Tavares is a city in central Florida in the United States. 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 Orlando–Kissimmee–Sanford Metropolitan Statistical Area. The name is a popular Portuguese surname and toponym. Pronounced Tuh-vair-ees.