The Gulfport Neighborhood Guide: Destinations

click to enlarge Gulfport Casino. - Todd Bates
Todd Bates
Gulfport Casino.


From restaurants and shops to art galleries, events venues, accommodations and more, here's your guide to where to go in Gulfport.
All area codes 727 unless otherwise noted

EATS & DRINKS

Backfin Blue Café Gulfport comfort food, literally and metaphorically. The crabcakes are still the best around (much more crab than cake), the wine prices are friendly, and the expansive porch and big windows offer a diverting view of Beach Boulevard's pedestrian parade. (And on Mondays, you can still get a prime rib dinner for $11.95.) 2913 Beach Blvd. S., 343-BLUE, backfinbluecafe.com.

click to enlarge Backfin Blue. - Todd Bates
Todd Bates
Backfin Blue.
Beach Haus Whoever said, “Hey, let’s do beachy food and drinks, and also serve authentic German cuisine while we’re at it” is the best kind of mad scientist. At a corner of Beach and Shore boulevards that has done in many an ambitious restaurant, Beach Haus goes for broke with a unique combination of components that attract locals and tourists alike — the upstairs patio is all sun-drenched Florida charm, but don’t pass up the opportunity to gobble some bauernwurst and sweet red cabbage while you’re enjoying the view and the Coronas. 3128 Beach Blvd. S., 350-5903, beachhausrestaurant.com.

La Cote Basque Winehouse A 40-plus-year-old family-owned hideaway that’s as much an attraction for its chock-full-of-tchotchkes interior as it is for its French/German menu. It’s the kind of old-fashioned place where you get the same three-veggie-and-starch accompaniment whether you’re ordering weiner schnitzel or beef bourguignon, but the food’s tasty, the service is affable and the lighting is romantically dim. 3104 Beach Blvd. S., 321-6888, lacotebasquewinehouse.com.

The Gulfport Grind A quintessential coffee shop that wakes up the area Monday through Saturday at 6 a.m. The Grind’s coffee and espresso beans are roasted locally, and its pastries and doughnuts, which are baked fresh daily, will make you want to stick around until closing time. 4928 Gulfport Blvd. S., 623-9818.

Habana Café A festive, friendly Cuban restaurant that has been a Gulfport mainstay since 1997. Award-winning chef Jo Gonzalez-Hastings has compiled many of her family and Latin fusion recipes in a popular cookbook. 5402 Gulfport Blvd S., 321-8855, habanacafe-usa.com.

Isabelle’s Southern Cuisine This eatery is one half of The Peninsula Inn & Spa’s dining options. Isabelle’s serves up modern country eats like shrimp and Gouda grit cakes, beer-bathed mussels and cheddar-jalapeño cornbread. Grab a table for you and your honey on the Old Florida-style veranda. 2937 Beach Blvd. S., 346-9800, innspa.net.

Little Tommie’s Tiki Sangria and fish tacos with a view of the bay — read CL Restaurant Critic Jon Palmer Claridge’s review of this cozy spot. 5519 Shore Blvd., 498-8826, littletommiestiki.com.

Low Tide Lounge This folky kava bar’s walls are adorned with graffiti and a number of colorful paintings for sippers to admire while they lounge on worn, mismatched furniture. There are three types of kava and four kinds of kratom to choose from (kratom’s a tea with stimulant and sedative effects), but we recommend the Solomon kava for its mind- and body-calming qualities. 2902 Beach Blvd. S. #A, 202-6824.

Mangia Gourmet Named for the Italian word for “Eat!”, the Best of the Bay-winning, Italian-family-run café has Mediterranean goodness in its DNA, but the pretty little spot with the verdant patio provides more than just classics from the region. Mangia specializes in healthy, expert fusion prepared with local, organic, low-fat, gluten-free ingredients in imaginative menu items like its quinoa salad, “cool” slaw or veggie antipasto — or one of their many varieties of hummus. 2930 Beach Blvd. S., 321-6264, mangiagourmet.com.

