Dog Friendly Florida
One day, on a drive south on Route 441 from my parents’ farmhouse near Ocala, we happened across a cute town named Mount Dora. It’s located, unsurprisingly, on Lake Dora in Florida’s Central Lakes Region, a little more than 40 minutes northwest of Orlando (scroll down to see a map at the end of this post.) The historic downtown area is home to dozens of shops and restaurants. Mount Dora also plays host to a number of concerts, festivals, and fairs each year, including a seafood festival, a film festival, a big cycling event, crafts fairs, and a big holiday celebration at Christmas-time. (For more, click here.)
But you want to know what’s best about Mount Dora?
The town is super dog friendly!
Piglet’s Pantry Dog Bakery
Ground zero for dogs in Mount Dora is Piglet’s Pantry Dog Bakery. It’s located in the heart of the historic downtown shopping district at 400 North Donnelly Street at the the corner of North Donnelly and East 4th Avenue. They’re open Monday through Saturday from 10:00 AM to 4:00 PM and from 11:00 AM to 4:00 PM on Sundays. Along with the neighboring dog friendly Wine Den, they co-host “Yappy Hour” the third Friday of the month.
Owners Carla and Edson Pereira told us they got their start baking treats at home and selling them at local fairs and festivals. Soon they set up a permanent spot in the back of hardware store, eventually taking over the entire space! They’ll be celebrating their 20th anniversary next year.
The place was packed to rafters with all manner of toys, accessories, and of course, dog treats. The treats include their signature Muddy Paws brand of dog biscuits. They also have display cases full of freshly baked goodies.
We bought a one pound bag of their Muddy Paws Healthy Bonz Peanut Butter flavored treats. They come in other flavors, including Sweet Potato, Bacon and Herbs, Fresh Blueberries and Cranberries, and even Charcoal flavored treats with activated charcoal to freshen your dog’s breath!
Click here to go the Piglet’s Pantry Dog Bakery website.
Dog Friendly Hotels and Restaurants, After the Jump
We visited two very nice dog friendly places to stay in Mount Dora.
Mount Dora Historic Inn and Cottages
Located just up the street from Piglet’s Pantry Dog Bakery at 221 East 4th Avenue is the Mount Dora Historic Inn. The Inn is a bed and breakfast. The owner told us while the inn proper does not allow dogs, they manage a number of affiliated cottages throughout town, some of which are dog friendly.
The owners of the Inn have dogs themselves and like to travel with them, so they thought it was only fitting to provide dog lodging for their customers as well. Cottage guest Terrence and his English Bulldog Izzy told us they felt very welcomed by the Inn staff and they would recommend it to any dog owner.
If you are interested in staying in any of the cottages call 352.735.1212 and ask for the very sweet caretaker, Melonie. She is very helpful! Or you can click here to go to the Mount Dora Historic Inn website. For information about the cottages themselves, click here for the Tremain Street Cottages; for the Conch House Cottages click here; and for the Mount Dora Cottages click here.
The biggest hotel in town is the Lakeside Inn, located at the foot of West Third Avenue where Mount Dora meets the lake. The Inn has 90 rooms spread across four historic buildings. It also has two restaurants, a tavern, and a bar by the large lakeside pool.
The Inn is 130 years old. It’s the last remaining hotel from an era that started after the Civil War when Florida’s Central Lakes Region became a very popular vacation destination. Famous guests from that time included Calvin Coolidge and Thomas Alva Edison.
We ran into three contemporary guests, Annie and Will and their pooch Winnie, who were returning to the Inn after a walk around town. They said they were having a great time there and that their room was very comfortable.
Pets are allowed in the Sunset Cottage, located steps away from the main building. You have to pay a non-refundable deposit; there is a 25 pound limit on dogs.
The large pool is located right on the lake’s edge.
The Lakeside Inn’s address is 100 North Alexander Street (you enter on West Third Avenue) and the phone number is 352.383.4101 or toll free 800.556.5016. Click here to go to the Lakeside Inn website.
There’s a third option in town called the Grandview Bed and Breakfast. We didn’t have time to drop by, but you can read more about it by clicking here.
Asking around we came up with a list of about 20 dog friendly restaurants in town, including Cecille’s French Corner, Copacabana Cuban Cafe, Magical Meat Boutique, Cody’s on 4th, and The Goblin Market Restaurant and Lounge.
We had a nice lunch with Bodhi and Duque at One Flight Up Wine and Cafe. It’s exactly what it sounds like, a restaurant on the second floor of a building. You can take your dogs up and sit on the outside balcony where you’ve got a great view of the town.
We also had cocktails with Bodhi at Pisces Rising, a very nice, upscale seafood and steak restaurant fairly close to the lake’s edge.
I also want to mention there are great places to walk your dog along the lake and an off leash dog park at East 11th Avenue and North Unser Street.
Mount Dora is a great place to use as home base for exploring Florida’s Central Lakes Region. Of course, Orlando is nearby. It’s rated as the top dog friendly city in the United States (more on that in a later post.) As most people know, Orlando is home to many theme parks, most notably Disney World and Universal Orlando Resort. There are also two towns nearby that my dad really likes. He reports:
My first pick would be Winter Park, where you will find the Charles Hosmer Morse Museum of American Art, which hosts the world’s most comprehensive collection of works by Louis Comfort Tiffany. Winter Park also has a real “snazzy” main shopping street and is known as a dog friendly place. There are many dog friendly restaurants, two off leash dog parks, and a 8.5 mile hiking trail for man and dog.
My other choice is Deland, Florida. Deland is home to Stetson University (the guy who became filthy rich producing Stetson Hats.) There are four museums in Deland. The town is also very dog friendly with a pond for dog swimmers… lots of hiking trails… lots of festivals… it also has a nice downtown.