Tarpon Springs was first discovered by a father-daughter duo back in 1876. A.W. Ormond and his daughter, Mary built a cabin near the Spring Bayou. When J.C. Boyer, an adventurer from Nassau, sailed into the Bayou, he and Mary Ormond soon were married. Mary later named her newly settled home Tarpon Springs because she enjoyed watching the fish leap out of the water as she watched them from her waterfront home.
In 1880, Hamilton Disston, a wealthy saw manufacture, bought four million acres of the central west coast of Florida from the Governor for 25 cents an acre which saved Tarpon Springs from going under.
In 1884, the post office was established in Tarpon Springs, which brought the railroad along with it. With investments from Disston, Tarpon Springs was spruced up and turned into an exclusive winter resort for those who were wealthy enough to stay. You can call them the original snowbirds!
An associate of Disston quickly learned that Tarpon Springs had much more to it when he discovered that money could be made by harvesting the sponges growing in the Gulf. Though the resort was successful, the sponge industry quickly became the leading industry in the area. For 30 years, the sponge industry was the largest industry in Florida—larger than citrus or tourism. Tarpon Springs was known as the “Sponge Capital of the World.” After some turbulence in the sponge industry in the 1940s and 1950s, the sponge industry is back to thriving in Tarpon Springs.
In addition to the growing sponge industry, the area is home to many Greek’s and their influence is apparent. Greek restaurants are scattered throughout the area with delicious and authentic seafood, salads and pastries in Tarpon Springs.
Upon entering Cody’s Roadhouse, you will be transcended into an era gone by when things were simpler and more casual. So the pressure is never on at Cody’s Roadhouse unless it’s your belly against your belt buckle after you’ve eaten! They have great nightly specials like Wednesday’s you can get buy one get one free fajita and Sunday’s where you can get a full meal, plus a free dessert for only $10.98. If you want a thick steak for a good price, Cody’s Original Roadhouse is a great place to start!
If you’re looking for classic seafood dishes with scenic, waterfront views, head on over to Rusty Bellies in Tarpon Springs. Since the restaurant opened in 2005, it has been family owned! Three Generations of Reis’ have owned and operated Rusty Bellies and the restaurant got its name from their love of fishing. Grouper fishing is a staple in Florida and a “Rusty Bellie” is the nickname given to the large male gag grouper. The menu’s highlights include hand-breaded baby scallops, mahi-mahi, and peel-and-eat shrimp.
Key West vibes in little ol’ Tarpon Springs are brought to you by Capt’n Jack’s Waterfront Bar & Grill. Enjoy the largest tiki bar in Tarpon Springs that features live music, fresh local seafood and so much more! Sit back and relax as you experience one of the most breathtaking views of the pink and purple Florida sunset. The coolest part about Capt’n Jack’s Waterfront Bar & Grill is that you can drive up by boat if you’re lucky enough to have one!
BARaki, is Tarpon Springs premier cafe lounge and nightlife location. However, they also serve some of the most delicious food in the area as they provide you with a fun atmosphere and great drinks. They strive to be a local favorite and serve their guests with a fusion of Greek dishes from all over Greece while keeping the essence of vintage Taverna.
Hiro’s Tokyo has served as the premier Japanese Steakhouse and Sushi Bar in Tarpon Springs for more than 13 years now. They have a fine dining environment that allows their customers to experience Japanese cuisine and sushi the way it should be, at it’s finest. Their chefs are highly trained so they can entertain guests with steak and seafood that is freshly prepared right in front of them! Some of their best dishes are Teriyaki Cuisine, Tempura Cuisine, and Traditional Bento Boxes.
Calling all country girls and cowboys to Tampa’s coolest country venue, The Stockyard in Tarpon Springs. The Stockyard brings southern hospitality and country music to the Bay, with the hottest DJs playing new country music along with local and national artists playing live. Shoot a game of pool on one of five tables. Be the center of attention on the 3,000 sq. ft. dance floor, smack dab in the middle of it all. Line Dance lessons start at 7:30, free with a paid cover charge of $5.00.