Neptune Grill Right across from Gulfport’s historic casino, Neptune Grill offers seafood, steaks, Greek grub and more. There’s indoor seating and a covered outdoor dining area for those who wish to brave the heat. Both areas have bars with plenty of seats, too. Different food-themed nights, including Burger Tuesdays, occur throughout the week, and live music happens Fridays and Saturdays. 5501 Shore Blvd. S., 623-4823, neptunegrillgulfport.com.

click to enlarge O'Maddy's. - Todd Bates
Todd Bates
O'Maddy's.
O’Maddy’s Credit O’Maddy's good-time vibe to surprisingly good food, killer karaoke, friendly bartenders, and a motley live-and-let-live crowd. Read about our music editor's first-hand experience of O'Maddy's karaoke. 5405 Shore Blvd., 323-8643, omaddys.com.

Peg’s Cantina Gulfport's go-to spot for fresh Mexican and craft beer is broadening its culinary horizons. Chris Perotti, recently brought on as chef, will expand the restaurant's Latin emphasis beyond Mexico to reflect Central and South American influences as well as his own experience in Spain and Portugal. 3038 Beach Blvd. S, 328-2720, pegscantina.com.

Pia’s Trattoria Its charming stucco-and shutters exterior looks like a transplant from a Tuscan town, and the Italian fare served inside has the same authentic feel, with delicious pastas and ample antipasti, and a covered garden that’s one of the more convivial spots in town. 3054 Beach Blvd. S., 327-2190, piastrattoria.com.

Salty’s Everything a great beach bar (or across-the-street-from-the-beach bar) should be. Super-inclusive, pet-friendly and possessed of a gigantic party deck, this full-liquor bar is indicative of the entire Gulfport neighborhood vibe without putting on airs or sacrificing Old Florida charm. While Salty’s doesn’t serve food, you can go next door to O’Maddy’s or have your favorite bar nosh delivered while you relax. 5413 Shore Blvd. S., 592-4983, saltysgulfport.com.

Siri’s Gourmet Burgers & Pizza A true mom-and-pop joint. Honolulu exiles and parents Byron and Ting Chalfont named their spot after young daughter Siri, a pretty and spunky 5-year-old who nails Katy Perry’s “Firework” during the café’s front-porch karaoke nights. Siri’s burgers are handmade fresh to order (one of the best things we’ve tasted for under $10). Made fresh daily, too, are Byron and Ting’s homemade rolls and the dough for their hand-tossed pizzas. Even the french fries are fresh-cut. 2813 Beach Blvd. S., 258-4949, sirisgourmetburgersandpizza.com.

Six Tables The other restaurant at the Peninsula Inn. More intimate than Isabelle’s, Six Tables boasts fine dining in a cozy atmosphere. Its six-course prix fixe menu, with wild game and more, costs $80 per person. 2937 Beach Blvd. S., 727-346-9800, innspa.net.

Smokin’ J’s BBQ Serving up “Real Texas Barbecue” from a converted house with a frills-free dining room furnished with a scattering of mismatched tables, chairs and picnic-style seating. Locals generally prefer to order takeout, favoring Smokin’ J’s staples like pulled pork, beef brisket and baby back ribs. But the coleslaw and mac ’n' cheese are pretty dang good, too. 5145 Gulfport Blvd. S., 329-8624, smknjsbbq.com.

Stella’s Deli With sidewalk seating outside and cozy wooden booths inside, plus just about the best damned breakfasts anywhere, this is a destination for Gulfport residents and visitors alike. Ebullient owner Barbara Banno named the restaurant after her Aunt Stella, a nun who loved to cook, and we think she’d be very proud; her niece’s kitchen is full of delicious surprises. Big lunch menu, too. 3119 Beach Blvd. S., 498-8950, stellasingulfport.com.

