14 Best Things to Do in Minneola (FL)

Written by Bart Meeuwesen
Updated on
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This ever-expanding city in Central Florida is on the eastern shore of the lake of the same name. Lake Minneola is in the Clermont Chain of Lakes, stretching down to Lake Louisa where there’s a spellbinding state park to visit.

Until the second half of the 20th century much of the landscape was made up of citrus groves. In fact, the Minneola tangelo is named after this very place.

A minute away in Clermont you can scale the 226-foot Florida Citrus Tower, which testifies to this heritage. 

Now, Minneola is a low-key community, with some of the finest sunsets you could hope to see. On the city’s doorstep you’ll find a large-scale vineyard, beautiful parcels of nature, and Clermont, with its lively downtown and lakefront park.

1. Lake Minneola

Minneola is on the eastern shore of the namesake lake, although the public access points are just across the line in Clermont.

Still, I can’t get enough of the waterfront views along S Lakeshore Drive. Framed by palms and venerable live oaks draped with Spanish moss, this residential street is as pretty as they come. 

On the lakeshore is a string of quaint docks and little beaches, all private, but worth admiring as you go past. The time for a drive is undoubtedly late in the day when the low sun catches these tea-colored waters. 

Now, the South Lake Trail visits the lakeshore in Minneola, while the Clermont Boat Ramp and Waterfront Park are moments away.

2. Florida Citrus Tower

Florida Citrus TowerSource: Noah Densmore / shutterstock
Florida Citrus Tower

Nowadays, as I’m sure you’re aware, Central Florida is one of the world’s tourism hotspots. It wasn’t always like this, and close by you can check out one of the first things that put this area on the map. 

Rising 226 feet over what was then a vast landscape of orange groves, the Florida Citrus Tower (1956) is from a time when the citrus industry ruled this part of the state. 

The tower’s exhibits pay tribute to citrus growing, which has since contracted in these parts. After zooming to the observation deck in an air-conditioned elevator, you can survey a now diverse landscape. 

Among the lakes are sprawling cities, with downtown Orlando visible 20 miles to the east.

3. South Lake Trail

Something I think should be celebrated about Minneola is how much of Central Florida you can visit from here without a car. 

This can be done via the 12.5-mile South Lake, which in turn enters Orange County on the West Orange Trail at Killarney Station. So you could get to somewhere like Winter Garden within 45 minutes from Minneola.

The South Trail runs from Killarney Station west to Groveland. Most of all, it’s a fantastic way to admire Lake Minneola, arcing around the southern shore and passing downtown Clermont. 

The best local access point is the verdant Minneola Trailhead Park, which I’ll describe below.

4. Minneola Trailhead Park

The place where you can get onto the South Lake Trail in Minneola is a beautiful recreation  space. 

Packed onto seven acres at Minneola Trailhead Park is a ballfield, basketball court, a spur/bike trail, and a workout area for adults. In particular, I loved the cute shelter along the trail, designed like a railroad depot. 

Whether you’re riding a bike, bringing kids to the playground, or enjoying a family picnic, there’s a lot of tree cover at the park, combined with open grassy spaces for games.

Also in the shade is a superb dog park, with water stations and separate areas for small and larger pups.

5. Lake Louisa State Park

Lake Louisa State Park, ClermontSource: SR Productions / shutterstock
Lake Louisa State Park

You can break out into the Central Florida wilderness at this state park a short drive south. Lake Louisa State park is made up of ten different lakes, knitted together with picturesque creeks and wetlands. 

There are almost a dozen different ecosystems on these 4,300+ acres. These range from former citrus groves to upland mixed forest and hydric hammock, growing some massive bald cypresses.

If there’s an essential way to enjoy the park, I’d say it’s on the water, kayaking, canoeing or paddleboarding around the three main lakes.

Out of the water there’s more than 20 miles of hiking and biking trails, as well as 16 miles for horseback riding, which is a big activity in the park. 

Finally, Lake Louisa State Park is a premier camping destination, with everything from cabins to equestrian camping with paddocks.

6. Lake Minneola Inn and Tiki Bar & Grill

Lake Minneola Inn And Tiki BarSource: Lake Minneola Inn/ the Tiki Bar & Grill / Facebook
Lake Minneola Inn And Tiki Bar & Grill

For a relaxed place to dine or sip a drink while the sun goes down, my pick is the Tiki Bar & Grill at Lake Minneola Inn. 

Though the waterfront eatery is a relatively new addition, the historic inn on South Main Avenue has been around for over 100 years.

It sits among mature live oaks on Lake Minneola’s beautiful eastern shore and offers visitors a touch of Old Florida. Right on the water, the Tiki Bar & Grill brings a laid-back Key West vibe, with award-winning burgers and signature golden tater tots. 

Stay to watch the sunset, and linger a bit longer in the light of the tiki torches which line the dock.

7. Green Mountain Scenic Overlook

Green Mountain Scenic OverlookSource: kellyv / Flickr
Green Mountain Scenic Overlook

Minneola also is also partly on the shore of the fourth-largest lake in Florida. Lake Apopka is an ecological phoenix, having been declared dead in the 20th century because of agricultural runoff. 

