Exploring Tarpon Springs
Settled in 1852, Tarpon Springs is the most Greek of Florida communities. Settlers from the Dodecanese Islands – which include Rhodes and Kos – brought their knowledge of diving with pressurized suits to collect sponges as they did in the Mediterranean, creating Florida’s natural sponge industry. The original Greek settlement along the Anclote River feels like a piece of Rhodes dropped in Florida. Although touristy (just like the original), it’s a charming place to stroll the waterfront, visit the Sponge-O-Rama, and indulge in tasty Greek food at a variety of restaurants.
Closer to the springs for which the city is named, the historic downtown district is just as walkable. It is the terminus of the 38.2-mile Pinellas Trail, a paved bicycle trail stretching south to St. Petersburg. The Tri-County Trail, a northerly bike path connection into Pasco County, contributes to this as part of the greater Florida Coast to Coast Trail, 250 miles across the state.
Lake Tarpon is an imposing presence in the community, which grew around it. Fed by Brooker Creek, which rises from marshes to the northeast of the lake, it has large parks like A.L. Anderson Park and John Chesnut Sr. Park protecting significant portions of its cypress-lined shores.