Originally published on July 22, 2020 on the Fresh Mommy Blog.
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Do you want to vacation in Florida, but avoid the busy theme parks? We’ve decided to focus our family summer vacations on Florida staycation ideas. For this close-to-home trip, we enjoyed the beautiful Lake County, Florida.
We are blessed to live in paradise (AKA Florida), and after moving from Michigan nine years ago. Whether you’re a local in the category of Florida vacationer, there are so many wonderful things Florida has to offer, and some you may not have thought of!
Don’t get me wrong, we love theme parks too, but as of late, we’re trying to keep our family safe by choosing less densely populated activities. This includes a lot of outdoor activities and areas of Florida that vacationers may not think of right away.
Well, we have a gem for you.
Keep reading to find out why Lake County, Florida should be your next Florida vacation.
Lake County, Florida is “Real Florida. Real Close” I mean, seriously, it’s right in the middle of everything. This makes it a perfect location for locals since it’s easy to drive to from I-4, Florida’s Turnpike, US-27, and US-441.
But if you have a Florida vacation planned (AKA you have your tickets and hotel, but are second-guessing that theme park visit) it is a perfect alternative. Lake County, FL is located 30-minutes west of Orlando and an hour east of Tampa.
The just-right distance had our family feeling like we were going on vacation. Yet, it’s also a wonderful location away from the common, densely populated, tourist areas.
There are so many amazing things to do in Lake County, Florida. And honestly, I think Florida residents, or a Florida vacation visitor, can find memory-making adventure at every turn.
There are places to go camping, horseback riding, and so much more. Families will find great activities for the entire group to enjoy while couples can create intimate getaways.
I think you would be surprised at what Lake County has to offer.
We had a hard time deciding what to do for our Lake County, Florida day trip. Revolution Adventures offers off-road vehicles, shooting, archery, fishing, and more, and it was another top choice of ours! Showcase of Citrus sounded like fun but we decided to save that for picking season.
Hubby and I probably would have loved to spend time alone at Lakeridge Winery & Vineyards, but we were four kids in tow (the babies were with the grandparents for the day).
So, in the end, we chose to go on the adventure of a lifetime at Jones Brothers Seaplanes. It was awesome.
I’ve flown a lot in my life, but flying low in a seaplane is a unique experience I couldn’t pass up.
My two oldest and I boarded in Tavares, and after enjoying the bird’s-eye view we experienced a thrilling splash and dash in another lake.
It was breathtaking
And then we waved to downtown Mount Dora as we flew by. It really is a memory for a lifetime, and I feel so blessed to have shared that with my littles.
Eat at Puddle Jumpers
After our seaplane adventure, we needed to fuel up, so we stopped at Puddle Jumpers.
If you are a frequent reader then you know how we love our surf and turf. Puddle Jumpers is a wonderful lakefront restaurant that features delicious seafood and mouthwatering burgers.
Our recommendations, Chris ordered The B’s Knees, a bacon, berry and brie burger with chipotle black raspberry sauce and crisp bacon on this amazing burger. I ordered the Sweet-N-Spicy shrimp tacos, topped with fresh coleslaw and house made ranch. We split both, and both were SO good!
If you’re looking for a vegetarian option, Aliyah ordered the black bean burger and I had a taste as well… two thumbs up!
Plus, the kids loved Puddle Jumpers for the great view of the boats and planes coming in.
There are lots of charming, historic, and unique small towns in Lake County. This is perfect for downtown lovers who enjoy shopping, antiquing, and dining in new places with that relaxing small-town vibe.
Some absolutely adorable downtowns you may want to check out include:
We headed into Mount Dora (we were waving friends now after all) to enjoy the Mount Dora Marketplace for dessert… and coffee for me. The whole family had fun looking at the unique shops featuring hand-crafted gifts, spices, wines, bath and body products, clothing, and pet shops.
Mount Dora also has a Flea and Farmer’s Market every Saturday and wonderful fine art galleries. Probably one of the most amazing aspects is the huge 40,000 square foot Indoor Antique Center with over 180 booths.
I know we’ll be back because there is more to do than in a single trip. I’m especially looking forward to the Annual Mount Dora Craft Fair someday. It was ranked 4th best Craft Festival in America by “Sunshine Artist” magazine in 2019.
It’s pretty amazing that there is an award-winning craft fair is right here in Central Florida.
Outdoor activities are the safest Florida staycation ideas with the way things are at the moment. And one of our TOP picks for family fun. Recently we’ve been kayaking, hiking, and more. And Lake County, Florida is full of these great experiences.
- Dora Canal
- Lake Griffin State Park
- Lake Louisa State Park
- St. Johns River
- Harris Chain of Lakes (for world-class fishing)
We chose to enjoy Alexander Springs Recreation Area for the rest of our Lake County, Florida staycation. The natural spring waters stay a constant 72 degrees year-round which will feel amazing to most northern vacationers. And there are beautiful underwater caverns.
We snorkeled and swam with the children for the rest of the day. I’d recommend bringing a raft or tube for taking a rest while out in the deep water so that you don’t have to swim back towards shore for the break.
Our time in Lake County was absolutely perfect. After all, Lake County is the Perfect Distance Away.
I’m so glad we went to make summer memories with our children. It would be a shame to let any precious summer slip away.
First, let me tell you I felt completely safe on our entire trip. We wore masks when we were in public around people and everything was socially distanced, even the market had socially distanced spaces to sit and eat our treats.
The rest of the time we were enjoying the absolutely beautiful nature of Lake County. If you are looking for great outdoor activities there are lots of opportunities for paddling, hiking, birding, horseback riding, and so much more that I mentioned above.
You can easily Find a Place to Stay in Lake County, Florida, but if you want to be off the beaten path there are ample camping opportunities.
Have you been to Lake County before? What is one of your favorite staycation locations? Let me know in a comment below!