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Gulfport, Florida is a unique small community just south of Saint Petersburg. The community itself doesn’t receive a lot of outside tourist traffic which lends it this incredible local feel. Once upon a time, Gulfport used to be a hotspot vacation community long before interstates and Disney World. Because of that, Gulfport has this vintage yet well preserved historical feel.
Think old Florida.
Think authentic Florida.
Yet, Gulfport is more than that. The community seems to be a haven for artists and extraordinary chefs. Gulfport has this eclectic bohemian atmosphere as you walk down the center of the street. It has been described to me as Key West before the cruise ships.
The Historic Peninsula Inn sponsored our stay, however all opinions are my own.
The property went through a couple of different uses over time until it returned to an inn, with extensive renovation in 2002. The rooms are decorated with ornate British colonial style furnishings. However don’t expect that look to stay for long. Veronica Champion, purchased the Historic Peninsula Inn in 2016 and has terrific plans to better reflect the Gulfside Florida area in which it resides.
The Inn itself also boasts an award-winning full-serve restaurant on site, Isabelle’s, with a fully stocked bar. A hot breakfast is included each morning with your stay. The restaurant is open for lunch and dinner to outside patrons. Adjacent to the restaurant is an outdoor patio where musicians perform on the weekends.
The Historic Peninsula Inn a Review
The Historic Peninsula Inn took me by surprise at how many rooms and how big the property is. Rooms are located on the second and third floors and there are approximately 6 rooms per floor. During our stay, we were in the two bedroom Princess suite. As this is a historic hotel and therefore an older hotel, the room size and layout reflected a different era. The room consisted of 2 bedrooms and a living area. While we had adequate space in the living area, as a family of four, we would not have been comfortable there long term. The living space had a full-size dresser upon which the TV perched. A miniature fridge fit nicely into the corner. As Veronica also has plans to simplify the furnishings in the rooms, I also expect this to change in the future. In the children’s room, there was a large dresser and two twin beds, which suited them perfectly. In the master bedroom, there was a large wardrobe as well as an ornate sleigh bed. The only bathroom was through our bedroom. The bathroom had a shower and toilet, and the sink was placed in our bedroom. As our kids are older, and know how to knock, privacy was not an issue. However a younger family may find the placement of the bathroom inconvenient.
If you are looking for a charming, intimate and authentic Florida experience, you will find it at the Historic Peninsula Inn. We love bringing our children to explore historical areas for “on the road” learning. Since we live in the land of theme parks, it’s important to show our kids what Florida was like prior to technology, massive buildings and modern conveniences. Gulfport and The Historic Peninsula Inn did all of that. As an added bonus, since the community is smaller and all within walking distance, we felt comfortable with the children exploring on their own, or returning to the Inn on their own. The kids were 11 & 13 at this point, and in possession of a cell phone, making it a relaxing family getaway with tweens and teens.
Where to Eat in Gulfport
For such a small town, Gulfport is a gourmet dining delight. With nearly 20 places to eat within a 1 mile walking radius, there is no shortage of options.
We had the pleasure of talking to the chef at Blackfin Blue Cafe, who’s been at the restaurant since he was 14 and can’t see working in a better community than Gulfport. Food there was amazing too!
We also enjoyed some flaming cheese at Neptune Grille, one of the few authentic greek restaurants you’ll find outside of Tarpon Springs.
I’ve enjoyed chocolate martini’s and exquisite Italian at Pia’s Trattoria.
Little Tommie’s Tiki served up fantastic fish and chips, local craft brews and seaside views.
Isabelle’s at The Peninsula Inn serves up a killer breakfast brunch on Sundays, along with live music and gourmet dining throughout the week.
We did not have a bad meal when we were in Gulfport. And that’s just a small sampling of where we ate. For a complete listing of restaurants, click here.
What to do in Gulfport
Gulfport, though she be small, is mighty! There are a number of events going on at least twice a month including:
Art Walk – First Fridays and Third Saturdays
Ballroom and Swing dancing at the Gulfport Casino Ballroom
Geckofest – a see it to believe it parade, costume contest, live music and street vendors celebrating the town mascot, the Gecko.
For more on events in Gulfport, Visit Gulfport Florida.com. Plus you’ll find live, laid back music almost any night of the week at a number of the restaurants. You can also stroll through any number of the art shops to find a unique treasure to take home.
Tonya Denmark is a busy mom of two children. She loves planning travel, road trips, 80's movies, 90s alternative, and coffee. She's been detail obsessed for as long as she can remember and brings her best finds and travel advice to the Detail Oriented Traveler.