Loving Pelican Kitsch in Gulfport, Florida


Kitschy Pelican in Downtown Gulfport. Definitely Old Florida Feel.opens IMAGE file

Kitschy Pelican in Downtown Gulfport. Definitely Old Florida Feel.

“It’s kind of old Florida-ish,” the diner at the next table over told his dining companion when describing opens in a new windowGulfport, Florida.

Some visitors to this waterfront community would probably say the funky boutique shops are their favorite amenity about Gulfport while others may say the Walter & Bert Williams Fishing Pier. Another group may say the cobbled streets tug at their hearts. Me? I fell in the love with the kitschy pelicans perched atop a building blaring with a neon sign reading “Gulfport Casino” and found more while wandering the streets.

Back in the day (pre-Las Vegas et al), casino meant a community gathering place and housed social functions as dances. The original Gulfport Casino began hosting citizens in 1906 and was the meeting spot for Gulfport’s founding fathers to lay the foundation to incorporate the city in 1910. (Source: opens in a new windowCity of Gulfport)

Boasting a wood floor still enjoyed for dancing, the current building (which is building number three) was built in 1934. It still hosts community events ranging from political to social.

Water Fountain at Gulfport's Waterfrontopens IMAGE file

Water Fountain at Gulfport's Waterfront

Why Did I Visit Gulfport, Florida?

I’m embarrassed to say I’ve lived in the great Sunshine State since 1997 (and worked for the state tourism office for a few years) yet had no idea opens in a new windowGulfport, Florida, existed. In my quest to learn something new while having the use of a Chevrolet Tahoe Hybrid this week, I wanted to visit someplace I haven’t been to and since Gulfport has been in media lately, it was on my list to see.

Why has Gulfport been in the media as of late? They’re in the running for the opens in a new windowRand McNally and USA Today Best of the Road contest for Best Food destination. Yup, it was my inner foodie (and OnStar’s Turn-by-Turn Navigation) which led me to the Gulf Coast Florida community, less than a 2-hour drive from my Port Charlotte home.

Once I found the waterfront community, I hit the beach followed by a walk by a building called the Gulfport Casino, the Walter & Bert Williams Fishing Pier and row of restaurants which were pretty busy with diners. I was going to head out without sampling the culinary delights but a quick look at the restaurant selections and I found myself sitting at opens in a new windowPeg’s Cantina on Beach Boulevard. (Read review: opens in a new windowGrabbing a Bite at Peg’s Cantina.)


Picture Yourself Here: Gulfport Beach, Floridaopens IMAGE file

Picture Yourself Here: Gulfport Beach, Florida

My Gulfport visit was probably about three hours long as I had to hit the road about 7 p.m. to make my next destination at a reasonable time and participate in a conference call for my day job.

Chevy Tahoe Driving Experience

Heading north on I-75 I did encounter rain (much needed rain for Florida, I should add) and was worried the Tahoe couldn’t handle it but alas, the machine laughed at the downpour and wet highway to safely carry me to my destination. As for OnStar, I’m finding it has a unique way of routing me to destinations but I did make it.

Gulfport is located in Central Florida on the Gulf Coast  in Pinellas County on Boca Ciega Bay near St. Petersburg.

Here’s a quick video of my visit to Gulfport.

If the above video does not play, opens in a new windowplease click here.

Disclosure: My week’s use of this opens in a new windowChevrolet Tahoe Hybrid is a direct result of a blogging contest hosted by opens in a new windowDrivingtheSoutheast.com.


Author: Solo Travel Girl Admin

Jennifer A. Huber is an award-winning travel and outdoor blogger and writer in Southwest Florida. Originally from Buffalo, N.Y., a hiking trail led her to a career path in the tourism industry for more than 30 years. She spent a decade with a park management company in Yellowstone, Death Valley, and Everglades National Parks. She founded the travel blog, SoloTravelGirl.com with the goal of inspiring others to travel alone, not lonely. The unexpected death of her former husband in 2008 reminded her how short life is. His passing was a catalyst for sharing her experiences with the goal of inspiring and empowering others to travel solo. Jennifer holds a Travel Marketing Professional certification from the Southeast Tourism Society, is a certified food judge, member of the NASA Social community, and alum of the FBI Citizens Academy. When not traveling, she is either in the kitchen, practicing her photography skills, or road tripping with her dog, Radcliff.

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