Tarpon Springs Florida

Tarpon springs, Florida
Tarpon springs, Florida

Tarpon Springs holds an interesting distinction. No other city in the United States has a higher percentage of Greek Americans. Hints of the city’s Greek culture are noticeable both in the historic downtown district and along the miles of waterfront in this coastal Florida enclave, where some of the boats look as if they were plucked right out of Greece itself. Tarpon Springs is also known for its sponge diving history, among other things, and it’s location in the Tampa and St. Petersburg area helps to make it an interesting travel base when exploring Florida’s Gulf Coast.

Things to Do in Tarpon Springs

Tarpon Springs Things To Do
Tarpon Springs Things To Do  Image: dno1967b (flickr)

There is no shortage of ways to stay busy when vacationing in Tarpon Springs, Florida. Strolling along the brick streets of the charming downtown district is a popular pursuit and offers the option to duck into art galleries and specialty stores. Several buildings in downtown Tarpon Springs date back to the late 1800s and early 1900s, and a number of locations around town are listed on the National Register of Historic Places, including the Old Tarpon Springs City Hall at 101 South Pinellas Avenue. For added cultural exposure in Tarpon Springs, head to the St. Petersburg College campus, where you will find the Leepa-Rattner Museum of Art. This modern and contemporary art museum showcases works by Allen Leepa and his stepfather, Abraham Rattner, hence the name. Complementing these works of art are pieces done by other notable artists of the time, including such luminaries as Pablo Picasso, Marc Chagall and Max Ernst. Art enthusiasts should also make note of  The Dali Museum in nearby St. Petersburg.

Tarpon Springs Boating
Tarpon Springs Boating  Image: amateur photography by michel (flickr)

Enjoying time outside is a big part of Florida vacations. For visitors to Tarpon Springs, options for things to do in the open air include hiking or horseback riding at the Brooker Creek Reserve and taking a boat tour. The Brooker Creek Reserve covers nearly 8,700 acres and is a great place to get in touch with the wild side of Florida. On Tarpon Springs boat tours, nature and wildlife can also be the focus, with dolphins and manatees among the commonly sighted animals. The boat tours come in a variety of forms in this watery region of the state, with many originating at the city’s Sponge Docks. The Tarpon Springs Sponge Docks is a part of town that was named for the city’s historic sponge harvesting industry. It has a pleasant touristy appeal, with shops and eateries and scents of Greek food floating on Gulf Coast breezes. Speaking of breezes, there are plenty that kick up at the Tarpon Springs beaches, where sun and sand provide a fitting backdrop for Florida vacations.

Best Beaches to Visit

Tarpon Springs Beach - Fred Howard Park
Tarpon Springs Beach - Fred Howard Park  Image: robertnelson (flickr)

Among the best beaches to visit in Tarpon Springs, Florida are Sunset Beach, the beach at Fred Howard Park and the beach at the Anclote River Park. Sunset Beach is situated along a small city park peninsula that extends into the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway in west Tarpon Springs. The water is typically very calm at this clean, well-maintained strip of sand. Access is free. While driving to Sunset Beach, you can see Fred Howard Park in the near distance, and once you are at the beach itself, Anclote Island and the Anclote City Park are within view. Both Fred Howard Park and Anclote Island are home to tempting Tarpons Springs beaches that can make for excellent places to relax in the warm Florida sun. Fred Howard Park is reached by way of a causeway and is a great place to relax. Parking can be a small hassle at times and fees apply, but it’s all worth it. Anclote Island is part of a state preserve and offers an unspoiled appeal that is hard to deny. Many Tarpons Springs boat tours make a stop at the island, which is generally met with approval by passengers.

Tarpon Springs Lodging

Tarpon Springs Lodging - Vista Hotel on Lake Tarpon
Tarpon Springs Lodging - Vista Hotel on Lake Tarpon

A good mix of motels and hotels contribute to the Tarpon Springs lodging options. A number of these establishments are found along U.S. Route 19, as is the case with the Hampton Inn & Suites Tarpon Springs. Clean rooms that are well-equipped, a heated pool and a good breakfast selection help to make this a great place to stay while in town. Also situated along Route 19 is the Vista Hotel on Lake Tarpon (pictured...formerly the Lake Tarpon Resort). A good bet for value, the Vista Hotel on Lake Tarpon is pet friendly. Wi-Fi is free (as is breakfast) and guests enjoy access to an outdoor pool and whirlpool tub, among other conveniences. For something a little bit more charming and cozy, try The 1910 Inn. This downtown bed and breakfast at 32 W. Tarpon Avenue doubles as a wedding and special event center and is listed on the city’s Historic Registry. The Victorian décor is lovely and the location is convenient to all kinds of things, including sightseeing and shopping.

Top image: WalterPro4755 (flickr)

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