarship. “One of the most important things we do is offer programs geared to children,” Miller said. “Having that creative art outlet is important for a child’s development, their form of expression.” The center’s co-op system is also distinctive. Local artists can rent space to exhibit and sell their work in a building owned by the center, separate from the gallery. The center hosts six to eight exhibits per year, in addition to exhibits for members. Upcoming exhibits include “Lost Footprints:" National Juried Exhibition, May 13June 22, and “Intimacy with Subject,” Curated Photography Exhibit, Aug. 8-Sept. 22.
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LAKE EUSTIS MUSEUM OF ART
1 WEST ORANGE AVE., EUSTIS 352.483.2900 LAKEEUSTISARTMUSEUM.ORG
Founded 20 years ago, the Lake Eustis Museum of Art mission remains “dedicated to the exhibition and collection of fine art and the presentation of museum-quality art education programming to enrich culture and enhance the economic development of our diverse community.” Simply put, it is the first dedicated art museum in Lake County. “Strictly visual arts, as opposed to performance art or other art activity, meaning: painting, sculpture, drawing, and print making,” specified Executive Director Richard Colvin. In 1995, a group of like-minded individuals created a center designed for art activities for the Eustis area. One year later, they decided the center should become a museum. So it is structured like an art center, but is designated as a museum due to the permanent collection and efforts toward the preservation of art. In carrying out its primary mission, the exhibition of museum quality art, with an emphasis on contemporary art, Lake Eustis presents six to eight exhibits per year by local, regional, or historic artists. The current exhibit includes “Dwelling Places: Robin Maria Pedrero, on exhibit until October 31. According to Lake Eustis Museum of Art, Pedrero paints “the spirit and energy of life in rhythmic layers of color.” The Pedrero exhibit is immediately followed by
“Cynthia Edmonds: Travels.” Lake Eustis provides art classes for adults and is in the process of developing classes for children. Instruction in oil, acrylic, and water color painting as well as drawing is offered, with the emphasis on the basics of art.
LEESBURG CENTER FOR THE ARTS
429 WEST MAGNOLIA ST., LEESBURG 352.365.0232 LEESBURGCENTER4ARTS.COM
Having established partnerships, collaborations and involvement all over town and the county, the Leesburg Center for the Arts takes its role as a center literally. It is the central focal point of the arts community. The center has a partnership with the county for the Wings of Wildfire Festival, displaying paintings of native birds, flora, and fauna by the Pastel Society of Central Florida. And the Leesburg Center has become home base for local arts groups like: The Pastel Society of Central Florida, The Leesburg Arts Association, The River One Flute Circle, the Melon Patch Players, and many more. “We are the cultural hub of the community,” said Amy Painter, executive director of the Leesburg Center for the Arts. “Our purpose and design was part of the revitalization of downtown Leesburg. We offer everything from arts education—from age 4 to 104—to cultural community events, like the Leesburg Arts
Festival and Song Writer’s Night. We want to be a gathering place where artists, artisans, musicians, and appreciative audiences can connect with one another.” The Leesburg Arts Festival (held the second weekend in March) is the center’s signature event. The juried art festival attracts about a hundred artisans from all over the country and Canada. The festival is alive with entertainment, interactive kids art projects, food vendors, and literary arts. Of course, like all other art centers, Leesburg offers gallery exhibits. It hosts six to eight exhibits per year of local and regional artists. Exhibits also represent groups like The Leesburg Art Association or the Pastel Society of Central Florida. The center provides exceptional programs, like the Rotary Summer Art Institute—the largest education based event in the county. The Institute offers a full summer schedule of mostly visual art activities, with one-week camps per age group for kids age 4–18, divided by preschool, grammar school, middle school, and high school. “The goal of our programs is to fill niches that aren’t already available in the area,” Painter said. “Rock Band camp, for instance, is a niche Leesburg Center can and does fill, because it is desired and not found elsewhere.” The Artist Way, a national program for adults, is another good example. It is designed to show laypersons the life of an artist: how to juggle the challenges of life and still maintain creativity in the
midst of running the business side of artwork. The Artist Way meets March through May, and culminates with an exhibit. The Center even offers a Culinary Arts Program, done monthly with different themes.
MELON PATCH PLAYERS
311 NORTH 13TH ST., LEESBURG 352.787.3013 MELONPATCHPLAYERS.COM
The Melon Patch Players are doing for local performing arts what the Modernism Museum and the three countywide art centers are doing for the visual and fine arts—bringing top-caliber material to Lake County. There’s nothing mediocre about the material; the Players present red-hot, edgy Broadway Tony winners like “Vanya and Sasha and Masha and Spike” and “The Last Night of Ballyhoo.”
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It is one of the oldest community theaters in Central Florida, a source of community pride. The longevity and experience of the theater group allows experimental and edgy work in their scheduled performances. Offering six shows per year—three musical and three non-musical—the list runs the gamut from big Broadway hits like “The Sound of Music” and “The Music Man” to cutting edge shows like “Six Dance Lessons in Six Weeks.” Melon Patch has an entertaining lineup in the 2016 season with “Willy Wonka,” “Arsenic and Old Lake,” and “Mame.” Coming in 2017, “Lend Me a Tenor,” “A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum,” and “Blith Spirit: An Improbable Force.” The noteworthy Patchwork Productions Kids Program introduces students from elementary through high school to the fundamentals
of theater with instruction on acting, singing, and dancing, twice a week. The class culminates with annual summer and fall shows.
BAY STREET PLAYERS AT THE HISTORIC STATE THEATRE
109 NORTH BAY ST., EUSTIS 352.257.7777 BAYSTREETPLAYERS.ORG
The Bay Street Players continue to thrill audiences while providing outstanding educational opportunities at the Historic State Theatre. Classes in acting, set production, costuming, and front house management are available to anyone interested. “We offer opportunities for people to learn skills in both the creative and business sides of theater,” said Margo Slaby,
SONNENTAG THEATRE AT THE ICEHOUSE
theatre operations manager. That important combination has surely contributed to the theatre’s long history and visible presence in Eustis. Built in 1916, the State Theatre began as a venue for vaudeville, then cinema. After nearly 60 years, the theater
closed. It sat empty until 1975, when a small group of theatre buffs discovered the vacant theatre and envisioned the return of live performances. Through hard work, the building was restored and the Bay Street Players were born. The first production was “Hello Dolly.” Now in their 42nd season, The Bay Street Players have an amazing lineup of memorable plays like "M*A*S*H" in the fall, "Cabaret" next spring, and "The Producers" in Summer 2017.
Frankenstein," with lots of interesting improv in between. The Moonlight Players Warehouse Theatre features a youth improv group called “The Moonlight Lunatics.” The improvisational performance art troupe serves as an outreach program to community teens aged 13-18 to introduce teens to the performing arts.
