The early sponge industry created a need for eating places at the Docks for the boat crews. Soon, as news of this unusual industry spread, people began to come to the Docks to see the sponges. Shops opened so that the tourists could purchase sponges and other souvenirs. The tourism industry blossomed in Tarpon Springs. Some of the original shops remain at the Docks today, owned by the same families that started them. Through the years more shops have opened, putting the number at well over 100 today. There are approximately fifteen restaurants in the Sponge Docks area, several of them internationally known.
Visitors to the Sponge Docks can shop, eat, take cruises down the Anclote River to the Gulf of Mexico, go deep-sea fishing, visit a saltwater aquarium, see a movie depicting the sponge industry.
Other places to visit in Tarpon Springs include Tarpon Avenue, part of the National Main Street program, with its antique shops and artists' galleries.
The Cultural Center on South Pinellas Avenue provides art exhibits in its museum and walking/bus tours of the city.
At the Universalist Church on Grand Boulevard the paintings of George Inness, Jr., a world-renowned artist who made his home here, can be seen from October to May.
St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Cathedral, a replica of St. Sophia Cathedral in Constantinople, is open daily to visitors and worshippers. The Shrine of St. Michael, a small chapel built by a Greek family in thanks for the miraculous cure of their young son, is open daily.
The City Library, on Lemon St., with its collection of 85,000 print and nonprint materials for adults and children, is a member of the Pinellas Public Library Cooperative, allowing access to holdings of its fourteen member libraries. Access to libraries outside the Cooperative is available through interlibrary loan. The Tarpon Springs Library is completely automated and has special collections of maritime, business, and genealogical resources.