Pinellas County can be a place with traffic, and crowds, and lines and waiting. Consequently, it has the potential to try the patience of any soul. But when you want to get away from all that, and be twenty to thirty minutes from everywhere in the area, Safety Harbor shines. It is a respite from the busyness, and perhaps why it is one of the best places to live in Pinellas County.
In 2017, Safety Harbor will be 100 years old. It started its claim to fame with development around Espiritu Santo Springs. The five large springs bubble out massive amount of water, with each said to have healing properties for various ailments. The springs were home to several different native American populations for over 2000 years. One such group were mound builders and at Philippe Park (one of the prettiest parks in Florida and the oldest in the county), you can climb to the top of one such mound and enjoy the view of Tampa Bay among mature oak trees covering over the roads and picnic tables.
Eventually the Springs, “where the healing waters flow”, became home to the Safety Harbor Spa, back in the mid 1900’s, it was the vacation spot of many wealthy families, including the Great Houdini. Now guests can stay there and enjoy the natural spring fed pools, and the same waters enjoyed by many generations. On top of that, it is a full resort and spa that a quiet retreat.
A great time to stay here is the weekend of any third Friday. “Third Friday” is a monthly tradition where several blocks of Main Street are closed down, so vendors can bring their wares and people can bring their families and their dogs (or parrots!) and meander down main street eating great food and enjoying the many shops and restaurants in the area.
The great restaurants are one of the best reasons to visit the Safety Harbor area. Reservations can be made at most of them and in general, the waits are much less than in many other parts of the county while the food quality is top notch. For elegant dining, try Green Springs, Parts of Paris, Tapping the Vine, and Marker 39. For a more casual atmosphere, check out The Whistle Stop, Southern Fresh, or Brady’s Backyard BBQ. Of course there are some chain favorites like Starbucks and Crispers too.
Desert is always good at the restaurants, but Safety Harbor has a super tasty shaved ice shop called Snow Beach. The time tested ice cream shop to check out is Sun Groves, on the north side of Safety Harbor on SR 580. Sun Groves used to be a huge orange grove that has since been replaced by neighborhoods. But they still bring in and sell locally grown oranges, making seasonally fresh squeezed OJ that is truly the real thing, with no additives. This juice is a good bit fresher than what you could get at the grocery store! Not only do they have juice, but they make fresh salsa that beats any place in town. But it is the secret recipe of the ice cream of many flavors and the orange vanilla swirl that drives in perpetual business to this timeless Florida original. Don’t miss it!
Safety Harbor a place where walkers, joggers, and bikers love to come and get their exercise. It is a great place to sit under a shade tree and watch the calm bay waters, or sit in the same shade and enjoy a meal and a drink with a few friends in a quaint atmosphere. Who wouldn’t love the romantic walk to the ned of the pier to gaze out toward Tampa lit up by the setting sun. Safety Harbor is a magical place, and I am thankful to live here. If you need a great church, there are many wonderful people and many different churches. My family attends Harborside Christian Church. We love it there and invite you come. In Safety Harbor, I can take that deep breath we all need on a long awaited vacation, but I can have it every day. So whether you come just to visit or stay for a lifetime, I believe your heart will grow ever fonder of Safety Harbor.