This is a recap of a delightful experience we had at a beach near Tarpon Springs, Florida a few years back. We had been selling our wares at shows and markets and took advantage of a break for some R&R.
The bandstand at sunset on the beach
Bonfire on the beach, doesn’t get any better
We had left the Sponge Docks shopping and attractions area and were headed towards one of the Tarpon Springs beaches. We wanted to see the sun set over the Gulf. We ended up at Sunset Beach and much to our surprise and delight we spotted signs for a free concert on the beach that evening.
When we first pulled up in our RV a nice lady stopped us and she thought we were one of the food vendors there to set up! Once she realized we were not the food truck she politely directed us to the other parking areas.
Sunset Beach is just beautiful. The covered stage was perfect for live music, and everyone of the many folks there enjoyed the music, the bonfire and the available refreshments.
Good food, reasonable prices!
The sunset was stunning: one of those cloudless events that brought a beautiful orange hue to the entire skyline. It was pretty windy, but folks just bundled up, brought their own chairs, and enjoyed the band. Free marshmallows and sticks were also provided for everyone who wanted a toasted marshmallow.
We checked the Tarpon Springs website, and in 2022 the free concerts are still being offered. This is the link to the concert information.
During our travels in Florida over the years we have been fortunate to enjoy Tarpon Springs, Florida, a quaint and pretty town north of Clearwater and Tampa on the Gulf. When we were actively engaged in Flea Market business in Central Florida, Tarpon Springs became one of our favorite spots for R&R.
Statue honoring the Greek sponge divers. Note the sponge diving boat tied to the dock.
Tarpon Springs is famous for the Sponge Docks where diving boats still sail to the sponge beds and hard hat divers collect the sponges. This industry began here in Florida in 1905 when John M. Cocoris from Leonidion Greece started the now flourishing sponge business.
Sponge diver in a beautiful tile mosaic
Memorial to the founder of Florida’s Sponge Industry
Dodecanese Blvd. is the main street that houses multiple shops and businesses. The shops offer everything from fresh tea and spices, hand made cigars, souvenirs, freshly caught fish shops and of course several shops selling sponges collected by the Greek divers.
Locally collected sponges of all sizes for sale
Also of note in Tarpon Springs are the marvelous Greek Restaurants! Talk about authentic Greek cuisine, you’d have to go to Greece to get any cuisine that is more Greek. We have enjoyed several restaurants and bakeries in this wonderful spot on Central Florida’s Gulf Coast.
We have not yet seen any reports of Tarpon Springs suffering damage from Hurricane Ian. We hope that the Sponge Docks and the town were spared.
Pelican skims the waves in search of a fish. But wait! Is this really a pterodactyl?
You can tell this White Ibis is a “teenager” by the coloration of its feathers. When fully mature, it will have all white plumage. The brown mottled plumage on its neck shows it is immature. The pink color of the legs and beak will also turn bright red when full grown. We didn’t see Mom or Dad, so who knows what teenaged mischief this one was up to. We captured this shot on a trip to Naples, Florida.
Our site was about a 3 minute walk from the bus stop
Did you know that Orlando’s Disney World has a great RV and tent campground? Called Fort Wilderness, it offers a first class facility for an RV Disney experience. The RV sites are full hookup, paved and most have room for an RV and a tent. Rules allow up to ten people per site, so a great family vacation is possible. The campground is quite large, but shuttle busses run to the bus station that goes to all the Disney Parks, or to Bay Lake where you can catch a boat ride to one of the theme parks.
This boat runs the same times as the buses, and goes from Ft. Wilderness to the Magic Kingdom about every 15 minutes
Keep in mind that the sites at Fort Wilderness are pricey, to say the least. Most are well north of $120 per night. However it is a great way to “do Disney”. Walk to the shuttle, go to the bus station or Bay Lake for a ride to one of the parks. A while ago we had a nice family get together at Disney World. Sher and I stayed at the RV park, and our kids and their families were in the other hotels. Sher and I really enjoyed our vacation there. We loved taking the boat rides and sharing time with family.
The Florida Flywheelers is an antique tractor club located in central Florida. Twice a year, in January and February, the Flywheelers have huge five day tractor shows coupled with flea markets and swap meets on the over 200 acre facility.
Yes, this is a motorized bath tub.
The grounds are so large that most people drive around the site. While golf carts are the most prevalent transportation, other “custom” means of travel are also seen. There is a nearly constant parade of vehicles driving down the aisles where vendors and tractor exhibitors are set up. You never know what you’ll see driving around!
At an RV Park in central Florida we met the local resident Sandhill crane.
This crane obviously owned the park, as we saw him walking down the center of roads and blatantly ignoring the accepted RV park protocol of not walking through another camper’s site. I was only about 3 feet from him for the close up head shot.
Pelicans are one of my favorite birds. I captured this one resting on a pier at Tarpon Springs, Florida.
Hellas Restaurant and Bakery storefronts
Tarpon Springs, Florida is known for its Greek community founded in both the sponge diving business and restaurants and shops. One of the best restaurants is Hellas Restaurant and the joining Hellas Bakery. The businesses are on the main commercial street in the town, Dodecanese Boulevard.
We really enjoyed our meal at the restaurant. The “flamed” cheese was a real treat, and yes it was served in flames! I had a beef gyro, Sher had a Veggie Pita, and we both shared a huge Greek salad. This restaurant was very comfortable and the staff was delightful. We were there early afternoon when there were few other patrons.
After our meal we went next door to the Hellas Bakery. There were a lot of people in the bakery, but the line moved fairly quickly. Yes, we indulged and picked up some sweet bakery goods for an evening snack back at the RV park.
Delicious Greek Salad
We would highly recommend stopping for a meal at the Hellas Restaurant. Tarpon Springs is about 45 minutes north of St. Petersburg, and is home to the highest percentage population of Greeks in the country. After you eat at Hellas, be sure to check out the Sponge Docks and local Fish Shoppes.
Sher and I needed a campground for a one night stay near Zephryhills, Florida. I found a special rate listed for Zephyr Palms RV park, gave them a call, and booked the reservation.The park staff was very nice when we pulled in at noon. Our site was still occupied, even though check out is supposed to be 11. We waited a bit until the other unit moved, and went to our site. I just hooked up the electric to start.
With the laundry a ways away, we drove the rig and parked next to the very nice laundry. No problem to disconnect the shore power. Three loads of clohes later, we were back at our pull through site. The sewer connection was on the off side from the shore power and water both of which were at the far end of the site. Gladly our electric cable was long enought to allow connection and still be able to drain the black and grey tanks without having to move the rig.
Nice roads, level sites, friendly residents
This is a very clean campground, with pool and community room, and like I said the laundry has been recently remodeled. The special rate was for $18. We stayed just the one night. It is also a member of several associations including Good Sam and PassPort America. Call ahead for availability. This is the park website.
We used the laundry facilities.
Our only problem with this 55+ campground is one that plagues most RV parks these days. Free WiFi is advertised, however when we connected to the WiFi we got the dreaded “Limited Connection” which is the same as no WiFi.
This is a friendly, safe, clean and tidy RV park mid way between Tampa and the Gulf and the amusement parks in Orlando. There are plenty of golf courses nearby for those of you that like chasing a little white ball around. Weekly and seasonal rates are offered.