MOONLIGHT PLAYERS WAREHOUSE THEATRE
1100 NORTH UNSER ST., MOUNT DORA 352.383.4616 ICEHOUSETHEATRE.COM
735 WEST MINNEOLA AVE., CLERMONT 352.319.1116 MOONLIGHTPLAYERS.COM
The Moonlight Players have been performing more than 20 years and continue to do what they do best: productions that entertain. Their upcoming productions include everything fromf "My Fair Lady" to "Young
SONNENTAG THEATRE AT THE ICEHOUSE
The longest continuously running Lake County theater group is the Sonnentag Theatre, now in its 67th season. The Icehouse has a youth theater group called, appropriately, Icehouse Youth Theatre. The kids generally perform in the fall and include casts of children, ages 5 to teens. The theater promises “singing, dancing, silliness and more” as the children act out familiar stories.
THE GREAT INDOORS RAIN OR SHINE, YOU CAN HAVE A GOOD TIME
an early 1900s hand-drawn fire hose cart. Numerous artifacts depict typical home life, schooling, citrus farming, clothing, guns, and air rifles. Original artwork hangs in restored jail cells. This is the place for you if you love history and relics.
SKY ZONE TRAMPOLINE PARK
2510 SOUTH U.S. HWY 27, CLERMONT 352.404.4134 SKYZONE.COM/CLERMONT
This indoor trampoline park may seem like a kids-only zone, but it is big fun for all ages. Sky Zone consists of wall-to-wall trampolines and the fun is almost limitless. Jump, flip, fly, bounce, and twirl to your heart’s content. There are a variety of activities, including Open Jump, Ultimate Dodgeball, Toddler Time, Jumpapalooza, SkyRobics, and more. As an added bonus, you can skip your workout for the day.
10401 U.S. HIGHWAY 441, LEESBURG VIAENTERTAIN.COM
EUSTIS HISTORIC MUSEUM (THE CLIFFORD HOUSE)
n addition to museums, many other indoor activities are found year-round, that appeal to our senses of wonder, history, comfort, and even thrills unlike any other, such as the indoor trampoline, glow-ball mini-golf, and laser tag. The attractions range from slow to fast and everything in between. From farming tractors to classic speedsters. From laid back spa treatment to fast-paced arcade games. These indoor attractions are not only educational and entertaining, but an affordable way to spend the day.
MOUNT DORA HISTORY MUSEUM
450 ROYELLOU LANE, MOUNT DORA 352.383.0006 MOUNTDORAHISTORYMUSEUM.COM
You’ll find preserved artifacts from the 1880s to the 1930s when you visit the first firehouse and city jail in historic Mount Dora. Gain a sense of the trials and triumphs of those who lived during that time from maps and photos of trains entering the city, postal relics, a ballot box from the first mayoral election, and
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A great place for lots of family fun including 22 bowling lanes, arcade games, party rooms, and Cousin Vinnie's Sports & Burger Bar. The whole family can enjoy an entire day of fun and food indoors. Special events occur every night!
PAQUETTE’S HISTORICAL FARMALL TRACTOR MUSEUM
615 S. WHITNEY ROAD, LEESBURG 352.728.3588 STEWSIHSTUFF.COM
Beautifully located on a 50-acre buffalo ranch and ranked Leesburg’s No. 1 attraction by Trip Advisor, the Paquette’s
and novelist who discovered Eustis in 1921 and retired here. Banks is most famous for climbing Mount Ararat in search of Noah’s Ark, and he is believed by many to be the inspiration for the Indiana Jones movie character.
LEESBURG HERITAGE MUSEUM
111 SOUTH SIXTH STREET, LEESBURG 352.435.9424 LEESBURGHERITAGESOCIETY.COM
Historical Farmall Tractor Museum is dedicated to the preservation of the International Harvester farming and construction equipment. Find fully restored Farmall tractors for a country mile. Explore other vintage farm equipment, such as combines, cotton pickers, refrigerators, and more as you make your way through three large tractor barns. Tour a replica 1940s International Harvester dealership, fully stocked with parts, equipment, and tools. Friendly and helpful guides ensure this is a crowd-pleaser for all ages.
EUSTIS HISTORIC MUSEUM
(THE CLIFFORD HOUSE) 536 N BAY ST, EUSTIS 352.483.0046 EUSTISHISTORICALMUSEUM.ORG
The museum itself has historical significance. G.D. Clifford established the Clifford General Store and began the first mail service for the new settlement that would become Eustis. His private residence, the Clifford House on Bay Street, became the home for the Eustis Historical Museum and Preservation Society in 1893. The neo-classic house is on the National Register of Historic Places. The Eustis Historical Museum features the “Indiana Jones Room” dedicated to the memory of Dr. Edgar James Banks (May 23, 1866 – May 5, 1945): an American diplomat, antiquarian, archeologist,
A historian’s dream, this museum is a treasure trove of Leesburg’s past. Artifacts, memorabilia and extensive archives tell the detailed story of Leesburg, including city government, business development, families, churches, and social associations.
MOUNT DORA MUSEUM OF SPEED
206 N. HIGHLAND ST., MOUNT DORA 352.385.0049 CLASSICDREAMCARS.COM
Voted Mount Dora’s top attraction two years in a row, the Mount Dora Museum of Speed boasts a vintage collection to send you down memory lane. As you would expect, vintage American and European muscle cars adorn this small museum, but what you don’t expect will surprise you. The museum has 45-plus years of auto memorabilia, including a 1948 Full Midget Race car by Floyd Trevis, vintage clothing, road signs, WWI and WWII uniforms and famously autographed instruments from Stevie Ray Vaughan, Jeff Beck, Eric Clapton, Aerosmith, Ozzy Ozbourne, Montgomery & Gentry, Bon Jovi, The Rolling Stones, and other greats.
MOUNT DORA MUSEUM OF SPEED
GET FESTIVE CELEBRATIONS ABOUND!
CENTRAL FLORIDA DRAGON BOAT FESTIVAL
arm climate with cool breezes, historic downtowns, rolling hills and trails and plentiful sites for outdoor recreation make Lake County ideal for festivals that provide opportunities for enrichment, community building, and just plain fun. Too many to list, here’s a look at some events you’ll want to place on your calendar.
ANNUAL WINGS AND WILDFLOWERS FESTIVAL
VENETIAN GARDENS, LEESBURG OCTOBER WINGSANDWILDFLOWERS.COM
Devout birders and budding ornithologists rejoice! The Wings and Wildflowers festival is a mecca for bird lovers. Find everything from talks with expert naturalists, bird photography lessons, and trips to some of Lake County’s prime birding spots. This festival is a great place to start for those looking to get into the “birding scene” in Lake County. Find
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excellent resources on the best parks and preserves, what species to look for, and conservation organizations working to protect the vibrant biodiversity here in central Florida.
ANNUAL MOUNT DORA BICYCLE FESTIVAL
DOWNTOWN MOUNT DORA OCTOBER MOUNTDORABICYCLEFESTIVAL.COM
With rolling hills and an active community of resident riders, Mount Dora is a natural location for the bicycle
ANNUAL LAKE COUNTY FOLK FESTIVAL
festival. Thousands of cyclists gather here to participate in rides all around central Florida. With varying degrees of distance and difficulty offered, everyone can find an exciting ride and a passionate group to roll with. Vendors selling cycling gear, handmade crafts and a wide variety of food will fill the streets. The website contains information on planned rides and other information.
