Food and Fun in Historic Downtown Tarpon Springs

Food and Fun in  Historic Downtown Tarpon Springs

Saturday Morning Magazine welcomes Patricia Pochurek as our guest blogger for December. Patricia is a member of the Florida Outdoors Writers Association (FOWA) and a resident of Palm Harbor. She bravely went forth beyond the Greek sponge docks to find food and fun in historic downtown Tarpon Springs. One example – a photo of Darth Vader playing pinball! It is a keeper.


Story and Photographs by Patricia Pochurek

When people think about visiting Tarpon Springs, the Sponge Docks highlighting the Greek culture is usually where they plan to go. That’s a good decision. However, the downtown area of Tarpon Springs has a lot to offer too. And there is free parking in the Mother Meres city parking lot on the corner of Pinellas and Tarpon Avenues.

Consider including the historic downtown area in your next visit. There you’ll find restaurants, antique shops, the Historic Train Depot Museum, a book store, Faklis’ -a small family-owned footwear and shoe repair store that’s been in the same location since 1912, and other establishments.   I’d suggest a stop in the Chamber of Commerce & Visitor Center and Jean, Jack, or one of the volunteers will be glad to assist you. (1 N. Pinellas Avenue, #B, Phone 727-937-6109,

Downtown Tarpon Springs is full of surprises

That’s how I discovered Olive The World Bistro located on a brick side street off Tarpon Avenue. Wandering requires nourishment. Relax and refresh at Olive The World Bistro and enjoy the small European style restaurant. The owners, Chris and Gini, lived in Europe for 17 years and wanted their bistro to have the same old-world atmosphere. A friend and I went for lunch. The restaurant was crowded.

Chris showed us to a table occupied by two women with the last empty seats and asked us all to share just like they do in Europe. We also had a choice of sitting at a table outside on the brick sidewalk with potted plants. I had the Shrimp and Artichoke Pasta. It’s one of their most popular dishes and delicious. My friend had the Prosciutto di Parma, mozzarella and tomato with house made sundried tomato tapenade Panini.

Downtown Tarpon Springs

There is a choice of 30 different EVOO’s (Extra Virgin Olive Oils) and Balsamics to try or to buy and take home. Craft beers and wine are available. The bistro just doubled their space and added both an ice cream and gelato area as well as a counter selling sheep, cow, and goat cheese from the US, UK, Italy, and France. The truffle cheese from Sardinia looked interesting. (24 Hibiscus Street, Phone: 727-937-5483, [email protected])

Bear Haven Land Company Vintage Toy Store opened in September. After buying the 1890s building and ripping up the carpet, owners Amanda and Dwane Johansen discovered the hardwood floor which they restored. Why did they open a vintage toy store? Almost everything in the store belonged to the family. Over the years, they would buy their three children one collectible toy to play with, and another that wouldn’t be opened.

They had owned a Toyota dealership for years and would display their toy collection there. After they sold that business, the toys were all at their home, and the children were older. That’s when they decided to open the toy store. Dwane said, “Owning a toy store is lots of fun and doesn’t wear you out. I still have the cap guns I owned when I was five years old.“

The store is packed with vintage toys. Barbies and other dolls, Marvel heroes, Star Wars, old baseball cards, car, and military memorabilia, bears, Legos, Transformers, lefty guitars, and much more. A box of light sabers were waiting for the next battle. Among the old baseball cards on display in the glass counter, I noticed Babe Ruth, Yogi, Berra, and Cy Young. Merchandise is priced from $.05 to $5,000. Several Frederic Remington bronze statues were for sale. “The best customers are the dads. They will be 12 years old until they die,” said Dwane. He has owned 30 muscle cars over the years, and his 1967 red Shelby GT 350 convertible was parked in front of the store. (111 E. Tarpon Avenue, Phone: 727-935-7220, [email protected])

Come to downtown Tarpon Springs to a real arcade

Replay Museum – How long since you’ve been to an arcade? This is an interactive museum with over 100 playable pinball machines, video games and other fun things to do from the past. You don’t need coins to play. The machines are set to “free play.” There is a charge of $13 a day for adults and $7 for children ages 7 to 12 (with a paying adult) for unlimited play. Children 6 and younger are free. You can leave and come back all day. It would be a fun date place for something different. The Replay Museum is next door to the vintage toy store.