SunSno Gourmet Shaved Ice We have it on excellent authority that this purveyor of delicious shaved ice treats is the perfect cooling-off spot for anyone who’s been blowing glass at the Industrial Arts Center around the corner. CL’s Creative Director, Todd Bates, who photographed Owen Pach and company at IAC, tells us the temperatures were so intense that when he left the premises even his camera was hot — and the rainbow of icy deliciousness he bought at the SunSno window from charming co-owner Dede Atkinson was a life-saver. We wager the shop would be worth seeking out even if you weren’t fleeing a furnace; a stroll down Beach Boulevard under the August sun is motivation enough to seek out a cone full of sweet, colorful snow. 2819 Beach Blvd. S., Gulfport, facebook.com/SunSnoLLC.

T and Me Tea Company You won’t go hungry at this tea shop’s cafe. Breakfast items, salads, wraps and more accompany hot or iced brews, as well as the signature “Frost Tea” drink — an iced tea slushy. There are also loose-leaf teas and beverage accessories available for purchase. 2908 1/2 Beach Blvd. S., 331-5253, tandmeteaco.com.

Tangelo’s Grille For years, Tangelo’s was a downtown St. Pete go-to for original takes on a mash-up of Latin and island flavors. Since it moved to Gulfport, Tangelo’s has continued to offer bold options, as well as some of the best sangria not mixed in a home kitchen. The chicken mojo sandwich is a perennial favorite, as are the jerk french fries with their tangy sauce, and it’s all served up in a warm, funky atmosphere. Very pretty side patio, too. 3121 Beach Blvd. S., 894-1695, tangelosgrille.com.


TLC Food Mart Classic in-and-out convenience store offerings such as bottled drinks, chips, toiletries and strawberry shortcake ice cream bars (we couldn’t leave without one). Order sandwiches, pasta or other fare from TLC’s deli counter the next time you’re in. 2822 Beach Blvd. S., 363-6509.

Yummy’s A cedar tree crashed through the roof of Yummy’s during Tropical Storm Andrea last year. But did that stop Richard Reale from cooking up his classic Chicago hot dogs and scrumptious Italian beef sandwiches? No way. He and his wife and business partner, Bonnie, are both former mortgage bankers, so they’d already weathered a few storms. They opened up the next day, sans dining room, and a year later the rebuilt restaurant looks better than ever. Ask Richard to show you the section of tree stump or the bag of cedar chips he keeps as mementos. 2914 Beach Blvd. S., 321-9869.

SHOPS

Bo-Tiki Artisanal jewelry and fashions, home accessories, local artworks and national brands like Pandora. Founded by native Gulfport-er Maddy Guenther of O’Maddy’s fame. 3015 Beach Blvd. S., 498-8757, bo-tiki.com.

Bug Man U-Do-It We don’t ordinarily feature exterminators in our neighborhood guides, but we’ve always been intrigued by this pest control business’s sign: Is the Bug Man telling us to do it, we wonder, or are we commanding him? But now that we’ve discovered that Bug Man U-Do-It has an actual Bug Zoo, and that owner Rick McChesney refers to himself as a “Hired Killer” (shades of Walter White) — well, we knew the Bug Man had to be on this list. 5217 Gulfport Blvd. S., 328-2847, bugman-stpete.com.

Country Harvest Craft Studio Maybe the sweetest-smelling shop in town, thanks to the beautifully made olive oil and goat’s milk soaps of Cindi Stephens. Also worth a visit for custom jewelry and leather goods by local crafters. 3125 Beach Blvd. S., 290-7247.

Domain Home Accessories & Gallery A shop with a sense of humor and a flair for the original. Look for work by mother and son duo Linda and Matt Worsham, whose Gypsy Cat Creations are whimsical without being cutesy, and delicate pottery made from Spanish moss and horsehair by John Moore, aka The Hairy Potter. Other artists include Owen Pach, Diane Bragg and Kristy Sly, and the shop’s greeting card collection is superb. 3129 Beach Blvd. S., 302-9299, domainhomeaccessories.com.