ANNUAL FLORIDA BLACK BEAR AND WILDLIFE CONSERVATION FESTIVAL
CADWELL PARK, UMATILLA OCTOBER MYFWC.COM/WILDLIFEHABITATS/ MANAGED/BEAR/FESTIVAL
The Florida Black Bear and Wildlife Conservation Festival is a fun and educational event that increases awareness and promotes safety. Partners include the US Forest Service, Fish & Game Commission, and Defenders of Wildlife, along with Lake County/City of Umatilla Chamber of Commerce. It is a unique wildlife-centered festival in the southeast. The focus is on education: how to coexist and preserve the eco-system that is so important for the livelihood of local business, while educating people on migration habits, preserving a wildlife habitat.
LEESBURG CRAFT BEER, WINE AND FOOD FEST
DOWNTOWN EUSTIS OCTOBER LAKECOUNTYFOLKFEST.ORG
VENETIAN GARDENS, LEESBURG NOVEMBER LEESBURGCRAFTBEERFEST.COM
Join folk lovers from all over the state who gather to hear talented musicians play at various venues throughout downtown Eustis. Sponsored by the Lake Eustis Institute Public Art & Music Committee, the Lake County Folk Festival is “considered one of the top five acoustic music festivals in Florida,” said Miranda Burrows, public relations, City of Eustis. It is also “one of the longest running free festivals in the state, and we plan to keep it that way,” said Jeff Friberg, who founded the event. “It fills the whole town with music and a sense of camaraderie.” Check out the festival website for up-to-date information on venues, participating musicians, or an application to perform.
A colorful, popular event that encourages revelers to travel station to station at the Islands of Venetian Gardens sampling any of their 25 different craft beers or wines from around the world, plus a variety of food from the region’s best restaurants as while enjoying live music. It doesn’t get much more festive than that.
ANNUAL MOUNT DORA CRAFT FAIR
DOWNTOWN MOUNT DORA OCTOBER MOUNTDORACRAFTFAIR.COM
Ideally timed for holiday shopping, this immensely popular event lets festivalgoers peruse unique and local wares while meeting talented artists. Exhibitors lining the streets showcase an unparalleled expression of creativity and craftsmanship. Also, enjoy a delicious selection of festival foods, from organic smoothies to mouthwatering BBQ.
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TAVARES FALL THUNDER RACE BOAT REGATTA
WOOTON PARK, TAVARES NOVEMBER CLASSICRACEBOATASSOC.COM
Thanks to the sponsorship of the Classic Race Boat Association, Tavares is now a major stop on the Florida Vintage Race Boat Circuit with more than 75 vintage and classic flat bottoms, speedsters, outboards, gold cuppers, and hydros of all sizes from bygone eras entertain spectators at Wooton Park, Lake Dora.
ANNUAL MOUNT DORA ARTS FESTIVAL
DOWNTOWN MOUNT DORA FEBRUARY MOUNTDORACENTERFORTHEARTS.ORG
The festival’s wide selection of fine art and gourmet foods will impress even the most discerning art collector—285 artists present their talents to more than 250,000 expected attendees. The charming, Victorian architecture and welcoming atmosphere of downtown Mount Dora make it a great place to appreciate the variety of artwork.
THE VILLAGES ANNUAL LAKE SUMTER ART & CRAFT FESTIVAL LAKE SUMTER LANDING, THE VILLAGES FEBRUARY ARTFESTIVAL.COM
One of the fastest growing places to live hosts one of the fastest growing arts & crafts festivals in the state. In its seventh year, the Lake Sumter Art and Craft Festival features unique talented crafters among charming musicians and street performers. Items include handcrafted leather goods, sculpture, paintings, photography, glasswork, woodwork, and metalwork.
SUNNYLAND ANTIQUE BOAT FESTIVAL
DOWNTOWN EUSTIS FEBRUARY EUSTISCHAMBER.ORG/GEORGEFEST Celebrate the birth of our nation’s first president with Ferris wheels, fireworks, and upbeat music as Eustis shows it knows how to throw a party worthy of a president. “People dress as George Washington, which is lots of fun,” said Christie Bobbit, executive director of Lake Eustis Area Chamber of Commerce. Friday night, enjoy a variety of carnival rides and live music downtown. On Saturday morning, local clubs and organizations display their patriotic spirit in the grand parade. This is one of Lake County’s largest festivals, attracting 80,000 visitors annually.
THE ANNUAL SUNNYLAND ANTIQUE BOAT FESTIVAL
WOOTEN PARK, TAVARES MARCH ACBS-SUNNYLAND.ORG
The exquisite artistry of antique boats, along with passionate owners dedicated to showroom-quality restoration draw crowds of people to this three-day event on the shores of Lake Dora. This festival brings together a community of boat lovers who love to discuss, admire, and enjoy these beautiful pieces of American history. Boat aficionados will appreciate the nautical themed flea market and assortment of live music.
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CENTRAL FLORIDA DRAGON BOAT FESTIVAL
WOOTON PARK, TAVARES APRIL CFDRAGONBOAT.ORG
The Rotary Club of Lake County Golden Triangle Central Florida Dragon Boat Festival is the main event of the year. Born out of myth and legend 2,000 years ago in southern China, dragon boat racing is one of the fastest growing water sports worldwide. Two million compete around the world. According to Colleen McGinley, executive director of Tavares Chamber of Commerce, the Dragon Boat Festival, now in its 14th year in Tavares, “is a big draw. Racers from all over the world compete.” A highlight is the Saturday night opening ceremony: Awakening the Dragon.
MISSION INN IS . . . RECREATION
Exceptional Outdoor Experiences On-property opportunities that embrace the outdoors. Many visitors come to challenge the 36 holes of championship golf or relax at Spa Marbella. Guests also enjoy trap & skeet shooting, fresh water fishing, tennis, or bicycling through our 1,100 picturesque acres. Just minutes away, explore the charm of Mt. Dora shops and restaurants, an authentic German bakery or the Lake Ridge winery.
H ow e y - i n - t H e -H i l l s , Fl
View beautiful Lake Dora and the Harris Chain of Lakes, Eco Tours, Gator and Bald Eagle Sightings, See Disney World and Orlando Attractions, Takeoff and Land on the Water, rides from 10 minutes to over an hour.
Located on Lake Dora departing from both downtowns, Mt. Dora and Tavares.
ion for Life
ellence. Our peaceful setting sets the stage for students rogram and exciting extracurricular opportunities. The ws taught throughout all subjects helping students learn the future. Call 352-589-5683 today to see us in action!