The Saturday I visited Tarpon Springs, both the toy store and the Replay Museum were packed with people that were Star Wars fans – and a lot of them were wearing Star Wars Stormtrooper and Shoretrooper from Rogue One uniforms. Even Darth Vader was inside, and he was playing the Star Wars pinball machine!

Downtown Tarpon Springs

The people in uniform were part of the 501st Legion Costuming Club. November 4, 2017, was the 3rd Annual Star Wars Day at the Replay Museum, and the costuming club members were participating. A portion of the admission charge was donated to PARC, a Non-Profit organization that supports children and adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Visit the Replay Museum when you want to take a trip down memory lane. One man playing a pinball machine was wearing a T-shirt with the words, “The Force is strong in my family.” (119 E. Tarpon Avenue, Phone: 727-233-8490,

The Tarpon Tavern is by a brick sidewalk next to the Pinellas Bike Trail. In this section, the trail is in the middle of the narrow street. The English-style pub restaurant is in an historic 1925-era building and has a large covered cobblestone patio for dining outside. They claim to serve the best grub in town and offer more than 30 craft beers.

I’ve heard good things about their fish and chips, hamburgers, wings, beef slides, and fish tacos. Their Dang Dang Shrimp was featured on the nationally televised food show “What the Fung.” At the large bar inside, there are several televisions where patrons can watch a game.

Downtown Tarpon Springs

Sitting at a table outside under cover or on the sidewalk is a relaxing place to watch the people go by on bikes, walking, or driving. (21 N. Safford Avenue, Phone: 727-945-1000,

Tarpon Springs now has an Irish pub. Just a few blocks away from the businesses above is Irish Kelly’s Pub. It opened in July. The owner, Kelly Kerr, is a Canadian who opened an Irish Pub in a Greek town.

Her grandfather is of Irish descent, and she wanted to honor him. There is a full liquor bar that of course has Guinness beer, and the menu includes traditional Shepherd’s pie, corned beef, and fish and chips served on newspaper. Several televisions show the Bucs games and other sporting events. Local bands perform on Fridays and Saturdays. (734 S. Pinellas Avenue, Tarpon Springs, Phone: 727-934-7900,

Tarpon Springs has so many varied places to visit, ethnic foods to try, and fun things to do that you’ll need more than a day or two to enjoy them all. The small businesses I’ve mentioned are located on the main city block except for Irish Kelly’s Pub.

You’ll have to return to enjoy the parks and beaches, the Pinellas Trail through town, attend one of the festivals, learn about the area’s history at the museums, relax and enjoy a concert or a play, and wander the Greek Sponge Docks.

Circle January 6 on your calendar to be in Tarpon Springs for the Epiphany celebration. I’ll be there.


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Winter Park Walk can be a Treasure Hunt

Winter Park Walk can be a Treasure Hunt

Like treasure hunts? Then a walk on Park Avenue in Winter Park is your kind of adventure.

For starters, stepping into the Spice and Tea Exchange is an aromatic treat. Try to find your favorite spice smell – there are many.

Winter Park Spice & Tea Exchange

Across the street, a smiling sales person outside a Cottonways store hands me a $5 off coupon.

Should I go in? Well, maybe just a look. Coupon in hand I step inside and find stylish cutting edge clothes, especially tops, all made cotton gauze, all designed by Jennifer McNeill who lives in Oviedo.

When she graduated from college as an economics major, jobs beckoned, but instead, the sales lady tells me, Jennifer followed her passion to be a fashion designer – and now there are five Cottoenways stores with her designs sold in 750 shops.

