Situated north of Tampa, Tarpon Springs presents one of many state’s most fascinating historical past classes. Within the early 1900s, pure sponge beds have been found right here, spawning the city’s principal trade as divers used pressurized fits to reap the aquatic species. Greek immigrants, who arrived right here deeply skilled in sponge diving, flocked to the realm — and their descendants stay right this moment. You’ll see proof of this within the many Greek eating places, Greek Orthodox church buildings and companies.
Tarpon Springs earned its identify in 1879, although it’s truly higher recognized for mullet than tarpon. Business and the railroad arrived within the following years, and most of the buildings from this period now make up the historic district. A weekend right here guarantees glorious Greek meals and a great deal of enjoyable on the water.
What to See and Do
One of the simplest ways to grasp Tarpon Springs’s historical past is to go to The Heritage Museum, which sits on Spring Bayou and traces the event of the Greek group right here — in addition to the snowbirds who adopted them to the realm’s winter resorts. One other important spot is the Sponge Docks, the place divers have bought their finds for generations within the memento outlets — a statue right here honors the contributions of these divers. For a first-hand take a look at the observe, think about a tour with St. Nicholas Boat Line, the place an onboard diver shares its historical past.
The Tarpon Springs Performing Arts and Cultural Middle hosts touring Broadway performers, whereas on the Replay Amusement Museum, guests can play classic pinball machines and arcade video games for so long as they need, for a flat charge.
After all, the perfect motion doubtless entails the water. Catch the ferry from the Sponge Docks to Anclote Key Protect State Park, a barrier island with a quiet stretch of seashore and wildlife recognizing, to see 40 species of birds and dolphins. The park additionally presents in a single day tenting. And for those who’re simply searching for a day (or half-day) of journey, you’ll discover kayaking, scuba diving and snorkeling excursions, in addition to fishing excursions on which you may catch grouper, snapper and amberjack. Outfitters like Poseidon Charters supply four-, six- and eight-hour excursions — and might suggest native eating places that’ll cook dinner up no matter you catch.
The place to Eat
Mama’s Greek Delicacies is an area favourite, owned by a local of Kalymnos, Greece — strive the roasted lamb, grilled octopus and flaky baklava drizzled in honey. On the family-friendly Mykonos, search for dishes like flaming saganaki cheese, Greek-style fried potato patties and gyros. Since 1970, Hellas has served favorites like moussaka, egg and lemon soup and candy treats on the onsite bakery.
In the event you’re not within the temper for Greek, Tarpon Tavern is an English-style pub with normal bar meals like buffalo wings, burgers and fish and chips. Alternatively, strive Rusty Bellies for its tropical drinks and recent, native seafood.
The place to Drink
Seize a sip of the standard Greek spirit ouzo at Tarpon Springs Distillery, which additionally makes gin and moonshine. The distillery is positioned in a former sponge manufacturing facility and makes use of botanicals grown in its backyard. Regardless of its small measurement, Tarpon Springs has a lot of craft breweries, many inside strolling distance of each other. They embrace 5 Branches, Anclote, Brighter Days, Two Frogs, and Unrefined breweries.
Tarpon Springs isn’t a party-hard vacation spot, however you may nonetheless discover a number of spots open late into the night time: Neptune Lounge is a watering gap and music venue the place you may imbibe till 2 a.m., and Cigar Cave Lounge in close by Palm Harbor has a walk-in humidor and full bar — it’s open ’til midnight, and a pair of a.m. on Fridays and Saturdays.
The place to Keep
Chain choices abound, however these searching for an exception to the corporate-bland rule ought to think about the 1910 Inn, a Victorian-home turned bed-and-breakfast a brief stroll from the Sponge Docks. Non-public leases embrace waterfront bungalows and trendy villas — search for one, like this Airbnb, with quick access to Sundown Seaside. And for those who don’t thoughts the drive, the Innisbrook Golf Resort in Palm Harbor has onsite hyperlinks the place you may tee off like the professionals, who come yearly for the PGA Tour’s Valspar Championship. You’ll additionally discover luxurious rooms, a spa and a number of eating places, together with a steakhouse and a pub.
This text was featured within the InsideHook Miami publication. Enroll now for extra from the 305.