Grove St., Eustis, FL 32726 ď‚ˇ 352-589-5683 ď‚ˇ faitheustis.com
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Planning a special occasion can be fun but also very stressful. Thereâ€™s so many tiny details to get right: the food, the guests, the entertainment, the decorations . . . and, of course, the perfect location. Luckily, Lake County has plenty of fabulous venues.
VENUES AND AHHS
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VERSATILITY, VALUE AND MAGNIFICENT VIEWS
PAVILION ON THE LAKE
tmosphere is a major part of planning your special occasion. Whether it is a dream wedding, a long-overdue family reunion, a benefit for a worthy cause, or any number of things for which you might need a venue, the spot you choose to do your hosting sets the tone for your event. Fortunately for residents of Lake County, we are not without options. In an area blessed with natural beauty and steady growth, finding a local venue to accommodate expectations, as well as budget, may not be as taxing as you believed. Whether you drink up the Old Florida charm, or crave a more modern setting, here is a list to help you find just what you’re looking for, right in your own backyard.
PAVILION ON THE LAKE Grand is the overall impression given by Pavilion on the Lake. This stunning venue, located in downtown Tavares, abuts Wooten Park. Looking toward the lake, the building opens wide and welcoming. The long, lighted walk up the pier, and the twin curved staircases coming from the front-facing balcony, are
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amazi It looks like the set of an epic movie, possibly the scene in “The Count of Monte Cristo,” in which Edmund Dantes threw his first ball as the insanely wealthy count, and there is an expectation that a hot air balloon will come floating across Lake Dora. Inside and outside, this venue is visually striking. Wooden trusses, plenty of natural lighting from the floor-to-ceiling windows, and the beautiful view of the lake will give your event a wonderful touch of elegance. Pavilion on the Lake is furnished with antiques and one-of-a-kind artwork, making it fit for the extravagance of one of Jay Gatsby’s swinging dinner parties. It includes two grand ballrooms, several meeting spaces, and a 150-foot brick paved pier, The Pavilion on the Lake is better than fiction, mainly because it is here for your use. The city of Tavares made rates relatively modest, and offers a variety of catering options. If you want to make a statement with your next event, consider taking a tour for yourself. Contact them by email at TavaresPavilion@Tavares.org or call 352.253.4300.
HARBOR HILLS COUNTRY CLUB Harbor Hills in Lady Lake is where the peacocks roam, and residents spend Saturdays
playing golf. With its spacious banquet halls and lovely views, it is a favorite among those in immediate area, as well as the larger central Florida region. The reason people choose this venue, time and time again, is due to its many options. The country club is set up for success, both in layout and excellent staff; hosting an event here is smooth sailing. From the kitchen, expect nothing but the best gourmet meals, whether guests number in the tens or hundreds. Quality is never compromised for quantity. The banquet halls are beautiful and capable of hosting large numbers. Meeting rooms are elegantly and comfortably furnished; equipped for business and outfitted with Wi-Fi and quality projection equipment. The lounge and billiard room is ideal for mixers, club meetings, or other social gatherings. This facility is connected to a wonderful community, and that is what is extended to you. Beyond the amenities offered, Harbor Hills provides professional and personal service. You are family here, not a dollar. Harbor Hills sets the standard high. To get more information, visit harborhills. com or give them a call at 352.753.7000.
LEESBURG OPERA HOUSE The old Opera House is a little piece of local history. Nestled in Leesburg’s downtown area, it has housed the city’s entertainment and celebrations since 1889. The building has welcomed guests such as Annie Oakley, and bore witness to
MISSION INN RESORT & CLUB
traditions like the coming out of local belles. It was built shortly after Leesburg’s first boom, and with the renovations of past years, it has preserved beautifully, its charm only increasing. Exposed brick and vaulted ceilings exhibit the building’s age and dignity. Opera House Events would love to help you host your party, meeting, or reception. This venue is well suited to staff meetings and conferences, as well as all kinds of formal affairs. To be a part of the tradition, visit operahouseevents.com or call 352.728.0033. MISSION INN RESORT & CLUB 10400 County Rd 48 Howey-In-The-Hills, FL 34737 800.874.9053 missioninnresort.com
LAKE RECEPTIONS 4425 N Highway 19A Mount Dora, FL 32757 352.357.8223 lakereceptions.com
L O C AT I O N
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LEESBURG OPERA HOUSE
108 South 5th Street, Leesburg 352.728.0033
15920 County Rd 455 Montverde, FL 34756 407. 469.4000 bellacollina.com
GABBY’S BANQUET AND EVENT FACILITY 699 S Hwy 27 Clermont, FL 34711 352. 394.0768 gabbysbanquetandevent.com
FIDDLER’S GREEN RANCH–ALTOONA 42725 W Altoona Rd Altoona, FL 32702 352. 669.7111 ﬁddlersgreenranch.com
CLERMONT GARDEN CLUB 849 West Ave. Clermont, FL 34711 352.250.0213 clermontgardenclub.com
CLERMONT CITY CENTER 620 W. Montrose Street Clermont, FL 34711 352.394.4191
COUNTRY CLUB OF MOUNT DORA 1900 Country Club Blvd. Mount Dora, FL 32757 352.735.4059 ccofmtdora.com
DEER ISLAND COUNTRY CLUB 18000 Eagles Way Tavares, FL 32778 352.343.5151 deerislandgolf.com
HICKORY POINT RECREATIONAL FACILITY
EUSTIS COMMUNITY CENTER 601 Northside Drive Eustis, FL 32726 352.357.7969
LAKESIDE INN 100 N. Alexander St. Mount Dora, FL 32757 352.383.4101 lakeside-inn.com
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PHOTO PROVIDED BY BELLA COLLINA
27341 State Road 19 Tavares, FL 32778 352.343.3777 lcwa.org
LEESBURG BOAT CLUB 1 Dozier Circle Leesburg, FL 34748 352.787.8916 or 352.326.8274 leesburgboatclub.com
LEGENDS GOLF AND COUNTRY CLUB 1700 Legendary Blvd. Clermont, FL 34711 352.243.1118 legendsgolfcc.com
MAGNOLIA HOUSE AT TRILOGY ORLANDO 100 Falling Acorn Ave. Groveland, FL 34736 352.557.3029 magnoliahouseweddings.com
MORRIS HOUSE 17533 Silver Creek Court Clermont, FL 34711 352.435.9424
MOTE-MORRIS HOUSE 1195 W. Magnolia St. Leesburg, FL 34748 352.315.1800 leesburgﬂorida.gov
MOUNT DORA GOLF CLUB 1100 S. Highland St. Mount Dora, FL 32757 352.383.3954 mountdoragolf.com
MOUNT DORA YACHT CLUB 351 W. Fourth Ave. Mount Dora, FL 32757 352.383.3188 mountdorayachtclub.com
ROOM: VALENCIA AT THE CITRUS TOWER 141 N. U.S. Highway 27 Clermont, FL 34711 352.516.2649 valenciareceptions.com
SANCTUARY RIDGE GOLF CLUB 2601 Diamond Club Drive Clermont, FL 34711 352.243.0411 sanctuaryridgegc.com
TRIANGLE BOAT CLUB 12001 U.S. Highway 441 Tavares, FL 32778 352.533.8398 triangleboatclub.com
L O C AT I O N
100 N. Alexander Street, Mount Dora 352.383.4101
VENETIAN GARDENS 109 E. Dixie Ave. Leesburg, FL 34748 352.728.9885 leesburgﬂorida.gov
COUNTRY CLUB OF MOUNT DORA
THE WATERFRONT INN 1105 Lake Shore Drive The Villages, FL 32162 352.753.7535 waterfrontinnvillages.com
THE WESLEY CENTER 715 W. Juniata St. Clermont, FL 34711 352.243.4016 fumcwesleycenter.com
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PLAY HARD, WIN BIG
ViaPort Florida’s Via Entertainment offers the “best experience ever” in the form of wholesome, family friendly fun. You’re never too old to have a good time, especially at Leesburg’s newest entertainment hub: Via Entertainment. Located inside the ever-growing ViaPort Florida, Via Entertainment offers hours of pure amusement for guests of all ages. According to Stephanie Hayes, marketing and events manager, the goal is to reach families by providing the best family experience ever.
