North of Clearwater, west off U.S. 19, on Alt. U.S. 19 explore Tarpon Springs, a thriving Greek village with a fascinating history. As the largest natural sponge market in the world today, it still carries the distinct influence of Greek immigrants from the early 1900s. A trip to the Sponge Docks allows you to taste authentic Greek cuisine, take in a sight-seeing cruise down the Anclote River, and visit the aquarium or sponge museum. The Tarpon Springs Chamber of Commerce, 11 E. Orange St., can provide visitor information. Hours: 9 a.m. - 5 p.m., Mon. - Fri., they also have information available down on the sponge docks. Call (727)-937-6109.
There are lots of opportunities here to get wet, or not. Start your day on the uninhabited barrier island of Caladesi, north of downtown Dunedin. After taking the ferry (no bridges or cars) from nearby Honeymoon Island State Park, at the extreme west end of Curlew Rd. (S.R. 586), you can explore this pristine island on two feet or rent a canoe or kayak and cruise by paddle. The majority of the world's population of loggerhead turtles nest along this part of the coast so if you see an area marked off by bright yellow tape, steer clear. Inside are precious baby loggerheads, just waiting to hatch and embark on their journey. Open 8 a.m. - sundown. Call (727) 469-5942. End the day watching the sunset on Clearwater Beach.
If you thought downtown St. Petersburg was quiet, think again! Downtown "St. Pete" is alive with excitement! Here, art is as much a part of life as the beach and the Buccaneers. There are so many great restaurants, shops, nightclubs, galleries, museums in a beautiful waterfront setting, you'll want to stay a while.
The most sensational museum of note is the Salvador Dali Museum, One Dali Blvd. "The only difference between myself and a madman is that I am not mad!" the surrealist once proclaimed. Madman? No, but a true genius at redefining reality. The world's most comprehensive museum on Dali includes paintings, watercolors, graphics, sculptures and photographs. Hours: 10 a.m. - 5:30 p.m., Mon. - Sat., (open until 8 p.m., Thurs.); Noon - 5:30 p.m., Sun.; call (727) 823-3767.
While downtown, also visit The Florida Holocaust Museum, 55 Fifth St. South, for a truly moving and profound experience. One of the largest Holocaust museums in the country, the museum features an extensive permanent collection and traveling exhibits. Hours: 10 a.m. - 5 p.m., seven days a week with last admission at 3:30 p.m. Call (727) 820-0100.