Sunset Beach at Tarpon Springs offers free concerts

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. 

Tarpon Springs Florida home to historic Sponge Docks

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.

Hellas Greek Restaurant at Florida’s Tarpon Springs

Hellas Restaurant and Bakery storefronts

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

Delicious Greek Salad

Hellas interior

Hellas interior

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.

Parthenon Restaurant at Tarpon Springs, Florida

Dining room at the Parthenon

Dining room at the Parthenon

While strolling down Dodecanese Blvd. at the Sponge Docks in Tarpon Springs recently we went by the Parthenon Restaurant. The manager was out front standing by the menu board and began to tell us about the restaurant offerings. He did a  good job, because we decided to go in and have a bite of lunch.

Sher had the Greek salad and I had the butter cooked pasta with grilled chicken strips and both came with peta bread. The meals were very good and the portions were quite substantial, to say the least! This was the first time that I have ever needed a leftover box for a pasta meal.

The Parthenon is located at 751 Dodecanese Blvd. just past Athens Street in the Sponge Dock district of Tarpon Springs. This is a good establishment to get an authentic Greek meal.

Greek Salad at Parthenon Restaurant

Greek Salad at Parthenon Restaurant

 

 

A relaxing day at one of the Tarpon Springs beaches

Yesterday we had a very relaxing time at the beach at Howard Park in Tarpon Springs, Florida. The beach is on a small island at the end of a long causeway road. For $5 you get a parking pass good until dusk of that day.

Not a cloud in the sky, but very windy

Not a cloud in the sky, but very windy

We could park in the regular parking spaces

We could park in the regular parking spaces

We got there about 10:30 in the morning and enjoyed watching several guys wind surfing. My did the gusty winds send them flying across the water! Then it was back to the RV for lunch. This location is yet another example of why we love our 24′ Class C coach. The parking lot had spaces that allowed us to park. We could not have done that with a trailer/truck combo or a larger coach.

After lunch we took a walk along the beach. It was invigorating with the wind, but enjoyable all the same. After our walk Sher went back to the RV and I lingered a bit to take some pictures. We even took a little nap mid afternoon!

 

 

The causeway leading from the beach back to the mainland

The causeway leading from the beach back to the mainland

 

A local resident perched on the shower stand

A local resident perched on the shower stand

After our nap we stretched and did a bit of work online. Then another stroll on the beach to enjoy the sun and sand. When it got to be around 5:30 we headed out back across the causeway. We then took a drive through the mainland park. The trees and other vegetation were striking. This park has a great design. There are several shelter houses that can be rented for parties or family get togethers. The layout is such that each shelter house is sheltered (pun intended) from the view of the others. Privacy is a good thing.

All in all we had a fantastic day. It is days like this that make you grateful to be able to live this crazy RV lifestyle.

 

One of the magnificent old trees in the park

One of the magnificent old trees in the park

 

 

 

 

Sunset Beach at Tarpon Springs has free concerts planned

The band setting up

The band setting up

Everyone loves a bonfire!

Everyone loves a bonfire!

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 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.

I spoke with Craig Dolan, the Superintendent of the Tarpon Springs Department of Recreation. The free concert series will be on the first Thursday of the month from February through November, with bonfires in February, March, October and November. I told Craig that we were happy to have discovered this neat free beach concert event.

Ashley Friend, Special Events & Volunteer Coordinator making some announcements

Ashley Friend, Special Events & Volunteer Coordinator making some announcements

The 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.

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 75 South Band. Free marshmallows and sticks were also provided for everyone who wanted a toasted marshmallow.

 

 

 

 

Delicious food and great drinks at the food trucks

Delicious food and great drinks at the food trucks

Hand made cigars at Tarpon Springs Sponge Docks

The master cigar maker at work

The master cigar maker at work

IMG_1628_resizedIn a neat little stand alone shop on Dodecanese Blvd. Sponge Docks is a sign for hand made cigars. That prompted a look for me. Sure enough, inside the booth sat Don Esteban making fine cigars by hand. I had never seen cigars made. Don was a delight to chat with, and with a big grin stated that he was the mayor of Little Cuba in Tarpon Springs.

He had quite the selection of cigars for sale, both in packages or for sale individually. It was fun watching this craftsman at work.

 

 

Cigars for sale

Cigars for sale

Kite boarding at Sunset Beach, Tarpon Springs

We headed to one of the beaches at Tarpon Springs, Florida. It turns out there will be a free concert tonight at the beach, much to our surprise.

You can see the size of the board and the ropes leading to the kite.

You can see the size of the board and the ropes leading to the kite.

When we approached  the beach we saw some huge kites in the air. It turned ot that these kites were being used by some folks to pull them through the water on a single board that looked like an oversized skate board. Did they ever fly through the water! Don’t know if I could do it, but it sure looked like fun.

The huge kite

The huge kite