“There’s something for kids, as well as adults,” she says. “And the best thing is you don’t have to drive far to have access to this kind of entertainment. It’s in our own backyard.”
The innovative, high energy venue is home to 22 lanes of bowling, a 5,000-square-foot arcade area, an ultramodern sports bar, party rooms, and quality live music. “We have leagues starting soon, specials on bowling during the week, and for the summer, we’re going to launch a Kids Bowl Free program,” says Hayes. “We also provide live musical entertainment every Friday, which features everything from country to hip hop to R&B.” Comedians, magical acts, cosmic bowling, delicious burgers and wings, and air hockey are just the tip of the iceberg. Plans for an expansion are in the works, and Hayes says lovers of Via Entertainment can expect more video games, as well as new carnivalstyle games and pinball machines. There will also be more attractions, such as paint and sip classes, and parties hosted by Via Entertainment. “We had a Super Bowl party that was pretty successful, so we’re looking at hosting UFC fights and other sporting events at the bar,” says Hayes. “We’re also hosting Leesburg High School’s grad night this year, which shows we can accommodate
a wide range of special events from birthday parties to bachelorette parties. Our event planners can help make your social gathering a successful, stress-free occasion.” So whether you’re looking for a new spot for date night, a place to take the kids on a Saturday afternoon or the perfect setting for your child’s Sweet Sixteen, Via Entertainment guarantees great food, vibrant atmosphere, and a grand time. For more information about Via Entertainment, visit www. viaentertainment.com.
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FOR MORE INFORMATION
VIA ENTERTAINMENT 10401 U.S. Highway 441 Leesburg, FL 34788 352.787.1200 ViaEntertainment.com
SHOP TO IT When it comes to shopping and antiquing, Lake County is unbeatable. Whether youâ€™re seeking antique furniture or jewelry, primitives or fine art, the objects of your desires can be found right here.
SUPER SHOPPING NO MATTER WHERE YOU GO
usiness is booming throughout Lake County as an influx of new retailers ring up considerable sales and long-established stores expand, diversify and continue to provide bargains and value. Shoppers will be pleased with the variety of goods offered at dozens of quaint and unique shops in revitalized downtowns in Leesburg, Mount Dora, Eustis, Tavares and Clermont.
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LEESBURG The Main Street corridor is the gateway to the charm and shopping in Leesburg. With asphalt resurfacing, decorative sidewalks, crosswalks and streetlights, you can stroll the streets with ease. Downtown delights include the new Bohemian Cowgirl Gypsy Chic Le Attitude to go along with Alada's China & Gifts, Willowbees, and DoggiBags with everything from designer jewelry and gifts to stylish clothing. Everything the UF fan could want is available at Grand Gator, or you can enjoy a relaxing day at J Scott's Skin Care & Day Spa. ViaPort Florida has new eateries and stores, including Divine Belgium Chocolates and the new ViaPort Entertainment, which features a bowling alley, arcade, and Cousin Vinnie's Sports and Burger Bar . Free activities and events are offered weekly, and your favorite movies are always at the AMC 12-screen.
Shopping abounds in historic Mount Dora. Three square blocks make up this quaint district with great sidewalks
and. The newest buzz is about Lilly's—sweet, Southern, and sassy. Check it out!
In Clermont, Painting with a Twist offers a new way to have parties. Owners John and Elle Probsts want to help you plan a great evening. Add to that outlet malls and your favorite department stores. These are just a few shopping opportunities recently added to an already diverse list. But it’s old, not new, that really makes Lake County a shopper’s paradise. You’ve hit the jackpot if you favor antique stores and malls, thrift shops and consignment shops. So fill up the gas tank and head out. Bargains await you!
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FINDING UNIQUE TREASURES IN EVERY CORNER
ake County offers an array of antique shops and malls. Whether you are seeking furniture or jewelry, primitives or fine art, the objects of your desires are right here or just a short distance away. For a fruitful time of finding hidden treasures, visit one of many shops or browse one of several antique markets featuring a colorful collection of vendors. It’s easy to make a day of shopping at several places. Here’s a listing of some of the most popular one-of-a-kind stores in Lake County.
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CLERMONT / MINNEOLA
789 W. Montrose St. Clermont, FL 352.243.9977
HEN’S NEST 127 W. Washington St. Minneola, FL 352.242.9484
3RD GENERATION ANTIQUES, INC.
LEGACIES ANTIQUE BOOKS & MORE
121 N. Bay St. Eustis, FL 352.483.4367
137 N. Highland St. Mount Dora, FL 352.729.2677
OLD SOUTH STAINED GLASS & ANTIQUE MALL
OLIVER’S TWIST ANTIQUES, ESTATE SALES AND APPRAISALS
320 S. Grove St. Eustis, FL 352.589.0034
404 N. Donnelly St. Mount Dora, FL 352.735.3337
PEDDLER’S WAGON 25 E. Magnolia Ave. Eustis, FL 352.483.2797
RENNINGER’S ANTIQUES CENTER 20651 U.S. Highway 441 Mount Dora, FL 352.383.8393
INSPIRED 365 1400 S. Bay St. Eustis, FL 352.483.7467
ALADA’S CHINA & GIFTS
UNIQUE ANTIQUES & COLLECTIBLES L O C AT I O N
415 W. Main St. Leesburg, FL 352.728.0033
ANOTHER LOOK UPSCALE CONSIGNMENT BOUTIQUE 609 W. Main St. Leesburg, FL 352.323.3396
RENNINGER'S ANTIQUES CENTER
20651U.S. Highway 441, Mount Dora 352.383.8393
DOGGIBAGS 601 W. Main St. Leesburg, FL 352.326.8090
MAIN STREET ANTIQUES MALL 201 W. Main St. Leesburg, FL 352.460.4806
CURIOSITY SHOP 20651 U.S. Highway 441 Mount Dora, FL 863.381.0675
VICTORIA’S ANTIQUE WAREHOUSE 113 N. 7th St. Leesburg, FL 352.728.8668
354 N. Highland St. Mount Dora, FL 352.735.2790
KADEE KAY GOURMET KITCHEN PRODUCTS 237 W. 4th Ave., Suite 2 Mount Dora, FL 352.383.3600
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20651 U.S. Highway 441 Mount Dora, FL 772.215.1680
VICTORIAN GALLERY, INC. 20651 U.S. Highway 441 Mount Dora, FL 407.896.9346
VILLAGE ANTIQUE MALL 405 N. Highland St. Mount Dora, FL 352.385.0257
THROUGH THE YEARS VINTAGE MARKET 102 E. Alfred St. Tavares, FL 352.508.9727
HOITY TOITY MERCANTILE 206 W. Main St. Tavares, FL 352.205.5992
352.735.0059 330 Dora Drawdy Way, Mount Dora, FL 32757 TheGoblinMarketRestaurant.com
Visitors to Lake County are in for some culinary delights!
