11. Lots of popular movies filmed in the area

Magic Mike filmed at Fred Howard Park in Tarpon Springs, FL
Scenes from Magic Mike were filmed on a sandbar near Fred Howard Park

It seems just about every major city has had its’ share of famous movie glory, and Tampa is no exception. Here are a few of the big names that have shot in the area.

Magic Mike – Did you know that Magic Mike is loosely based on Channing Tatum’s actual experiences of being a stripper in the Tampa area? The movie filmed throughout the Tampa area including notable locations such as The Bricks of Ybor, Fred Howard Park, and Caddy’s on the Beach in Treasure Island.

Edward Scissorhands – Tim Burton’s eccentric 90’s classic featuring Johnny Depp was filmed in a cookie cutter looking subdivision in Land O’Lakes called Carpenters Run.

Dolphin Tale – Both Dolphin Tale movies, inspired by the true story of Winter, filmed on location at the Clearwater Marine Aquarium. Not surprisingly, thousands of tourists flock to the city each year to meet the star of the film.

My Girl – The 90’s tearjerker filmed in Sanford, Florida. The Stanford Inn in Bartow Florida was used as the Sultenfess funeral parlor. Today it operates as a bed and breakfast.

The Parent Trap II – The made-for-TV sequel was filmed throughout the Tampa region. Exteriors of Robert E. Lee Elementary and interiors of Mitchell Elementary were used to represent the summer school. All of us 90’s kids can remember seeing this movie again and again on the Disney channel!

Goodfellas – A scene from the gangster classic filmed at Lowry Park Zoo. Note – it was referred to as the Tampa City Zoo in the film.

12. The Scientology Spiritual headquarters is located in downtown Clearwater

The Clearwater Scientology Building
Not the best pic, but a view of the Clearwater Scientology building from a boat ride.

Did you know that the Scientology Spirituality Headquarters is in Clearwater, Florida? What do Tom Cruise, Kelly Preston, John Travolta, and Kirstie Alley all have in common? They are all Scientology members who own land in or near the Clearwater Scientology Headquarters. If you take any cruise in the area, your guide will point out the massive building as well as notable celeb houses.

Whether or not you are interested in learning more about Clearwater’s strong Scientology background, a cruise is a fantastic opportunity to enjoy the scenery! And of course, Clearwater Beach with its’ white sands and clear water always rates amongst the best beach towns in the country. Most tourists simply come for the beaches and the aquarium (where the popular film Dolphin Tale filmed), without ever stepping foot in the downtown area. Note – there are a number of great restaurants in the area too!

13. Babe Ruth hit his longest home run in Tampa

Interesting tid bit of history – The Great Bambino’s hit his longest home run at the old Plant Field baseball stadium in downtown Tampa. In April 1919, during a spring training game of the Red Sox vs. the NY Giants, the baseball legend hit a record breaking 587 foot homer.

14. Tarpon Springs is home to the highest percentage of Greek Americans in any US city

A view of downtown Tarpon Springs, Florida
Tarpon Springs offers a pretty little downtown area to stroll around, or hop on the gorgeous Pinellas Trail, a 40+ mile path which goes all the way to St. Petersburg!

This small coastal town is known for its’ gorgeous parks and beaches, as well as its’ historic sponge decks. It also happens to be home to the highest percentages of Greeks in any American city. If you are looking to try out some great Greek food in the Tampa area, Tarpon Springs is definitely the place to be. The Greektown historic District is a lovely little place to take a stroll. Excellent choices include Hella’s, Mr. Souvlaki, and Bread and Butter Gourmet Deli. While you are here, also treat yourself to a relaxing dolphin cruise.

15. The healing mineral waters of Safety Harbor were once thought to be the Fountain of Youth

One of the mineral rich pools at Safety Harbor Resort and Spa
Mineral rich water is used to fill the pools and spa at Safety Harbor.

Safety Harbor Resort and Spa, the state’s only natural mineral spa resort, is referred to as the place where “healing waters flow.” Since opening in 1925, visitors claim that soaking in the waters have healed various ailments and diseases. Joint and muscle related problems often ease up due to the rich mineral content which includes silica. In 1539 Hernando Desoto discovered these natural mineral waters. He believed them to be the fountain of youth missed by Ponce De Leon. He named these springs “Espiritu Santo Springs” which translates to “Springs of the Holy Spirit.”

Although the proposed youth & beauty benefits of the springs only justify a visit, the gorgeous location on 22 acres of of Western Tampa Bay, a great restaurant, a nice spa, and plenty of on-site recreational opportunities, are just more reasons to plan a relaxing getaway to Safety Harbor. Oh, and they offer a wonderful weekend brunch buffet!

16. You can walk through one of the one of the few remaining virgin slash pine forests in South Florida

Virgin slash pine forest at Honeymoon Island State Park in Dunedin Florida

Beautiful Honeymoon Island is home to one of the last remaining virgin slash pine forests in Southern Florida. While Honeymoon Island is most known for gorgeous beaches, not taking a stroll along the gorgeous nature trails would truly be a shame. Nature lovers and bird watchers will love the Osprey Trail, which features endless wildlife & bird watching opportunities. Keep your eyes peeled for Osprey nests, armadillos, and gopher tortoises! A busy place, but well worth the hassle!