It didn’t take long to find a bias cut blouse and use the coupon. Walking along with my purchase in a brown paper bag I see an archway leading to a courtyard.

Winter Park walking – be sure to explore the courtyards too

Who can resist? I step into the courtyard and end up going to the Ancient Olive Gourmet shop where they have complimentary olive oil tastings every day.

This weekday it is too late for breakfast and not yet lunchtime but I’ll be back to visit the Briarpatch Restaurant & Ice Cream Parlor, an oasis since the 1960s. The word is that their breakfast is the best. And put their Sunday brunch on your to do list. That advice came from a local, so it is the real deal.

Every block contains new finds. In a rather nondescript building on Park Avenue is the Charles Hosmer Morse Museum of American Art.

Winter Park - Morse museum

Step inside, pay admission then discover a deep collection of late 19th century and early 20th century American paintings and decorative arts. And, right here in this building, is the world’s most comprehensive collection of work by Louis Comfort Tiffany (1848-1933).

Personally the Tiffany crown jewel for me, and the treasure hunt find of the day is his chapel interior from the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago.

Like all savvy art museums you have to exit through the museum store. Just saying . . .

Across the street from Park Avenue runs a linear green space, a park that parallels the train tracks. The Winter Park train station at Morse Boulevard and Park Avenue has information for SunRail, Central Florida’s commuter rail line.

Winter Park on Saturdays – see you at the Farmers’ Market

On Saturdays, there are legions of regulars who will tell you that going to the Winter Park Farmers’ Market on New England Avenue from 7 a.m. to 1 p.m. is where the real treasure hunt takes place.

winter park farmers market

Rightly known as a premier produce and plant market, five of us came to the Farmers’ Market on a Saturday and we found plant treasures, many plant treasures.

Please note: The Winter Park Farmers’ Market is closed each year on the third Saturday in March due to the Winter Park Sidewalk Art Festival.

Our big SUV ended up with the cargo area filled with plants. Each one of us held several more plants in our laps. This could happen to you too! You have been warned.

And then there is the Mead Botanical Garden to visit plus taking the Scenic Boat Tour on Winter Park chain of lakes.

So many treasures, so little time. Going back to Winter Park soon is a good plan.


What’s new?

Book signing – Saturday, Dec. 2, 2017, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. – three local authors including Lucy Tobias will be at Parkers Book Store, 1488 Main Street, Sarasota, FL. This is a good day to buy my children’s book “Mary Margaret Manatee” or treat someone special to a book full of adventures – my best-selling book “50 Great Walks in Florida.”

And hugs are free. See you!


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Labyrinths are Mindful Walks in Florida

Labyrinths are Mindful Walks in Florida

Labyrinths. What a nice surprise to find them in Florida.

Egan’s Creek Park, for example, has been transformed with a whole new look and attitude – it even has a labyrinth.

The small park on Atlantic Boulevard in Fernandina Beach underwent a huge facelift– going from a large grassy area next to a creek to an exciting place with walking/jogging trails, exercise equipment, a kayak/SUP dock, a covered picnic area and a sweet labyrinth installed by 8 Flags Playscapes, Inc.

labayrinths -egans creek

The labyrinth is a great addition to the community and it is getting a lot of attention.

Christine Anne Platel, a Veriditas-trained Labyrinth Facilitator, is its champion. She has a Facebook page for the labyrinth and schedules events including labyrinth walks on each new moon and full moon.

“My intention is to extend the opportunity to walk the labyrinth to others who may not know about it, like the Council on Aging and youth groups,” said Platel.

Good intention!

And I have the same goal. Since spring of 2016 I’ve been walking labyrinths all over Florida for my next book entitled Circling the Center: the Labyrinth Trail in Florida, publication date September 1, 2018.

Didn’t know Florida had labyrinths? Neither did I – so here is a labyrinth primer:

Are labyrinths and mazes the same?

No. A labyrinth has one way into the center and one way out. There are no dead ends. You cannot get lost.

Whose idea was it to make a labyrinth?

