Tarpon Springs, Florida
If isle-hopping around Greece is beyond the budget this year but you’re craving souvlaki something fierce, the Sunshine State offers a suitable substitute 45 minutes north of St. Petersburg. No passport required to explore the Sponge Capital of the World, which saw a massive influx of Greek immigrants recruited for their diving skills to harvest the sea sponges that thrived in the Anclote River in the 1880s. Today, with one in 10 residents tracing their heritage across the pond, the town still feels heavily Hellenic, especially down by the docks where strains of bouzouki music spills into the streets, the smell of freshly baked baklava fills the air, and blue and white is the color palette of choice for buildings and boats alike. Vintage vessels take tourists on expeditions and demonstrate in the traditional suits how the creatures are collected and prepared for market. Back on land, use your sea legs to complete a free walking audio tour of Greektown and scour shops for what once outstripped citrus as the state’s main export before feasting at mom-and-pop tavernas and bakeries like Mama’s or Hellas. If you happen to be there in January, swing by Spring Bayou to witness the largest Epiphany celebration in the U.S.
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