The small landlocked town of Mascotte was ironically named after a ship that frequently made the trip between Cuba and South Florida on a regular basis during the Spanish War-era.
Mascotte is about as close to the state’s geographic center as it’s possible to get. Its convenient location gives visitors easy access to the region’s abundant lakes, as well as historical and cultural attractions and world-class beaches on both the Atlantic and Gulf Coasts.
The town is also close to Orlando and its many theme parks; they’re where many visitors spend the majority of their time.
Below are 14 things to do in and around Mascotte, Florida.
1. Rainbow Family Restaurant
Located on East Myers Boulevard in town, Rainbow Family Restaurant is well-known as the perfect dining destination for those who like laid-back and comfortable environments, traditional fare, and reasonable prices.
Rainbow’s reputation has been built on delivering classic dishes with lots of fresh, local ingredients, and previous guests have commented that their perennial favorites like chicken fried steak, beef melts, and bacon and eggs were prepared perfectly.
The restaurant’s salad bar is chock-full of fresh fruit and vegetables for those in need of a light and healthy meal, and tuna melts and burgers are old standbys for those who aren’t.
2. Lake Louisa State Park
Though it’s not an official nickname, Florida could easily be referred to as ‘The Land of Parks,’ because no matter where you find yourself in the Sunshine State, you’ll never be very far from one.
Lake Louisa State Park is located just a short drive from Mascotte in Clermont. Its sprawling grounds total more than 4,000 acres and include several distinct environments, like palmetto stands, cypress swamps, and old-growth oak forests.
In addition to its namesake Lake Louisa, the park includes a number of smaller ponds and lakes, and fishing, paddling, kayaking, animal viewing, and hiking are all popular activities.
3. Mi Tierra Taqueria Mexican Food
Florida’s vibrant food scene runs the gamut from soul food and traditional country fare to fusion cuisine sporting several international influences; some of the most prominent coming from Latin and South America and Mexico.
Located on East Myers Boulevard, Mi Tierra Taqueria Mexican Food is about as authentic as Mexican food gets, according to those in the know.
It’s been described as a hole-in-the-wall that’s easy to miss if you blink as you’re driving past, and though ambiance isn’t its forte, reasonably priced piles of fresh food definitely are.
Tamales, tacos, and homemade salsa and tortillas are a few of their most popular menu items.
4. Swiss Fairways Golf Course
Clermont’s Swiss Family Golf Course has been a central Florida golf icon for decades, and many golfers who played there as kids now bring their own children.
The course’s patient and courteous staff typically get big nods from first-time golfers, who have a tendency to feel overwhelmed and self-conscious about hitting a little white ball with a big stick in front of wide-eyed onlookers. Though the course probably isn’t up to Pebble Beach standards, it continues to draw crowds year after year.
Tight fairways and relatively small greens make the course challenging and fun, and prices are very reasonable by Florida golf standards.
5. Lake Catherine Blueberries
Though blueberries aren’t traditional Florida crops like watermelons, corn, and tomatoes, many farmers have begun growing them in recent years. In the health craze that’s sweeping the nation, the tasty, vitamin, and antioxidant-filled berries are becoming more popular every year.
Lake Catherine Blueberries is located just down the road from Mascotte in Groveland and is a U-Pick-‘em farm, which means that visitors grab a bucket and head out into the fields to pick their own fruit.
The harvesting season is generally between April and May, so plan your trip accordingly if you’ve got a flexible schedule, and pick up some of their tasty products at the country store before heading out.
6. Winter Garden Heritage Museum and Visitors Center
Winter Garden is one of Central Florida’s most quaint and historic towns. For those staying in Mascotte in the mood for a short road trip, it’s the perfect place to spend a relaxing afternoon.
The Winter Garden Heritage Museum and Visitors Center is open nearly every day of the year, excluding major holidays. It’s the perfect place to check-out for visitors who are unfamiliar with the area.
Maps, brochures, and travel magazines are free for the taking, and many contain valuable coupons on things like lodging, dining, and admission to local attractions. The center’s staff members are valuable traveler’s resources as well.
7. Withers-Maguire House
The Withers-Maguire House is located just outside Winter Garden in Ocoee and was built in the 1880s.
