Tarpon Springs, FL; a Land of Greeks and Sponges

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Tarpon Springs, FL

I went to Tarpon Springs for the first time yesterday and immediately wondered where this place had been all my life!  This bizarre little town was hiding just 2 hours away from where I live in Orlando.  How have I not been here?  Perhaps it’s because I’ve never once wondered what the sponge capital of the world is, but now that I know I’ll be back for sure.

Tarpon Springs, FL

Tarpon Springs is so many confusing things.  Well, mainly two confusing things- Greeks and sponges, but that’s pretty odd right?  Tarpon Springs has the highest percentage of Greek Americans in the U.S..  That means lots of great food at every turn!

~The Sponge Docks~

~

~Greek Food~

Hellas restaurant and bakery in Tarpon Springs, FL

Hellas Restaurant and Bakery were the most popular, perhaps for the over the top Greek decor, or perhaps for the luscious dessert counter .

Hellas bakery in Tarpon Springs, FL

~

~Sponge-o-Rama~

Tarpon Springs has everything I never knew I wanted to know about sponges, displayed in what may be the world’s saddest sponge museum, though this is unconfirmed.  Join me as we travel through Sponge-o-rama.

Sponge-o-rama museum in Tarpon Springs, FL

Sponge-o-rama museum in Tarpon Springs, FL

Sponge-o-rama Vintage Sponge Museum in Tarpon Springs, FL

Of course sponges are always all fun and games, their history can get pretty dark.

Sponge-o-rama Vintage Sponge Museum in Tarpon Springs, FL

Sponge-o-rama Vintage Sponge Museum in Tarpon Springs, FL

Oh, and in case you were wondering, these aren’t just terrible pictures.  It’s actually a dark hallway with dimly lit dioramas.

Sponge-o-rama Vintage Sponge Museum in Tarpon Springs, FL

This one is missing a hand.  Sponging can be dangerous.

Sponge-o-rama Vintage Sponge Museum in Tarpon Springs, FL

Best of all, when it’s over you just hit a plywood wall.

Sponge-o-rama Vintage Sponge Museum in Tarpon Springs, FL

But hey, at least it’s free!

Sponge-o-rama Vintage Sponge Museum in Tarpon Springs, FL

There’s also a parking lot at sponge-o-rama that costs $3 a day, but seems to run on an honor system.  Do what you want with that information.

~

~Waterfront~

Go figure, the sponge capital of the world is on the water, and the view is gorgeous.

Tarpon Springs, FL Sponge Docks

On weekends you can check out a sunset dolphin cruise or sponging expedition.  You can also find plenty of spots to buy local sponges harvested from the ocean nearby.

Tarpon Springs, FL Sponge Docks

Tarpon Springs, FL Sponge Docks

Just don’t try to board the boats without buying a ticket, they’re pretty clear on that.

Tarpon Springs, FL

~

~Historic Downtown~

Tarpon Springs is more than just the sponge docks.  They have a really cute historic downtown area full of antique stores and restaurants.  If you make it there on a Saturday they also have local craft booths and flea market finds set up for sale until 4pm.

Tarpon Springs, FL

~

~Silverking Brewing Co.~

You know I’m a sucker for a brewery!  When I saw signs for Silverking Brewing Co. I had to check it out.  It’s more of just a bar.  They don’t offer tours, but they do brew a couple of their own beers and also serve some other local beers.  It was a very cool atmosphere though and seemed to be a popular haunt for locals.  Including one really awesome mastiff.

Silverking Brewing Company in Tarpon Springs, FL

Silverking Brewing Company in Tarpon Springs, FL

Silverking Brewing Company in Tarpon Springs, FL

~

Tarpon Springs is such a bizarre and unique place.  Like I said, I really don’t know how I have lived in Florida so long and not discovered it.  The Greek culture there is fascinating and coupled with their long and oddly displayed sponging history, this town is a must see!

Tarpon Springs, FL

31 thoughts on “Tarpon Springs, FL; a Land of Greeks and Sponges

  1. Looks warm! Still cold here in Ohio

    • Mags

      Oh no! I’m not very good at winter anymore since I moved to Florida. It’s a great place to go to escape the cold.