Things began to change when the entire north shore was turned into a preserve, allowing the wetlands to recover. More than 360 bird species have been counted here, along with otters, bobcats, and, of course, numerous alligators. 

You can get onto the trail that loops around the north shore at this scenic overlook. There’s an observation tower here, with a satisfying view of the lake. 

At 132 feet, it’s unusually high for Florida, although the view is best admired in winter, as there was a lot of foliage in the way when I came in summer.

8. Waterfront Park, Clermont

The closest public park on Lake Minneola is Clermont’s Waterfront Park, which can be reached in a couple minutes. Waterfront Park is on the South Lake Trail, and serves as a venue for a near-weekly array of outdoor events in Clermont.

These include regattas, numerous triathlons, and the Pig-on-the-Pond festival every October. There’s a sandy beach here with a swimming area open in summer, as well as a fishing dock, basketball court, and a line of picnic pavilions.

Another awesome seasonal attraction at Waterfront Park is a splash pad, open spring break through October, although the exact days vary. When I was here with my family there was a small, $2 fee to enter.

9. Lakeridge Winery & Vineyards

You barely have to leave Minneola on US 27 and you’ll be at a 127-acre wine estate. Florida’s dominant wine grape is the native Muscadine, and Lakeridge grows three varieties of this grape, along with others include Chardonnay, Pinot Grigio and Cabernet Sauvignon.

This is a big operation, with complimentary public tours seven days a week. This includes a guided walking tour and an audiovisual presentation. Of course, you’ll get to sample some of the range, and browse the large shop for wines and local gourmet foods.

My perfect time to be here is on weekends, when you can hang out on the vineyard green enjoying live music, great wine, and delicious bites.

10. Presidents Hall of Fame

In 1964, Jack Toole, one of the men behind the Florida Citrus Tower, opened another tourist attraction next door. 

This was the House of Presidents, a treasured waxwork museum with depictions of every US President up to Lyndon B. Johnson, incumbent when the museum opened.

When the attraction changed hands in the 70s it became the home of an astonishing, highly detailed scale replica of the White House. This model has toured the nation, and remains the centerpiece, along with waxworks of every president.

Complementing this is a trove of presidential memorabilia, from correspondence to photographs, death masks, and presidential china.

11. Historic Downtown Clermont

In Minneola you’re five minutes from Clermont’s sociable downtown area. Mainly along W Montrose Street, there’s a lovable assortment of independent shops and eateries. 

I think the best time to come is definitely on a Sunday, when there’s a farmers’ market, from 09:00 am to 2:00 pm. 

With more than 40 vendors, you can shop here for fresh produce, honey, eggs, fresh seafood, farm-raised meats, homemade gifts, home decor, and much more.

You can find out more about Clermont and Minneola at Clermont Historic Village Museums by the lakeshore. This is in an ensemble of relocated old buildings, with exhibits looking at topics like WWII, faith, agriculture, domestic life, and Clermont’s first African-American residents.

12. Dreamcatcher Horse Ranch and Rescue Center

This local ranch has rescued and rehabilitated more than 1,000 horses since it was founded in 2006. Many move on to new homes, while some remain at this beautiful sanctuary.

In that spirit, Dreamcatcher Horse Ranch and Rescue Center offers a variety of equestrian-related experiences. By appointment you can visit for trail rides six days a week.

There are also horseback riding lessons for all ages and abilities. Meanwhile, the ranch also has ponies for younger visitors, with rides and grooming sessions available. 

Children will love feeding the horses and ponies, as well as meeting a few of the farm’s other animals, including donkeys, chickens and llamas.

13. The Donut King

The Donut KingSource: The Donut King / Facebook
The Donut King

This mini-chain, with three Central Florida locations, was founded in Minneola in 2007. The Donut King features lots of old classics as well as lots of imaginative flavors, coated with Nerds, Fruity Pebbles or Coconut Crunch. 

Still you can’t go wrong with tried-and-tested, and the sour cream donuts are up there with the best I’ve tasted.  

As well as a massive selection of donuts, The Donut King has a lot of savory options. These include White Castle-style sliders, as well as Southern/Tex Mex favorites like jambalaya, breakfast burritos, and gumbo as much as they do their donuts.

14. Minneola Athletic Complex

Close to Minneola High School there’s a comprehensive sports facility, with amenities for a range of activities. I counted five baseball/softball diamonds at the Minneola Athletic Complex, with a concession stand at the center, open during games.

Also on site are batting cages, a t-ball field, basketball courts, three multi-use fields, volleyball courts, and tennis courts. 

If you’re just here for a workout there’s a multi-use trail winding around the complex, with exercise stations by the baseball fields. Added to that are age-specific kids’ playgrounds, with a picnic pavilion between the two playscapes.

14 Best Things to Do in Minneola (FL):

  • Lake Minneola
  • Florida Citrus Tower
  • South Lake Trail
  • Minneola Trailhead Park
  • Lake Louisa State Park
  • Lake Minneola Inn and Tiki Bar & Grill
  • Green Mountain Scenic Overlook
  • Waterfront Park, Clermont
  • Lakeridge Winery & Vineyards
  • Presidents Hall of Fame
  • Historic Downtown Clermont
  • Dreamcatcher Horse Ranch and Rescue Center
  • The Donut King
  • Minneola Athletic Complex