Tarpon Springs is a unique waterfront town known as Florida’s Little Greece.
This unique town is full of Greek culture, delicious Greek food, and authentic shops. If you visit the Tampa area, you can drive to Tarpon Springs for a day trip. If you are lucky to stay in this area for a weekend, there’s plenty to do.
Is Tarpon Springs worth a visit?
Yes! Tarpon Springs is a unique small town that is worth a visit. It is culturally rich and has excellent access to offshore islands and state parks where you may see wildlife such as manatees and dolphins. Tarpon Springs also offers fabulous tours, shopping for unique souvenirs, and the opportunity to savor delicious authentic Greek food.
Is Tarpon Springs walkable?
Yes! You can explore the entire town on foot. There are sidewalks on most parts of the area and a beautiful walkway along the water.
How much is parking at Tarpon Springs?
Parking prices vary while visiting Tarpon Springs. Most people prefer to park at the Sponge Factory on the corner of Dodecanese Boulevard and North Pinellas Avenue because this is where the stores, restaurants, and Greek things start in Tarpon Springs. Having said that, parking here can be about $12 USD for the day. However, if you drive a little bit further on Dodecanese Boulevard, you may find parking for $5 or even $3 for the day. Alternatively, some restaurants offer complimentary parking if you dine with them.
Are there still sponges in Tarpon Springs?
Yes! The Sponge culture in Tarpon Springs, Florida, is very much alive. You can spot divers returning with boats full of sponges at the Sponge Dock in Tarpon Springs.
Where to stay in Tarpon Springs
Modern Home with Pool & Close to Beaches: This beautiful house is in the Historic District of Tarpon Springs, Florida. It is perfect for families and couples. This property offers a discount for Military, First Responders, and Teachers. It is located 1.7 miles from the beautiful Sunset Beach, a perfect sport to watch the sunset every day. The villa features 3 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms, and a balcony with pool views. Enjoy the gorgeous pool after a long day of exploring Tarpon Springs.
Reel Retreat: This beautiful vacation home is in a beautiful residential area of Tarpon Springs, Florida. The house has 3 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms and a balcony with sea views. It is also located 24 miles from Busch Gardens. Impeccable decor, a luscious garden with a hot tub overlooking the lake.
Historic Tarpon Springs Abode is a charming little cottage in Tarpon Springs, Florida. The location is unbeatable, being 0.7 miles to the Tarpon Springs Sponge Dock and 3 miles to Sunset Beach where you can enjoy the incredible sunset. Beach gear, wood burning fire pit, an outdoor seating area, and a gas grill are provided.
Hampton Inn & Suites Tarpon Springs Located in Tarpon Springs, Florida, this hotel features an outdoor pool and guest rooms with free Wi-Fi. The Sponge Docks are within a 10-minute drive of this hotel. This hotel in Tarpon Springs, Florida, features an outdoor pool and guest rooms with free Wi-Fi. The Sponge Docks are within a 10-minute drive of this hotel.
Where to eat in Tarpon Springs
Tarpon Springs, Florida, is famous for Greek food and sponges. Also, this area allows you to indulge in delicious fresh seafood, so come hungry.
Hellas Restaurant and Bakery
Hellas Restaurant and Bakery is a trendy restaurant in Tarpon Springs, Florida. Here you can dine or stop for a delicious dessert. The lines are long but totally worth it.
Yianni’s Seafood and Greek Cuisine
Yianni’s Seafood and Greek cuisine offers traditional Greek fare with a modern twist. People love the authentic local seafood and Greek cuisine Yianni offers. One of their most popular dishes is the octopus. This restaurant has indoor and outdoor seating and delightful live music.
Costa’s Restaurant is a smaller, more familiar restaurant on one of the side streets off Dodecanese Blvd. This restaurant has a lovely outdoor patio, but we chose to sit inside as the day we visited, the Florida sun and heat were up to the max. The food is delicious, and the service is on point. We enjoyed a small Greek salad with a side of Greek potatoes and a Lamb Gyro.
The National Bakery is a hidden gem on Athens Street in Tarpon Springs, Florida. The National Bakery is a Greek homemade bakery that opened in 1925. This is the oldest bakery in Tarpon Springs, and they sell bread to most of the Greek restaurants in the area. Every day they have fresh bread and delicious pastries.
Tip: They only accept cash, so be sure to have some on you, as I guarantee you will want to try different things. We love their coffee, baklava, and kataifi.
Fournos Bakery is a new Greek bakery in Tarpon Springs, Florida. They offer a variety of desserts, foods, and even homemade Greek yogurt. There is some seating inside and outside. We ordered a Spanakopita and Kataifi and sat outside to people-watch.
We Spy Coffee and More
We Spy Coffee and More is a lovely and cozy coffee shop in Tarpon Springs. The store specializes in coffee and Greek treats. The ambiance is lovely. The coffee shop is decorated beautifully and provides ample space for seating and relaxing.
What to do in Tarpon Springs
Tarpon Springs offers a myriad of activities for individuals and families. You can spend a day strolling the streets, shopping for sponges and unique finds. You can also try some of the delicious Greek Bakeries or restaurants. In addition, you may book a boat tour to visit Anclote Key, learn about the history of Tarpon Springs, or see wildlife such as manatees and dolphins.
The best thing you can do is park and walk the town. The leisurely stroll will take you to different places while you begin to discover this magical town. Let yourself be captivated by the scent of Greek food, the sight of the Sponge Divers coming back with tons of sponges, and the music coming from different places. Just go with the flow. Tarpon Springs won’t disappoint.
