Blake Walsh

16 Best Things to Do in Tavares, FL

  • Published 2022/11/12

Tavares is a beautiful lakefront city in central Florida, less than an hour from Orlando.

It was founded in 1880 and has been the seat of Lake County since 1888.

The city is part of the county’s golden triangle, an area known for its natural beauty and outdoor adventures such as boating and fishing.

Known as America’s Seaplane City, it is home to a seaplane base on Lake Dora that hosts thousands of landings throughout the year, offering a unique and exciting adventure to try during your vacation.

With breathtaking views, lovely natural attractions, and exciting activities, the city offers plenty of opportunities to unplug and unwind with family and friends.

Here are some of the best things to do in Tavares, Florida, to help you get started on planning your trip:

See the Natural Beauty of Dora Canal

The waters of Dora Canal

Marty-Mac /

Launch a kayak and enjoy scenic views of Dora Canal.

Considered among the most beautiful in the world, this short but stunning waterway connects Lake Eustis and Lake Dora.

Paddle slowly as you immerse yourself in the natural beauty surrounding the waterway, including towering cypress trees and abundant flora.

A bird perched on a tree at Dora Canal

Archaeopteryx Tours /

As you traverse the canal, spot bald eagles, blue herons, turtles, and other wildlife.

You can explore the Dora Canal via the boat launch site at Summerall Park along Wells Avenue.

Various boat tours also offer cruises along the canal.

An egret at Dora Canal

RCulbert /

Spend a Day at Wooton Park

Take the family on a picnic day at Wooton Park.

This six-acre park features picnic facilities, play areas, and water access through a boat ramp and fishing pier.

Enjoy a barbecue picnic and then explore the scenery around.

In summer, the splash pad offers a fun play area for the kids.

The park also hosts various community events, such as the Antique Boat Festival and the Tavares Spring Thunder Regatta.

Wooton Park is located along East Ruby Street.

Go on a Seaplane Ride Over the City with Jones Brothers & Co. Air and Seaplane Adventures

There’s no better way to experience Seaplane City than to get on a seaplane ride for a flightseeing tour!

Hop on a short flight and enjoy the thrill of seaplane flying and breathtaking views.

If you’re looking for an adventure, you can go on excursions that will take you flying over and exploring the many beautiful sites.

You can also go on custom rides over your choice of a location nearby, which is great for a memorable trip with your special someone.

Jones Brothers & Co. Air and Seaplane Adventures, located along East Ruby Street, operates various seaplane rides and tours in the city.

See the Beautiful Plants at Discovery Gardens

Visit the Discovery Gardens and explore its beautiful collection of over 700 plants.

This 3.5-acre botanical facility features over 20 themed gardens, reflecting various aspects of gardening in central Florida.

Explore the gardens and get inspiration on landscaping and caring for your home gardens.

Learn about growing herbs in the kitchen garden.

If you’re visiting with your kids, explore the children’s garden with a butterfly house and maze.

You can also stroll and enjoy looking at the lovely flowers around the rose garden and wildflowers area.

You can find Discovery Gardens along Woodlea Road.

Visit Lake County Historical Museum

Discover the area’s rich history and heritage when you visit the Lake County Historical Museum.

Opened in 1954, the museum features various informative exhibits.

See artifacts from the Florida Indians and the World War II era.

Learn about the history of early Spanish explorers and settlers in the area and the county’s citrus groves.

The museum also hosts various events, such as movie nights.

Lake County Historical Museum is inside the historic Lake County Courthouse along West Main Street.

Relax at Aesop’s Park

Spend a relaxing day at Aesop’s Park.

This 11.5-acre park has active recreation facilities, trails, a dog park, a fishing pier, and lush greenery providing good shade.

Take a leisurely walk around and enjoy the beautiful scenery and serene atmosphere.

Spot some native plants along the trails or take a rest on a bench and catch up on reading.

Aesop’s Park is located along East Caroline Street.

Appreciate Art at the Lake County Museum of Art

Check out the local art scene at the Lake County Museum of Art.

Located downtown, this art museum hosts various creative events and mounts art exhibitions showcasing local, national, and international artists.

Stroll along the gallery and appreciate contemporary works of art from various local talents.

The museum also serves as an art center offering various art classes and workshops for adults and kids.

Lake County Museum of Art is located along West Ruby Street.

Find Interesting Pieces at Through the Years Vintage Market

Stop by Through the Years Vintage Market and check out its vintage offerings!

This lovely shop carries a wide collection of vintage items, giftware, and antiques.

Look around the shop, and you might find the perfect vintage piece to adorn your living room or an interesting item to gift to someone.

If you visit near the Christmas season, try to catch its sale of various holiday decoration items and find festive pieces to add to your home’s holiday look.

Through the Years Vintage Market is located along East Alfred Street.

Go Fishing at Hickory Point Park

A dock on the waters of Hickory Point Park

Timothy OLeary /

Visit Hickory Point Park for a fun day of recreation by the lake!

Opened in 1992, this 68-acre waterfront park has trails, picnic areas, a swimming beach, and water access.

Head to one of its two fishing piers to start your day of recreational fishing.

It also has 12 boat ramps, providing access to Lake Harris’ beautiful and rich waters.

You can find Hickory Point Park along SR 19.

Pick Berries at Far Reach Ranch

Have fun picking berries at Far Reach Ranch!

Established in 1947, this family-owned farm used to be an orange grove and cattle ranch until it was transformed into a blueberry farm in the 1990s.

Take the family and harvest your own lovely blueberries or strawberries while enjoying the farm’s beautiful atmosphere.

