Note: This guide first appeared in our email newsletter series, One Day in Tampa Bay. Subscribe to that newsletter and check out our other offerings at tampabay.com/newsletters.
This guide is all about indulgence.
Growing up around Safety Harbor, Tampa Bay Times reporter Gabrielle Calise has fond memories of downing syrupy pancakes at the Paradise Restaurant before school and stopping for milkshakes after class at the Whistle Stop. The colorful, quaint town was a great place to be a kid — and it’s only gotten better.
Along downtown’s Main Street, you’ll find boutiques, artistic hubs and plenty of places to grab a bite.
Kick off the day with lunch at The Tides Seafood Market & Provisions, a charming market and restaurant known for its fresh, local seafood selections and New Orleans-style po’boys.
Everything here is great, but some favorites include the seared tuna salad, served over a bed of greens with avocado, radishes, mango and a ginger vinaigrette, and the crab cake salad, which comes drizzled in a zingy mustard and dill dressing.
Times tip: Pick up dinner on your way out the door — the store stocks a lovely selection of wine and beer, fresh flowers, bread, produce, seafood and meats‚ almost all of which are locally sourced.
Street parking is ample along Main Street.
There are restrooms at the Safety Harbor Public Library. And, if you’re up for a longer walk or a short drive, there are public bathrooms at the scenic Philippe Park about 2 miles north of Main Street.
Time to relax
It wouldn’t be a day of indulgence without a trip to Safety Harbor Resort and Spa. This downtown staple sits on top of five springs with a rich history. According to a spa employee who gave us a tour, the lore dates back to Spanish explorer Hernando De Soto. He named the area Espiritu Santo Springs — “Springs of the Holy Spirit” — when he camped along Tampa Bay in 1539.
In 1926, the Safety Harbor Sanitorium opened its doors, using spring water in its pools as well as bottling and shipping the water across the country.
These days, Safety Harbor Resort and Spa boasts whirlpools, a sauna, a fitness center and 172 rooms that all face the waters of Tampa Bay. The owners are Greek and have filled the space with Mediterranean accents, including columns, Swarovski chandeliers and floor-to-ceiling murals depicting scenes of Greek mythology.
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You don’t need to book an overnight stay to enjoy on-site dining or a spa day. The “Any Day Funday” package, for example, includes a glass of Champagne, a spa lunch and a 50-minute Swedish massage or deep-cleaning facial for $159.
If you’re up for a little nature therapy afterward, walk down to Safety Harbor Waterfront Park, where a 0.9-mile boardwalk trail winds through mangroves, offering stellar views of the bay and plenty of solitude.
For an afternoon pick-me-up, look beyond the Starbucks and head up Main Street to Cafe Vino Tinto, where the beans roasted for the spot’s signature coffee drinks are sourced straight from the owners’ farm in Costa Rica.
Pair your cup of java with a slice of cheesecake from Bassano Cheesecake next door. You can choose from more than 20 different versions of the classic dessert.
For something a little stronger, Safety Harbor has two craft breweries, and both are worth checking out. Right off Main, Troubled Waters Brewing features a rotating selection of brews, including the popular Sour Candy Berliner that tastes exactly like Sour Patch Kids. A few blocks over, Crooked Thumb Brewery imbues strong neighborhood vibes with a large outdoor beer garden, yard games and frequent live music.
If you feel like tapping into your creative side, swing by Whimzeyland, aka the “Bowling Ball House,” and immerse yourself in the over-the-top art installation.
Local artists Todd Ramquist and Kiaralinda stuffed their front yard with winding mosaic paths, kooky sculptures and 600 bowling balls. A 90-minute tour costs $25. Book ahead by calling 727-304-5683, or you can just wander through the yard on your own.
The same artists collaborated with other creatives in the community to build the Safety Harbor Art and Music Center a short walk away. Here you’ll find art classes, live music, creative talks and more.
End the day
For dinner, how about some pizza?
Over at the Nona Slice House, don’t skip the Detroit-style pies: We’re partial to the Bee’s Knees, topped with prosciutto, arugula, red onions, Parmesan and a drizzle of hot honey.
If you’ve still got some steam left, cap the evening with a cocktail and a show at Gigglewaters, a speakeasy-inspired social club and screening room. A different classic flick plays each evening inside the 32-seat theater, and popcorn flavors range from garlic bread to white truffle.
Just keep an eye out for ghosts. Adult star-turned-ghost hunter Stormy Daniels found some eerie spirits here.
Check out our other local guides
- Southeast St. Petersburg guide: From hidden waterfront gems to Black history
- Downtown Tampa guide: How to explore Riverwalk and beyond without a car
- Pinellas County beach guide: Where to eat, drink and relax along the Gulf