The Florida Packard Club is a Region of The Packard Club / Packard Automobile Classics.


The 4th Annual Florida Packard Tour was a big success by all measures. Great Packards, happy people, delicious meals, wonderful venues and fabulous weather were all hallmarks of the Florida Packard Club’s 2024 Tour. It happened April 4th through 7th.

The historic 1883-built Lakeside Inn in Mt. Dora was the event hub. Projecting from the hub were three fun-filled days of fellowship, driving and discovery. 39 club members and friends brought 14 Packards and a few modern vehicles. Everyone who came without a Packard rode in one every day.

Thursday, April 4th, was arrival day. While most Packards were driven to the Hotel from their home cities, several arrived in trailers. A private, fenced trailer lot was provided about two miles from the Inn. The Chamber of Commerce-owned historic Railroad Depot was a short walk from the Inn and hosted the opening Pizza Party at 6:00 PM. The Party ended with a Driver’s and Navigator’s Meeting, during which the Tour routes and stops were discussed, and questions answered. Each driver received a tour book with turn-by-turn directions for each driving day and other helpful info.

Friday was the first driving day. Picturesque country roads brought everyone to the first stop, Southern Oaks Training Center in Sorrento, FL. This is a world-class harness equine training facility, with a dozen huge barns housing hundreds of horses. Coffee and snacks were served, and one of the nation’s top trainers gave the group a lesson about the facility, while trotters and pacers practiced on the clay track only yards away. 

Another 30 miles of rural roads led the group to DeLeon Springs State Park. Here everyone boarded a boat for a peaceful guided tour of the springs and St. John’s River. Native birds, fish and alligators were seen by all. The State Park was also the day’s lunch stop. Most everyone enjoyed lunch at the Park’s “Old Sugar Mill Pancake House.” Situated inside a century-old mill, the restaurant features griddles on every table, where diners can make their own pancakes. A wide variety of other foods are also offered.

More beautiful country roads brought everyone back to the Lakeside Inn, where the Packards were parked on the brick drive between the Inn and Lake Dora for all hotel guests to enjoy. 

Saturday was tour day two, and included driving through several small central Florida towns. Mid-morning, everyone stopped for water, stretching and fellowship under the live oaks of Emeralda Marsh Conservation Area and Bull Hammock Trail. Then, more country roads paved the way to Umatilla, FL, for Southern food at the Mason Jar Restaurant. No one left hungry.

After lunch, the Packards drove back to the Mt. Dora area and enjoyed an afternoon of antiquing at the renowned Renninger’s Antique Center. It made sense, as people who love antique cars tend to love other antiquities, as well. 

Finally, it was back to the Lakeside Inn. Saturday night, the Inn hosted a large wedding, and the Packards were a big hit with the wedding crowd.

The first stop on Sunday, the final tour day, was Little Long Ears Farm in Zellwood, FL. The farm got it’s name for the its unusual inhabitants – it is the home to the finest of miniature donkeys. It was also home to coffee, doughnuts and great fellowship. 

Leaving the Farm, everyone enjoyed more wonderful rural roads, including a drive to the top of Sugarloaf Mountain, the highest point in the Florida peninsula at a dizzying 322 ft. above sea level. The group stopped briefly in Howey-in-the-Hills to view the 1925 Howey Mansion, then continued on to the day’s final destination, Yalaha Bakery in Yalaha, FL. The bakery makes delectable homemade sweets and breads and also serves all sorts of traditional German meals. There was live music in the “Biergarten,” and once again everyone left entertained and satisfied. 

At last, all backroads led participants to the Lakeside Inn for goodbyes and good wishes for another fun tour in 2025. Where? Stay tuned.

Special thanks to David and Janet MacMillan, for much of the tour planning. The couple lives near Mt. Dora, so they knew the best backroads and stops in the region. They do not own a Packard, but have been awarded honorary club membership for their efforts.

Packards on the Tour, by year, are listed below, along with cities from which they were brought. (Owners’ and participants’ names will be included in the upcoming issue of The Caribbean Courier, newsletter of the Florida Packard Club.)

1929 7-Passenger Sedan (mod.), Beverly Hills, FL

1933 Super Eight 7-Passenger Sedan, Tallahassee, FL

1934 Super Eight Club Sedan, Jacksonville, FL

1937 115C Club Sedan, West Palm Beach, FL

1938 120 Coupe, Lake Alfred, FL

1941 110 Sedan, Cocoa, FL

1941 180 5-Passenger Sedan, Orange Park, FL

1947 Custom Super Clipper Club Sedan, Palm Harbor, FL

1948 Custom Club Coupe, Valdosta, GA

1951 250 Convertible, Port Charlotte, FL

1953 Caribbean, St. Augustine, FL

1954 Patrician, The Villages, FL

1954 Clipper Panama, Melbourne, FL

1956 Four Hundred, Lakeland, FL

Copyright 2024 Florida Packard Club, Inc.  All rights reserved.

The Florida Packard Club is a Region of The Packard Club / Packard Automobile Classics, Inc.