Anclote Key Lighthouse (Map 1)
The Anclote Key Lighthouse was built in 1887, designed to mark the entrance into the Anclote River. The lighthouse was serviced by a series of keepers living on the island, until its automation by the US Coast Guard in 1952. Following its automation, vandalism caused the lighthouse to fall into disrepair, and it was decommissioned in 1984. The Lighthouse was re-lit in 2003 following a campaign by the Gulf Islands Alliance Citizen Support Organization and is maintained once again by a keeper living on the island.
Spring Cavern near Howard Park (Map 1)
This natural spring is located about 200 yards due north of the second bridge from the mainland on the Howard Park Causeway. If you plan to dive this sink, it is important to do so at high tide and to make sure that you have a diving flag signifying your position. There can be heavy traffic by waverunners in this area, especially on the weekends.
Tarpon Springs Sponge Docks (Map 1
The Tarpon Springs Sponge Docks is the site of one of the leading natural sponge industries in the world. Here, all aspects of the sponge industry take place, including the harvesting of the sponges and weekly auctions to wholesalers. Located in the “Sponge Capital of the World,” these docks have created a lively tourism industry, being the focal point for over 100 shops and many restaurants, featuring some of the most authentic Greek cuisine in Florida.
John’s Pass Village (Map 4)
This quaint fishing village at the south end of Madeira Beach features a 1,100-foot long boardwalk, 100 retailers – with unique shopping, cruise lines, a variety of restaurants, boat rentals, jet skiing, and parasailing – and the local fishing fleet. This site is home to the legend of Pirate John LeVeque, who is believed to have buried his treasure on Madeira Beach in the 18th Century. Upon returning for his treasure after a hurricane, LeVeque found that the beach had been washed away and a Pass was created between what is now Madeira Beach and Treasure Island. LeVeque stayed in the area, fishing and swimming the waters and searching for his treasure. John’s Pass is named for LeVeque in honor of his discovery of the area and for the treasure he never found again.
Built in 1924 by Thomas Rowe, the Don CeSar Hotel fulfilled his dream to build a pink castle. The ‘Don’ has hosted a number of rich and famous guests, including F. Scott Fitzgerald, Franklin D. Roosevelt and Al Capone. Facing financial troubles during the Depression, the New York Yankees signed a 3-year contract with the Don to house the players during spring training, bringing in substantial funds and an entourage of sports writers and editors, nearly filling the hotel to capacity and saving the Don from closure. In 1944, the US Army seized the hotel and used it as a convalescence center for troops wounded in the battlefield. The Army left in 1945, but the hotel was subsequently taken over by the Veteran’s Administration and other government offices, before being vacated and falling into severe disrepair. The hotel was refurbished and re-opened in 1973, being named to the National Register of Historic Places in 1975, and continues to operate as a hotel to this day.
North Beach (Map 5)
In 2005, Stephen Leatherman (Dr. Beach) named North Beach in Fort DeSoto County Park ‘America’s Best Beach’. Beaches are the number one recreational destination for Americans. This all natural and undeveloped beach offers vast stretches of white sand and natural vegetation. At high tide, the beach may become an island of its own, requiring a pleasant wade out to its pristine sand.
The Pier has been a landmark in downtown St. Petersburg since 1899. Renovated as the ‘Million Dollar Pier’ in 1926, and again in 1973 as the inverted pyramid that it is today, the Pier has stood for over a century as a gateway to St. Petersburg from the sea. Today, the Pier houses an aquarium, several restaurants and a number of specialty shops. Fishing is a popular pastime along the approach to the building, with rod rentals and bait for sale at the Pier bait house. Dolphin watching tours operate daily from the Pier on chartered boats. On the landside, downtown St. Petersburg – with its large number of sports venues, hotels, retail shops and museums – offers many diversions.