Located on the central-west coast of Florida, Safety Harbor is a relatively new city in comparison to other places in the U.S. It was founded in 1917, though the land itself was settled long before Columbus – as far back as the Stone Age, some 6,000 years ago. This is reflected in the relatively small population of 16,000.
Safety Harbor is near Tampa Bay. It is part of Pinellas County and has connections with Route 19 and Highway 590. It is just 19 miles from Tampa itself, 283 miles north-west of Miami, and 103 miles from Orlando.
Legend has it that it was named because the area around Florida was notoriously populated by pirates in the 18th century during the so-called golden age of privateers. Once the land was in sight, you were considered to be in a ‘safe harbor.’
If you’re interested in visiting Safety Harbor, here are the top 15 things to do.
1. Tampa Bay Downs
If you love horse-racing or fancy a flutter on the horses, then be sure to check out Tampa Bay Downs, where you can watch live racing or indulge in a bit of poker. If you’re after a slower pace of entertainment, then try a round of golf.
There are numerous facilities here for all-day dining, and even hotels and resorts nearby, making this a perfect place to spend a day or two.
2. Safety Harbor Museum
This small local history museum has an emphasis on the arts and the craft of writing, following a partnership with the local city government to renovate it. It has now become not just a museum but a cultural center for a community of local artists, so it is the perfect place to visit if you are looking to network.
The museum itself is set in a cute little house with its own modest garden and hosts a variety of exhibitions on Native American and African American history.
3. Upper Tampa Bay Park
This 596-acre park is a nature lover’s paradise. Protected since 1982 for the purposes of study, it plays host to a variety of different environments, including mangroves, marshes, and flat-woods.
There are various nature trails to get stuck into, but the real treat here is the abundance of animals that live in the park, including dolphins, otters, manatees, tortoises, and butterflies; there are surely few parks in the world where you can see all of these gorgeous species in one go.
There is a playground for kids and a place to set out on a canoe or a kayak across the bay, making this park the perfect destination for a day out.
4. Cliff Stephens Park
Much smaller than Upper Tampa Bay Park but still worthy of a visit, Cliff Stephens Park is technically just outside Safety Harbor in Clearwater. But it is the perfect place to come and work out in the morning. It has an exercise park with 19 different pieces of equipment, as well as a crystal clear blue lake for jogging around early in the morning.
5. Crooked Thumb Brewery
If you love craft beer, then this is the perfect place to come and see how it’s made. You can sample some of the best beer in the county – maybe even the best beer in the whole of Florida.
There are a variety of events to get involved in here, such as quiz nights, live music from Cadillac Cowboys, and pizza nights cooked by Doughbie Brothers Pizza. You can even book your own event for a birthday or other celebration.
6. Safety Harbor Waterfront Park
If you’re in search of a place for quiet reflection, this is it. Bring a book and a hot thermos of tea or coffee, and watch the pelicans pass by. This spot is also the center of Safety Harbor, and on days of celebration like the 4th of July, this is the place you want to be to see the fireworks.
With a long pier for fishing or walking down, as well as a fountain, there is perhaps no better place to come and watch the sunset.
7. Philippe Park
Did you know that Safety Harbor used to be home to a sizeable Native American population? Philippe Park pays homage to this with its monument to the Tocabaga tribe; there is a mound that is historically recognized as having once been used for religious purposes by the tribe.
Founded in 1948, the park is the oldest in the county. It spans some 122 acres and is named for Count Oder Philippe; the land was once part of his family’s plantation.
8. Safety Harbor Park Nature Boardwalk
A relatively new addition to Safety Harbor, this attraction offers an incredible walk through nature. It is a 2,500-linear-foot boardwalk with four trailheads. You can get lost as you meander your way across the brand new timber, fresh from Brazil.
It is the perfect place to go bird watching, as you can often get up close to the birds in their natural habitat without them noticing, particularly if you are quiet.
9. Horsepower for Kids and Animal Sanctuary
Slightly out of town from the main Safety Harbor area, but well worth the drive out, Horsepower for Kids is an excellent place for kids to enjoy some time getting up close and personal with horses.
As well as horse riding, there are other animals here, such as guinea pigs, foxes, wolves, a variety of reptiles, and birds. In fact, the petting zoo boasts over 200 different types of animals; all of them have been rescued and given new homes, where they live in a safe environment and are loved by the staff and guests alike.
This eccentric art exhibition is well worth a visit. There are bright and contrasting colors and patterns everywhere you look. The exhibition is essentially a converted house that has been filled with art exhibitions by Todd Ramquist and Kiaralinda.
Behold the wonder that awaits you as you are transported to a place that could well be a scene from a Dahl novel like Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.
This magical place is located near downtown in Safety Harbor.
11. Ream Wilson Trail
If cycling is your jam, then be sure to check out the Ream Wilson Trail, which a scenic 13-mile ride extending into Clearwater and through Cliff Stephens Park. It is possible to ride the entire route in one day if you fancy a workout, but it’s also possible to ride only selected sections of it.
If you’re heading out to Florida in the summer, it’s probably best to start the trail first thing in the morning to avoid the heat of midday; remember to stock up on sun-cream and wear a hat.
12. Chi Chi Roderiquez Golf Club
Nothing that says you’re in Florida more than getting out on the golf course for a round or two. The beautiful backdrop at this course is more than enough incentive for some friendly rivalry between old mates.
Chi Chi Roderiquez’s is a par-69 course that boasts 12 holes, two tiered greens, 70 sand traps, and water hazards. The course is set on a vast and sprawling 140 acres of land.
13. North City Park
What’s really great about this park is the amount of shade that it provides because of the number of trees that grow here; it’s a welcome retreat from the heat of the day. Smaller than some of the others listed here at just nine acres, and three miles away from downtown, it is a little less popular than the main Safety Harbor Waterfront Park, meaning it’ll be more peaceful and conducive to a relaxing afternoon.
There is a baseball court here as well as two tennis courts and a playground, perfect for children.
14. Folly Farms Nature Preserve
Another nice spot in town to escape it all, Folly Farms Nature reserve has a host of amenities to keep your natural side occupied. There is a butterfly garden and a community orchard, as well as nature trail walks and sway bench swings.
A wealthy benefactor, George Weiss, donated the land to the town some years ago; he still patrols it every day, asking that the local government keep it free from development. There is a touching monument in the form of a poem to George’s late wife, Lucille.
15. Alligator Lake
See you later, alligator? If you want to do some gator spotting and see these glorious creatures in the wild, then this lake is probably the best place to be.
Close to the Crooked Thumb Brewery and further down the coast from the main Safety Harbor Waterfront Park, Alligator Lake has ramp access if you’re brave enough to cross it by boat!
Probably a safer option is to hike one of the many trails in the park, such as the Montgomery Trail, where you can observe these mighty beasts from a safe distance, as well as the other wildlife on display, such as pelicans.