Clermont, Florida. Also, known as the Gem of the Hills. I have lived in Clermont for the past 10 years and yes I know it sounds cliche, but every year I find myself falling more and more in love with this beautiful lake-dotted, out of the way to some, homey hills to others, paradise. If you don’t know, as I imagine most people don’t, Clermont is about 20 miles west of the oh so famous city of Orlando, Fl. This city has everything you need, and nothing of what you don’t. In about a 35 minute drive you can feel far enough away from the hustle and tourist-laden chaos that surround the areas of Walt Disney World, Universal, and SeaWorld. Not to mention the cringe-worthy, trafficked chaos of I4. I’m originally from NYC. I grew up in Jamaica, Queens, if you’ve never been to NY, it’s probably everything you imagine. Big city noise, lots of people walking fast to go to important places near nowhere. Don’t get me wrong, NYC has its charms, after all, its the city of dreams. But I’ve found, sometimes you get so caught up doing and moving so fast, you stop moving altogether. You forget to look up and just breath in the beauty of life around you. As you can imagine taking a city girl out of the city and dropping her straight into what at the time felt like no man’s land, was a huge ummm let’s just say adjustment. From the unknowing, close-minded eye, Clermont looks like a country town accidentally dropped near busy Central Florida, mostly known for Orlando. The hills, the cows, the random farms and horses and then you see Walmart; A breath of familiarity to many. We are talking classic lifetime movie hometown feel here, where it seems like everyone knows someone you know. Then you take a closer look and start to revel at the scattered lakes and hilly elevation as you drive down US 27. So many cute communities in Clermont with resort style amenities and amazing golf course views. You can see the famous citrus tower from practically anywhere here. Did you know, the Florida Citrus Tower is one of Florida’s first landmarks. Apparently, it was a viewing attraction for visitors to see the miles of orange groves surrounding the area. Don’t fret, I told you its changed, there aren’t as many orange groves. Photo Credit: (State Archives of Florida) Another awesome fact is Clermont’s downtown district that hugs Lake Minnehaha, has not changed significantly since 1962. You get that beautiful old town character, a few cobblestone streets with unique mom and pop shops owned by people who’ve grown up in the area, who will definitely talk to you for a little bit longer than you expected, about why they love it here. Clermont also hosts some unique local festivals like Pig on The Pond, and every Sunday you can find my son and I sampling the unique offerings at the local farmers market.