FABFiber Adjacent to the Art Village Courtyard, this is the place to find well-crafted hats, shawls, bags and clothing, and to learn how to spin, knit or crochet fiber art of your very own. You’ll find handspun yarns here for your home loom, too. 5440 29th Ave. S., 744-7051, fabfibergulfport.com.

Funky Town Boutique Gulfport is kind of a funky town, in all the best senses of that word, so it deserves a consignment shop that shares that spirit. A good source for Gecko Ball get-ups and other festive frolics. 5401 Gulfport Blvd. S., 322-1422.

Gulfport Beach Bazaar This combination antiques mart, box office, postal station and general store is the funky epicenter of all things Gulfport. Jessica Sager, the charmingly wry “Postal Maven,” not only fulfills your stamp and mailing needs; she also sells tickets to Gulfport events (cash and check only, “no Ticketmaster gouging”). Thirty-two vendors offer a wide variety of alluring whatsits on the floor where mail used to be sorted. 3115 Beach Blvd. S., 381-8548.

Philanthropee: The Art of Giving Make a purchase from this shop’s eclectic and entertaining collection of attractively priced global crafts, eco-friendly items and home goods, and a portion of the proceeds will be donated to the charity of your choice. 2902 Beach Blvd. S., 417-0974.

ProjectFree Gallery & Studio A new gallery celebrating its first anniversary next month, ProjectFree has an admirable mission: providing opportunities for intellectually disabled young people to learn from and partner with professional artists. Students take classes in a variety of media, attend art walks, learn how to market and sell their own work — and earn 100 percent of all of their sales. In the Dog Days of August Celebration show currently on view, shoppers can choose from the work of 36 local artists. And coming up in early October, look for ProjectFree’s production of Mamma Mia!, the popular Abba musical, featuring a 25-member cast of adults with diverse abilities. 2825 Beach Blvd., Gulfport, facebook.com/Passion4ArtGallery, myprojectfree.org, 727-350-5706.

Red Hot Tiki Spicy Gourmet Market How can you not love a place that sells hot sauces with names like Rectal Rocket Fuel and Garlic Sniper? These, plus the market’s own concoctions, like Gecko Island Sauce and and Tiki Blend Coffees, make this a playground for cooks who, to paraphrase the store’s motto, like a little burn in their tiki. 2904 Beach Blvd. S., 776-5931, redhottiki.com.

Reef Dog Gifts and Grooming Even if you don’t have a pooch that needs trimming, this is a good stop for unique doggie gifts and irresistible photo ops — and, as you’ll note on your way in, the shop can also boast the coolest promotional vehicle in Gulfport. 2820 Beach Blvd. S., 323-7007, reefdoggrooming.com.

Thai Orchids & Leis Formerly known as Thai-Rific Orchids. Cute, but the name didn’t convey that in addition to fresh orchids and other exotics, Pete and Pandy Silavutiset also create beautiful leis, perfect for your next tropical wedding. 5313 Gulfport Blvd. S., 321-2732, thaiorchidsandleis.com.

Udderly Affordable Gifts & Thrifts Billing itself cheerfully as “A Houseful of Awesomeness,” this shop offers an intriguing mix of unique items like Lizard Licks, metal art made from recycled oil drums in Haiti. A proud denizen of The Gulfport Strip (aka 22nd Ave. S., aka Gulfport Blvd.) 5114 Gulfport Blvd. S., 710-4546, facebook.com/UdderlyAffordable.

A Vintage Variety Shop/In Your Groove Records Variety is the keyword here, as you’ll find everything from vintage amps and turntables to Mid-Century Modern furnishings, plus vinyl LPs and lava lamps. Groovy. 5211 Gulfport Blvd. S., facebook.com/AVINTAGEVARIETY.

ARTS & ATTRACTIONS

Alley of the Arts A humble path that livens up considerably when its resident arts venues (Industrial Arts, Owen Pach, Schork-Munsell) are open and hopping. Check them out during Art Walk. Half a block east of Beach Blvd., just off 29th St. S.

