Gorgeous Lake LouisaClermont. Unless you're from Central Florida, you probably haven't heard of it. Afterall, Mickey Mouse casts a pretty big shadow. But once you've visited this sweet city, it's hard to forget.
Situated in Lake County, just west of Orlando, Clermont is a suburban area full of hills and lakes, drawing Floridians and tourists alike to its beautiful natural playground. Clermont is lovingly nicknamed "Gem of the Hills" because it truly offers a little something for everyone:
If genuine old-fashioned charm is what you seek, American history buffs, look no further! Rich in Floridian history, Clermont is home to Florida's Citrus Tower. The Tower, built in 1956, is one of the state's first constructed landmarks. It is over 500 feet above sea level, making it the Florida's highest observation point.
Similarly, downtown Clermont's historic village will thrill you-- it hasn't changed much in the past 50 years and is filled to the brim with distinctive Floridian culture.
Fashionistas can spend an afternoon at lovely Clermont Landing, a shopping centre at Steve's Road and US 27. The centre features Ross, JC Penney, restaurants, a craft store, a movie theatre and TJ Maxx (an amazing one, in fact: I bought my favourite handbag there!).
Wine connoisseurs from around the world flock to Lakeridge Winery and Vineyards to taste locally made wine and attend special events including the Harvest Festival, craft shows and concerts.
Families can visit the Showcase of Citrus, a popular roadside attraction featuring a swamp buggy, pick-your-own oranges and an informative eco-tour led by a personable citrus farmer.
Photographers, artists and families taking vacation photos will love posing for pictures and happily strolling through the residential areas for their picturesque parks and friendly neighbourhoods.
Foodies enjoy the trendy Family Food Truck event which takes place on the first Friday of July on Minneola Avenue near 7th St.
Athletes can work up a sweat hiking or biking the Clermont/Minneola Trail.
Golfers, tee up at Sanctuary Ridge Golf Club.
The politically inclined can visit life-sized wax sculptures of presidents and first ladies at the Presidents Hall of Fame. Plus, take photos with the huge model White House. ("Toto, I've a feeling we're not in D.C. anymore...)
ATV enthusiasts and zealous young motorists love Revolution: The Off-Road Experience so much that it's been rated Clermont's #1 attraction on Trip Advisor.
Outdoor lovers, grab your swimsuit, grill or canoe! Lake Louisa State Park (pictured above) is naturally a great getaway. Stay overnight in a tent or cottage, or just spend the day. Either way, the sunsets are breathtaking and it is totally worth getting away from the city for a little tranquility.
Getting there: Clermont is most easily accessible by car (take highway 50 west from Orlando), but can be reached by Central Florida's LYNX Public Transportation System.
Clermont is an affordable, educational and fun detour on a memorable Florida vacation, no matter your interests or budget.