If you’re visiting in the fall, you can also catch various events at the farm, such as hayrides, live music, and playgrounds.

The farm also has baked goods, jams, and honey at the shop, great for a treat or to enjoy back home.

You can find Far Reach Ranch along South Dora Boulevard.

Explore Tavares Nature Park

Enjoy a serene day in nature at Tavares Nature Park.

This 112-acre park is a wetlands conservation area featuring a two-mile loop nature trail great for passive recreation.

Enjoy an easy and peaceful trek along the trails, taking you through grassy areas and open pine groves.

The trail is also great for birding.

Tavares Nature Park is located along Milwaukee Avenue.

Go on a Lake Cruise on the Dora Queen

Enjoy scenic views of Lake Dora when you cruise aboard the Dora Queen.

The Dora Queen is a New Orleans-style paddlewheel boat with a lounge seating capacity of 70 passengers.

Hop on, grab a drink and some cheese, and enjoy lovely afternoon views of the lake.

You can also go on a sunset cruise to catch the stunning lake view sunset.

You can also get on the Christmas boat parade cruise if you’re visiting during the Christmas season.

The Dora Queen docks at the Tavares Marina along South Sinclair Avenue.

Sample Local Craft Beer at Brü Tap House

Visit Brü Tap House downtown to unwind after a long day of sightseeing.

Try local brews at this trendy craft beer bar featuring 30 taps.

Have a pint and enjoy the atmosphere and live music.

It hosts various cool events throughout the week, such as vinyl nights, board games, and tap takeovers.

If you want to sample more flavors, check out the bottles and cans you can take and enjoy back home.

You can find Brü Tap House along East Main Street.

Enjoy Outdoor Activities at Lake Idamere Park

Spend some leisure time on the waters at Lake Idamere Park.

This 45-acre park features trails, picnic areas, and lake access, offering various opportunities for exploring the outdoors.

Take your canoe out on the lake and enjoy the serene atmosphere.

After some time on the lake, enjoy a picnic or stroll around the park.

You can find Lake Idamere Park along County Road 448.

Take the Kids to Jungle Zone

Let your kids enjoy hours of exciting play atJungle Zone!

This fun indoor children’s play park features an expansive inflatable arena, bouncers, slides, an obstacle course, and an arcade zone.

If you have little ones in tow, it has a toddler zone with soft play areas and other age-appropriate play structures.

There’s also a café where you can get some quick bites and drinks.

You can also rest in the lounge or try the massage chairs while the kids are having fun.

Jungle Zone is located along Woodlea Road.

Stay at Fisherman’s Cove

If you’re traveling in an RV and want to explore the city, Fisherman’s Cove offers a great spot for rest and leisure.

This RV resort has spacious lots with full-service hookups, beautiful greenery, and waterfront views for some.

It provides access to plenty of activities that will keep you both active and relaxed.

Play a round at the nine-hole golf course or enjoy a game at the shuffleboard courts.

It also has a boat ramp and full-service marina if you want a day of adventure on the waters.

There are also various events throughout the year, such as drive-in movies and wine and painting workshops.

Fisherman’s Cove is located along N. Eichelberger Road.

Other Things to Do Nearby

You can explore many other interesting activities and recreation sites from Tavares.

Here are some nearby spots you can visit:

Enjoy Nature’s Beauty at Lake Nature Center

Boardwalk trail at Lake Nature Center

romarti /

Experience more of central Florida’s natural beauty and history at Trout Lake Nature Center in Eustis, 14 minutes from Tavares.

This 230-acre facility features trails, picnic spots, and various nature exhibits.

Enjoy a nice walk along the trails, where you can explore various habitats and see wildlife.

See the lovely grand oak trees around.

Stroll leisurely along the boardwalk leading to the dock, where you can enjoy lake views.

You can also check out the educational exhibits and learn more about the area’s natural history.

Trout Lake Nature Center is a 7-mile drive from Tavares.

Bring Your Family to Stanley Pond Adventure Farm

Take the family on a fun farm adventure at Stanley Pond Adventure Farm in Astatula, 16 minutes from Tavares.

This family-owned farm offers plenty of family-friendly activities in a beautiful 23-acre country setting.

Enjoy the fun zone with your kids, where you can ride trikes and cool off at the splash pad.

You can also pick sunflowers and other flowers when in season.

Bring your bait and tackle and go fishing in their stocked ponds.

The Stanley Pond Adventure Farm is a 10-mile drive from Tavares.

Tour the Howey Mansion

Exterior of the Howey Mansion

Ebyabe, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Take a glimpse into the 1920s by visiting the historic Howey Mansion in the nearby town of Howey-in-the-Hills, 12 minutes from Tavares.

Built-in the mid-1920s, this 24-room mansion is an architectural landmark showcasing a Mediterranean Revival style.

Take a tour of the mansion and the lovely surrounding grounds.

Ballroom in the Howey Mansion

Shanejayhayes, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

If you’re visiting in December, you can see the mansion decorated for the holiday season.

With its beautiful setting, the property is also a popular wedding and events venue in the area.

The Howey Mansion is an 8-mile drive from Tavares.

Foyer of the Howey Mansion

Shanejayhayes, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Final Thoughts

Tavares is worth visiting for its natural charm, scenic views, rich heritage, and exciting attractions.

From its revitalized downtown, museums, and lovely parks, to its beautiful nature spots, the city offers plenty of opportunities to enjoy leisure and relaxation in central Florida.

Plan your trip now and experience some of the best things to do in Tavares, Florida!

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