The city of Eustis lives true to its motto of Culture, Opportunity, and Vitality. This friendly town boasts beautiful waterfront views and a thriving downtown area with quaint shops and unique eateries interspersed with historic neighborhoods.
Eustis’ historic downtown sits on the waterfront where Lake Eustis is front and center in all its beauty. It is also the center of many festivals, including Georgefest, which is the nation’s second longest running celebration of George Washington’s birth. February is a popular month for the city of Eustis as the African-American Heritage Festival and Parade also takes place. It is no surprise that February is as popular as it is for events as Florida weather is warm and pleasant for outdoor activities. Once a month, Eustis features an antique car show and live music among all the shops and restaurants in town.
Eustis is home to Ferran Park, one of the most prominent parks in Eustis. Ferran Park is located on the shores of Lake Eustis and features walking trails, park benches, a children’s playground as well as a view into the city’s history including the beautiful, restored seawall witch runs along the waterfront and ends at the Mediterranean style Alice McClelland Bandshell (listed on the Historic National Register) which is located at the northern side of the park. Ferran Park is the perfect place year-round for kids of all ages!
Mount Dora is one of the most popular cities in Lake County and is renowned as one of Florida’s most desirable communities for living, working, and retiring. Mount Dora is located only 25 miles southwest of Orlando, and it is often called the “New England of the South.” In addition, Mount Dora has been named one of the “Top 100 Great Towns of America” and one of the “Best Romantic Escapes in Florida.”
Those feeling adventurous can opt for a pontoon boat tour on Lake Dora which travels through the Dora Canal and out to Lake Eustis. This tour is a must for visitors and locals, and the tour guides know everything about the geography, history, and wildlife in the area. If you are lucky, you may even see an eagle’s nest!
Locals and visitors enjoy shopping and dining along the quaint, tree-lined streets of Mount Dora. There are many boutiques and shops which boast a friendly atmosphere and unique items which are sure to make people smile. Shoppers can find anything from gourmet dog biscuits to specialty olive all and everything in between.
Mount Dora is famous for being a city of festivals and special events which bring in millions of visitors per year. Some of the most popular are the Craft Fair, Bicycle Festival, Plant and Garden Fair, Light Up Mount Dora, Arts Festival, Music Festival, and Sailing Regatta.
Mount Dora is also known for its antique shops and antique festivals. The most popular antiques attraction is Renningers Antiques on US Highway 441. Mount Dora is one of the best places in Florida to shop for antiques because Renningers hosts Antique and Collectors Extravaganzas. Visitors come from all over the country for these exciting events!
Visitors receive a special treat as far as restaurants are concerned as well. Mount Dora offers several different varieties of cuisine, including Cuban, Italian, Mediterranean, British and American. Mount Dora also boasts a gourmet eatery which proudly offers cuisine created from one of the top chefs in the country.
The city of Tavares has its own vision statement: Tavares – the capital Waterfront City of Lake County – building on a historic foundation – creating an authentic, accessible community of neighborhoods, businesses and citizen services – distinguishing itself as the defining vision of where you want to be!”
Tavares is known as the county seat of Lake County, and the downtown area has been refurbished and reinvigorated to reflect the city’s vision. Government buildings include Lake County’s Administration Building (recognized by its unique, circular design) and the Lake County Judicial Center. The original Lake County Court house was added to the National Register of Historic Places back in 1998. In addition, it is home to the prestigious Advanta Heealth Hospital on Highway 441 North.
However, Tavares isn’t all about business! It’s a great place for kids of all ages to play. Tavares is known for its fabulous Lake Dora waterfront. Tavares has its famous waterfront seaplane base, and residents and visitors can take water taxis to dine at their favorite restaurants. Sea plane tours are available to take adventurers on exciting tours through the chain of lakes and out to the St. Johns River. For folks that prefer to keep their feet on the ground, an old-time train tour might just be the perfect adventure to enjoy a scenic excursion through nearby areas.
