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Tarpon Springs, FL

About Tarpon SpringsTarpon Springs became an important center for sponge diving when Greek divers came to the area in the early 1900s. Although the industry has diminished, the Greek influence still is evident in the remaining historic Sponge Dock area, where natural sponges, shops and a variety of ethnic restaurants and bakeries are plentiful. Sponge-diving exhibitions, scenic cruises and deep-sea fishing charters are available from the dock area.

Spring Bayou, one block west of downtown, is home to manatees and dolphins in winter and the site where men dive for the cross during the Epiphany Celebration in January. Nearby Crescent Circle features lovely Victorian homes. The Tarpon Springs Heritage Museum , 100 Beekman Ln. in Craig Park, features a variety of items pertaining to the Victorian era as well as a video presentation about the history of the sponge-diving industry; phone (727) 937-0686.

A replica of St. Sophia's in Constantinople, the 1943 St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Cathedral , at the corner of Pinellas Avenue (US 19A) and Orange Street, is the center of colorful pageantry during Greek festivals; phone (727) 937-3540. St. Michael Shrine at 113 Hope St. reflects the Greek culture through its artwork and murals.

The Safford House , at 23 Parkin Ct., was home to Anson Safford and his family. Safford was one of the city's founders. His sister, Mary Jane, was the first practicing female physician in Florida; phone (727) 937-1130.

Tarpon Springs also offers two sandy beaches on the Gulf of Mexico: Fred Howard Park, 1700 Sunset Dr.; and Sunset Beach, 1800 Gulf Rd.

Visitor Centers Tarpon Springs Chamber of Commerce 1 N. Pinellas Ave. Tarpon Springs, FL 34689. Phone:(727)937-6109

ShoppingMore than 100 gift shops and homespun Greek eateries dot the historic Sponge Docks area; you’ll find most establishments on Dodecanese Boulevard and along Athens Street. Munch on sticky baklava chunks as you putter past tour boat operators bellowing the latest cruise times and neat sale racks displaying sandals of every color and dimension. Along with a myriad of sea-harvested products, including loofahs and natural sponges, local businesses proffer a variety of keepsakes—from shell jewelry and safari hats to tropical wind chimes and hand-rolled cigars. Break up your afternoon of Florida kitsch by visiting Tarpon Springs’ historic downtown, home to a handful of antiques dealers operating on Tarpon Avenue.

Things to Do Brooker Creek Preserve Environmental Education Center

George Inness Jr. Pictures

Konger Tarpon Springs Aquarium

Leepa-Rattner Museum of Art

Odyssey Cruises

St. Nicholas Boat Line

Sun Line Cruises

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Tarpon Springs, FL

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Hampton Inn & Suites Tarpon Springs

39284 US 19 N. Tarpon Springs, FL 34689

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