The Violet Fern

A Colorful Tale of a Garden in the Making


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Christmas in Gulfport

We spent Christmas a little further South of Cedar Key in the cute coastal town of Gulfport. Gulfport is a tiny jewel in the midst of sprawling St. Petersburg. It has a cozy, small downtown feel and views of the Gulf. The houses are kitschy and eclectic. They are smaller, older but snatched up by ambitious owners who rub the genie’s lamp of charm and bring them back into their glory days. Many are for rent and yes, we are staying in one. Take a small tour with me and jingle all the way.

The local hangout is O’Maddy’s and it’s where we spent our Christmas Day Eve with a jolly ol’ crowd singing Christmas carols with the band. It put the fun back into Christmas for me. No preparation, no presents, no fancy food, no glitzy decor … just hey, this place is open on Christmas and is rockin’! Let’s walk right into some cheerful holiday comrade and child-like fun. Even our dog Mojo got into the spirit of things down at O’Maddy’s with its bar side seating open to the Gulf.

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There are a slew of salty, tiki bars and restaurants to pick from. All within walking distance from the charming bungalow houses and waterfront condos.

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I wanted to try some Mexican Cantina food here at Peg’s but they are on vacation! Maybe next time …

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One of my favorite little restaurants is Mangia’s offering the perfect mix of American standard and VEGAN food! It is fresh and delicious with many homemade items including all sorts of delicious hummus such as beet, wonderful soups and salads, and sweet treats for dessert. You can dine inside or al fresco upon this lovely nook of a patio.

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Post Christmas we dined al fresco here at Pia’s – magnificent Italian fare and large, waxy candle bras to put you in the mood. “Più vino per favore!”

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Walking is the best mode of transportation here because you can take in all the sites at your own pace. I love the variety in architecture, the secret gardens, artsy decor, and of course live Oaks with Spanish Moss.

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This fa la la la la stroll has me thinking about the New Year, my next steps, the years ahead … how I long to have my own little Southern getaway with its secret garden! … and how to get there from here. For now I am content to soak up the sun and inspiration. I sure hope your holidays were just as merry and bright and that the New Year brings promise of good things to come.