Climb Mount Dora – It’s Really Easy

By Kai Rambow

“I climbed Mt. Dora,” reads the T-shirt, followed by “Elevation 144 ft.”  Since Florida is the flattest state, this is nosebleed territory.  Not quite quaint, but definitely cute, Mt. Dora reminds one of a New England town.  It’s the kind of place Jessica Fletcher would live.

Climb Mt. Dora the Fun Way

Taking a historic tour on a Segway is a wonderfully fun way to explore.  You’ve probably seen Segways on television.  You may also have seen them used in malls or airports by security personnel.  They are two-wheeled, self-balancing, battery-powered personal transports.

Computer software and sensors responds to what a driver does with his or her weight.  Shift your weight forward and the Segway moves forward.  The handlebars, similar to a bike, determine direction.

Balance and mobility counts most. If you can climb and descend stairs without a handrail or other assistance, you mostly likely have the physical abilities needed. I’ve seen an 85-year-old take to it easily and a 25-year-old struggle with it.

Very importantly the company here places tremendous emphasis on safety. There is a safety video, followed by one-on-one instruction and then gradual movements to ensure everyone has a safe and fun experience.

The tour itself winds through the town, parks and a nature trail with plenty of elevation changes.  This is perhaps the most interesting place in Florida to do a Segway tour.


The Alternative Activity

Those not as active can take a thoroughly enjoyable cruise on the lake and nearby canals.  Relaxing on the water, spotting wildlife and soaking in the views are about as tough as this trip gets.

Premier boats runs a fine operation with commentary and a sense of fun. The covered pontoon boat glides gently through the water.  One couple I met takes this cruise every two years.

For special occasions, there is an air, land, sea package.  It’s the cruise combined with viewing the lakes from a seaplane and a train ride Tavares back to Mt. Dora.

Tip:  Pack your own snacks and drinks for the two-hour ride. Some passengers brought coolers.


Take Some Time to Enjoy

The attitude in Mt. Dora is relax and enjoy.  A very short walk from the Segway activity or boat cruise will put you in the heart of downtown on Donnelly Street.  The sidewalks were recently beautified with fun signs to point you in the right direction.  Unique shops and intriguing restaurants are all here or close by.

For something different try the Windsor Rose Tea Room and Restaurant. If this is in your plans, head here first.  If they’re not busy, they’ll close early (Mt. Dora attitude). For a filling bite with balcony views of downtown, try One Flight Up.


Palm Island Boardwalk

If you reach Mt. Dora early enough, or before you leave, stop by this nature trail.  It’s literally a three-minute drive from downtown.

Walk out on to the boardwalk.  If the conditions are right, you’ll be able to see alligators and birds fairly close.  Be sure to look on both sides of the boardwalk.

For Car and Train Enthusiasts

There are two additional possibilities, which I did not have time to visit, but may be of interest to some readers.  The Mount Dora Museum of Speed is very popular and highly rated.  To learn more, visit their website at:  www.classicdreamcars.com

A 1907 Baldwin steam locomotive runs on Saturdays (confirm trip in advance).  This train has been featured in over 20 movies and TV shows.  Based on reviews, it seems to mostly enthrall train buffs:  www.orangeblossomcannonball.com


Tips for a Great Trip

When to Go:  October through May, when the temperatures are more comfortable, is a good time to undertake these activities.

Suggested Itinerary:  Expect about a two-hour drive.  Be sure to use your GPS and Sunpass.  Plan on leaving at 8 a.m. for the 11 a.m. boat tour or 11:30 a.m. Segway tour.  Enjoy lunch, explore some shops.  If you leave before 4 p.m., you’ll avoid most of the traffic heading home.

Especially during the week there is plenty of free parking available.  If you can’t find something right in front, one short block over you’ll find a spot.

Clothing:  Especially if you’re doing the Segway tour, a good pair of closed walking shoes will be needed.  The usual sunscreen, sunglasses and hats needed for most outdoor activities here in Florida apply.

Segway of Central Florida

Tours at 9:30, 11:30 and 1:30

$49 when booked online

430 N Alexander Street

Mt. Dora, FL  32757

(352) 460-2039


Premier Boat Tours

Tours at 11 a.m. and 2 p.m.

$27 for canal tour

100 Alexander Street

(352) 434-8040


Winsor Rose Tea Room

Open most days 11 a.m. – 4 p.m.

$5 – $20

142 West 4th Avenue

(352) 735-2551


One Flight Up

Open most days 8 a.m. – 10 p.m.

$10 (fresh sandwiches/salads)

440 N Donnelly Street

(407) 758-9818