Tavares, Florida – America’s Seaplane City

Tavares, Florida - The Seaplane City

In Florida’s lake country, it’s hard to ignore the beauty of the lakes that surround towns and villages around north central Florida. In fact, you can easily miss Tavares, Florida nestled between Leesburg to the west and Mount Dora to the east while all three towns border some large popular lakes.

Just looking at a map and you can see why Tavares could be the seaplane capital of the United States with four large bodies of water for landing these flying pontoons. Just a block or two from the courthouse is the center of seaplane activity with docks, fuel and restaurants to support the seaport.

Tavares was founded by Alexander St. Clair-Abrams in 1880.  St. Clair’s dream that Tavares would become the capital of Florida never came true, but Tavares did become the county seat for Lake County.

Tavares has that old Florida charm of stately homes built along the lakefront. A trip along Lakeshore Drive hugging Lake Dora will highlight the charm of quiet waterfront living with a pace enjoyed by many southerners.

A must see for visitors of Tavares is Wooten Park just steps from the seaport. The recent opening of the Tavares Museum adds to the old rail station, newly built docks and large pier side meeting and wedding facility built well out into the lake. Just waking a few paces along the lake will see why residents love the style of life well insulated from the challenges of big city life.

Clearly, the main activity in Tavares revolves around watersports. Fishing appears to be high on the activity list, but boating, waterskiing and the ever-present jet skis abound. Still, you are never far from the sights and sounds of the many seaplanes.

There are several restaurants near the seaport, including Puddle Jumpers Bar and Grill, that face the water. A cool refreshment on their deck will offer plenty of action at the lakefront as planes arrive and depart from the docks. If you want to be part of the action, walk over to the Seaplane base and book a ride. “Flightseeing” is a great way to view the Harris chain of lakes. Lake Dora, Lake Harris, Lake Eustis and Lake Griffin are just a few of the very large lakes easily viewed from the air.

Just a couple of miles from Taveras is Mt. Dora which we have chronicled here at FTL a couple of times. If you like quaint shops in a small-town atmosphere, Mount Dora offers some of the best. A neat day trip is a morning at Tavares and the afternoon at Mt. Dora is perfect!

Tavares is located about 40 miles north of Orlando on Rt. 441. The city is about in the center of the state which means it is about 50 miles from the Gulf and 50 miles from the Atlantic Ocean.

Tavares is surrounded by lakes in central Florida
This Lake Pavilion is the site of dozens of weddings annually in Tavares.
Tavares Seaplane
Seaplanes easily navigate onto shore.
Seaplanes can act just like a boat!
Tavares Wooten Park
Wooten Park along the Lakefront is a nice stroll in the shade,
Tavares Vintage Boats
Seaplanes are the only thing in Tavares. Vintage Boats invade the city in an annual event.
Tavares Tunes Festival
Like most Florida towns, Tavares has many festivas and events throughout the year.

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