Tarpon Springs or Sponge Capital of the World or “Venice of the South.” is a city in Pinellas County, Florida ,USA .
In 1876, the first settlers settled on the present city and in 1887, the City of Tarpon Springs was officially founded. By Tarpon Springs once ran the 1888 completed Orange Belt Railway from Sanford to Saint Petersburg. After several takeovers, the route was shut down in the course of the founding of the Seaboard Coast Line Railroad in 1967.
The commercial breeding of bath sponges began in 1890, which is also the reason for the high proportion of Greek-born residents: In 1905 the entrepreneur , John Cocoris introduced the sponge diving technique to Tarpon Springs. Cocoris recruited Greek sponge divers from the Dodecanese Islands in Greece, in particular Kalymnos, Symi and Halki leading, in the 1930s, to a productive sponge industry in Tarpon Springs, generating millions of dollars a year. The 1953 movie ‘Death Rocks’, which featured sponge divers, was filmed in Tarpon Springs.
After the discovery of natural sponge beds in the early 1900s, Greek sponge seekers arrived at Tarpon Springs, a community at the northern end of the St. Petersburg / Clearwater area. This is why sponge docks became the main attraction of Tarpon Springs, which extend along the Anclote River. The Greek heritage is still strong here, if you have an inheritance even if it is remote from Helas, you will probably find a cousin or two in this town.
in Tarpon Springs and serves as the heart of the downtown and city. In the plaza to the north of the Cathedral is the famous “Cross Diver” statue which captures the pinnacle of the annual Epiphany Day -January 6 – celebration for which the St. Nicholas Cathedral parish is known the world over. At the base of the statue are the names of young men – Orthodox Christian and non-Orthodox Christian – who made the supreme sacrifice during World War II.
Today, Tarpons Springs, Florida is home to the highest percentage of Greek Americans anywhere in the United States ,the Greektown Historic District of Tarpon Springs the Dodecanese Avenue is both part of the traditional Greek community and the City’s primary tourist destination.
In 1953 Tarpon Springs was the scene and location of the movie The Hell’s Reef (Beneath the 12-Mile Reef, directed by Robert D. Webb)/Tarpon Springs is referenced by Cmdr. Tucker in Star Trek: Enterprise episode “The Crossing” /Tarpon Springs is referenced in Ring Lardner’s short story “The Golden Honeymoon” /
A character in Allen Drury’s novel The Throne of Saturn is referenced as “The Greek Loner from Tarpon Springs”.
Access : Coordinates:28.15, -82.75 / 45 minutes north of St. Petersburg along the shore of the Gulf of Mexico, west coast of Florida
By air : Nearest airport : Tampa International Airport (TPA)-St Petersburg-Clearwater International Airport (PIE) / These Bus lines stop near Tarpon Coney Island & Sausage, 630 S Pinellas Ave Tarpon Springs, FL 34689: 19, 66.
- Fred Howard Park , 1700 Sunset Dr, Tarpon Springs, FL 34689-2240 , Fred Howard Park consists of 155 acres and is located on the Gulf of Mexico. It’s location provides access to the Gulf by a 1-mile long causeway.
- Tarpon Springs Sponge Docks , Dodecanese Blvd, Tarpon Springs, FL 34689 , a little Greek neighborhood with authentic food and eclectic shops, The Sponge Industry helped build a Greek Community that is now famous not only for the worlds finest sponges, but for some of the finest Greek Restaurants, Markets, and Bakeries in the Country.
- Replay Amusement Museum ,119 Tarpon Ave, Tarpon Springs, FL 34689 , Open : 11:00 am – 11:00 pm , over 30 pinball machines among other arcade video games like Wizard of Oz, Terminator, Medieval Medness, Metallica, Attack from Mars, Batman, Centaur, Twilight Zone, Games of Thrones, The Lord of the Rings, and much more. $20 pass per couple to play from 8 pm to 11 pm. The young lady in charge is very nice and on top of everything during your visit,
- Brooker Creek Preserve , 3940 Keystone Rd, Tarpon Springs, FL 34688-7820 , Brooker Creek Preserve is Pinellas County’s largest natural area at nearly 8,500 acres. Boardwalks and trails (hiking and equestrian) are currently available for public use. Opens every day at 7:00 am and closes 30 minutes before sunset.
- A.L. Anderson Park , 39699 U.S. Hwy. 19 N, Tarpon Springs, lakeside park , Lakeside picnic grills/shelters great parking. Free parking for cars $5 a dog park and children’s play area ,Bike or walk the trails- Freshwater fishing- -for boat trailers ,
- Tarpon Springs Historic District ( 28.146167, -82.756028 ) , bounded by Read Street, Hibiscus Street, Orange Street, Levis Avenue, Spring Bayou and Lemon Street, the erea it was added to the U.S. National Register of Historic Places On December 6, 1990
- Epiphany celebration : Epiphany is a great religious feast of the Greek community,The celebration attracts Greek Americans from across the country The blessings ends with the ceremonial throwing of a cross into the city’s Spring Bayou, and young people dive in to retrieve it , whoever recovers the cross believe to be blessed for a full year. after that , the celebration moves to the Sponge Docks where food and music are made part of the festivities.
