Friday, October 31, 2008

Mount Dora's 1st Ghost Tour

Whaaaa-hoooo! I have been wishing for a ghost tour of Mount Dora ever since I moved here. I had been on walking ghost tours of Wilmington, Savannah and St. Augustine and after reading about about the history of our town, the cast of characters that our streets are named after, the old buildings creaking with stories ... I just knew we had the right ingredients to have one of our own.

This year, the Mount Dora Historical Society has put together a candle-lit lantern walking tour of the history and ghosts of Mount Dora. Brian and I did the Abbey Road stroll along the tour last night for a little Halloween's Eve thrill.

The Historical Society has done a fantastic job putting this together. The fun and spirited walk starts with a haunted house style tour of the old city jail and a creepy marionette show. Then a ghostly guide walks you through the streets, alleys and haunted basements of Mount Dora while telling the tales of past residents and visitors.

While the guide kept things fun and light (for those that spook easily), there were a couple of people on the tour with EMF meters reading electromagnetic activity ... or ghosts. A couple of vacant hallways and corners of restaurants had some pretty high readings. If that doesn't make the hair on the back of your neck stand up, then keep looking over your shoulder for the fiddler and a neon hearse with the Halloween theme song playing. The evening ended with hot coffee and sweets at the old city jail.

Check with the Mount Dora Historical Society at for tickets and tour times. They may be sold out ... so call ahead!

Happy Halloween!


Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Masquarade, Scarecrows and Halloween Fun

I can't believe October is nearly half way over! Wow! As the weather continues to cool ... (wishful thinking, I know! But it is much cooler than July!) ... as I was saying ... if you're looking for a reason to get outside to take in the clear blue skies, the less-humid air and enjoy the colors, scents and festivities of fall, then here are sevearl things that are a MUST DO this month!

After the kids get their tricks and treats in this Halloween, plan a little treat for yourself with a Masquerade wine dinner. Four courses, perfectly paired with wine. The trick will be that the wine is masked! Test your pallet and guess the wine. At the end of the evening, the wines will be revealed and if you guessed correctly you could win a prize! For more details on the wine dinner, click here: Black & White Masquerade Wine Dinner.

After dinner, there are three great reasons to go for a little evening stroll.

The Scarecrow Stroll -- The Mount Dora Business and Professional Women's Club are hosting the 8th Scarecrow Stroll. Light poles downtown have been decorated by local businesses and organizations with scarecrows representing the theme of "Workers Of America." Vote for your favorite at the Mount Dora Chamber of Commerce.

Art In The Air -- While you're looking at the scarecrows, be sure to also look up! This is a tri-city outdoor art exhibit featuring canvases painted by local artists. For some notes from a local artist, take a look at The Innside Story.

Gilbert Park has also officially reopened. A ribbon cutting this past weekend marked the occasion, so check out the improvements including wider sidewalks, new facilities, and of course fantastic views of the lake at sunset.


Saturday, October 11, 2008

Open For Business

LOTS and LOTS of activity in and around Mount Dora this month. It is the hustle and bustle of Fall that we love so much. It's great to see the town full of people enjoying all the season has to offer. Along with the festivals and events we have some new businesses to welcome to town.

Lake County Kayak
has opened up on the shores of Lake Dora in Tavares. Just a short and scenic drive around the lake, here you can rent a kayak, go on a guided tour or even buy your own boat. Coming from Wekiva River Adventures, Martha brings with her many years of experience out on the water and will be sure to offer you a fun adventure out on the lake or Dora Canal.

Also, the Retro in Mount Dora has changed hands. Everyone's favorite bartender, Eddie, along with his partners Roger and Susie, have renamed our local Renaissance Building basement hangout The Frog & The Monkey. A proper English pub with International flair. Be sure to stop by, order a cold brew and see what's new!

And my third new business of note this weekend is Matamo Designs on 4th. It's like an upscale Pier One with a little more Florida flair. If you're in the need for new home furnishings or accents, definitely put this shop on your list!


Friday, October 10, 2008

Up and coming Tavares!