That answer is lost in the mists of time. Labyrinths, and the unknown reasons for building them, go back 5,000 years. They are found in every culture, including those that have never had contact with another culture.

Labyrinths are based on sacred geometry, the spiral shape is found repeated over and over throughout the universe, like the shape of the Milky Way, a spider web, the rings rippling out from a rock tossed into the water, even your thumbprint is a labyrinth.

Why walk a labyrinth?

Each step can be a prayer, a way to de-stress, an opening of your mind to finding the center of your heart. In medieval times labyrinths were embedded on cathedral floors so pilgrims who couldn’t make the trip to Jerusalem could make a substitute spiritual journey on a labyrinth.

The walk is symbolic of life’s walk, a lovely order to life’s turns and quite in contract to chaos.

Labyrinths are part of Integrated Therapy, recommended for grieving persons, for wellness, and for those who are open to change, the experience can be a transformative. experience.

Where do I find labyrinths in Florida?

Labyrinths are found all the way from Pensacola down to Miami. Start on the Internet with the World Wide Labyrinth Locator, go to the menu bar on the left, choose the locator then plug in Florida. Also visit my Facebook page Labyrinth of the Week

And in the fullness of time, follow the labyrinth trail in my new book.

Are all labyrinths located on church grounds?

The majority of labyrinths in Florida, some sixty percent, are found on church grounds. The second most popular place for labyrinths turns out to be private gardens – you call ahead and make an appointment. Labyrinths are also found at retreat centers, Hospice facilities, universities (Florida State University in Tallahassee is building one on campus right now), spas, hospitals, county parks, art museums (three art museums in Florida have labyrinths) and more.

labyrinths - weelness spa in high springs

Not all labyrinths are permanent. Some are made on beaches to be washed away with the tide. Others are painted on canvas to be unrolled for events. Or, at the Wellness Spa in High Springs, you can call Suzie Ann Clark (386-454-8889) to make an appointment. Upon arrival she will take you to the yoga room and unroll the five-circuit canvas labyrinth beautifully painted by the St. Louis Labyrinth Project.

Do all labyrinths look alike?

Not at all, every labyrinth is different. The materials used to make them vary, so does the size and shape.

Many are the classical spiral shape copied after the 11-circuit labyrinth on the floor of Chartres Cathedral in France. Some are contemporary like the one at Dali Museum in St. Petersburg

At Unity of Venice church there is a garden labyrinth where the path outline area holds plants, garden statues, stones people have brought here from their travels. It is a living, changing labyrinth.

llabyrinths at Unity of Venice

Ready to get started and walk a labyrinth? Good, enjoy, take it one step at a time.



Thank you to those who answered our survey last month. Unfortunately Irma came along right after Saturday Morning Magazine was published, and everyone was distracted, including us, so we are doing the survey again. Here it is:

Because of your interest in travel, the environment and yet to be discovered adventures, you are invited to be part of a brief survey about Saturday Morning Magazine (SMM):

  1. What SMM topics are your favorites?
  2. Would you read SMM twice a month?
  3. What subjects would you like to see more of in SMM?

Send your answers to:

[email protected]



More to Explore

Grab flip flops and let’s go to Hollywood, Florida

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Florida State Parks are Calling Your Name


Yes, I do. Deeply. Passionately.

Just thinking about taking my dogs for walks on dirt trails shaded by tall trees or getting my wading shoes wet climbing in and out kayaks for river trips makes my feet itch.

Florida State Parks - Leon Sinks

And I confess that occasionally I slip away from work to go tuck my feet under a state park picnic table and Zen out for a while – cell phone turned off, incommunicado.

No one knows where I am but I know exactly where I am – communicating with nature – me listening, nature talking.

Good times.

Florida has 174 award-winning state parks, state trails and historic sites – these are your “go to” places for fun and adventure or those needed Zen moments.

