It started out as Disston City in 1884, then it was called Bonifacio, and then Veteran City. In 1910 it was named Gulfport, and the name has stuck. How to describe Gulfport...some say it's a quirky town, others describe it as artsy, and many will tell you it has that Old Florida feel. It's definitely charming and has a real tropical vibe. However you want to explain it to people, it's certainly unique, and it's worth a visit. Perhaps you'd even want to live there!
The most recognized landmark in town is the Casino. Located only a few steps away from Boca Ciega Bay, the 10,000 square foot ballroom is an historic landmark. It is one of the last of its type in America that is still operational. Another Gulfport icon is the annual Geckofest, Gulfport's largest festival of the year that celebrates the end of summer and the town’s unofficial mascot and favorite reptile. It's right up there with Gasparilla as far as Tampa Bay traditions go.
If you're not attending an event at the Casino or the big festival, there are plenty of other things to do. On the first Friday and third Saturday of every month at 6:00 pm, Beach Blvd comes alive with artists, vendors, musicians, and great food during the famous Gulfport Art Walks, and every Tuesday is Gulfport's Tuesday Fresh Market. If you're a foodie, Gulfport has A LOT of dining options for a small town, and it is often touted in travel magazines as one of the South's and Florida's best food towns. One of our favorite spots is Pia's Trattoria on Beach Blvd South.
If you love old Florida beach bungalows, then Gulfport is the place for you. There are plenty of the original cottages on every street, and some of the roads, lined with old oaks draped in Spanish moss, are still paved with bricks. There are no parking meters and no chain stores. It really is a special place that takes you back in time.