Those Visiting the Tampa – St. Pete – Clearwater area shouldn’t miss the chance to visit the great Greek heritage resource right at our doorstep. I’m talking about sponge docks of Tarpon Springs, and the surrounding neighborhood bursting with Greek restaurants, heritage venues and funky Mediterranean atmosphere right here on Florida’s nature coast.
A main sponge-diving center and Greek community for more than one hundred years, the city of Tarpon Springs has the largest concentration of Greek-American citizens in the country and is a phenomenal place to have an authentic Greek meal, stroll for antiques and learn about the sponge diving industry that still thrives there today.
A walking tour is really the best way to visit Tarpon Springs.
Arrive early for great photographic light and free parking near the tourist information office. This printable map of the area will help you start your exploration of the area around the Tarpon sponge docks, but the visitor’s bureau has additional resources and brochures.
There is no shortage of Tarpon Springs Restaurants.
While it’s true that most of the Tarpon Springs Restaurants focus on seafood and Greek grub, the atmosphere in which they provide it is varied along with the location. Dimitri’s on the Water is certainly a popular choice, but there are others such as Café Greko and Rusty Bellies with a fun vibe as well.
Check out the historic district for the full experience.
There are a number of historic buildings throughout Tarpon Springs that offer a glimpse into the history of the area. Check with the tourist office upon arriving for full information regarding the Tarpon Springs Historic District, and include it on your walking tour of the area.
The Tarpon sponge docks offer a few educational experiences.
With a museum and free demonstrations, it’s possible to learn about this age-old craft of diving for natural sea sponges. Knowledge that the community’s founders and builders brought with them from the old country. No joke. This is where a large portion of the world’s natural sea sponges are harvested from, and the fact that the original workers came from Greece says something about the heritage of this line of work. It’s also one of the reasons you’ll be able to find such a large concentration of Greek restaurants in the area.
Fans of Florida fishing won’t be disappointed.
It is called Tarpon Springs, after all. So if you have a few days to spend, consider booking a nearby hotel and heading out to sea with one of the local charter companies. A day on the water is good for the soul, even if the fish don’t happen to be biting that day.
Photo Credit: Trek Hound photographers shot these pictures of Tarpon Springs during a field mission. They are available along with other travel imagery through a creative commons agreement with our sister web site, Pictures of Travel Places.