Florida State Parks – Here are Fast Facts

  • Most Florida state parks are open 8 a.m. to sunset every day of the year. Museums and historic sites may have different hours. Always check the specific Website.
  • Entrance fees vary with a range of $4 to $10 for a vehicle up to eight people. Every park page on the Florida state parks Website has a “fees” page. Lower fees for bicyclists and walkers.
  • Individual and family annual passes available.
  • Volunteers are needed and welcome at Florida state parks. Greet visitors, conduct tours, intern, remove exotic plants or maintain a beach, waterway or trail – your own piece of natural Florida. Go to their “apply now” page and create an ID and login.

Florida State Parks - kayaking

Florida State Parks are family, senior and dog friendly

Sometimes the planned visit to a Florida state park is not quite what happens when you get there.

Like the time photographers, including me, were chosen to be part of a book entitled “24 Hours in the Life of Ocala”.

My first assignment was Silver River State Park (since renamed Silver Springs State Park). The time frame for taking photographs: from noon to noon the next day.

At the stroke of noon on the appointed day I’m sitting on a park bench, cameras ready. This trail was well known for wildlife sightings. I could see deer and raccoon prints, even a bear paw mark in the dirt.

All right, a deer or two walking by would be great. Time passed. Nothing. Well, maybe a turkey. Nothing. How about a squirrel? Nothing. Birds? Nothing. I keep lowering my expectations. Nothing.

What is up with this?

Wipeouts do not happen to photographers like Graham McGeorge. Graham shows up in the wilderness, any wilderness, and a bear promptly walks by or a bald eagle strikes a pose. Those photographs end up in National Geographic.

Two hours went by. I’m still sitting on the bench. It is the middle of the day. Any wildlife with any sense is laying low.

Then the biggest dragonfly I have ever seen landed on my hand. Its wings were iridescent, shimmering with purples, turquoises and greens. Instantly I knew its beauty couldn’t be captured in a photo. Besides, he was sitting on my camera hand.

I’m convinced the dragonfly came to deliver a message:
“Expectations blind you to what is going on around you.

Be content to be here now.”

Then he flew away.

Great advice.

Florida State Parks where wildlife may arrive for a photo opp

Early the next morning as the sun rose in the sky I’m back in the park. This time stopping by the side of the road, getting out of the car, gathering gear, slinging a camera over my shoulder, ready to walk the walk.

And there was the deer on the forest path about 30 feet away. Standing still, looking right at me, backlit from the rising sun that cast a luminous yellow edge all around its body.

Well, wonder of wonders, good morning to you too.

Oh, how I love early morning light. It is the best time of day and yes, I got the photograph.

So you see Florida state parks are places where unexpected, beautiful things can happen.

Florida state parks - silver springs

Take the episode of the leaping deer.

The day was clear and cloudless. Two dogs, one human, we are all walking together on a forest path inside the same Silver River state park. We liked coming here because this park is conveniently located just a mile from where we lived.

Tall pine trees gave off a heady fragrance. Without any warning three deer came out of the forest, all three rising up in an arc and coming back down to earth at the same time. Then they run a few more steps and leaped into the air again, connected by invisible threads and knowing just when to jump up in the air at the same time.

We stopped walking. My dogs, without hesitation or a command, sat right down to watch the show. The three deer leap across our path, crossing no more than 20 feet ahead of us, came back to earth, ran a few steps, leaping again and so it continued. The trio leaped and ran their way together across a meadow and then disappeared into the trees.

Lipizzan stallions in the ring could not have put on a better performance.

Then the three deer were gone.

I wanted to clap. The dogs wanted to keep on walking.

We never saw deer leaping again.

Perhaps you will.


Saturday Morning Magazine has an invite for you

Because of your interest in travel, the environment and yet to be discovered adventures, you are invited to be part of a brief survey about Saturday Morning Magazine (SMM):

  1. What SMM topics are your favorites?
  2. Would you read SMM twice a month?
  3. What subjects would you like to see more of in SMM?

