Trip Advisor Testimonials
So much fun Laura! I can’t wait to bring friends on the history tour. I have been on ghost tours in other cities and Laura wasn’t far the most knowledgable with her combination of history and ghost stories. Thank you for making me slow down and appreciate the wonderful town we live in.
Thank you Laura for a most informative saturday morning history tour of Safety Harbor. So appropriate to start at the Gazebo at Main and 4th. We enjoyed the historic buildings and properties and views of old photos and leads to good eats.
We absolutely love Safety Harbor Florida! We keep seeing advertisements for the ghost tours so we finally booked it. It was fun walking downtown Safety Harbor and hearing the stories about the old buildings that we see on a regular basis. Even though it was cold and started to rain we had a great time.
We learned so much about this quaint town from our guide – what the old town used to look like, who the founding fathers (and mothers) were, what’s happening to the town today and more. Very interesting way to spend a Saturday morning!
A friend and I did the Safety Harbor History Tour with Laura! She was great and REALLY knows and loves Safety Harbor. Would recommend this for all out of towners and those who live in the town and know little of its great history!
We are soooo glad that we went on Laura’s historical walking tour of Safety Harbor on our first day of our vacation.Her insights were so useful when we visited other towns in the area including St. Petersburg and even when we went to the History Center in Tampa, because we remembered the context and stories that she shared. We would have brushed over many historical sites which do not have labels or plaques without her tour. Laura is so passionate and knowledgeable about Safety Harbor. She took us on a walking tour with several stops including the historic buildings, public buildings and the fountain of youth. Kudos to Laura for researching so much about this town in her 30 years living there! We highly recommend it!
We love to show off our small town with tons of history. We arranged a tour with Laura for our car club for 40 members. Not only was Laura a great tour guide, but she brought two other helpers with her to manage our big group. We learned about the towns early hotels, a fire that devastated Safety Harbor and some of the famous and infamous people that have lived here during the last 100 years. It is a terrific tour and highly recommended. It is a great opportunity for a group event.
What a wonderfully insightful tour. Who knew so much history existed in such a small, quaint town. Would highly recommend…the Guide was great and fun! We even had lunch at a delish little restaurant in town.
Spooky tours get into the spirit of Safety Harbor
By Terri Bryce Reeves, Tampa Bay Times Correspondent
Wednesday, September 21, 2016 8:04pm
Link to article
This quaint little town, incorporated in 1917, isn’t known for eerie pre-Civil War mansions or creepy moss-covered cemeteries, but it does have enough purported paranormal activity to warrant a ghost tour.
That according to Laura Dent, owner of Safety Harbor Ghost and History Tours, a business that offers day and nighttime walks along and around Main Street.
The day strolls focus on local history: the Tocobaga Indians, the Spanish Conquistadors, Odet Philippe and his introduction of grapefruit, the celebrities, the mafia, hurricanes, fires, and the healing mineral springs.
As the sun sets, the ghost tour turns to one of mystical intrigue. Your guide will unearth lore about the Tocobaga, pirates and pioneers. There will be talk of murders, UFO sightings, swamp apes and modern-day accounts of apparitions and other paranormal activity.
The tours are designed to educate, entertain and enlighten. There is no guarantee that pale, wispy nonpaying guests will show up for the tour.
“It’s not a dolphin tour,” said Dent, a 32-year resident of the city. “We can’t guarantee any ghosts.”
Dent said that although she attended Catholic schools for 12 years where such ideas were shunned, she’s always been fascinated with the supernatural.
When she began giving history tours three years ago, residents and business owners would come up and share their tales of strange occurrences around town.
Dent began researching books, newspapers and the Safety Harbor Museum, uncovering information about the Tocobaga Tribe as well as the murder, fire and flood victims who once lived in the area. With that, she created a narrative about why their spirits may still be hanging around.
In the two years she’s been conducting the tours, Dent hasn’t personally seen any spectres, but a few on the tour have reported seeing angels and spirits along the way.
She said she and tourgoers have felt strange sensations and sudden drops in temperature. Ghostly orbs have shown up in photographs, which some consider to be concentrations of spiritual energy, while others say it’s refractions of dust or lint.
“Paranormal investigators have been here and their equipment went crazy,” she said.
Other ghostly encounters have been reported by locals: A black hooded figure that roams City Hall. A YouTube video showing surveillance footage of a book flying off a shelf at the Safety Harbor Library when no one was there. Eerie voices requesting service at the Safety Harbor Resort and Spa from vacant rooms. The “farmer” that hangs out at the Chamber of Commerce.
To add interest and excitement, Dent starts each tour by encouraging people to download a ghost app on their phone to help detect activity along the tour. She uses the free Ghost Radar Classic, which allegedly senses fields of energy in the area.
During a preview of her tour, several “ghosts” were picked up by the app under the grand Baranoff Oak, reportedly the oldest oak in Pinellas County. And some of the knots in nearby trees do look quite a bit like human faces.
So will Safety Harbor become known as a place of mystery, intrigue and haunts?
“I don’t consider Safety Harbor haunted,” Dent said. “In my opinion we just have spirits roaming here. It’s a vortex for spiritual energy.”
Safety Harbor History and Ghost Tours
What: Pet-friendly, child-friendly and ghost-friendly 1 1/2 – to 2-hour walks down Main Street
Tickets: History tours are $15; ghost tours are $20. Children 8 to 12 are $5 and $10 respectively. Reservations are required.
