Gulfport Gecko

Last Updated on December 5, 2023 by Dr. Shannon Barrett

Are you tired of the usual Florida vacation destinations and looking for something offbeat?

Gulfport, Florida, is the place for you.

We’ve lived here like a local for the past month and love this town.

Gulfport is nestled on St. Pete-Clearwater’s whimsical waterfront.

It is an intimate community pulsating with charm, a vibrant art scene, and an LGBTQ+-friendly atmosphere.

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Here’s your guide for discovering Gulfport!

Where is Gulfport, Florida, Located?

Gulfport is located approximately 4 miles from the famous St. Pete’s Beach.

The historic downtown of Gulfport comprises only a few blocks but is packed with charm.

Boca Ciega Bay and South Pasadena surround it.

What is the Vibe of Gulfport?

Gulfport’s vibe is full of diversity and inclusivity, with its strong LGBTQ+ community presence making it one of Florida’s most welcoming destinations.

In recent decades downtown Gulfport, particularly Beach Boulevard, has seen rejuvenation through local initiatives focused on promoting arts and culture; preserving historic sites while ensuring neighborhood development is organic yet sustainable.

Today’s Gulfport is more than just an incredible blast from Florida’s past.

It’s an eclectic mix that perfectly blends tradition with modernity, offering visitors an extraordinary experience!

There is always someone playing live music on the streets, and there is at least one market a week where you can purchase local produce and art.

The locals are friendly, and the food is delicious.

And it’s on a lovely waterfront.

Water with boats
Gulfport waterfront always has beautiful boats offshore

What is there to do in Gulfport, Florida?

There are many things to see, from volleyball on the beach, strolling along the shops on Beach Blvd, dancing at the Casino, or enjoying cocktails at one of the many outdoor eateries.

Gulfport Beach

Gulfport Beach, located in the heart of the city, offers a peaceful and picturesque escape with its soft sands and stunning views of scenic Boca Ciega Bay.

The beach is small but quiet.

Nestled in the vibrant waterfront community of Gulfport, this beach gives off an aura of an artist’s dreamscape with multi-colored homes and businesses dotting its boundary – a feast for any visitor’s eyes.

Here at Gulfport Beach, you’re not just getting sandy shores but also an array of recreational activities on offer.

There are several well-maintained volleyball courts on one side of the beach.

Beach volleyball courts
Volleyball courts at Gulfport Beach

These are free to use.

The volleyball courts are usually busy on the weekends, but there is availability for everyone to play during the week.

On the other side is an inviting playground. 

The beach has public restrooms and outdoor shower and foot washing stations.

Beach facilities including foot shower
There are full bathrooms and outdoor showers at Gulfport Beach

The calm waters Boca Ciega Bay provides make swimming easy and perfect for paddle boarding.

While staying here, we took out our paddle boards several mornings.

There was plenty of parking, and it was only a 3-minute drive from our rental.

Much closer than the other beaches in Pinellas County.

Williams Pier & Veteran’s Park

You want to take advantage of the iconic Williams Pier & Veteran’s Park.

Williams Pier Gulfport
Williams Pier in Downtown Gulfport

These attractions offer visitors more than just beautiful waterfront views.

They are a hub for outdoor activities from fishing to wildlife observation.

The pier is conveniently located downtown, so you grab a snack before strolling along the pier.

Fishing is allowed on the pier; there is even a sink for cleaning your daily catch.

Directly adjacent to the pier is Veterans Park.

Park with water views and gazebo
Beautiful water views at Veteran’s Park

This perfectly landscaped park is also along the waterfront and has benches for taking in the view.

The Neighborhood Center

Recreation center on a green lawn
Gulfport Neighborhood Center

One of the unique attractions in this quaint town is The Neighborhood Center.

Located in the heart of this vibrant community, The Neighborhood Center serves as a hub for locals and visitors alike.

It’s the small town’s recreation center.

We stayed in June, and it was busy every day with summer activities.

This multipurpose facility hosts various events, classes, and activities that cater to people of all ages and interests.

Whether you’re looking to join a yoga class, participate in art workshops, or attend community gatherings, the Neighborhood Center has something for everyone.

