Minneola is a city of about 7,300 residents that lies just west of Winter Garden in central Florida’s Lake County.
Minneola’s location near the state’s geographic center offers visitors a variety of day-trip options, including world-class theme parks, amazing beaches on both coasts, state and national parks, and a variety of historical and cultural attractions as well.
Central Florida and Lake County in general are dotted with lakes of all shapes and sizes; they’re recreation centers for boaters, anglers, and kayakers.
Below are 14 things to do in and around Minneola that rank high on many visitor’s itineraries.
1. Lake Minneola Inn and Tiki Bar
For those new to Minneola who’d rather forego more touristy lodging and dining options, the Lake Minneola Inn and Tiki Bar would be a great fit.
Though the Tiki Bar portion of the inn is a relatively new addition, the historic inn on South Main Avenue has been around for over 100 years.
The inn sits on an amazingly scenic lakeshore and offers visitors a touch of the area’s old-time charm, as well as great food and perfect views of iconic Florida sunsets.
Their rooms are comfortable and affordable, and their menu is full of tasty classics, like burgers and beer-soaked, German-style sausages.
2. Green Mountain Scenic Overlook
Situated on a bluff overlooking the north shore of Lake Apopka in Minneola, the Green Mountain Scenic Overlook offers visitors stunning views of the surrounding land and lakes.
Many choose to snap a photo or two and head off to other adventures, but for those who’d rather get out and stretch their legs, the adjacent park offers a variety of recreation options.
Trails from the overlook lead both inland and around the lake’s shores, and it’s common to see a range of wildlife, like snakes, turtles, foxes, and lots of birds.
A two-mile hike leads to an observation tower, and the lake is a popular destination for bass fishermen as well.
3. The Donut King
Previous visitors to The Donut King on Highway 27 in Minneola have noted that their selection of donuts borders on the mind-boggling.
They feature lots of old classics as well as lots of new-fangled flavors that most guests have never tasted, and they offer a wide variety of non-donut fare as well.
The Donut King has been around since 2007 and has attracted quite a loyal following over the years. Many faithful customers enjoy their burgers, jambalaya, breakfast burritos, and gumbo as much as they do their donuts.
Everything is made fresh on-site daily, their prices are reasonable, and carry-out is available.
4. Florida Citrus Tower
Located just a short drive from Minneola in Clermont, the Florida Citrus Tower is one of the area’s tallest structures and looms more than 220 feet over the surrounding countryside.
Though its popularity has waned over the years as visitors gravitate toward more commercial and large-scale attractions like theme parks, the tower is one of those unique bits of local history that deserves a look.
The tower and its exhibits are memorials to the region’s abundant citrus crop that have always been a significant economic driver. From the top of the tower, it’s possible to see downtown Orlando, which is more than 20 miles away.
5. The Crooked Spoon Gastropub
The Crooked Spoon Gastropub in Clermont is owned and run by a native New Jersey chef who’s known for using fresh local ingredients to create both traditional and contemporary dishes.
The Crooked Spoon is a locally-owned family business in an area where most competitors are part of national chains. They’re particularly well-known for their signature burgers that come in a variety of mouth-watering and even head-scratching flavors, like coffee and cocoa.
They’re not exactly flavors typically associated with burgers, but guests love them; for those looking to expand their culinary horizons and save a few bucks, burgers are discounted on Tuesday nights.
6. Kings Ridge Golf Club
The Kings Ridge Golf Club in Clermont offers visitors two distinct 18-hole courses, the longest and most difficult of which is the par-71 King Course that plays about 6,300 yards.
It’s long enough to challenge most players, but short enough that it won’t require more than three or four hours to play. For those who’d rather just dedicate a few hours, the shorter Ridge Course plays just 3,700 yards.
Both courses are appropriate for golfers of most ages and abilities, and they feature tiered greens, elevated tee boxes, and abundant sand and water hazards to make things both fun and challenging.
7. Orlando Cat Café
Located on Cagan Park Avenue in Clermont, Orlando Cat Café is a unique, feline-themed restaurant and coffee shop that caters to the cat-loving crowd who don’t mind a few errant wisps of fur in their food.