Art Village Courtyard There’s always something going on in this small, colorful plaza. Surrounded by shops that invite relaxation — kava and tea cafes, a yoga studio, a nail salon, a fiber art gallery, a popular sandwich shop — the courtyard becomes an outdoor concert stage during street festivals and open mic nights. Beach Blvd. S. betw. 29th & 30th aves.

click to enlarge The Blueberry Patch. - Todd Bates
Todd Bates
The Blueberry Patch.
The Blueberry Patch Now run by a board of directors following the death of founder Dallas Bohrer, the 37-year-old backyard-turned-arts-and-live-music haven continues to welcome a crunchy, jammy lineup of local performers and the odd touring act to its canopy-shaded stage a few times a month, with audiences dancing, swaying and hula hooping amid lush Florida-friendly foliage. 4923 20th Ave. S., 327-4224, blueberrypatch.org.

Catherine A. Hickman Theater A big, pinkish structure built 14 years ago adjacent to the Senior Center, it houses an 180-seat theater that can be rented for theater, film, meetings and more. 5501 27th Ave. S., 893-1070, mygulfport.us.

City of Imagination Arts Center An aptly named hub of art-making, this non-profit center works with Gulfport’s city government to bring arts and arts education to the public, with activities ranging from performances to exhibitions to writing workshops. Its latest exhibition, which opened Aug. 1, is called “Herd of Cats” — ironic, since the Center is smack in the middle of Gulfport’s dog park. 2726 54th St. S., 321-1786, cityofimagination.info.

Free Waterfront Trolley The best way to get around on Art Walk nights if parking’s a problem, the trolley runs from 6-10 p.m. on the first Friday and third Saturday — same hours as the Walk — and can be hailed anywhere on its route. mygulfport.us/trolley.
Gulfport Casino Never a casino in the Trump sense of the word (thank God), this 10,000-square-foot ballroom/community center/party venue at the intersection of Beach and Shore is a popular destination for dance lessons, weddings and city events. Built in 1934 and recently designated a national historic landmark, its indoor bandshell, graceful arches and ever-twinkling white lights bolster its vintage appeal. Look for a newly installed work of public art in front of the Casino, “Best Kept Secret,” by part-time resident and Tuesday Fresh Market “Give Peace” T-shirt vendor Stephen Oliver. 5500 Shore Blvd., 893-1070, mygulfport.us.

Gulfport Community Players Founded in 1980 by the late Catherine A. Hickman, the Players staged shows in the city’s recreation center until 2001, when they began renting the city’s first-ever new theater, which was named for Hickman. In addition to their mainstage seasons at Hickman (which include crowd-pleasing comedies, mysteries, and a Summer One-Act Festival), the troupe recently opened a 100-seat venue, the Back Door Theater, in its audition and rehearsal hall on the north side of Gulfport. Hickman: 5501 27th Ave. S. S.. Back Door: 1619 49th St. S. Tickets: 322-0316. gulfportcommunityplayers.homestead.com.

Gulfport Historical Society & Museum Housed in a quaint wood-frame cottage, the museum displays clippings, letters and photos from Gulfport’s Civil War-era hardscrabble beginnings through its various incarnations as Disston City, Bonifacio and Veteran City, then through the boom times of the 1920s and post-World War II. Historian Lynne Brown has written four books that are sold at the museum, and the Society plans to offer walking tours during the city’s First Friday Art Walk events. Closed for the summer; reopens Sept. 1. 5301 28th Ave. S., 327-0505, gulfporthistoricalsociety.org.