Wooten Park is a fun place for children to play and splash around as they cool off from the summer heat. It sits on the picturesque waterfront and Lake Dora is front and center for all to enjoy. Besides the stunning pavilion sitting at the edge of a long dock extending into the lake (perfect for weddings and other special events), Wooten Park features the Tac-Lee jogging trail and kayak tours to explore the chain of lakes.
Tavares is known for its restaurants and resorts as well as its own brand of festivals. The annual Dragon Boat Festival, the Antique Boat Show (featuring amphibian cars), and the Sunnyland Antique and Classic Boat Society Show are some of the most exciting events on tap throughout the year.
Love entertainment? Tavares is the place to be, because most of the restaurants feature live entertainment. Waterfront dining and entertainment create the perfect mix of relaxation and fun in the warm Florida climate.
Umatilla is a quiet, beautiful town located just a short drive from Orlando and the theme park areas, including Disney, Sea World, and Universal Studios. It is central to almost everything in mid-Florida, including the University of Central Florida, which is one of the nation’s largest universities. Take State Road 19 to US 441 north, and you will reach Lake-Sumter State College. It is truly the best of all worlds.
The city is planning to upgrade its downtown area to attract even more retail businesses and restaurants. Umatilla is the perfect blend of city and country and has many historic buildings.
Umatilla is considered the gateway city to the Ocala National Forest and is surrounded by rural beauty and lakes. There is still plenty of open space to enjoy, especially with its warm climate!
Umatilla boasts an airport with a 2500 foot runway which handles light aviation. Visitors travel into this airport to enjoy all the yearly events Umatilla has to offer, including the Arts and Crafts Festival, The Cracker Christmas Parade, the Florida Black Bear Festival, The Friends of the Library City-Wide Yard Sale and the Dog Jog.
The largest recreational complex in Lake County is located right in Umatilla. North Lake Community Park is 96 acres of soccer fields, picnic pavilions, softball fields, basketball courts, baseball fields, tennis courts, walking trails, and volleyball courts. The playground features covered sitting areas, picnic pavilions, exercise stations, and multiple-age play areas.
Leesburg, Lake County’s oldest city, is known as The Lakefront City. It is the home to Leesburg Regional Medical Center as well as the main campus of Lake-Sumter State College which has a partnership with Saint Leo University and the University of Central Florida. It is also home to Beacon College, which specializes in offering academic degree programs to students with disabilities. Leesburg’s school system is noted for its excellence in Lake County.
Leesburg is home to Venetian Gardens, a stunning 110-acre park which, along with Venetian Cove Marina, is located on Lake Harris, which is one of the city’s three points of access to the Harris Chain of Lakes. Besides enjoying the beautiful walking trails, visitors and locals can enjoy boating and kayaking on the pristine waters of Lake Harris.
Leesburg is the leader of expenditures per capita in Lake County as far as parks, recreation, and leisure is concerned. The city is proud of its state-of-the art Sleepy Hollow Sports Complex which is an integral part of the city’s recreation program. It includes four adult softball fields, two youth girls’ softball fiends, two football/soccer fields, two Babe Ruth baseball fields, and concession facilities. The Leesburg Lightning calls the Pat Thomas Baseball Stadium home, and the stadium has an affiliation with the Florida Collegiate Summer League.
The city of Leesburg is the hub of all things recreational – tennis and racquetball courts, dry docks, boat slips, ski beach parking, hiking and bike trails, pools, and even a dog park.
Leesburg is the hub of transportation in Lake County and features a state-of-the art 750 acre international airport which has a 6300 foot runway which can accommodate passenger jets.
Leesburg is centrally located to major thoroughfares. Both US Highway 27 and US Highway 441 run through Leesburg which is also proximal to the Florida Turnpike, Interstate 75, US Highway 50 and US Highway 301. Because of its location, Leesburg plays host to many events and festivals including the famous Leesburg BikeFest, which is the largest event held yearly in Lake County. The Mardi Gras Street Party, the Main Street Christmas Stroll and Christmas Parade are just some of the fun activities and events that take place in Leesburg.