Local Boutiques and Art Galleries

I love exploring the local boutiques and art galleries.

This charming waterfront village is bursting with creative energy and unique finds.

Gulfport waterfront district sign

The independent shops and galleries here showcase the incredible talent of local artists, offering a wide range of products like apparel, books, gifts, home décor, antiques, and bath and body products.

One of the highlights of Gulfport is its walkable downtown area and beautiful bayfront.

Beach and Shore Boulevards are the main streets that makeup downtown.

It’s fun to browse through these one-of-a-kind establishments that genuinely reflect the town’s spirit.

There’s something for everyone, from trendy fashion boutiques to eclectic art studios.

Colorful Store front
Mango Marley’s has fun, beachy clothing

Discover hidden treasures at Zaiya Artizen Market.

There is a cigar shop for cigar lovers and a pet store to treat your furry friend.

outside of pet store
Pet store in Gulfport

Whether you’re looking for a unique souvenir or want to support local artisans, Gulfport’s boutiques and art galleries are a must-visit during your trip.

If you’re interested in learning more about gulfport history museum or about the city’s past while exploring its downtown area, join the walking tours offered by the Gulfport Historical Society.

Tuesday Fresh Market

Every week, a Tuesday Fresh Market runs along Beach Blvd.

Local vendors set up tents and sell lemonade, fresh produce, and handmade art.

Street vendors with tents and sidewalk
Street Vendors along Beach Blvd

First Friday Art Walk

On the first Friday of every month, there is an art walk.

This means more local vendors arrive, live music fills the streets, and you can stroll down Beach Blvd and enjoy the city’s charm with some of the most friendly locals you’ll ever meet.

art gallery with colorful prints outside

IndieFaire-Maker’s Market

On the third Saturday of each month is IndieFaire-Maker’s Market.

This is yet another outdoor family-friendly event where you stroll the streets and enjoy street performers in Gulfport.

The celebrations continue throughout the year.

If you are lucky enough to be here in September, you have to come for the annual GeckoFest celebration. 

2 women and a person dressed as a Gecko
Annual GeckoFest where costumes are encouraged.

This is the year’s biggest event and includes the Gecko Crawl, Gecko Ball, and the all-day GeckoFest.

Everyone is encouraged to come in costume, and the theme changes yearly.

However, the honoree is the same every year, the Gecko!

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Dance at the Historic Gulfport Casino

Gulfport casino with palm trees
Gulfport Casino sits right on the water

Gulfport has a casino right on the water. However, if you plan to come here for a blackjack game, you’ll be the only one playing.

It’s not that type of Casino. The historic Gulfport Casino offers swing-dancing and tango classes.

Gulfport casino sign
Gulfport Casino offers Dance classes weekly

It was built in 1934 and serves as a venue for events and weekly dancing.

There is a 10,000-square-foot ballroom that offers weekly dance classes.

Catherine A. Hickman Theater

The Catherine A. Hickman Theater is a great place to see a show.

From plays and musicals to comedy shows and dance performances, the Catherine Hickman Theater offers various shows for all tastes.

Where is there to eat in Gulfport?

There are so many delicious places to eat in Gulfport.

No chain restaurants here.

I was surprised at how many good restaurants were packed into a few square blocks.

Here are our favorites.

Gulfport Brewery + Eatery

Located in the heart of town, Gulfport Brewery + Eatery offers a unique and flavorful experience for locals and tourists alike.

Their food is excellent and the atmosphere even better.

Most of the restaurant is an outdoor patio that is dog friendly, so that gets two paws up from me!

They brew their own beer, and the food is made from scratch.

They were voted Best New Brewery in Pinellas County in 2021.

Atmosphere: laid-back brewery with upscale bar food, all served on a dog-friendly patio

You can view the menu here.

It can be hot on the patio, so I always bring a portable fan whenever we eat outside.

Best portable fan
Portable Mister Fan
$24.99
Buy on Amazon
02/01/2024 07:51 am GMT

Golden Dinosaurs Vegan Deli

Street sign on sidewalk for restaurant

If you want to indulge in delicious vegan dishes, you will absolutely love Golden Dinosaurs Vegan Deli.