Hey folks, there seems to be a lot of buzz about Tavares these days. I decided to put on the camera and go check it out for myself. First thing I found was a very familiar friend right in the center of the action, the Cellar at Maggie's Attic at Tavares Station. You know these folks, Wine Down Wednesdays, two monthly wine tastings, two bottles of wine per month delivered right to your front door and a key host of Mount Dora at Nite.

Stay tuned for lots of good news about the events The Cellar at Maggie's Attic will be sponsoring in Tavares on a regular basis. And this won't be the last new business from Tavares appearing in the Blog. Tomorrow we will be at the grand opening of Lakeside Kayak & Outdoor Center at Tavares Station.


Thursday, October 9, 2008

A quiet weekend in October?

As an Innkeeper it is a difficult thing to turn away so many folks trying to visit Mount Dora in October. The Inns are full for the annual Bikefest on Oct 11 and 12 and again for the Craft Fair on Oct 25 and 26.

There is a nice quiet weekend between these two major events that is the perfect time to book a room and experience Mount Dora without the crowds. Visit the Mount Dora Lodging Group's website for your choice of accommodations. Many of the Innkeepers are offering fabulous package deals and bargains right now. Check out Tremain Street Cottages and the $489.00 Sunday through Friday special including a $40.00 gas card.

As a bonus if you come up on the 18th you can catch famous comedian Michael Winslow appearing in Mount Dora for two shows on Saturday. Visit the calendar for more information on ticketing and show times.

Friday night the 17th will feature the Hindu Cowboys playing at the corner of 5th Ave. and Alexander Street at the monthly Mount Dora at Nite event. This promises to be one of the best events to date and we hope to see you on the street.


Dianne's Tasteful Indulgences

Welcome to one of the newest and "sweetest" businesses in Mount Dora, Dianne's Tasteful Indulgences. Located on Alexander Street at Arbor's & Eyebrows, they offer an endless array of delectable and delightful treats. You will also find gourmet foods and coffee galore along with bath and home decor. (rhyme not intentional)

I had the opportunity to work with Dianne putting together a last minute gift basket for guests at the Tremain Street Cottages. A couple were coming to celebrate a milestone wedding anniversary in Mount Dora and the children of the couple realized they needed to have a gift waiting for their parents in the cottage for their arrival. With only a few hours to spare Dianne put together a fabulous gift basket which is featured in the photo below.

Everyone was delighted with the result and the anniversary was made even better by the gift basket. Surprise the special person in your life with a gift from Dianne's and have it waiting in your room at any one of Mount Dora's fine lodging establishments.


Saturday, October 4, 2008

Top 10 Craft Fair Secrets

The 25th Annual Craft Fair is coming up this weekend and we've ordered up some great weather for the occasion! Skies are predicted to be clear with temperatures in the low 80's ... perfect for getting outdoors to enjoy this fantastic festival.

I've resurrected some tips below from the Art Festival earlier this year and have one more tip to add ... bring your holiday shopping list!

Top 10 Festival Tips

  1. Arrive Early! During the Craft Fair this past October, I took my dog for a walk around 9:00 a.m. and the crowds were not yet bumping shoulders in the streets. Getting here that early provides you with ample time to find excellent parking, grab a cup of coffee and meander the streets as the vendors tidy up any last minute details before the official start time at 10:00. You'll also be able to get a much better view of the artwork if you are in a more serious buying mood.
  2. Wear comfortable shoes. There is a lot to see spread out all throughout the town. And, if you've never been here before we do have quite a bit of an incline on some of our streets. They don't call us "Mount" Dora for nothing.
  3. Bring some canvas shopping bags. If you got bags on wheels, even better. As you make your purchases, you'll be thankful that you have something to carry them all in. There is a great little store on Donnelly called Whispering Winds that sells expandable market bags. What I love about these is that you can bunch them up into a ball and throw them in your purse ... but they expand big enough to hold about four beach towels.
  4. Bring a bottled water and a snack. We do have some great restaurants and coffee shops downtown, however the crowds will get big around lunchtime. The food will definitely be worth the wait. But if you plan on making a day of this event then you'll be happy you have a little something to hold you over.
  5. Don't forget your sunglasses. I've done this one before. It's kind of annoying to have to squint and cup your hands over your eyes to see anything. Even better ... wear a hat.
  6. Wear sunscreen. Even though you will probable slip into some shops and restaurants downtown, most of the festival is outdoors.
  7. Do not bring your pets. Only dogs used for medical purposes will be permitted. Otherwise, you'll get all the way here and be turned away at the barricades.
  8. Bring cash or your check book. There are usually some art vendors that accept credit cards ... but you don't want to test your luck. There is a walk-up ATM at the Bank of America on the corner of Alexander & 5th in case you forget.
  9. If you want to wheel-n-deal it is better to come later in the afternoon on Sunday.
  10. Most importantly ... HAVE FUN! This is a fantastic event with over 285 artists from around the world. And this time of year should bestow great weather for the weekend.

