The springs bubbling up on the shores of Tampa Bay first brought people to Safety Harbor. The Timucuan Indians, who called the area Tocobaga, were here when the Spanish explorers Panfilo de Navarez and Hernando de Soto dropped by. De Soto, who was seeking the legendary Fountain of Youth, was particularly interested in the springs, which he named Espiritu Santo. The springs continue to lure those seeking to stem the ravages of age. The world-famous Safety Harbor Spa and Resort, which attracts visitors from across the country, is built over the springs and still uses its healthful waters for some spa treatments.
Safety Harbor also was home to the first non-native settler on the Pinellas County peninsula. Count Odet Philippe, who claimed to be the personal physician of Napoleon Bonaparte, acquired 160 acres of land here in 1842. Philippe is credited with introducing citrus growing and cigar making to the area. The 122-acre Philippe Park, overlooking the bay, was part of the original Philippe plantation.