Palm Harbor is roughly 45 minutes from downtown St. Petersburg and Tampa. It is a largely residential community with several concentrations of commerce. Notably, downtown Palm Harbor, north of Tampa Rd. between Alternate Hwy. 19 and Omaha St., cultivates a charming atmosphere with dozens of small shops and eateries along with a handful of historic buildings. ] U.S. Hwy. 19, a mile or two east of downtown, offers access to higher concentrations of commerce, with the usual array of national chain restaurants and retailers. One entrance to Innisbrook Resort and Golf Club, a nationally regarded golf course, is found on U.S. 19.
The historic downtown district of Palm Harbor, at Florida Avenue and Alt. US 19 and CR 1, has numerous festivals and craft fairs. Old Palm Harbor Main Streets, Inc., a 501c3 not-for-profit organization, hosts their signature event the first Friday of every month. “Palm Harbor’s First Friday Celebrations” — are a very popular community event for youngsters and adults alike. There are rides and games for the children, with opportunities to dine on great food from the many local restaurants, enjoy local artists & crafters displaying and selling their wares. Annually, the first Sunday in October marks the “Taste of Palm Harbor” festival is held. The event is presented by the Palm Harbor Junior Women’s Club with the proceeds benefiting their “Making a Difference” grants & scholarships program. The Taste of Palm Harbor traditionally offers live music and the tasting of samples from over 20 local restaurants, many of which make seafood their specialty.
Palm Harbor was originally called Sutherland, a shortening of Southern Land and Development Company, the group that originally platted the community as Sutherland, Hillsborough County in 1888. The name was changed to Palm Harbor in 1925. Palm Harbor was originally settled by J.C. Craver. According to Craver’s diary, still in the family, he came here in the winter of 1877 upon the advice of his physician. A post office commission under the name of Bay St. Joseph was granted in 1878, this being the earliest written record of the community. The name Bay St. Joseph was used only a short time before Yellow Bluff replaced it. But that name proved relatively short-lived, as a few years later its negative connotation with the yellow fever epidemic gave way to its present name. Palm Harbor was originally called Sutherland after a post office was granted in 1888, the same year the railroad came through. Sutherland boasted two beautiful hotels, the larger one becoming Southern College in 1902. It sat high on the bluff overlooking Sutherland Bayou and the Gulf of Mexico. Sutherland was thought to be named after Duke of Sutherland, who visited these parts after landing at Tarpon Springs in 1887. Local pioneers dismiss this coincidence, pointing out that the name Sutherland is a shortening of Southern Land and Development Company, the group which originally platted the community in 1888. Areas pioneers included the Whitehursts, the Hollands, the Tinneys, the Suttons, the Thompsons, the Rivieres, the Aldermans and the Wilsons. Palm Harbor also has a unique “hilly” geography which is uncommon in the relatively flat Florida.