Top 10 Tips for the Bicycle Festival

Any fans of Queen out there? "I want to ride my bicycle, I want to ride my bike ..." Okay, I'll turn off Queen and get down to the nitty gritty. This weekend is the 34th annual Bicycle Festival hosted by the Mount Dora Chamber of Commerce. I've included some local tips and tricks below for all you bike enthusiasts. Plan to have a fun weekend here in Mount Dora!

1) Carb up at PizzAmore's bottomless pasta bowls offered Thursday night.

2) Stock up on water, energy bars and healthy snacks at The Health Basket. Located next to Gold's Gym on 441.

3) Forgot your sunscreen? Hat? Need an aspirin? There are a couple of stores downtown that you can walk to if you've forgotten a needed incidental. Check out Noni and Whispering Winds on Donnelly. Also Walk In The Woods on 5th Avenue.

4) Need a jolt of caffeine, bottled water or fresh smoothie? We have several coffee shops downtown that offer a variety of beverages for whatever you're thirsty for. Check out The Village Coffee Pot, One Flight Up and the Mount Dora Coffee House.

5) Blow out a tire? Break a chain? Need a bike shop? Check out Sun Cycle in Tavares. Only about 5 miles away.

6) After a long bike ride, treat yourself to a massage or pedicure. One thing we have an abundance of in Mount Dora is Spas and Wellness Centers. There are several downtown within walking (or biking) distance including Aveda, Synergy Salon & Spa, Sole Spa, Healthy Alternatives and Essential Therapies. Check them out on our spa page.

7) Pamper your tootsies even more and slip into some comfy shoes at Donnelly Euro Footwear.

8) Want to kick back, enjoy a cold brew and some live entertainment? Take a look at our Mount Dora After 5:00 list and pick your evening watering hole.

9) When you're on your way home from Mount Dora, if you happen to be passing through Orlando, stop by and see our bike enthusiast friends at Bikes, Beans & Bordeaux for a coffee and snack to go.

10) Fill out the comment form below and let us know what your tip-of-the-day would be for fellow cyclists!

A Day In The Life Of An Innkeeper: Adora Inn

Continuing with our "Day In The Life Of An Innkeeper" series, we recently had dinner with John & Arthur at the Adora Inn to get their "Innside" scoop. We enjoyed listening to Arthur's stories about being an artist in NYC during the 70's, learned a better way to make tzatziki and over all just had a great time catching up with our neighbors. Check it out at Innside Story.


Friday, October 3, 2008

One Drop At A Time

The City of Mount Dora recently has been rolling out a lot of positive effort toward saving a limited resource ... water. Recently I attend a workshop hosted by the water department where they talked about saving water for your lawn and garden through the use of rain barrels. It was informative, fun, and an outlet for the kindergartner in me to paint a new lawn ornament.

Now the City is promoting an educational program with local restaurants. Did you know it takes eight glasses of water to clean one water glass? I sure didn't. That is 64 ounces per 1 glass of water. Saving a mere 8 ounces at a time may seem small ... but I wonder what that would be multiplied by the number of people dining out? Should we then just drink soda straight from the can or wine straight from the bottle!? Whether or not ordering a glass of water with your meal actually conserves water use, I think it is good to get people thinking and talking about saving water.

For some weird reason, this all reminds me of my trip to Italy last year where I was having pizza and the waiter asked if I wanted my water "with gas." Ah, em ... excuse me? With gas? Am I on Italy's funniest home videos? I'm glad in the US the term is classed up a bit with the term "sparkling." But it all just makes for good conversation about bottled water ... as long as you recycle.