TO DINE FOR
GET UP AND GRUB IT’S BEEN SAID BREAKFAST IS THE MOST IMPORTANT MEAL OF THE DAY
918 N. 14TH ST., LEESBURG, 352.787.6777
Ask long-time Leesburg residents where the best breakfast is and many will tell you to head to Wolfy’s. There are tons of great choices on the breakfast menu, but consider having something that’s a twist on an old classic: Wolfy’s famous crunchy French toast. It’s dipped in a special batter, coated with cornflakes, and fried until it is a golden brown. Dusted with powdered sugar and served with a side of whipped butter and syrup, this dish is decadent but oh-sodelicious.
CHEESER’S PALACE CAFÉ
707 W. MONTROSE ST., CLERMONT, 352.404.9431
WOLFY’S FAMOUS CRUNCHY FRENCH TOAST
BLOOM’S BAKING HOUSE & RESTAURANT 610 W. MAIN ST., LEESBURG, 352.787.1004
Homemade, down-home cooking is the name of the game at this downtown Leesburg gem. The food is fresh, filling, and flavorful. Plus, it’s always served with a smile. The breakfast menu features all the classics, such as omelets, pancakes, and
waffles. However, if you feel like having something a little outside the norm, try the spicy breakfast wrap. Just one is enough to leave you feeling happy and satisfied.
RAE RAE’S RESTAURANT
2468 U.S. HIGHWAY 441/27, FRUITLAND PARK, 352.323.1595
popularity. Their made-fromscratch blueberry square biscuits are a must try. Served warm and packed full of blueberry goodness, these baked delights are truly a ‘Rae’ of sunshine on the breakfast menu. But if you’re a fan of chicken and waffles, order the Fly Me to the Moon. It comes with a good-sized waffle topped with powdered sugar and juicy fried chicken wings.
A great neighborhood place, Rae’s Rae’s is slowly gaining
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Cheeser’s is more than just a cheese and chocolate shop. They serve some of the yummiest breakfast in all of Lake County. If you love Eggs Benedict, they offer seven different types with delectable ingredients, such as grilled smoked salmon and citrus-sautéed shrimp and crab. Their freshly made crepes and hearty Belgian waffles that are too divine to pass up. “I really liked the Belgian wafﬂe, and they have great tea.” —Kendy Menelas
MASON JAR RESTAURANT
37534 STATE ROAD 19, UMATILLA, 352.589.2535
There’s a reason why people flock to the Mason Jar for breakfast: it’s comfort food at its finest. Their breakfast menu is broad, so it may prove hard to settle on one thing. However, you can never go wrong with Uncle Bubba’s three-egg omelet. It comes stuffed with cheddar cheese and plenty of corned beef hash. With a copious side of home fries and a biscuit to boot, this meal is simply scrumptious and satisfying.
15939 U.S. HIGHWAY 441, EUSTIS 352.589.0510
Chances are you’ve passed this restaurant on U.S. 441 when heading to or from Mount Dora. Well, next time be sure to stop in for a breakfast that’s home cooked and reasonably priced. While their steak and eggs are a local favorite, don’t overlook the Dueces Wild breakfast special. It comes with two golden brown pancakes, two eggs cooked how you like them, two slices of bacon, and two sausage links. And don’t forget a glass of orange juice to wash it all down. The wait staff is helpful and friendly, and the food is consistently good.” —Chuck Garland
COTTAGE INN RESTAURANT
340 S. U.S. HIGHWAY 441, LADY LAKE 352.753.3533 Harkening back to a time when poodle skirts, saddle shoes, and ducktail haircuts were all the rage, Cottage Inn embodies the hometown diner spirit of the 1950s. The staff is super friendly and makes the earnest effort to turn strangers into family. The food is simple but done well, which may explain why most of the customers who come through the front door are regulars. If you decide to go, be sure to get the country fried steak. Topped with warm sausage gravy, this dish brings the flavors of the South to your mouth in a good way.
RAE RAE’S 'FLY ME TO THE MOON'
“One of the reasons I like to come here is nothing is greasy. I don’t know what they do back in the kitchen but their eggs aren’t greasy, their bacon isn’t even greasy. I also like it here because it’s like the old diner setting. It’s old fashioned.” —Maryanne Horner “All in-house-made food and super friendly service.” —Susan O’Brien
WORLD OF BEER
994 ALVEREZ AVE., THE VILLAGES, 352.633.4787
You may think that beer and breakfast don’t go together, but the World of Beer in Spanish Springs is daring patrons to think outside the box with their “Beerunch” on Saturdays and Sundays from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Don’t know what to have? May we suggest the bottomless booze brunch, which comes with your choice of endless mimosas, beer-
L O C AT I O N
CHEESER'S PALACE'S BELGIAN WAFFLE 93 WELCOME TO LAKE COUNTY
WORLD OF BEER
994 Alverez Ave., The Villages 352.633.4787
mosas, or regular Bloody Marys paired with one of the many tasty breakfast items.
HIGHLAND STREET CAFÉ
WHICH ‘WICH IS BEST? UNIQUE SANDWICHES BEYOND THE STANDARD FARE OF BURGERS AND BLTS
SARAH'S GREEK CUISINE'S GYRO SANDWICH
185 S. HIGHLAND ST., MOUNT DORA, 352.383.1446
For those who feel breakfast should be an all-day affair, keep Highland Street Café in mind. They serve it every day, all day. And while the menu is chock full of good breakfast standards, their best dish isn’t listed on the menu—the stuffed strawberry French toast. Why is it so great? Well first, it’s French toast. And second, it’s French toast that’s been deep fried, stuffed with strawberry cream cheese and topped with glazed strawberries. There’s just enough there to satisfy any sweet tooth without being too heavy.