The deli is known for its mouthwatering delights, offering a diverse range of plant-based options that are both healthy and incredibly tasty.

From fresh salads to flavorful sandwiches, there’s something for everyone here.

They have been voted the best vegan restaurant in Tampa Bay for three years.

Atmosphere: A hidden oasis for vegans and non-vegans.

They have a back and front patio, so there is plenty of outdoor seating.

You can view the menu here.

Neptune Grill

Neptune Grill outdoor patio
Neptune Grill’s Outdoor Patio

Neptune Grill is located in the charming waterfront district.

They have great food with an emphasis on Greek dishes.

They also have several seafood options on the menu.

We ate here several times during our stay and also ordered to go.

They have a large indoor dining room and one of the best patios in town.

Indoor of restaurant with murals of sea creatures on wall
The beautiful indoor dining room at Neptunes

Their patio is directly across from the volleyball courts and water.

Atmosphere: Lively outdoor patio, often featuring live music on the weekends.

They have mister fans which keep the patio much cooler than you would expect.

You can also dine inside which is decorated with a sea theme coinciding with the view outside.

You can view the menu here.

Pia’s Trattoria and Veranda

Yellow Italian restaurant facing
Pias Trattoria

Nestled in the heart of Gulfport’s walkable downtown areaPia’s Trattoria and Veranda is one of the best restaurants in town.

We were told to eat here by several locals.

We’re glad we listened!

We ate here twice in the month we lived here.

There are two options to eat at Pia’s.

Pia’s Trattoria has mostly indoor seating, and reservations are highly recommended.

Pia’s Veranda is next door to the Trattoria, has a large outdoor courtyard, and does not take reservations.

Outdoor patio with string lights
Pias Veranda Outdoor Patio

They do have a few small tables inside but the main draw is their beautiful outdoor patio.

The menu and food are the same at both places.

We prefer the Veranda because the outdoor courtyard is romantic with string lighting and jazz music.

They have fans to keep the patio cool.

It was our favorite meal while staying in Gulfport.

The menu is Italian, and the service is impeccable.

Atmosphere: (Veranda). The outdoor patio is cozy yet elegant, with string lighting and jazz music that is not too loud.

Atmosphere: (Trattoria). This is the original restaurant and has a few tables outside on the street and back patio.

Inside has a dark wood bar and a tastefully decorated restaurant.

These were our favorite meals while staying in Gulfport.

The menu is Italian, and the service is impeccable.

You can view the menu here.

Stella’s

Outdoor restaurant patio with green umbrellas
Stellas outdoor patio is a great place for brunch

One of our favorite restaurants while in Gulfport, fl, was Stella’s.

It is located in the middle of downtown and serves breakfast, brunch, and lunch all day.

All day meaning they are open from 7:00 am-2:00 pm.

Since brunch is our favorite meal, it makes sense that Stella’s would be one of our favorite restaurants.

They have also been voted one the ten best spots for breakfast in St. Petersburg.

The owner named the restaurant after her aunt, who was a nun. The tagline for this great establishment is “Stellas; It’s a hard habit to break.” That just makes me love it even more.

Motto for stellas restaurant A hard habit to break with image of a nuun

Atmosphere: They have a large outdoor patio with fans pointed at the tables to keep everyone cool.

This makes eating outside much more comfortable.

Stella’s has a lively atmosphere, and is always packed with customers.

4 small glasses of beverages
Stellas elevated mimosa flight

We have never had to wait for service or food, even though they are always busy.

You can view the menu here.

Plant Love Ice Cream

One of the must-visit spots is Plant Love Ice Cream.

Plant Love Ice Cream sign

If you love ice cream, you will love this place.

The bonus, all of their ice cream is vegan and dairy free.

It’s better than the ice cream from other local ice shops.

several scoops of ice cream
Plant Love Ice Cream Flight

It’s creamy and delicious, and when you are staying in Gulfport… it’s a bike ride away.

That makes it dangerous.

It became a weekly stop for us.

The owners started with a shop in nearby St. Petersburg and then opened a second location here.

They offer to-go pints and will combine several flavors in 1 pint.

