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Mount Dora and Lakeside at Waterman Village — The Perfect Combination!

April 7, 2022

Does a short ride into Mount Dora, what USA Today calls one of the best communities in the country in which to retire, sound appealing? How about a short boat ride to an island populated by the descendants of three rhesus monkeys left there after filming completed on the Johnny Weissmuller Tarzan movies of the 1930s? As a resident of Lakeside at Waterman Village, you not only have the amenities offered by the community, but also you have everything the City of Mount Dora has to offer at your doorstep.

Mount Dora is a quaint mecca of year-round festivals, art, antiquing, dining and theater nestled just about an hour northwest of Orlando and a mile and a half from Waterman Village.

According to Rachel O’Ryan, President of Mount Dora’s Chamber of Commerce, “There’s always something for people to do in Mount Dora. You can walk down to the lighthouse or the boardwalk, a stretch of about a mile that runs along the lakeshore. You’re seeing cypress trees, occasionally some eagles and other wildlife, so you get the opportunity to visit nature.”

You Can Always Go Downtown

“Festival City,” as Mount Dora is known throughout central Florida, always seems to have something going on. According to Ms. O’Ryan, “We have three major festivals throughout the year, each featuring 250 to 300 vendors from craft brewers to artists, bands and our local restaurants. We have the Art Festival in February, the Craft Festival in October and the Spring Festival, which was held in early March. All the streets are closed for these two-day events that bring in anywhere from 150 to 175,000 people each.”

But there’s more to “Festival City” than just festivals. “We have flea markets every weekend,” Ms. O’Ryan says, “where you can pick up everything from fresh produce to antiques, with almost 500 antique dealers coming from all over the country. There’s also an antique car show and the annual Sailing Regatta, which features hundreds of sailboats with their gorgeous colors.”

With all that, you’d think downtown Mount Dora had more than enough events throughout the year. According to Ms. O’Ryan, however, the fun doesn’t stop there: “With the exception of when there’s something major going on, there’s the Mount Dora Village Market held every Sunday. It’s like your typical farmers market, with anywhere from 40 to 50 different vendors selling all kinds of seafood, breads and unique wares. It’s held by the train depot, which is a fun and historic location.”

Culture is also a large part of Mount Dora’s history. The 270-seat Sonnentag Theatre at the IceHouse is currently nearing the completion of its 74th season of staging plays and musicals that attract citizens from Mount Dora and the rest of central Florida.

On the Waterfront

Sitting on Lake Dora, with canals running all the way to the Atlantic, Mount Dora is also a great location for those who love the water. “We have CatBoats available,” Ms. O’Ryan adds, “which are small, two-person catamarans. There are also pontoon boats available for rental. Two different companies run daily tours, which range from a one-hour lunch cruise to a two-hour sunset cruise. We also have our own marina.”

But What About Those Monkeys?

Back in the 1930s, while filming the Tarzan series of films starring Johnny Weismuller in the Silver Springs-Orlando area, producers thought it would be a good idea to bring in a bunch of rhesus monkeys to give the area what they termed “a more African feel.” When they wrapped filming on the last movie in the series, they recaptured all but three, who promptly got busy and have now multiplied into a population of hundreds.

“When I was younger,” Ms. O’Ryan recalls, “we rented one of those pontoon boats and put up a pup tent on the boat, with our gas grill. We went up to the Springs and spent the night. In the morning, there were all these monkeys. And they’re still running around, which is kind of an odd sight for Florida. You don’t expect to see monkeys here, but it’s really kind of fun.”

Between the seemingly never-ending festivities in the City of Mount Dora on top of the variety of amenities already offered at Waterman Village, it’s easy to see why this area is considered one of the top choices for retirees seeking a fun and active life.

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