POWERED BY FORD VIP BLOGGER PROGRAM: This is the fourth piece in a brand new series of columns that we will be sharing in partnership with our friends at Sun State Ford and Ford Corporate to share some of our new favorite day trips in the Orlando area.
The Downtown “bungalow” neighborhoods are undoubtedly the best places to live in The City Beautiful, but sometimes you need to get away. We straight trippin’, boo.
This week’s Ford-fueled trip took us to Mount Dora in a Ford C-Max hybrid, courtesy of Mullinax Ford of Central Florida in Apopka (Facebook | Website). It barely used any gas for the trip and there’s a fun game you can play on the dashboard that makes you drive more efficiently and you’re rewarded with digital leaves on a digital tree. If you’re into that sort of tomfoolery … which we are.
Mount Dora is only 40-45 minutes away from downtown Orlando to the northwest. You can easily get there by hopping on Orange Blossom Trail and driving until you can’t see any apartment buildings or Foxtail Coffees anymore. If this were an old map there’d be a sea serpent just north in Lake Eustis.
Mount Dora is known for its robust antiquing scene, and it’s definitely not a letdown. There are great shops all over the place but rather than leaving it to chance, here are some of our top picks.
- Renninger’s Vintage Antique Center (Facebook | Website) – Everyone should stop here at least once in their Orlando life. The center has a little bit of everything from permanent antique stalls to produce vendors. There’s even a mushroom-shaped artist building where a hippy paints sexy pictures of men he’s loved and lost through the years. Even though the Antique center is open every Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, the best time to visit Renninger’s is during the Extravaganza events in November, January, and February when hundreds of vendors come from across the country to sell their wares. It’s like a little fairy market.
- Village Antique Mall (Website) – One of the larger shops in town and they have a fun variety of treasures to pet and sift through.
- Through The Years Vintage – This is a great spot in nearby Tavares that’s located in an old home that’s full of bright colors and weird flooring. It’s got Chrismas decorations, nautical-themed goodies, and is definitely worth a stop.
- Uniques Antiques and Eats (Website) – This one’s a bit weird. It’s a little cafe but also a vintage spot and it feels like you’re hanging out with your grandma and then buying her crap afterward but you’ll have fun and leave with a story. The spaghetti isn’t bad either.
Shops come and go though, so be sure to give a little Google before heading out to a specific location.
While the town is full of quaint little galleries and tchotchke shops, Mount Dora surprised us all but having a Modernism museum.
Modernism Museum Mount Dora (Facebook | Website) is one of the most Instagrammable spots in the area with some of the most amazing collection of Modernist works. Their mission is to bring inspire their guests to learn from art, craft, and design, and from just one visit, we can happily say, “Mission accomplished, y’all.”
The current exhibition is Space Oddities: The Sequel which displays objects and furniture from David Bowie’s personal collection of Memphis design pieces made by Ettore Sottsass. There are over 75 pieces to slobber over but we snapped some pics of our favorites below.
If you’re a member of the Orlando Museum of Art you can use your membership card to get in for free via the Reciprocal Membership Program.
The heart of Mount Dora is in its downtown drag between 5th Avenue and Donnelly Street, which is full of small local shops in beautiful, historic buildings. While most of the shopping can be found on Donnelly, be sure to schedule in some time to wander down 3rd, 4th, and 5th Avenues.
It’s hard to find a bad meal in Mount Dora, but rather than risking it, we brought along our foodie friend, @SoozieTheFoodie (Suzy Farmar) to take us to some of her favorite haunts.
With a name like “Magical Meat Boutique” we obviously had to make a stop. Anchored by a decommissioned train that you can rent for private parties, this British pub was an easy way to loaf our way into the local scene.
Service was so-so but we weren’t expecting white gloves here. It’s a fun, relaxed atmosphere that serves a good Bloody Mary to wash down a plate of oddly phallic bangers.
Located off the main drag, the unassuming Wave Asian Bistro is tucked away on the second floor of a newer building that you’d probably ignore if you were just here to putter around and buy some antique needlepoint.
Wave has some of the most photographed, most innovative dishes in the region and was even featured by Instagram corporate on their account. But fortunately, their dishes aren’t just extremely selfie-able, they’re also super tasty.
Farmar snapped some great shots for us below. Ask for the sushi tots.
The Salted Fry is a great spot to carb up too if you’re still feeling a bit peckish after a few hours of shopping and walking. It’s totally gluten-free too, including the beer and wine.