Gulfport is a city in Pinellas County, Florida, bordering St. Petersburg and Boca Ciega Bay. The population of Gulfport was 12,029 at the 2010 census. Gulfport is part of the Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater Metropolitan Statistical Area, the 19th largest MSA in the country.
Gulfport is distinguished by its high concentration of artisans inspired by the intense light and tropical scenery. A celebration the first Friday and third Saturday of each month called “Art Walk” attracts locals and tourists. Many street performers, artists and craftspeople show up to create a relaxed cultured atmosphere in the warm balmy evening breezes coming off the beach at the end of the street.
“Old Florida” is a phrase often evoked in describing Gulfport’s waterfront district, with its mix of small-scale cottages and small independent shops, restaurants and other businesses, situated among mature oak trees and brick-paved streets. Gulfport’s recognition as a primary dining destination in Tampa Bay is exemplified by the proximity of over a dozen restaurants within walking distance along a few blocks on or near Beach Blvd.
Tuesdays are Fresh Market days in the Gulfport Waterfront district from 9 am to 3 pm, on Beach Blvd. The Fresh Market showcases fresh produce, cheese, seafood, honey, nuts, baked goods, plants, art and crafts, and local entertainment. The Fresh Market is a year-round event.
Annual festivals include “Get Rescued in Gulfport” on the fourth Saturday of February, a charitable street festival featuring pet rescue organizations from throughout the region, vendors of pet products and demonstrations. Spring Fest occurs on the fourth Saturday of March and involves a day devoted to local artists, crafters, live music and more. The July 4th celebration includes a parade, vendors, live music and a fireworks production staged at Williams Pier on the waterfront. Gecko Fest happens on Saturday of each Labor Day weekend and is the largest street festival of the year, including street performers, live music on multiple stages, and food, art and craft vendors.
The Catherine A. Hickman Theater of Gulfport is located on Beach Boulevard at 26th Avenue South and is a venue for live theatrical performances. The nearby Gulfport Senior Center offers activities throughout the week for residents within and outside of the city.
The Gulfport Casino Ballroom, located on the waterfront, is one of the main event venues in the city. The Casino hosts Swing, Salsa, Argentine Tango, and Ballroom Dance events five days a week with a large turnout from all across the Tampa area. The venue also is available for rent to the public and popular for weddings, company parties and functions, and holiday parties. The ballroom features a 5,000-square-foot authentic 1930s style dance floor.
Adjacent to the Casino, Gulfport Beach offers an attractive swath of sand on Boca Ciega Bay for swimming, sunbathing and family gatherings. Beach pavilions, a bocce ball course, a playground, and jogging circle near the Recreation Center offer amenities for all ages. Teams assemble nearby for beach volleyball, while others enjoy picnics with tots on park swings.
In 2011 Gulfport was named a finalist by Rand McNally for best food town in the U.S. According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 3.8 square miles, .8 square miles of it is land and 1.0 square miles of it is water. As of the census of 2000, there were 12,527 people, 6,246 households, and 3,154 families residing in the city.
Public education is provided by Pinellas County Schools. Gulfport has two public schools, Boca Ciega High School and Gulfport Elementary School. The closest middle school to Gulfport is Thurgood Marshall Fundamental Middle School, located in St. Petersburg. It is known to be one of the best middle schools in Florida. Gulfport Elementary School was the first Montessori school in Pinellas County.
Gulfport has a trolley system which passengers can ride around the city and the surrounding area for free. The city is still a sleepy beach town but is gaining interest for its culinary and arts scene, and colorful ambiance. The downtown area has a few art galleries, as well as the Hickman Theater, a small performing arts center.