- Sunset Beach , 1800 Gulf Rd, Tarpon Springs, FL 34689 , scenic with palm trees and shrubs for shade comfort station, free parking , a boat launch site, bathrooms , benches and picnic tables , a Nice place to see a sunset and enjoy the Beautiful View!
- St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Cathedral , 36 N Pinellas Ave, Tarpon Springs, FL 34689-3449, St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Cathedral was founded in 1905 and is the first and original Greek Orthodox Christian parish of the Tampa-St. Petersburg area, he present Cathedral was completed during WWII, in 1943. Much of the interior marble, including the iconostasis (icon screen), is from the Greek pavilion of the 1939 World’s Fair in New York City. The Cathedral contains actual relics of St. Nicholas of Myra and is a point of pilgrimage for those who seek the intercessions of this most beloved of Christian saints.
- Leepa-Rattner Museum of Art , 600 E Klosterman Rd, Tarpon Springs, FL 34689-1299 Open : 10:00 am – 5:00 pm , collection of 20th century paintings excellent collection of modern American artists with emphasis on art given by the Leepa and Rattew families. temporary exhibitions and a full sized replica of Picasso’s “Guernica”.
- Craig Park 5 Beekman Way, Tarpon Springs, FL 34689 , A large park with many picnic sites is connected to the beach by a long causeway.a playground tennis courts and fishing. It’s also nice to walk and see the beautiful historic homes Short nice walk from Old historic downtown Tarpon
- Whitcomb Bayou , Tarpon Springs, FL 34688 , area with historic houses, etc. lining the bayou. Nearby park has tennis courts too.in the winter to see lots of Manatee
- Safford House Museum , 23 Parkin Ct, Tarpon Springs, FL 34689-3235 , open 11-3 , $3 to tour the House , A 19th century Victorian home is open to the public year round , he home gets decorated for the holidays in grand Victorian style and there are actors and actresses dressed period costume to greet you. Also, crafts for the kids and carols.Concerts such as “rag time jazz” and “dixie music” are performed at other times during the year when you can bring a blanket or lawn chair to enjoy the music.
- Tarpon Springs Area Historical Society, 160 E Tarpon Ave, Tarpon Springs, FL 34689-3452 , Open : 12:00 pm – 3:00 pm , Museum houses the office and Archives of the Tarpon Springs Area Historical Society, the old station with exhibits from its founding in the mid 1800s to 1915 when the first “Spongers” arrived, through the “Great War”
- Tarpon Springs Heritage Museum , 100 Beekman Ln, Tarpon Springs, FL 34689-3555, Learning about the sponge history of Tarpon Springs with a permanent interactive exhibit that explores the history and culture of the Greek community with special focus on the sponge industry, open from 11:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. on Wednesdays and Fridays. Adult Admission is $3.00
- Tarpon Springs Cultural Center , 101 S Pinellas Ave, Tarpon Springs, FL 34689-3631 , the former City Hall built in 1915 , gift shop with books and art exhibits, this is a venue for multiple theatrical productions
- Tarpon Springs Greektown Historic District , ( 28.155607, -82.760875 ) Dodecanese Avenue in the Greektown Historic District of Tarpon Springs is both part of the traditional Greek community and the City’s primary tourist destination.
a traditional cultural property that preserves a strong ethnic and maritime character, Tarpon Springs Greektown Historic District is a U.S. historic district. It was added to the National Register of Historic Places on June 2, 2014
- Arcade Hotel -Tarpon Springs, Florida ( 28.144444, -82.756667 ) near the historic downtown The Arcade Hotel also known as the Shaw Arcade or Howard Hotel, added to the U.S. National Register of Historic Places On January 12, 1984
- N. K. Symi , Sponge Diving Boat , a historic site in Tarpon Springs ,added to the U.S. National Register of Historic Places On August 2 1990 / St. Nicholas III , Sponge Diving Boat) / St. Nicholas VI ,Sponge Diving Boat
- U.S. National Register of Historic Places : E.R. Meres Sponge Packing House / N.G. Arfaras Sponge Packing House
Activities : Konger Tarpon Springs Aquarium / Stroll along Bayous at the Lovely Bayou Parks / Learn about the history of sponge diving / Florida road trip! /
/ swimming / windsurfing / picnics / boating / Numerous restaurants serve traditional Greek cuisine and fresh seafood / natural sponges shops / St. Nicholas Sponge Diving Trip / Anclote Key Boat Trip /
stroll along brick streets / Fishing in the Gulf of Mexico / Sightseeing & Dolphin Cruises / Championship Golf Courses / Dolphin Sightseeing Cruise & Island Excursion / Spongeorama Sponge Factory ,Free Sponge Diving Museum and Movie / kayaking, shell hunting
Events : Night in the Islands – Tarpon Springs Sponge Docks , May 18th, June 29th / Tarpon Springs Events
Tarpon Springs Hippie Fest August 10th 2pm-10pm / Sponge Docks Arts & Crafts Festival August 31 – September 2, / Salsa on the Sponge Docks October 12th /
Merry Martini Charity Event November 2rd / Sponge Docks Seafood Festival November 8th – 10th
Go next : St. Petersburg / Clearwater / Tampa / Port Richey / New Port Richey / Homosassa / Crystal River / Lakeland / Pensacola / Port St. Joe / Apalachicola