Industrial Arts Center A 3-D arts teaching facility that ignites creative passions while sending out actual sparks, with classes in glass blowing, lampwork, found metal sculpture, jewelry-making and more. And speaking of throwing heat, consider their monthly Hot Date Night — food plus glass-blowing lessons, and you get to take home what you make. (Aug. 15 is the next one: The dinner’s Italian, the glass style’s Venetian.) Stop by the center during Art Walk for hands-on hot-glass demos. 5437 29th Ave. S., industrialartscentergulfport.org.
Owen Pach Glass & Sculpture Studio A nationally known glass artist (and another denizen of the Alley of the Arts), Pach designed and built the Morean Arts Center’s hot shop in St. Pete. See Megan Voeller’s profile on p. 37. 5437 D 29th Ave. S., 215-823-9736, owenpach.com.

Schork-Munsell Studios You can see Jonathon Schork’s artwork on the door of Red Hot Tiki (that big red hot chili pepper), at the corner of Artists Alley and 29th (the metal wind chimes), and in great profusion inside his studio. A self-described “polymath artist,” he makes films, he writes, he paints, he sculpts in multiple media, and his studio is equally diverse, a performance space as well as a gallery, and definitely worth checking out during Art Walks. 5437 29th Ave. S.

Stetson University College of Law The beautiful main campus of Florida’s first law school (founded in 1900, it moved to Gulfport from its original home in DeLand in 1954), Stetson is a major player in area legal circles — and, say those who know, a major supplier of enthusiastic drinkers to Gulfport bars and restaurants. 1401 61st St. S., 562-7800, stetson.edu/law.

PARKS & RECREATION

click to enlarge Bert & Walter Williams Pier. - Todd Bates
Todd Bates
Bert & Walter Williams Pier.
Bert & Walter Williams Pier Extending 521 feet into the bay opposite O’Maddy’s, this inviting pier is ideal for fishing or just watching the sunset. mygulfport.us/recreation/parks.

Boca Ciega Yacht Club Coming up on its 50th birthday next year, BCYC launched in St. Pete in 1965 before having to make way for the MGM Bounty and moving to its present location at the Gulfport Marina. Known for its sailing school and for social events like its Labor Day Raft-Up, in which boats form a circle in Boca Ciega Bay to create what’s billed as “The Biggest Swimming Pool in Florida!” 4600 Tifton Drive S., 321-7295.

Clam Bayou Nature Park A 10-acre nature preserve with hiking trails, observation decks, a canoe/kayak launch, and the chance to commune with mangroves and manatees. Miriam St. south of 29th Ave. S., mygulfport.us/recreation/parks.
Clymer Park The first park visitors see when they turn off Gulfport Boulevard at the playful “Gulfport Historic Waterfront” sign, this welcoming greenscape is slated to be home to several new pieces of public art by such well-known artists as Owen Pach and Frank Strunk III, both of whom have studios in Gulfport. Gulfport Blvd. to 28th Ave. S., mygulfport.us/recreation/parks.

Gulfport Beach A well-appointed 6.8-acre stretch of sand on Boca Ciega Bay, equipped with playgrounds, covered pavilions, volleyball, horseshoe and bocce courts. A prime spot for July 4 fireworks-viewing. Shore Blvd. S. between 54th and 58th streets, mygulfport.us/recreation/parks.

Gulfport Dog Park Located in Chase Park, this off-leash park with areas for small and large dogs is also a communications center — a place where dog owners get together every day to share the local gossip while their pets industriously inspect their pee-mail. 54th St. S. & 28th Ave. S., mygulfport.us/recreation/parks.

Gulfport Municipal Marina Encompassing 11 acres of land and 7.5 acres of water, the marina has everything for boaters both dedicated and occasional, including slips, storage, fuel, a public boat ramp and a ship store, where you can buy bait for the fish and lunch for yourself. 4630 29th Ave. S., 893-1071, mygulfport.us/marina.

Gulfport Yacht Club An active sailing club (“not a storage facility,” its website pointedly notes), GYC is based out of the Marina and has both dry and wet slips accommodating sailboats up to 25 feet. 4638 Del Rio Way S., 321-8364, gulfportyachtclub.com.