Sponge Dock in Tarpon Springs
When visiting Tarpon Springs, you must walk along the water lining Dodecanese Blvd. Here you will find the Tarpon Springs Sponge Docks. At the Sponge Dock, you may be able to spot divers coming back from the sea with ships full of sponges. It is incredible to see all types of sponges they bring back. They will spend time cleaning, rinsing, and cutting them to perfection so they can be sold in local shops.
Shopping for Sponges in Tarpon Springs
Natural sponges have antibacterial properties, and they last for years. In the stores, you will find information on each type of sponge and its uses. So they genuinely have a sponge for all of your needs.
Downtown Tarpon Springs
For a less touristy spot, head to downtown Tarpon Springs. You will find adorable shops, small businesses, restaurants, and a lovely museum there.
Cruises in Tarpon Springs
While walking down Dodecanese Blvd, you will undoubtedly encounter people and businesses inviting you to cruise with them. Of course, these boat rides can vary in length and destination. Still, they are a great way to go on an entertaining boat ride and learn about the area’s history and the nature surrounding it. Most of the trips are either 1 hour or 2 hours, and you will most likely see dolphins and manatees.
What companies do cruises in Tarpon Springs?
There are a few companies that do cruises in Tarpon Springs. You can book a cruise with Odyssey Cruises or Island Adventure Dolphin Cruise.
Odyssey Cruises in Tarpon Springs
Odyssey Cruises in Tarpon Springs offers 2 main cruises daily. One through the Anclote River and another one to Anclote Key State Park.
Anclote River Cruise
This cruise is about 1 hour. You will not get off the boat; however, seeing the city from the water is excellent. The breeze on your face and salt water mist splashing on you while learning about the area are truly unbeatable. We paid around $11 per person.
Anclote Key State Park Cruise
This cruise is about 2 hours. It takes you through the river, onto the ocean, and stops at the Anclote Key State Park. On the way to Anclote Key, you learn about the historical importance of some critical areas along the river.
The Captain and co-captain provided us with buckets to collect shells while exploring the State Park. Although there are only about 30 minutes to explore the park, it truly is enough to walk, shell, swim and take it all in. On the way there or back, you may get lucky to see dolphins and manatees. We were delighted to see manatees on the way there and dolphins on the way back. It truly is a fantastic experience. We paid $25 per person.
How do you spend a day in Tarpon Springs?
When visiting Tarpon Springs, most people enjoy walking the boulevard, jumping from store to store, and learning about the Greek culture and the sponges harvested in this unique town in Florida.
You can also board dolphin and sunset cruises and take part in island excursions. During these cruises, your guide and marine biologist or certified naturalist will tell you more about the history of Tarpon Springs and the nature and wildlife that surrounds this area.
There are also a variety of bakeries, restaurants, and coffee shops for you to sample and enjoy Greek food.
How far is Tarpon Springs from the beach?
The beach is approximately 10 miles north of Tarpon Springs; however, beautiful beach parks are nearby, such as Sunset Beach, located 4 minutes from the Tarpon Springs Sponge Dock.
Can you swim in Tarpon Springs?
Yes, you can swim in Tarpon Springs. Bring your bathing suit while visiting Tarpon Springs so you can swim at different places if you choose to do so.
Sunset Beach is the best place to watch the sunset in Tarpon Springs, Florida. Locals gather here to spend the day enjoying the Florida sun and the water; however, in the evening, as the sun sets, you will see it at its fullest capacity.
Anclote River Park
Tarpon Springs offers many beautiful places to visit, and Anclote River Park is one of them. It has a small “beach” facing the Anclote River, not the Gulf of Mexico. As a result, river waters are warmer than the ocean.
Anclote Key Preserve State Park
This beautiful remote, untouched State Park Preserve is only accessible by boat. It is located 3 miles from the Tarpon Springs Sponge Docks. You can rent a boat and spend a day in this remote paradise or visit it as part of one of the boat cruises available from the dock. The sand is a beautiful pristine white, and the shelling is terrific. Swimming at Anclote Key Preserve State Park is refreshing and memorable. The water is gorgeous and crystal clear, and the sand is perfect.
Can you see manatees in Tarpon Springs?
Yes! You can see manatees while visiting Tarpon Springs. Although they are not generally hanging from around the busy Sponge Docks, you can see them as part of one of the cruises local companies offer. We had a fantastic experience heading towards the Anclote Key Preserve State Park when we spotted a beautiful group of manatees just enjoying the ocean waters.
Can you see dolphins in Tarpon Springs?
Yes! You can see dolphins while visiting Tarpon Springs. Although they are not generally hanging from around the busy Sponge Docks, you can see them as part of one of the cruises local companies offer. Dolphins tend to be social creatures, and sometimes they trail your boat for a little while as they dance and prance for visitors.
If you are looking for a day trip from the Tampa or St. Pete areas, look no further; Tarpon Springs is a lovely place to visit. If you have 1 or 2 days to spend in this area, book a hotel and explore and indulge in all that Tarpon Springs offers.
Tarpon Springs boasts its history and the legacy that the Greek Sponge divers have passed down from generation to generation. When you walk the streets of Tarpon Springs, you will hear locals speaking Greek, you will indulge in the smells and flavors of Greek food, you will listen to traditional Greek music, and you will be able to partake in many different activities from learning how to harvest sponges to see manatees and dolphins in the wild.