There are Florida tourist attractions and then there are Florida tourist attractions. When it comes to some of the best vacation stops in the Sunshine State, unusual is sometimes better. Those looking for something a little unique will find the city of Tarpon Springs is one such destination.
A Greek enclave on Florida’s west coast, not far from Tampa, the city of Tarpon Springs grew up around the sponge fishing industry. Here visitors will find an unusual taste of the Greek isles right in the midst of all of Central Florida’s biggest attractions.
With a rich history and culture, the city is one of the area’s oldest. Its art and architecture are very reminiscent of the Old Country as are its food choices, cultural events and other major draws. Although somewhat small in comparison to its metropolitan neighbors, Tarpon Springs packs are real punch for Florida vacationers who want to see more than roller coasters and beaches.
Those who visit Tarpon Springs will find these attractions to reel them in:
* A water walk that’s just loaded with small shops and oddities. Here visitors will find traditional Greek wear, ocean-themed gifts, family-owned bakeries and restaurants that range from family-style to upscale. The area is also home to a number of art galleries, charter fishing operations and more.
* Sponge diving exhibits. The city was made famous by its Greek population first and its sponge diving second. There are a number of exhibits and small museums that herald the profession and the brave men and women who undertake it.
* The sponge docks. With tourist boats going out daily, weather permitting, those visiting Tarpon Springs will have an opportunity to see an actual sponge diver in action. Here, too, they can buy their own sponges, ideal for bathing, washing cars and household items. Natural sponges are considered the best for a number of purposes and in Tarpon Springs, visitors will find some of the finest in the world.
* Greek Orthodox Church. The city is home to a large Greek Orthodox population and boasts its own very elaborate church. Epiphany is celebrated here along with the diving of the cross each winter.
* Festivals, events and other attractions. Throughout the year, the city of Tarpon Springs hosts cultural events and arts shows in its parks. The area is a big draw for people from all over the state and the world.
With roots that date back many years and a rich culture that harkens back to the Greek isles, the city of Tarpon Springs is unlike anything else in the state. The sponge docks are the major attraction, but visitors are sure to find lots to see and do beyond the main drag.