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Discover inland Florida

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Entertainment,Andrea Farnum

The Sunshine State, well-known for its year-round warm weather and pristine sandy beaches, has hidden treasures well beyond its shorelines. Interior Florida is host to some of the most charming, quirky and unique small towns that are waiting to be discovered by inquisitive travelers.

Just 35 miles west of Disney World in Orlando is Mount Dora, a destination that has earned the nicknames the "City of Festivals" and "Antique Capital of the South."

"It definitely has a creative vibe," said Dani Chandonnet, marketing and business development coordinator for the city of Mount Dora. "We have an annual antique boat show, craft fair, boat parade, bike fest and an exceptionally extravagant holiday light show throughout the city in December."

Antique lovers will not want to miss this mecca of all things collectible and old.

"We are fortunate to be a seven-minute drive to the largest collection of antique dealers in the South: Renninger?s," said Ana and Jim Tuttle, innkeepers of the Mount Dora Historic Inn. "There are over 180 shops in the Renninger?s facility and they offer everything from antique furniture to World?s Fair collectibles."

If your taste for traveling borders on the peculiar, then a stop in the town of Cassadaga should be onthe top of your itinerary. Located 27 miles northeast of Mount Dora, Cassadaga is known as the "Psychic Center of the World" and is host to some of the premier psychics, astrologers and spiritualists in the country.

Home to the Cassadaga Spiritualist Camp, built in 1894 as a refuge for spiritually minded people; Cassadaga attracts seekers looking for a glimpse into their futures.

"I went directly to the spiritualist center, where you can call a psychic from a directory," said Leslie Kovalic, former Baltimorean now living in Winterhaven, Fla. "It?s not the typical palm-reader experience. My reading was very personal and extremely right-on."

Travelers should be warned, however, that any psychics outside the camp are not authentic Cassadaga Spiritualists.

"There are some charlatans on the outskirts of town that try to pass themselves off as the real thing, so be careful," Kovalic says.

afarnum@baltimoreexaminer.com

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