Michael J. Yakes Recreation Complex & Gulfport Recreation Center Work out, play games and take classes in everything from fencing to floral design at the center, which is located right on Boca Ciega Bay. The center is also the place to buy a sticker for the Tomlinson Lake Skate Park on Gulfport’s north side. 5730 Shore Blvd. S., 893-1068, mygulfport.us/recreation/rec.

Veteran’s Park A dog-walkable patch of green with great views of the bay, a lookout deck and sea wall. 5350 31st Ave. S., mygulfport.us/recreation/parks.

SERVICES

The Art of Massage Specialists — or you might say artists — in the field of deep tissue massage. But the name may also just be a reminder of their location, on the Art Village Courtyard. 2914 ½ #2 Beach Blvd. S., 323-3933, myartofmassage.com.

Gulfport Multipurpose Senior Center A nationally accredited senior center with a wide array of programs for the city’s 50-years-and-up citizenry, it has its roots in a club that met in the Casino in the 1960s. 5501 27th Ave. S., 893-1231, GulfportSeniorFoundation.org.

Gulfport Yoga Training at all levels, from beginner to advanced, taught by Yoga Alliance certified instructors in small classes in a studio on the Art Village Courtyard. 2914 ½ Beach Blvd. S., 481-7309, gulfportyoga.com.

Gulfport Public Library A neighborhood library with a 21st-century attitude, welcoming users of ebooks, free music downloads, and cloud libraries, as well as those patrons who still read, um, books. There’s an LGBTQ Resource Center on site, too. 5501 28th Ave. S., 893-1074, mygulfport.us/gpl.

Live Curly, Live Free Friedas everywhere, this is the store for you! Run by Tiffany Anderson-Taylor, aka “The Curl Whisperer,” this may be the only salon in Tampa Bay with its own companion e-book: Anderson-Taylor’s Live Curly, Live Free: Unlocking the Secrets Behind the World of Beautiful Curly Hair. Among her secrets: “Why dew point and not humidity is the key to understanding how your hair reacts in certain weather.” For the periodically frizzy, this revelation alone might be reason enough to make an appointment. 2914 1/2 Beach Blvd. S., Gulfport, livecurlylivefree.com, 727-323-2875.

The Longhouse on 49th Street A “healing arts centre” with licensed practitioners in a variety of techniques, including reiki, reflexology, sound healing and shiatsu. Yoga classes, too. 2309 49th Street S., Suite D, 322-5766, longhouse.info.

R.W. Caldwell Realty & Insurance The founder of Gulfport’s oldest business (c. 1937), R. W. Caldwell was also an early mover and shaker in Gulfport, leading the charge to create the city’s beach in 1939. Descendants of R.W. still run the company; we hope they always keep that retro-chic sign outside their main office. 5201 Gulfport Blvd. S., 321-1212, rwcaldwellinc.com.

Shiva Dharma Center A “holistic healing center” with classes including meditation, feng shui and fire qi gong. 2838 Beach Blvd. S., 327-4111, facebook.com/shivadharma.

STAY & PLAY

click to enlarge The Peninsula Inn & Spa. - Todd Bates
Todd Bates
The Peninsula Inn & Spa.
Pasadena Yacht and Country Club The club has a golf course renovated by Arnold Palmer, a Jr. Olympic swimming pool, a marina with 82 boat slips and… dockominiums! The community (same name) has lots of big expensive houses and a gate. So, if you like boats and golf and living behind a gate, hey, go for it! 6300 Pasadena Point Blvd. S., 381-7922, pyccgolf.com.

The Peninsula Inn & Spa Built as the Bayview Hotel between 1901 and 1905 before undergoing several non-hotel incarnations in subsequent years, the hotel was re-invented as the Peninsula Inn in the early 2000s and decorated with a British Colonial theme. The Peninsula augments its old-timey charm with two restaurants, a romantic veranda and a full-service spa. Plus, one of the bartenders is Gulfport’s mayor. 2937 Beach Blvd. S., 346-9800, innspa.net.