  2. What a cool place to visit! I love towns that are unique and have great food! Looks like a great weekend getaway!
    Jamie recently posted…Wasting Time: Words of Wisdom for WednesdayMy Profile

    • Mags

      Tarpon Springs fits the bill on both counts. You’d love it there!

  3. (The sign about filling a sponge with vinegar + hyssop made me really sad. :[[ )

    Buttt aside from that, Tarpon Springs seems like such a cool little town (+ hooray for Greek food! <3)! The downtown area looks awesome! (I love craft booths! 😀 )

    • Mags

      It’s certainly unique. I love discovering quirky little towns, and they get bonus points for good food!

  4. Hahaha! Funny post! This looks like by kind of place – quirky, pretty and good beer.

    • Mags

      It’s definitely that! Quirky beach towns are my absolute favorite too.

  5. Oh my God, Mags, this place is so funny and bizarre! I’m kinda sad we missed out on seeing it when we were hanging out in Orlando a few years ago. I’m a little disappointed they don’t have any SpongeBob paraphernalia around, it seems so appropriate! hahahaha.
    jess meddows recently posted…Ellie Cat’s Cafe BellMy Profile

    • Mags

      You should talk to their PR department Jess, they are definitely missing out on a money making opportunity!

  6. Haven’t been there in ages which Is funny since it’s only about 30 mins away. Such good food there!

    • Mags

      Isn’t that crazy? Seems like you never go to the places nearby. I’ve lived in Orlando for 10 years and just went to Tarpon Springs for the first time last week.

  7. Carol Colborn

    My husband loves Greek food. We didn’t know this about Tarpon Springs, Florida! And we spent five months there! Aw shucks.

  8. Well I’m not sure about the sponges but the warm weather and Greek food makes it look like a great place to visit.
    Toni | 2 Aussie Travellers recently posted…A visit to Himeji CastleMy Profile

    • Mags

      I definitely wouldn’t recommend going there (or anywhere) for the sponges alone, but it’s a pretty neat place.

  9. Looks like a fun quirky place -sometimes the best way to spend a weekend day in the sun. Thanks for sharing…
    Jennifer recently posted…The Best Al Pastor Tacos in Playa Del Carmen – El FogónMy Profile

    • Mags

      I try to spend as many days in the sun as possible. That’s a great philosophy.

  10. zof

    Sponges and greek food. That’s an unique combination for sure. I’d love to visit one day.
    zof recently posted…Travel Flashback #13My Profile

    • Mags

      It’s worth going just because it’s so bizarre.

  11. Seems like an interesting place to visit! As a biologist, though, I always think it’s a terrible idea to combine biblical stuff with biology, but oh well. Guess I could just try to ignore that part! Sponges are surprisingly interesting!
    Saana / Always Abroad recently posted…Best coffee in South KensingtonMy Profile

    • Mags

      I tend to agree with you. That one placard was the only “biblical” reference in the museum. I had to take a picture because it was so odd.

  12. Who knew sponges had such an eventful and dark history? I had to laugh when you said the museum ended with a plywood wall! Gotta love those free museums!
    Sonja @ Breadcrumbs Guide recently posted…Walking Through Washington D.C.My Profile

    • Mags

      You get what you pay for, but it makes up for it with kitsch.

  13. Cute little town. It looks so nice and warm there. I am a little jealous
    Yvonne recently posted…Eco-Lodging in Les Ardennes: Chambres du VivierMy Profile

    • Mags

      We lucked out and got a beautiful warm day for beachside exploring.

  14. wow looks so lovely…and the weather helps too 😉
    Paula Through the Looking Glass recently posted…Safari in Sri LankaMy Profile

    • Mags

      The weather was gorgeous. You gotta love Florida!

  15. I just can’t seem to connect sponges and greek food/history/culture. Awesome photos by the way! This is a pretty interesting place!
    Megsy recently posted…017 Travel Safety Special – with Phil Sylvester of World Nomads (Podcast)My Profile

    • Mags

      Don’t feel bad Megsy, most people can’t (and probably shouldn’t) connect those things lol. That’s what makes this place so unique.

  16. Sponge Capital! Now who would have thought that! The museum looks… urm… quite interesting actually! 🙂
    RaW | Ramble and Wander recently posted…Malaysia: KLCC Lake Symphony Water Fountain ShowMy Profile

    • Mags

      I can honestly say I’ve never wondered what the sponge capital is, but I’m glad I know now.

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