In the early days, the historic home was owned at different times by the two prominent local men after who it was named. Years later, it was bought by the city and converted into a museum and historic site that’s now listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
The house features stunning architecture and is full of period art, furniture, and housewares. Those who choose to take a look around will get some unique insights into the area’s past.
Admission and tours are free and offered on Saturday and Sunday afternoons.
8. Winter Garden Farmer’s Market
The Winter Garden Farmer’s Market is open on Saturdays from 9 until 2. It is brimming with fresh, local produce and lots of other locally produced items, like all-natural health and body products, prepared food items, and arts and crafts.
The market is located in the city’s historic downtown area and hosts a variety of live entertainment.
Many visitors come early to beat the crowds and enjoy a cup of hot coffee and some fresh baked goods before doing their shopping. For those new to the area, it’s a great place to meet friendly locals and ask them for ideas for things to see and do while in town.
9. Tibet-Butler Nature Preserve
The Tibet-Butler Nature Preserve is located in Orlando and has been described as an idyllic natural oasis set amidst the bustling city that’s most well-known for its kid-filled theme parks.
The preserve’s undisturbed land includes forests and wetlands that are home to a variety of animal species; many of them are easy to see from the trails that wind their way for miles through the unique environments.
Most of the preserve’s trails are well-marked and easily walkable for those of varied ages and levels of physical ability. There’s also a popular butterfly garden and an indoor welcome and environmental center.
10. Central Florida Railroad Museum
The Central Florida Railroad Museum is operated by the local historical society and is dedicated to promoting and preserving the area’s rich railroad past.
Over the years, the railroads have played critical roles in the economy and development of the state, as they brought in finished products and transported Florida’s produce and natural resources to urban and manufacturing centers around the country.
The museum is located in Winter Garden and opens daily from 1 until 5 PM. History lovers traveling on a budget need not fret because it’s a totally free attraction that usually occupies no more than an hour of visitor’s time.
11. The Wheel at ICON Park
ICON Park is one of Orlando’s trendiest and most popular attractions, and the giant Orlando Ferris Wheel is one of its centerpieces.
The Wheel towers hundreds of feet over the flat Florida landscape. From the top on clear days, it’s possible to see Cape Canaveral all the way on the Atlantic coast.
The wheel’s gondolas feature stability control to counteract the wind, panoramic views, and air conditioning to ensure a comfy ride even on the hottest days.
For those who’d rather not venture into the heavens, the park offers an abundance of dining, shopping, and recreation options that have been known to keep visitors engaged and entertained for hours.
12. House of Blues Orlando
House of Blues Orlando has been likened to live entertainment venues more frequently found in cities like Memphis and New Orleans. For lovers of great food, cool music, and an all-around chill vibe, it’s the area’s premier destination.
House of Blues frequently hosts big-name national talent, and their schedule includes lots of up-and-coming local performers too.
Food and drink specials are offered daily, and it’s an especially popular destination for those traveling without kids.
Seating often fills quickly during peak times before and during shows, so consider arriving early if you’d like to get a good spot before the masses arrive.
13. Eat at the World’s Largest McDonald’s
McDonald’s may not rank highly on most vacationer’s itineraries, but the one located on International Drive in Orlando has a unique claim to fame, and its menu offers items you won’t find at run-of-the-mill McDonald’s elsewhere.
Touted as the world’s largest McDonald’s, the restaurant is a big attraction for lovers of Americana. In addition to the usual burgers, fries, and McNuggets, they offer pizza and even pasta.
The restaurant’s automated ordering system speeds up the lines, so long waits won’t be an issue, and there are a variety of arcade games to keep the little ones busy when they’re finished eating.
14. Harry P. Leu Gardens
Comprised of more than 50 acres of distinctly themed gardens, the Harry P. Leu Gardens are an often overlooked area attraction featuring a variety of species of native and exotic plants, trees, and flowers.
From roses and orchids to fruit trees and herbs, the gardens are beautiful year-round, but they’re particularly vibrant during the spring bloom.
The gardens are located on the shores of Lake Ivanhoe near downtown Orlando, and there’s an ever-popular butterfly garden that’s always a big hit with animal-loving kids.
The facility includes abundant artwork and a museum, and guided tours are popular ways to get the most out of your visit.