Tavares, Florida is a small town about 40 miles north of Downtown Orlando. The once sleepy suburb has been spending a lot of money in recent years on some crazy ideas that are now paying off. Welcome to Tavares, “America’s Seaplane City.”
I recently was invited to check out the new(ish) redevelopment project as part of a tour organized by the Orlando EDC. It’s been about 10 years since I’ve been out to the Tavares lakefront, and I honestly didn’t even recognize it. It’s a beautiful spot with so many great things to do, eat and drink.
Some fun facts about Tavares and their seaplane status:
- The seaplane base opened in April 2010. And includes a 3,000-foot virtual runway on the lake, a ramp and tarmac, marina docks and an aviation-fueling station.
- The FAA code for the airport is FA1.
- The area is home to Jones Brothers & Co., a seaplane business offering tours.
- The seaplane connection also helped the city lure a seaplane manufacturing business.
I’m typically not a fan of flight. I don’t like small planes and I’m generally not a fan of flying anywhere near water. So it really sounded like a recipe for disaster. As I continued to stress about the flight, I decided, I just had to suck it up be one of the first to climb on board.
It was awesome to basically feel like you’re in a boat….and then suddenly you are in the air. There was only a short period…maybe two minutes…where I thought I would die. But after holding hands with the poor (before today) stranger next to me, we were all good. Until we were in the water again doing a “splash-and-go.” Then it was another takeoff and then we were just flying. And…It. Was. Awesome.
Before you know it, we’re landing on water and then back on land. I never thought I would like it as much as I did. We are coming up on the “seaplane season” which generally runs from February to April. Click here to learn more about upcoming events – some of them sound amazing! I know I’ll be back to check it out!
It also didn’t hurt that there are a number of great restaurants and bars nearby. A perfect place to relax after a glorious flight.