The historic riverfront town of Tarpon Springs – just 20 minutes north of Clearwater – has a way of transporting you thousands of miles away to a coastal village in Greece.
After the discovery of natural sponge beds in the early 1900s, Greek sponge divers arrived in Tarpon Springs, a community at the northern end of the St. Petersburg/Clearwater area. The main attraction of Tarpon Springs then became its famous Sponge Docks, which are set along the Anclote River. The Greek heritage is still strong here—if you’re even remotely of Hellas heritage, you’ll probably discover a cousin or two in this town.
Dodecanese Boulevard, which follows the riverfront, is lined with gift shops that carry everything from souvenirs to home goods, natural sponges to olive oil soap. Wander a few blocks south and you’ll find several antiques shops on downtown’s Tarpon Avenue. Authentic Greek restaurants—including Mama's Greek Cuisine, Hellas and Mykonos—smell too good to resist. Stop in for a honey-infused pastry and strong coffee or a hearty dinner.
At the Tarpon Springs Aquarium, pet the baby sharks and stingrays and learn about the sea life of the nearby Gulf of Mexico. And make sure to visit St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Cathedral, an ornate, historic building off Pinellas Avenue.