Or you can get an ice cream flight to try several flavors at once. Genius!

GulfPerk Coffee Bar

Coffee shop with palms in front
Gulfperk Coffee shop has an adorable patio

Every town needs a coffee shop. Downtown Gulfport is so fantastic that it has two.

Gulfperk is as adorable as its name.

A cute coffee shop with an outdoor patio nestled among palm trees.

They have fresh ground coffee and all of your favorite caffeinated drinks.

You can even purchase coffee by the pound to go.

SumitrA Espresso Lounge

Sidewalk with people sitting in chairs
SumitrA Espresso Lounge often has live music outside

Your other coffee option in gulfport, fl, is SumitrA Espresso Lounge.

They have a more lounge vibe and a chocolate-forward menu.

If you like chocolate with your coffee, try Sumitr.

I enjoyed their iced and hot coffee, both were delicious.

They also have a wine happy hours during the week.

Where is there to stay in Gulfport?

There are two main options when looking for a place to stay in gulfport, fl.

Consider a vacation rental or the charming Sea Breeze Manor Inn.

Vacation Rentals

We stayed in a vacation rental during our month in Gulfport.

This works best for us since we are digital nomads and like to have a full kitchen when we travel.

We also want to ensure an outdoor space for our dog.

If you are looking for a VRBO, here are some vacation rentals that are pet friendly, walkable from downtown and would be great options for your stay in Gulfport.

Best for Small Dogs
Vintage Florida Home Located in the Art District

* 2 Bedroom, 1 Bathroom

* Pet Friendly, dogs under 25 lbs

* Pool

* Walkable to downtown

Visit VRBO
Allows Large Dogs
Historic Waterfront Home with pool, grill and bikes

* 2 bedroom, 1 bathroom

* Second part of home can be rented for larger parties

* Pet Friendly

* Pool

* Walkable to Downtown

Visit VRBO
Allows Cats
Gulfport's Hidden Gem!

* 3 Bedrooms, 1 Bathroom

* 3 minute walk to downtown

* Pet Friendly, Cats and Small Dogs allowed

* Outdoor Shower

Visit VRBO

Sea Breeze Manor Inn

Located in the charming waterfront district of GulfportSea Breeze Manor Inn offers travelers a comfortable and lovely accommodation option for exploring gulfport, fl.

This indie-style boutique inn provides a laid-back atmosphere that perfectly complements the city’s vibrant LGBTQ+ community and quirky charm.

With its convenient location, guests at Sea Breeze Manor can easily explore Beach and Shore boulevards, where they can shop at local boutiques, dine at eclectic restaurants, and enjoy live music.

They do have two pet-friendly cottages available.

They have an on-site cafe that serves breakfast and lunch every day.

Parks

Gulfport boasts a variety of parks for visitors to enjoy, including Clam Bayou Nature Park, with its stunning views and walking trails.

Chase Park has tennis courts and a dog park for small and large dogs.

Clam Bayou Nature Park

If nature is your calling, don’t miss out on Clam Bayou Nature Preserve near Gulfport’s Municipal Marina.

Here you can take boat tours or rent kayaks to immerse yourself in Florida’s beautiful natural surroundings.

This park is technically in St. Petersburg but is less than 1.5 miles from gulfport, fl. As part of the Great Florida Birding Trail, this living estuary attracts diverse bird species that will leave you in awe.

You can explore this park by canoe or kayak to immerse yourself in its beauty.

If hiking is more your style, there are also walking paths where you can take strolls and admire the breathtaking surroundings.

Remember to visit the overlooks within the park for stunning views that will captivate your senses.

Chase Park

Dog park signs
Chase park has small and large dog signs

Chase Park is one of the only Parks in gulfport with a dog park.

You have a small dog and a large dog side.

There is also a playground, outdoor workout area, and tennis courts.

Chase Park is located close to the historic downtown area so that you can grab a snack at one of a dozen restaurants after a day at the park.

Clymer Park Sculpture Garden

Blue sign clymer park sculpture garden

Be sure to make time for the Clymer Park Sculpture Garden.