The cat café trend is a relatively new phenomenon, and Orlando Cat Café is the first of its kind in the area.
They’re known for their cool ambiance and tasty food and drinks, and there’s an adjacent play area that serves as an adoption center for cats in need of loving homes.
For those who left their furry friends at home, it’s a great place to stop and get some quality time with the café’s lovable occupants.
8. Lake Louisa State Park
Lake Louisa State Park in nearby Clermont is comprised of more than 4,500 acres of diverse natural habitats that offer a number of recreation activities and are home to an abundance of wildlife.
Deer, foxes, bobcats, and a variety of woodpeckers, wading, and predatory birds are regularly seen, and the park is an easy drive from Minneola.
Though the park is named after Lake Louisa, its area includes portions of more than five other lakes that are popular with anglers, kayakers, and bird-watchers.
During peak times on the weekends, the park can get busy, so to avoid the crowds, consider a weekday or early morning visit.
9. ICON Park
Orlando’s ICON Park includes more than 20 acres of easily-walkable grounds that are home to a huge variety of trendy dining, drinking, and retail establishments, drawing both locals and visitors alike.
One of the park’s main attractions is the Ferris wheel known as the Orlando Eye that stretches nearly 400 feet into the sky.
For those not scared of heights, riding in an enclosed gondola to the wheel’s summit is an amazing experience. Rumor has it that on a clear day it’s possible to see as far as Cape Canaveral on the Atlantic coast.
The park’s restaurants and bars often offer food and drink specials in the afternoon and evening hours.
10. West Orange Trail
The weather in central Florida in the summer months can be nothing short of brutal, but for much of the year when the temps and humidity levels drop, it’s close to perfect.
The West Orange Trail runs for more than 20 miles between Oakland and Apopka. For those staying near the trail’s middle, there are a variety of entry points.
The trail is open year-round and free to use. In addition to winding its way through a variety of natural and developed areas, there are dining, shopping, and historical attractions in many of the nearby towns.
Bikes are available to rent for both short and long-term users.
11. Universal Orlando Resort
Universal Orlando Resort is a one-of-a-kind attraction that includes elements of a zoo, theme park, and movie-themed museum.
It’s an especially big attraction for families traveling with kids, and with its abundant on-site amenities, it’s a place that many families end up spending much of their vacation time.
The resort has been designed to eliminate long waits for rides and attractions, which means happier kids – and thus happier parents.
There’s even an area dedicated to Harry Potter fans both young and old, as well as a variety of live entertainment, dining, and nightlife options that are geared toward adults without children too.
12. Orlando Museum of Art
Orlando has a variety of art museums to choose from, and the Orlando Museum of Art is one of the most popular.
The museum was founded nearly 100-years ago by a group of art lovers who found that the area was lacking in art and cultural attractions.
The museum’s collection includes both old and contemporary art done in a variety of mediums and from nearly every corner of the globe.
Their aim is to promote and preserve the wonderful world of art, and expose visitors to amazing works that they probably wouldn’t have access to otherwise. They often host special events as well.
13. Tibet-Butler Nature Preserve
The Tibet-Butler Nature Preserve is a natural oasis set amid one of the state’s largest metropolitan areas. It’s a magnet for outdoor lovers and nature enthusiasts who’d rather not spend hours in the car getting to other more well-known state and national parks.
The preserve is an easy drive from Minneola and includes a variety of multi-use trails that wind through some of the area’s most scenic and undisturbed natural areas.
Hikers, bikers, and amateur nature photographers won’t have any problem finding serene areas away from crowds, and the trails range from long and moderately difficult to short loops that are appropriate for those of most ages and levels of physical ability.
14. The Winter Garden Heritage Museum
Steeped in smalltown southern charm, Winter Garden is a popular central Florida destination that’s full of quaint historic buildings and museums highlighting the area’s rich history.
The Winter Garden Heritage Museum was founded nearly two decades ago and includes several exhibits touching on the area’s development, economy, and the Native American cultures that called the area home long before it was officially settled.
Railroads also played significant roles in the region’s development, as did the citrus industry.
The museum is open daily from 1 PM until 5 PM, and most guests spend about an hour looking around.