Family Fun on the Tarpon Springs Sponge Docks

Sponge diver statue on the Tarpon Springs Sponge Docks

The Tarpon Springs Sponge Docks mix Greek culture and Florida kitsch for a day full of family fun. In fact, with Greek flags flying everywhere, scenes of the old country adorning the walls, and architecture reminiscent of the whitewashed buildings of Greece, you just might forget you’re in the Sunshine State.

Fortunately, we do live in warm, sunny Florida, and the bustling Tarpon Springs Sponge Docks make for a wonderful day trip. And since I married into an honest-to-goodness Tarpon Springs Greek family nearly 14 years ago, I’m qualified to guide you through the family-friendly fun on the Tarpon Springs Sponge Docks.

So – are you ready? Let’s get our Greek on!

Greek Eats

If there’s one thing Greeks are known for, it’s incredible food. Naturally, Greek restaurants abound on the Tarpon Springs Sponge Docks. We love to grab a gyro and a Greek salad – Tampa-style, of course, with a scoop of potato salad.

Desserts from a Greek bakery
Greek treats and a mural of the Acropolis. It’s almost like being in Athens!

Afterward, stop by an authentic Greek bakery for a treat of baklava or koulouria (Greek cookies). Or try my must-have, which combines an iconic Greek dessert with a classic that everyone knows all around the world: baklava cheesecake. Yeah, I just said that.

Shopping for Sponge Docks Treasures

Searching for souvenirs? Then look no further than the shops lining the boulevard of the Tarpon Springs Sponge Docks. Pop into the Sponge Exchange and explore shops filled with everything from resort wear and handbags to shells, toys, handmade soaps, and more. And if you simply must have a Greek statue for your house – well, you’ll find those, too.

Sponges for sale on the Tarpon Springs Sponge Docks
Or you can buy, you know, sponges on the Tarpon Springs Sponge Docks.

Sights to See on the Sponge Docks

Historically, the Sponge Docks served as the launch point for boats carrying sponge divers into the Gulf of Mexico. Today, you still see boats lined up along the docks, but most now cater to tourists. You can hop aboard a boat from the Sponge Docks for a dolphin sightseeing cruise, a fishing excursion, or an island experience. In addition, some even wow passengers with a re-creation of the old art of sponge diving.

Boats launch from the Sponge Docks
Whatever floats your boat, you’ll find it on the Sponge Docks!

And be sure to snap a photo with the symbol of the Sponge Docks – the statue of the sponge diver.

For even more family fun on the Tarpon Springs Sponge Docks, check out one of the many events held year-round. There are arts and crafts festivals, a seafood festival, holiday events, and even a parade on Greek Independence Day. Makes you want to grab a Greek flag and do a kalamatianos dance, doesn’t it?

Beyond the Sponge Docks

Tarpon Springs also sports numerous parks for lots of family activities. Head over to Howard Park for a day of fun in the sun on the beach. Or visit Anderson Park on Lake Tarpon and enjoy playgrounds, picnic shelters, and open spaces for the kids to run off some of that Greek food. Also worth a visit is Craig Park, a grassy, tree-lined gem on Spring Bayou. This is the spot where dozens of teen boys dive for the coveted cross during Tarpon Springs’ renowned Epiphany celebration.

Getting There and Parking

The Tarpon Springs Sponge Docks are on Dodecanese Boulevard, just off N. Pinellas Avenue (Alt. 19) in Tarpon Springs. Some very limited free parking is available at the Sponge Exchange, but numerous paid lots are much easier to find and access. Parking usually runs between about $5 to $8 or so for the day.

Tarpon Springs is the center of Greek culture in Tampa Bay.
Celebrate like the Greeks do in Tarpon Springs!

 

 

Kathy K
Kathy’s family moved to Tampa when she was 5, and aside from a few years at the University of Florida (Go Gators!), she’s never lived anywhere else. She’s Irish by heritage, Greek by marriage, and mom to one brilliant little boy. She’s an avid sports fan and lived her Disney-geek dream as a member of the 2015 Disney Parks Moms Panel. A former TV producer and PR pro, Kathy now proudly sports the title of stay-at-home mom. Follow her sports-loving, Disneyfied, Tampa-centric antics on Twitter @kathyk671.