Send your answers to:

[email protected]


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Grab flip flops, Let’s Go Visit Hollywood, Florida

Grab flip flops, Let’s Go Visit Hollywood, Florida

Let’s go to Hollywood. No, not that one in California, instead grab your flip-flops and let’s go to Hollywood, Florida.

Hollywood, Florida sign

The city of Hollywood sits on the Atlantic Ocean. It is conveniently located north of Miami and south of Fort Lauderdale. Hollywood features a famous beach promenade, cool culture, a sidewalk labyrinth and a delightful historic district.

You didn’t know all this? Neither did I until recently.

The Hollywood Boardwalk is a wide brick promenade going for 2.5 miles along the beachfront. A bike path is part of the pedestrian path. So stroll, skate, run, put it in gear and go.

There’s plenty of pizazz along the way – restaurants, gift shops, beach shops (forget your boogie board? Shades? They’ve got you covered), souvenirs of the Florida kitsch kind.

Almost every block along the Boardwalk has a shower station to wash off the sand between your toes.

Hollywood, Florida boardwalk

A band concert could accompany your stroll along the Boardwalk – lots of live music here.

Got kids? Visit Charlow Park on the Boardwalk. It even has a water fountain to splash in plus playground equipment and covered picnic areas.

Bring your own beach chairs, heck, even bring a tent and plan to stay on the beach for the day.

But first – the issue of parking, and it requires some thought. Parking on beachfront streets is pay by meter. Write down you license number. You will need it when keying the meter. They take cash or credit cards. There are also parking lots charging by the hour or day. Bottom line: no free parking at the beachfront.

Head for Historic downtown Hollywood, Florida

Shake the sand off your toes and head up Hollywood Boulevard. Your destination is historic downtown Hollywood, a sweet spot of several blocks where parking on the street is free for three hours at a time. They really want you here.

Wide sidewalks, restaurants that put their menus out on sidewalk display so you can visually sample the types of entrees and prices ahead of time, large old trees shading old brick buildings. This is a fine place to meander.

Hollywood, Florida historic downtown

Stopping at the Chocolada bakery and café, I sat under a huge awning on the sidewalk. Fans kept everyone cool. Breakfast, lunch and dinner served all the time along with live music from time to time. Hard to resist the famous bakery offerings inside, cakes and desserts – like a penguin (sponge cake dressed in black and white frosting, yes, looks like a penguin).

Next to the bakery on one side sits a Greek restaurant. On the other side there is an Irish pub. You get the picture – lots of restaurant choices.

Walk a labyrinth on Hollywood Blvd., Hollywood, Florida

Hollywood, Florida labyrinth

Also on Hollywood Blvd. at First Presbyterian Church 1530 Hollywood Blvd., is a small labyrinth* right next to the sidewalk. A labyrinth is not a maze. A labyrinth has one way in, one way out, no dead ends. The purpose of a maze is to find the center. The purpose of a labyrinth is to find the center of your heart. So here you are, in Hollywood, with a public, outdoors labyrinth waiting for your discovery. Go for it!

Young Circle in Hollywood, Florida has cool culture

For cool culture, head to the ArtsPark at Young Circle, a 10-acre circle roundabout and the heart of Hollywood’s downtown redevelopment.

Billed as a place were art, people and music meet, be sure to check out the ArtsPark Web site (above) for what’s playing and what art classes are going on –drop in to the Visual Arts Pavilion, see the gallery, or view glass blowing, even a martial arts class! Take in a concert at the outdoor amphitheater that seats 2,500 people.

Hollywood, Florida poinciana tree

And children want to visit the innovative playground. All this is happening in a roundabout!

The city of Hollywood resembles a multiplex theater – take your pic, all the city’s features get four stars.





Saturday, August 19, 2017 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Venice Arts and Crafts Show, Venice Community Center, 326 S. Nokomis Avenue. Come visit a bevy of local authors, including Lucy Tobias, with books ranging from memoirs to mysteries, historical fiction to romance and travel, children’s books and more. Can you say “EARLY CHRISTMAS SHOPPING”


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