For those of you seeking a chill night out where you can sit, smoke a cigar, down a beer and watch the game, Cigar Cave Lounge is the perfect destination. It’s one of Tampa Bay’s best cigar lounges so head there and enjoy a comfortable lounge setting with a massive humidor with over 4,000 cigars inside of it. Grab a craft beer, a glass of wine, and more from the bar!
Tarpon Springs's newest and best sports bar and grill is Johnny’s Taphouse & Grill with all the sports channels and some of the best wings and burgers in town. They’ve become such a poppin nightlife spot partly due to lack of competition and partly due to their late-night kitchen and a happy hour that goes from 11 am-7 pm every day! On Thirsty Thursday they have half-price burgers and $3 craft beers! Check out their full list of weekly specials and head there today for live music and a full bar.
Silverking Brewing Company is Tarpon Springs favorite local brewery. But, they have quite the story with a lot of history inside their stomping grounds. They first opened on June 19th, 2012 during a new moon where the fishermen have the greatest chance of catching a Silverking. Now, they serve great beer built by fishermen and outdoorsmen for fishermen and outdoorsmen. Stop by to enjoy live music, flat-screen TV’s and a great casual atmosphere to unwind from a long day in the office.
Clean American Ales is what Two Frogs Brewing Company prides itself on! It is a locally-owned brewery located in downtown Tarpon Springs. After opening its doors in 2017, it’s brand has continued to grow and Chad’s passion is to serve the best beer he can make and create the best atmosphere for customers to enjoy it. Don’t worry, be hoppy!
As the main export in Tarpon Springs, the sponge docks provide a nice backdrop for tourists and locals alike to see how the sponges are taken from the ocean beds and sold for profit. With over 100 ethnic souvenir shops in the area, its helps tourists find the perfect Florida-style post-vacation gift for those who were not able to make the trip. At the sponge docks you will encounter the most authentic Greek restaurants on our side of Athens! Some of the areas historic tours, nature preserves, and dolphin cruises are located near the sponge docks as well!
Fred Howard Park is an oceanfront perk that draws a bustling crowd of Tarpon Springs locals every weekend at the beach and swim area. The white sandy beach is a very popular north county swim area and also provides a perfect location for visitors to enjoy many spectacular sunsets. Nesting ospreys and eagles may be viewed by park visitors as they fish for food in the surrounding waters. Dolphins, and occasionally manatees, are seen in the area. The causeway is used for sunbathing, fishing, and exercising. Take your friends or the whole family for a relaxing day in the Florida sun!
Though the Valspar Championship only happens once a year, it is the largest event hosted in Tarpon Springs all year long. Located at the Copperhead Course at Innisbrook Resort and Golf Club, it attracts thousands of golfers, businesses and tourism every year. It is a professional golf tournament that is a part of the PGA tour so it brings many of the nation's finest golfers to Tarpon Springs. Every spring, this tournament lights up Tarpon Springs and the local businesses near the tournament benefit greatly!
As a privately funded nonprofit organization, the Suncoast Primate Sanctuary has interesting friends that could no longer live in their wild habitats right in your backyard. The sanctuary has many different species of primates and welcomes you to check them out! They are wildly dedicated to rescuing and rehabbing animals that have been left in unforeseen circumstances in the wild. But they welcome you to learn all you can from them on your next visit to Tarpon Springs!
The Spongeorama Sponge Factory is the most vivid storefront at the Sponge Docks. With hundreds of thousands of uniquely Florida Gifts, Greek Gifts, arts, shopping, jewelry, gifts, sponges, loofah, bath & body, faux painting and more there is something for everyone you know! The best part about purchasing a tchotchke from Spongeorama is that all of them are one of a kind gifts. Since it was founded in 1968, the Spongeorama’s Sponge Factory boasts the World's largest selection of natural sea sponges. For the friend who likes strange and one of a kind gifts, this place is like hitting the jackpot!
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