Things to do in Florida: Tarpon Springs

Tarpon Springs is a community that fascinates me for one reason.  They have built an entire community out of one industry: sponges.  Yep.  Sponges.  Those squishy, little things that you use in the shower.

Never in a million years would I have guessed that there is such a demand for sponges that one would be able to have a whole town devoted to just that.

OK, actually, I lied.  There’s one other thing about Tarpon Springs that amazes me: the strong ties to the Greek ancestors that created the community.

The first Greek immigrants to the area started diving the waters of the Gulf of Mexico for sponges, and today, Tarpon Springs has the highest percentage of Greek Americans of any city in the US.

And you can tell.  The restaurants all feature authentic Greek food, the souvenir shops sell (along with sponges) trinkets that you would think you would only see in Athens and many of the people still speak Greek.

As we were walking down the streets, I felt that if I closed my eyes (and ignored the sweat rolling down my spine) the smells and sounds would make it feel like I was actually in Greece.

In addition to the shopping and dining, you can also book a sightseeing cruise that explores the waters and beaches of the area.  If you came to Florida to see dolphins, this is a good opportunity to do so.  And of course, if you just want to beat the heat for a few hours, there’s no better way than getting out on the water.

I’m a history buff, so any town that makes an effort to preserve and honor their history is one I love to explore.  Tarpon Springs does just that, and that’s why I recommend stopping by for an afternoon if you are ever in the area.