Info: (727) 687-8785 or visit safetyharbortours.com
A Haunting Experience
By Kelly S. Kelly
Clearwater Gazette correspondent
Published: October 30, 2014
We’ve all been exposed to ghosts — on Halloween, in cartoons, books and movies. They’ve been a part of every culture. But would you believe that ghosts literally may be among us as well?
Don’t boo and hiss just yet. Witnesses have reported strange goings-on at sites such as the Belleview Biltmore, the Clearwater Beach Hotel (now the Sandpearl Resort), the Capitol Theatre and other places. Are such people kooks, clairvoyant or just normal humans being exposed to paranormal activity?
With so many reputed haunted locations spread out in this area, it’s not practical to conduct ghost tours in most cities. However, Laura Dent does just that by offering her ghost and history tours in Safety Harbor. While doubters always will be dubious, Dent said several of her tour participants have taken pictures in which ghosts seemingly appear.
Safety Harbor Ghost and History Tours cost $20 each for a one-mile walking tour of downtown that spans about an hour and a half. Children ages 8-16 pay $5. Dent, a 30-year resident of Safety Harbor, guides groups of up to 10 people. The tours can be held any evening, as she often can accommodate individual schedules. Participants meet at a gazebo on the corner of Main Street and Fourth Avenue North, next to the Paradise Restaurant.
Every third Saturday for $25 per person is a public tour called “Touching the Invisible” with Dent and psychic Caryl Dennis. This entails a two-hour tour inside spooky buildings, whereas the ghost tours take place from the sidewalk.
Brace yourself on the tours for convincing stories and legends of ghosts and the macabre, combined with intriguing history. Dennis also teaches participants to perceive beyond the physical and discover what she describes as energized orbs.
“Some people attract this energy,” Dent said, “which can sometimes be viewed in photos. Some people don’t recognize them as such, however, and pass off orbs as specks of dust from the camera lens. But I think they’re angels, relatives from our past or just a mysterious form of energy.”
Dent prefers the term “spirits” to “ghosts” and suggests that such spirits did not go immediately to the afterlife because of unresolved issues during their lives or a fear of what may happen in the afterlife. Terminology aside, people more readily relate to the essence of a ghost tour, one of which will be held this Halloween.
“The tour isn’t cheesy at all,” said Dent, who makes no promises that spirits will appear. “There are no meters or instruments used to detect a presence. No people jump out at you. I encourage skeptics to be open and not put up a block that prevents paranormal things from happening.”
Dent, who’s a member of the chamber of commerce and Safety Harbor Historical Society, also brings into the tour a talk about local history to keep it informative even for skeptics. Those going on tours are advised in advance to bring a camera to possibly capture a ghostly image — which occurs more often than expected, she said.
Dent claims that even Safety Harbor City Hall is haunted. Two people on separate tours took photos of the same face of a child in a window, she said. Dent repeatedly hears stories from people who work or visit there about children talking and laughing despite none being present.
Dent gets many of her ghost stories from senior residents, including twin brothers — one a police officer, the other a former mayor. She enjoys listening to older residents at city reunions tell stories about unexplained happenings.
Those intrigued about exploring such supernatural possibilities can contact Dent at (727) 687-8785 or visit SafetyHarborTours.com.
– See more at: http://clearwatergazette.com/cg/news/a-haunting-experience-20141030/#sthash.KkndCasL.dpuf
Tampa Bay Mercedes Benz Club’s bi-monthly newsletter:
Historic Tour of Safety Harbor
Safety Harbor, FL – January 19, 2014
By …Linda Cooper
March 4, 1984 was the date that Paul & I, along with our 2 children who at that time were just beginning to drive, moved into our house in Safety Harbor. We chose our location because of Countryside High School and Paul’s easy drive to the St. Petersburg/Clearwater airport. Safety Harbor Main Street at that time was mostly deserted from Tampa Bay at the Safety Harbor Spa to the Whistle Stop ice cream parlor just past the railroad tracks.
The address for our home, the builder advised, would be Clearwater (the post office at that time was very tiny and lucky it could handle the mail for the downtown area) but that we would be residents of Safety Harbor. The population at that time was around 7,000 and has grown over the last 30 years to over 17,000.
We previewed the walking tour with Dave & Lynn Hutchinson (they have lived in Safety Harbor since 1978) in November, then joined 33 members in a light drizzle on January 19th. Laura Dent, owner and tour guide of Alice’s History Mystery Tours gave us wonderful historical tidbits about Safety Harbor.
The Safety Harbor Spa sits on top of a natural spring, is part of the historical register, and was originally listed as a sanatorium. Since the spring was purported to have healing powers, the water was bottled and sold under various names during its 100+ year’s existence.
Safety Harbor (formerly known as Worth’s Harbor) was first homesteaded by Count Odette Philippe, a Frenchman who is credited with introducing the grapefruit to Florida in 1823. The name Safety Harbor originated from the early 18th century, when pirates were a substantial influence in the area. Once ships reached this area of the bay, all threats from pirates were gone, and it was commonly referred to as a “Safe Harbor.”
A Brief History of Safety Harbor by Warren Firschein & Laura Kepner published in 2013 is a great book to check out from the library or own. It has much more detail on the city’s history. Above: Guide Laura Dent (center) with her assistants from Alices’s History. At the end of our tour, we walked back to the center of town for dinner in the garden room of the Paradise Restaurant. We visited, had a great meal, and enjoyed the view of the historical Safety Harbor Gazebo. How about a historical tour of your area? Contact your local Chamber of Commerce or library to see what we can learn about where you live. All photos in this issue taken by Dave Hutchinson