SeaBreeze Manor A supremely comfy B&B, well-situated on Shore Blvd., with spacious, artfully furnished suites, all with their own private balconies or patios and many with views of the bay. Come October, Ybor favorite La Creperia takes over meal duties at the inn, creating a tasty new culinary destination for both SeaBreeze guests and the general public, and enabling the inn's busy owner, Lori Rosso (see story p. 20), to take kitchen chores off of her plate. 5701 Shore Blvd., 343-4445, seabreezemanor.com.

Town Shores A sprawling complex of ’70s-era high-rise condos located west of Beach Boulevard on Boca Ciega Bay, Town Shores is its own not-so-little town, heavy on the snowbirds. But a word to the wise: Make friends with someone who lives at the Windsor or Buckingham buildings, and then wangle a July 4 invite to share the condo’s view of the fireworks, a panoramic vista of pyrotechnic displays from the Gulf beaches to Gulfport. 3210 59th St. S., 345-9491, townshoresofgulfport.net.

EVENTS

AquaMania Gulfport puts the wacky into watersports with this family-friendly fest of not-exactly-Olympian events, such as the Recycled Boat Regatta, the Dress Your Rubber Duck contest, and the Gulfport Beach Golf Game (how do they make the holes?). Late Spring.

Geckofest Sat. Aug. 30 is the parade day, but there’s fun leading up to the big event all month long, including the Gecko Pub Crawl on Aug. 9 and the Gecko Ball on Aug. 23. For more on this festival dedicated to everyone’s favorite lizard, read Devon Crumpacker’s feature on p. 19.
Get Rescued Puppy-lovers’ hearts will flutter at this street fair devoted to pet rescue, but canines aren’t the only species being helped. Rescue organizations who take part in the event are trying to find homes for all kinds of animals, and the multiple vendors on hand will be ready to sell you treats for whatever beast you’ve already domesticated. But you know the dogs are going to totally rule that pet parade. Every Spring. facebook.com/GetRescued.

Gulfport Art Walk All year round, on every first Friday and third Saturday from 6-10 p.m., craftspeople line up along Beach Boulevard to hawk everything from zodiac gems to chocolate fudge, musicians play live sets, the St. Pete Astronomy Club offers peeks through its telescopes (Fridays only), glass is blown in the Alley of the Arts, and the passing throngs blissfully crowd the sidewalks and vendor-shop on their way to and from dinner or the next bar. 866-ART-WALK, gulfportma.com/gma-events.

Holiday HOOPLA! An all-day celebration during the Christmas season with costumed carolers, roving Dickensians, arts, crafts, food and music to get all of Beach Boulevard into the spirit of the season. Every December. gulfportma.com/gma-events.

July 4th Hometown Celebration The perfect combo of small-town patriotism, art-village iconoclasm and waterfront fireworks. Every summer.
Pink Flamingo Home Tour A banner opportunity to gawk at the colorful, creative places that Gulfporters call home. 2014 will be the Flamingo tour’s 10th anniversary. Every Spring. pinkflamingohometour.com.

Springfest Garden Art & Faerie Festival If you believe in fairies, clap your hands — because Springfest, the airiest, fairiest Gulfport fest of them all, has now expanded to two days, transforming staid old Clymer Park into an enchanted land of wizards, trolls, sprites, and yes, the occasional wingéd thing for an entire weekend. Clymer Park, 5501 27th Ave. S., Apr. 11-12, 2015.

Tuesday Morning Fresh Market Local produce, arts and crafts for sale on Beach Blvd. below 28th Ave. S. every Tuesday from 9 a.m.-2 p.m., June-Sept, and from 9 a.m.-3 p.m., Oct.-May. There’s a free clothing swap from 9-1 on the second Tuesday of each month in the courtyard adjacent to the Peninsula Inn, with all donated clothes and cash donations going to CASA (Community Action Stops Abuse). gulfportma.com/gma-events.

WEBSITES

City of Gulfport’s official site
Gulfport Merchants Association site
General-interest site

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