Built in 1926 as the Mediterranean-style estate of a wealthy industrialist, Magnolia Inn Bed & Breakfast remains a window to the past. Innkeeper Deborah brings out the Southern hospitality with full breakfast spreads and complimentary refreshments. Beyond the lamp-lit brick gate, a lush lawn shaded by palms and mature oaks leads to the two-story villa and adjacent private carriage house. Bibelots, oriental carpets, and lace curtains accent the foyer and common areas of the main house, and out back, there's an enclosed gazebo.
Four floral-themed guest rooms in the main house feature antique wood furnishings and homey decor. The Rose room is appointed with elaborately carved walnut and mahogany furnishings, and the fanciful Hats and Hearts room encourages visual treasure hunting with birdhouses, millinery, and a hand-painted bed frame. Located just off the main house, the sequestered carriage-house suite boasts a private living room, a kitchenette, and a patio along with a king-size bed where you can dream of past lives spent reading bedtime stories to actual kings.
Mount Dora: Small-Town Charm and Lots of Lakes
Before 19th-century homesteader Dora Ann Drawdy bequeathed her name to the town, Mount Dora went by the moniker Royellou, a portmanteau of the postmaster's three children—Roy, Ella, and Louis. More than a century later, Mount Dora maintains its small-town charm with flower-box-lined streets and sundry antique shops, including the Village Antique Mall, a cooperative of more than 60 merchants of vintage jewelry, glassware, and books.
Hop on the A Hitch 'N Time carriage for an old-fashioned tour of the town or step aboard the Captain Dolittle, one of several boats offered by Premier Boat Tours, a luxury pontoon boat that tours the wildlife-dotted shores of Lake Dora and Lake Beauclair. Within the lush greenery of the nearby Ocala National Forest, you can hike along the Yearling Trail or the Florida Trail, or spin down the Paisley Woods Bicycle Trail. About 55 miles northeast, you'll find the sun-drenched shores of Daytona Beach and its more laid-back neighbor to the south, New Smyrna Beach.