Tavares is a city located in the central portion of the U.S. state of Florida. It is the county seat of Lake County. The population was 9,700 at the 2000 census. The Census Bureau estimated the population in 2008 to be 13,746. It is part of the OrlandoKissimmeeSanford Metropolitan Statistical Area. The name is a popular Portuguese surname and toponym. Pronounced both Tuh-vair-iss and Tuh-vair-ees. The city was founded by newspaper and railroad man Alexander St. Clair-Abrams in 1880 and named for a Portuguese ancestor. While St. Clair-Abrams did not achieve his dream that Tavares become the state capital of Florida (Tallahassee has held the spot since 1823), in 1887 the city was named the seat of Lake County. St. Clair-Abrams later chartered a railroad to run from Tavares to Orlando.