Mount Dora has a lively downtown and a well-preserved historic district on a pretty lake. It’s a walkable small town with good dining and shopping. What we like just as much: There is great kayaking and biking nearby.
Lake Norris & Blackwater Creek are hidden gems of the Wekiva River system near Orlando. The dwarf cypress in the lake are like a gorgeous watery bonsai garden. It’s an easy paddle worth seeking out for its great beauty.
Hontoon Island is a terrific refuge for camping or a stay in a rustic cabin and as a base for a kayaking or canoe trip. The paddle around the island is 10 miles filled with birds and wildlife, past ancient cypress and oak trees. This Central Florida state park is near several other great parks, too.