Gulfport has been named a finalist in the Best for Food category in Rand McNally's Best of the Road competition.
The funky South Pinellas beach town has no shortages of cool places to eat. Peg's Cantina brews its own beer and has a large patio for dining. Next door is Pia's Trattoria, a pasta and panini cafe, which looks like it's been transplanted from the Italian countryside. Then there's Backfin Blue, O'Maddy's Bar and Grille and the new kid on the block, Smokin' J's Texas style barbecue, among others.
Gulfport will be competing with Visalia and Costa Mesa, both in California; Burnsville, Minn; Addison W.Va.; and Lafayette, La., for the title.
The top towns in five categories have been narrowed down from more than 600 submissions and will be judged by Rand McNally teams via blog posts, video and photos.
"I did my own personal pub crawl from Maddy's to Neptune's," handing out information about voting in the competition, said Lori Rosso, who owns the Sea Breeze Manor Bed and Breakfast in Gulfport and is president of the Gulfport Chamber of Commerce. "I printed out these little sentences with the e-mail addresses and gave them to everybody I saw."
Winners will be announced on July 22. The top towns will be highlighted on Rand McNally's website and in the 2013 Rand McNally Road Atlas, as well as on USA Today's travel site.
For a complete list of finalists, go to bestoftheroad.com.