The funky beach town goes ga-ga for geckos Saturday at the lively Gulfport Gecko Fest. If you're looking for a reason to dress like a lizard, this is your party. Wear your loudest, wildest hats or costumes and bring noisemakers for the main event, the Walking Parade at 6 p.m. What the heck, do a little head-bob at the Street Dance at 8 p.m. There will be more than 150 vendors, live music on three stages, street performers, costume contests (for pets, too!) and children's activities at the family-friendly festival. It's noon to 10 p.m. in the town's historic arts district on Beach Boulevard. And it's free. Go to geckofest.com for more information and to register for the parade.
There'll be plenty of food and drinks all around, but if you want a sit-down meal, here are some places to try. We suggest you call ahead because they'll be packed.
Pia's Trattoria: We love the paninis, we love the pastas, we love the outdoor patio on the back, with picnic-style tables and checkered tablecloths. 3054 Beach Blvd S. (727) 327-2190
Peg's Cantina: You want pizza, your date wants Mexican. This little bungalow-turned restaurant offers both. And a great beer selection. 3038 Beach Blvd. S. (727) 328-2720
Elements Global Cuisine: Homemade breads and sauces set this eclectic place apart from the rest. And here's something you won't find in too many places: lamb, meat or chicken meals for your four-legged buddies. 3121 Beach Blvd. S. (727) 343-9894
O'Maddy's Bar & Grille: The menu features salads, sandwiches and all other things you'd expect from a bar grill. But the quality will impress you. And it's right by Boca Ciega Bay, which means an awesome view. Just want some drinks? That's fine, too. 5405 Shore Blvd. (727) 323-8643
Courtyard: For a quick bite, drop by the main courtyard and check out Yummy's, one of Gulfport's newest restaurants, for Chicago-style hot dogs, sausage sandwiches and more. Or stop by Java Nirvana for your caffeine fix and a light meal. Our favorite: the hummus wrap, with roasted red pepper and goat cheese. Yummy's: 2914 Beach Blvd. S., (727) 321-9869; Java Nirvana: 2908 Beach Blvd. S. (727) 323-5904
-- Ester Venouziou, Times staff writer