MARY’S KOUNTRY KITCHEN
15945 COUNTY ROAD 448, TAVARES, 352.343.6823
Fresh ingredients and good flavors means great breakfast at Mary’s Kountry Kitchen. If you’re really hungry and looking for something that’s guaranteed to fulfill your breakfast needs, try the homemade hash with scrambled eggs, grits, and a biscuit. Or try it in skillet form, which comes loaded with sausage gravy, cheese, egg, and your choice of potato. “Mary’s homemade corned beef hash is so delicious, and so are her quiches.” —Joanne Garland
94 WELCOME TO LAKE COUNTY
SARAH’S GREEK CUISINE 16640 CAGAN CROSSINGS BLVD. CLERMONT, 352.404.8031
Mediterranean food is alive and well in Clermont. And at Sarah’s Greek Cuisine, the ever-popular gyro takes center stage. You cannot go wrong with this sandwich, which is wrapped in delicious pita bread and served with a generous portion of tender, flavorful meat, chopped tomatoes, and lettuce. Tzatziki, a tangy cucumber sauce, adds both a fresh taste and great kick. “I love Greek food, and this restaurant [Sarah’s Greek Cuisine] is especially appealing because there’s a large variety and everything on the menu is fresh. I typically order the gyro platter. The gyros here are better than anywhere I’ve ever been.” —Fernando Vitali CAFÉ OLA'S CUBAN SANDWICH
toasted but it doesn’t cut the roof of your mouth with every bite. And a sweet selection of seasonings combined with just the right amount of meat makes this sandwich to die for. The sandwich includes the standard fare: roast pork, ham, pickles, Swiss cheese, and mustard. “This is my ﬁrst time visiting, but I must admit that their Cuban sandwich is delicious. In fact, it’s one of the best I’ve ever eaten. I’m impressed how fresh the bread is.” —Roxanne Zenner
MOUNT DORA STR'EAT' CORNER 846 E. 5TH AVE., MOUNT DORA 352.735.3663
A unique grilled chicken sandwiches awaits you at Mount Dora StrEAT Corner. “Dixie’s Chicken,” as the sandwich is named, includes a blend of interesting toppings such as marinated tomatoes, spinach, lemon aioli, and melted provolone. It’s served on baguette bread, which is fluffy on the inside. Of course, the sandwich also includes a tender, juicy grilled chicken breast, which leaves you feeling satisfied and full. “I really enjoy this restaurant because it offers a great atmosphere. I like how you can eat outside on a patio. The gourmetstyle food they serve reminds me of the food where I used to live in New Jersey. Everything on the menu is excellent.” —Tricia VonBargen
NICKY D’S PIZZA 439 UMATILLA BLVD., UMATILLA 352.669.2400
CAFÉ OLA 400 N. 14TH ST., LEESBURG 352.365.0089
Move over Miami and Tampa! You may be known for your abundance of restaurants that serve Cuban sandwiches, but Leesburg-based Café Ola makes them every bit as tasty. The bread is nicely
95 WELCOME TO LAKE COUNTY
You don’t have to drive to The Big Easy to enjoy one of the city’s most popular sandwiches. Nicky D’s Pizza in Umatilla makes a delicious Muffelatta ‘n Awlins, which is served open-face on eight pieces of crunchy Italian bread. It includes turkey, ham, salami, lettuce, tomato, and onion. Provolone and mozzarella cheese are melted on top. If you’re eating this alone, be prepared to need a take-out box.
GET THE MOST FROM YOUR NIGHT OUT WITH AN ENTICING DINING EXPERIENCE.
marmalade. The Pork and Pancakes definitely exceed expectations with the incorporation of butternut squash Johnnycakes. There are a lot of gourmet touches but at its heart this is good home cooking with pride in being local. You could say it’s a place where dinner is “supper” and guest are “neighbors.”
LIVING GREEN CAFÉ
9726 U.S. HWY. 441, LEESBURG, 352.314.3234
Raw dining—these words can be scary when habit makes up much of your diet, but certain habits could use some change. Living Green Café is serving up a food revolution. Owner Michelle Kristof wants to soothe people’s fears and “raw” anxiety with exceptional taste. After spending more than two decades preparing organic meals, she knows the difference raw can make. She wants diners to enjoy a wholesome meal, nutritious at the cellular level, with great flavor. A misperception about raw meals is thinking it’s rabbit food and tastes like grass. At Living Green Café, there is no forfeiting flavor! Patrons rave about the Spaghetti Bolognese. Michelle tops her zucchini noodles with a homemade sun-dried tomato marinara that sets off fireworks once it hits the palate. The café is also known for smoothies and organic coffee. The best seat in the house is at the window, where you watch your meal prepared fresh and enjoy a little conversation. Look for the building with brightly painted sun, diagonal to LakeSumter State College.
1884 RESTAURANT AND BAR
1884 RESTAURANT AND BAR
12 E. MAGNOLIA AVE., EUSTIS, 800.856.1884 Good recipes never get old and 1884 Restaurant and Bar is proving that simple done well is exceptional. All produce and meat come from local farmers. The building, which resembles an old-time gambling hall, has a long-time legacy within the Eustis community. 1884 takes you back to when everything was done locally for those who lived, worked, and played here. This is the place to get a good steak, and no matter what cut, you’ll make the right choice. It's suggested that you start with the Pork Wing in a bourbon apricot sauce and finish with a nightcap. Check out the lengthy list of classic and specialty cocktails while you enjoy post-dinner live music.
TURNERS KITCHEN & BAR
114 S 5TH ST., LEESBURG, 352.530.2274
Turners is making a name for American Gourmet in Leesburg. You may see
familiar dishes on the menu here but each has some nuance. A welcoming sight when dining becomes routine. Turners also adds variety with daily specials, which breathe life into their sandwich and soup selections as well as the dinner menu. The Sea Island Shrimp and Grits may surprise you with its Granny Smith apple
96 WELCOME TO LAKE COUNTY
THE CROOKED SPOON
200 CITRUS TOWER BLVD., CLERMONT, 352.404.7808
What’s a gastropub anyway? It’s a term coined in Great Britain that means a pub or bar that serves real food, and while
THE CROOKED SPOON
art all about you. The atmosphere is comfortable sophistication. The food is no less refined. One item on the menu stood out, the Roasted Breast of Duck. The meat was incredibly tender; the natural taste of the cut melded seamlessly with the sweet fig marmalade topping it. Paired with a hearty helping of fresh colorful veggies, whipped mashed potatoes, and the beautiful surroundings, it was a truly cosmopolitan experience.
they’re at it, they make it gourmet. Therefore, what you get with a place like The Crooked Spoon in Clermont is the pub atmosphere with its many drink choices and pub fare that rivals five-star dining establishments. Gastropubs take a creative approach to cuisine, and even some risky revamps of old classics. Ordering at The Crooked Spoon might take awhile if you want that one signature dish—they’re all signature dishes! All the options are unique, which is not a bad problem to have! Standout entrees are the Drunken Pineapple Salad and the Lobster Grilled Cheese. The two compliment each other well and are great for sharing over a few craft beers. We suggest closing out your night with the Peanut Butter and Jelly Bread Pudding, a childhood favorite reimagined.
