Discover Florida’s hidden gems in this new series highlighting some of the greatest towns to visit. Each town is rich in culture, local art, cuisine, events, and activities exclusive to the city and Florida.
Gulfport, Florida is the first up in the Florida’s Hidden Gems series due to it’s friendly and bright atmosphere paired with its unparalleled small town dining options and beach volleyball scene.
The town is nestled behind St. Pete Beach, with the Boca Ciega Bay protecting the town from the open waters of the Gulf of Mexico and identifies as part of the greater Tampa Bay area.
When you arrive in Gulfport, Florida, you will be greeted by Clymer Park and its Art Walk, showcasing the best of the town.
Once you pass the art walk, you will see a long line of restaurants, beach bars, and at the end of the drive, the famous Gulfport Casino resting on the beach.
The History of Gulfport Florida
The city has gone through its fair share of names, including Disston City, Bonifacio, and Veteran City before landing on Gulfport in 1910. The original plan for Gulfport, Florida – or Disston City – was to become a bustling metropolis. When that plan failed, the new plan was to become a retirement village. When that idea didn’t take off, the town once again changed to Gulfport.
The city was steadily gaining traction until the Great Depression hit.
Gulfport started to regain its popularity in the 1990’s and has turned into the city we all know and love today.
What to do in Gulfport Florida
When you start walking down the main road – aptly named Beach Boulevard – you’ll notice the uniqueness of what is Gulfport Florida. With parks, buskers, and restaurants galore, you may be overwhelmed with where to go. Read along to find some of the best spots to start your Gulfport adventure!
Restaurants in Gulfport Florida
Gulfport is rich in cuisine, with restaurants ranging from vegan eateries to locally favored seafood joints.
If you’re in the mood for some fresh vegan eats, you need to check out Golden Dinosaurs Vegan Deli. Golden Dinosaurs is a local favorite among vegans and nonvegans and is continuously voted a top spot to eat in the Tampa Bay area. The deli features vegan sandwiches, brunch specials, doughnuts, and daily specials that almost always sell out.
Friday night pizza craving hitting you hard? Be sure to check out Siri’s Gourmet Burgers and Pizza. The pizza is one of the best in the area and no judgement if you order some fries with it.
East coast brewery, Sea Dog Brewing Company welcomed a Sea Dog Cantina to the family right in the heart of Gulfport, Florida. The cantina boasts a variety of the breweries beers, cantina style food, and margaritas to consume.
Enjoy the Florida local seafood fare and take a seat at the Neptune Grill. This restaurant serves up a delicious combination of Mediterranean Greek food and seafood.
Sit outside entangled with other Gulfport Florida dwellers in the outdoor dining section of Pia’s Trattoria. The restaurant makes for a perfect start to a romantic date night out on the town.
Bars in Gulfport Florida
Once you have filled up on the delectable restaurants of Gulfport, make your way to one of the many bars to enjoy an after dinner cocktail.
Tampa Bay favorite, Caddy’s, has a Gulfport location boasting a water view and second story balcony. Take in the view, live music, and the Gulfport atmosphere all while sipping on your favorite beachy cocktail.
O’Maddy’s Bar & Grille is always lively on the weekends, with locals and visitors mingling among the classic beach hut looking walls of this bar.
Unique to Florida with a huge following in the Tampa Bay, are the nonalcoholic kava and kratom bars that have overtaken the area. No town would be complete without its fair share of these kava bars and Gulfport is home to a local favorite, Low Tide. Low Tide borders The North End Taphouse with seating along the same patio. Here you’ll find live music and more places to explore.
Shops in Gulfport
No visit would be complete without a little shopping. Between all of the bars and cottage style restaurants lays mom and pop shops to stop in, between drinks.
Explore the local art and boutique seen and stop in at ReVie Art and More.
Take home the heat of Florida and shop at Red Hot Tiki for the hottest sauces and more.
More in Gulfport
At the end of Beach Boulevard you’ll find the Gulfport Casino and beach. While it is not a slot machine touting casino, the Gulfport Casino holds quite a bit of history in its walls.
The current casino hosts a variety of events, private and public. The casino’s ball room is a major tourist attraction and curiosity of the city. In the past, the casino was used as a dance hall but looked slightly different. The casino was originally built in 1906 closer to water line but was destroyed in 1921 when a hurricane hit the area. Rebuilt in 1923 only to be quickly torn down in the 1930’s due to its poorly built structure. The casino was rebuilt again in 1935 and still welcomes visitors to this day.
The casino lies between the beach volleyball courts and the pier. The volleyball courts are home to local volleyball novices and the competitive teams of the Tampa Bay Beach Bums. The view from the pier is full of moored sailboats and the Don CeSar in the distance at St. Pete Beach.
A big draw to Gulfport, Florida is its lively art community. The town hosts First Friday Art Walk every month to showcase all of the local talent, no matter their art apparatus. Here you will find painters, sculptures, and fire dancers all performing and bringing art to the area.
Where to First
It’s hard to believe one little city over shadowed by Clearwater, St. Petersburg, and Tampa could have so much going out, but believe it! The hardest question about this town is where will you start your Gulfport adventure?
More to explore in the area:
- Check out the Selby Gardens, just a short trip over the famous Sunshine Skyway Bridge!
- Go cave diving at Seven Sisters Springs along the Chassahowitzka River!
- Check out more art throughout St. Petersburg!
Let me know in the comments or shoot me an email on what city I should explore next!
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