Tavares – The Seaplane City

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.