The Historic Peninsula Inn invites everyone to take a step back in time. This quaint, yet haunted LGBTQ-friendly bed & breakfast in Gulfport, