When you mention Tarpon Springs, most people think of the touristy and popular Sponge Docks, but there is another interesting and historic area just blocks away that should not be missed.
Tarpon Springs has the largest Greek community than anywhere else in the United States, immigrating here starting in the late 1800s. The Sponge industry brought them here, and with the industry thriving in Tarpon Springs, other Greek immigrants followed to open shops and restaurants to serve the growing Greek community.
Even though the nearby Sponge Docks get most of the attention, the Downtown area is a very quaint and interesting place to spend some time shopping, enjoying a great meal and learning a little of Tarpon Springs history.
If you love hunting for that vintage item, then you have to check out the numerous antique shops that line Tarpon Avenue. John and I spent quite a bit of time in Bear Haven, the collectible toy store. They had everything from vintage Barbie to Batman to thousands of Hot Wheels cars, and most still in their original packaging. We could have spent hours in there just looking and reminiscing.
John and I love the old school pinball games, they were the thing back in our day but not so much anymore, and they are hard to find. That is why we were so excited to find the Replay Museum. Replay Museum is a museum where you get to play on the museum exhibits. It is an old school arcade with over 125 pinball and arcade games. One price, $14 for adult and $8 for children 7-12, gives you unlimited play all day. We didn’t go in on this trip, but now that we know its there, we will be making the trip over just to play pinball all day.
The area has the look and feel of old-time Main Street USA of yesteryear, but with a Greek twist.
The town is full of history, and there is no better place to take in all that history than the Historic Train Depot Museum, where admission is absolutely free. Donations are appreciated.
The community is surrounded by heritage, tradition, and faith. No visit to Tarpon Springs is complete without a stop to take in the beautiful St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church.
Of course, one of the community’s main attractions is its food, and with so many restaurants to chose from, it was hard for us to decide which one to have lunch at.
John is a hamburger type of guy, but since we were in Tarpon Springs, I wanted Greek food, so, after some deliberation, I finally convinced him and Greek it was.
I chose Andros Greek Grill, and I was not disappointed. Even John, who shall we say, is not a big fan of the Greek cuisine, was pleased with his meal.
My portion of Spanakopita (Spinach Pie) was huge, and John had the Souvlaki Platter( grilled pork and chicken) with pita and the best Tzatziki sauce (cucumber dip) I have ever tasted. But the one thing that made our meal at Andros the most memorable was our server; she even brought us out a sample of their Pastitsio (Greek layered pasta), one of my favorites, so we could taste how well their chef prepares it.
John and I spent about 4 hours checking out the downtown area of Tarpon Springs. We had a fantastic meal, got a jump start on our Christmas Shopping, and learned some interesting history. So if you are in the area checking out the famous Sponge Docks, save a little time for the downtown area too; you will be happy you did.
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