This unique park features an impressive collection of sculptures created by local artists, showcasing their talent and creativity.

Surrounded by majestic live oak trees, Clymer Park provides a beautiful natural setting for visitors to explore and appreciate these stunning works of art.

Recreation Center Skate Park

Metal skate sculpture
Skate park is free to use

If you need to release your inner skater and experience some adrenaline-pumping fun, you can stop by the Recreation Center Skate Park.

The skate park features ramps, rails, and other obstacles for skaters of all skill levels to enjoy.

Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced skateboarder, there’s something here for everyone.

Overlooking Boca Ciega Bay, it is open to the public every day.

Ted Phillips Wood Ibis Park

Wood Ibis park sign

We stayed across the street from Ted Phillips Wood Ibis Park.

The park is home to a variety of bird species, including beautiful wood ibises.

Fountain in a lake
Fountain and lake at Wood Ibis Park

It is a great place to walk your dog. There is a lake in the center and a tree-lined trail around the adjacent neighborhood.

Tomlinson Park Complex

Sports complex with baseball field
Tomlinson Park Complex has bathroom facilities and walking paths

This complex is home to a large baseball field and tennis courts.

There is also a trail encircling the complex and a fountain where I spotted several bird species.

Pond with a fountain
Walking path at Tomlinson Park

With its lush green spacesplaygrounds, walking trails, and picnic areas, Tomlinson Park Complex is perfect for outdoor enthusiasts looking to soak up some sun and relax amidst nature.

Would I come back?

If you can’t tell, we love Gulfport and recommend it to fellow travelers.

The fact that the entire town comes together to celebrate a small but mighty Gecko fits with their unofficial motto, “Keep Gulfport Weird .”

A fitting motto for this town.

A place we have come to love over the past month and will definitely be back.

The people are friendly, the food is delicious, and there is live music almost every night.

And it’s extremely dog friendly as well.

What else could you want from a waterfront paradise?

Only in Gulfport can you be serenaded by live music under a moonlit sky and share a meal with a stranger who feels like an old friend.

You might come here for the geckos, but you’ll stay for this place’s quirky charm and unparalleled camaraderie.

The town motto should really be “Keep Gulfport Weird – and Wonderfully Welcoming!”.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Is the water clear at Gulfport Beach?

The water is not clear at Gulfport Beach since it is on Boca Ciega Bay, not the Gulf of Mexico.

The water has a brownish tint and does have seaweed.

The water is very shallow for at least the first 15 feet.

Nearby, St. Pete Beach has beautiful clear blue water for swimming.

Does Gulfport, Fl, have lovely beaches?

Gulfport, Fl, only has one main beach in Gulfport, fl, and it is in the historic downtown area.

It is small but quiet. During the week, it is relatively quiet.

The sand is white and soft, but the water is not clear since it is on the bay, not the Gulf of Mexico.

There are public bathrooms available.

Is Gulfport, Florida a nice place to live?

Gulfport, Florida, is a nice place to live.

The residents are friendly, and the average home cost is approximately $400,000.

It is a quick 15-minute drive to the beautiful beaches of St. Pete.

There are lots of special events and town festivals.

The town is pet friendly, with only local shops with no chain stores.

The city has many delicious restaurants as well. 

dr shannon barrett

About the Author

Dr. Shannon Barrett is a veterinarian and avid traveler. She is a digital nomad that has combined these two passions and writes about traveling with your pet. She and her husband, accompanied by their loyal German Shepherd, explore various coastal towns and document their experiences in detailed travel guides that prioritize pet-friendly options. Dr. Barrett’s unique background in veterinary medicine adds an additional layer of expertise to her travel writing, ensuring that her guides are both informative and practical for pet owners on the go.

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Dr. Shannon Barrett

Dr. Shannon Barrett

Veterinarian/Travel Writer/Digital Nomad

Dr. Shannon Barrett is a veterinarian and digital nomad. She owned a housecall practice, Island Veterinary Care, for over a decade and now travels full time. She lives in different beach towns and then writes travel guides based on her time there. If you’re looking for resources on travel destinations or how to become a digital nomad, then you’ve come to the right place! Love to bring your pets with you? Even better!

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