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Take a Tarpon Springs Break

A quiet Florida getaway with a heady Greek influence

April 6, 1997

By Miranda Hitti
Fred Howard Park and Beach

TARPON SPRINGS, Florida (CNN) -- If you strip the phrase of its more recent connotations, spring break is a wonderful notion -- a moment between seasons to let fly your cares. Now, to find a warm Florida hideaway where you can live out this simpler meaning in peace, turn your fancy to Tarpon Springs -- a town often overshadowed by its glitzier neighbors.

Tucked into the Florida panhandle, 30 miles northwest of Tampa and 15 miles north of Clearwater, Tarpon Springs offers sun, sand, surf and, that most divine salve for the senses, silence. The city's strong Greek influences provide ample diversion for more active souls.

Meet Tarpon Springs:
Pop: 20,000
City area: 4900 acres
Avg temp: 72.8 ° F
Airport: 23 mi./W of Tampa
Nickname:
"Venice of the South"

At lazy Fred Howard Park and Beach, on the city's west side, seagulls outnumber sunbathers; the loudest sound comes, not from boom boxes, but from wind brushing through palm trees and waves tumbling onshore. Apart from the movements of sea birds, the most activity you'll likely see is shell-searching.

Not that Tarpon Springs is boring.

On Saturday nights, you can venture down to Zorba's Nightclub for a Baklavalittle high-end bellydancing. And, on most days of the week, top-notch Greek restaurants like Mykonos and Mr. Souvlaki's serve up traditional mouth-pleasers like garides ellinikes (Greek-style shrimp), gyros and spanakotiropita (spinach and cheese pie).

Stop by the Parthenon Bakery and pick up some baklava for beachgoing -- but handle with care: Anything that oozes honey and tastes so good may not be compatible with your bathing suit.

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