Historic downtown Leesburg features restaurants, antiques and specialty shops, government offices as well as professional and financial services. Leesburg is proud of its library which is one of the largest in the county.
Leesburg has a vibrant arts community and is home to many arts and historical organizations including Leesburg Center for the Arts, the Melon Patch Players, the Lake-Sumter Community College Performing Arts Series, the Leesburg Historical Museum, and the Leesburg Cultural Arts Center.
Lady Lake is located just off State Road 441 and is the northern gateway community to Lake County. It is right next to Florida’s most famous adult community, The Villages. It is also home to the community of Water Oak Country club estates which is located on 300 acres of trees, lakes and hills offering an amazing lifestyle for active adults who love to golf and live the Florida lifestyle.
Lady Lake experienced enormous growth in the 70s, and today is a community which is committed to responsible development. The beautiful Florida warm weather and sunshine offers both residents and visitors an opportunity to enjoy all Lady Lake has to offer.
There is plenty for youth and families to do in Lady Lake. Besides an abundance of restaurants and stores, the town offers plenty of youth programs. The town’s sports complex offers baseball and soccer. Boating and golf are popular recreational activities, and the Gazebo in Heritage Park is so popular for special events that reservations need to be made months in advance. The Christopher T. Hicks Memorial Field and Lady Lake’s Pyramid Park are ideal settings for sports and fun for kids of all ages.
Lady Lake is growing and has wisely invested in infrastructure such as beautification and amenities to make the town even more desirable and welcoming.
Howey in the Hills
Howey in the Hills is a beautiful little town tucked away in central Florida featuring rolling hills and sparkling lakes.
The town began as a citrus community and expanded into both a local and tourist destination. State Road 19 runs through Howey in the Hills and is the perfect connector among Leesburg, Tavares and South Lake County.
The town features both new construction and historic homes, many of which date back to the 1920s. These homes have been lovingly restored to their former glory and reflect the mission-style architecture typical of the period in which they were built.
The Mission Inn, a Florida resort icon, is in Howey-in-the-Hills. Its award-winning golf course is ranked among the top 10 in Florida out of over 1400 golf courses in the state. Here you can find two 18-hole championship golf courses as well as elegant dining facilities, a 5-star tennis facility as well as a marina. The Mission Inn also boasts beautiful homes that reflect the beauty of the area along with upscale living.
Howey in the Hills is nestled on the shoreline of Little Lake Harris which is comprised of nearly 14,000 acres of fresh water. Little Lake Harris combines beauty with fishing, boating, water sports and water access which reaches all the way to the Atlantic Ocean.
Griffin Park is also located on Little Lake Harris. It features newly expanded boat launch facilities as well as several fishing piers and the Sarah Maude Mason Nature Preserve.
Fruitland Park is a neighboring community to The Villages but retains its own unique charm and character. It is centrally located on State Highway 441 between Leesburg to the South, and Lady Lake and The Villages to the North. The town is located just an hour outside of Orlando via the Florida Turnpike or Highway 441. If residents travel one hour to the east, they will reach the Atlantic Ocean; one hour to the west will bring them to the Gulf of Mexico.
Fruitland Park is a town that prides itself on small town values and true sense of community.
There are several children’s playgrounds in Fruitland Park. In addition, the town has one softball field, two baseball fields, and two lighted tennis courts. Gardenia Park features a soccer field as well as two lighted courts for racquetball and handball, volleyball courts, and a skateboarding area. Swimmers enjoy a municipal pool and there is a fishing pier at Veterans Park.
Visitors and residents can enjoy the use of one of the most beautiful boat launch areas that Central Florida has to offer.
Fruitland Park is a cozy, well-planned gem amongst its larger, neighboring communities and many people are proud to call this townhome.