CUBA PICHY’S CUISINE
10401 U.S. HWY. 441, SUITE 0322, LEESBURG, 352.365.2822
Finding a good Cuban place is increasingly harder the farther you get from the straits and pretty painted pastels. An authentic Cuban meal is about the quality of a proven process to create a pleasurable experience—the same meticulous process that goes into making renowned Cuban cigars. Unfortunately, many establishments fall just short. Pichy’s is not such a place. They have a reputation for doing it right! With everything made fresh to order, the taste is exceptional. Pork isn’t dried out nor do the cooks rely too heavily on spice. Things are
“It’s unique, it’s eclectic, the food is always delicious and it’s right here in Clermont. My favorite is the KGB wings.” —Debbie Wilson
THE GOBLIN MARKET
330 DORA DRAWDY WAY, MOUNT DORA, 352.735.0059
There’s a magical place tucked away in downtown Mount Dora with a cult following. Wander down a side alley and look beyond the overgrown ivy and you might to see The Goblin Market. This eclectic bistro has been around for nearly two decades! The patio is covered in greenery and gorgeous blooms. It is a great place to sit on a breezy afternoon for lunch. However, the intimate dining rooms and lounge are nothing short of enchanting. You dine with book-lined walls and modern
THE GOBLIN MARKET
97 WELCOME TO LAKE COUNTY
prepared properly and the natural flavors of the yucca root and the plantain are featured, not altered or masked. Patrons can expect service to meet the same standard; staff is friendly and lively. Enjoy a $4 mojito and say hello to Ernesto. Also, Friday is Latin night—go rumba yourself to a good time. “I don’t mind coming back again [to Cuba Pichy’s], and bringing my husband with me. It’s very delicious, tastes authentic and is very fresh. Fresh food, very good. —Jeanette Vaughn
2400 S. HWY. 27 SUITE 101, CLERMONT, 352.241.9884
Guru Restaurant sits high on a hill. Though it opened a short time ago, people come from everywhere to dine on authentic Indian food. You'll be greeted personally by an eager gentleman wanting to help you find just the right dish. Any dish could be as mild or as hot as you like. The popular Chicken Tandoori and the creamy Lamb Korma is served family style with basmati rice and an order of fresh garlic naan. The naan is cooked
to order, in house, the traditional way. A man with a serious mustache spreads the dough over a round puff and slaps it onto the wall of the clay oven, which is encased by metal and runs off gas instead of charcoal for safety. Once stuck to the wall, all you do is watch it bubble, retrieve, and butter it! This brick oven must heat an hour before opening every day to get the temperature just right, a careful process ensures perfect naan.
2502 W. MAIN ST., LEESBURG, 352.455.1898
Leesburg has a treasure in a little tin garage. Journey down West Main Street for an authentic taste from the islands. Some might say you aren’t paying for the atmosphere when you come here, but they’re mistaken. The dining hall is small but attractive. A mural is in progress and the friendly faces at the counter take you to the Caribbean. George, owner and chef, was born and bred on Jamaican soil. He has now transplanted his roadside dive tradition to Lake County. The curry goat is a must try. Leftovers, if there should be any, must be watched with a close eye. Served with your choice of white rice or rice and peas, cornbread cake or dumpling, and cabbage or collard greens. Portions are plentiful! You’re not going to find anything quite like Jamaican George for a hundred miles.
1660 E. HWY. 50, CLERMONT, 352.242.1314
Sometimes we need an adventure, and while backpacking through India may not be feasible for most of us, dining at Zab Thai feels like an immersion into a foreign culture. The vibrant reds, cool blues, and gold capture the senses. The weathered wood accents and winding floral patterns mean you’re instantly surrounded by the exotic. But what has the true power to transport you is taste. Thai cooking is known for its spice. The Pad Kee Mao is sweet with a low-key spice that builds. You can also choose your level of spice: mild, medium, hot, or Thai hot! And if you want even more, ask for the hot tray and add at
your own risk. And what’s an adventure without a little risk? If hot is definitely not your thing, there are still plenty of options. There are several traditional, tamer Pad Thai options; just avoid any item on the menu with a chili next to it. And don’t be afraid to ask your server for assistance. Fresh veggies are a central element in most dishes. The spring rolls at Zab Thai are no mere side dish, and sushi is made to order all day.
ANGEL’S SOUL FOOD AND BBQ
390 W BURLEIGH BLVD, TAVARES, 352.508.5475
Good soul food does something magical in the space between the taste buds and the heart. At Angel’s, eating is an emotional experience. It’s called soul food because when it’s made just so, a smile spreads across your face and you think you feel a touch of happiness in your soul. Angel’s makes comfort food—no hype in presentation, no need for reinterpretation, just simple ingredients to make a familiar dish pure satisfaction. Angel’s fried chicken is award-winning, so naturally, you have to try it! Served with mashed potatoes and gravy, cornbread, and your choice of a two sides; it’s a meal your momma would approve. The mac and cheese is highly recommended. There's no doubt you’ll be planning your next Angel’s fix after the first bite. There’s a trend with Angel’s; those who eat there, go back again, and again...and again. ZAB THAI’S SPRING ROLLS
239 W. 4TH AVE., MOUNT DORA, 352.385.2669
Though we may be some distance from the coast, much of island life is still instinct. A smattering of seafood places throughout the area exemplifies this. Pisces Rising on the edge of Lake Dora is hoping you’ll enjoy a departure from your usual pluck-and-shuck dive. Staff is focused on making it an experience from presentation to completion. Don’t know what to drink with your dish, the bartender will suggest just the right libation to complement your meal. Dishes are served to perfection. The mahi mahi fish basket came with polenta cake wedges, a pleasant pairing that was surprising. Fish remained light and airy when fried, when so often a batter smothers the freshness. Kudos for taste, elegance, and creativity. Oh, and that view! “For my wife and me, it’s an evening, it’s not just going to a restaurant and eating and going home. It’s an experience. We’ve gotten to know people. When we come in, the bartender already has my drink for me. It’s like chatting with friends, with a meal. It’s like an evening out with friends that we pay for. I don’t have a favorite, I really like the seafood gumbo soup; I have them make me up some to take home. There’s always something different.” —Chuck & Barbara Csizmar
MISSION INN IS . . . REAL ESTATE
Live The Lifestyle Las Colinas - Lake County’s premier gated golf community. Come home to the beautiful vistas and mature oak and pine woodlands that surround the community of Las Colinas at the Mission Inn Resort and Club. Featuring classic modern and Spanish-style architecture, these new homes and condominiums capture the essence of carefree resort living. Add on-site recreation amenities including golf, tennis, spa and dining, you have the perfect place to reflect on life.
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NO ONE KNOWS LAKE COUNTY LIKE WE DO. 352.435.HOME // 10135 U.S. Hwy. 441, Suite 3, Leesburg, FL 34788 352.530.2665 // 1217 W Miller St., Suite 6, Fruitland Park, FL 34731 MorrisRealtors.com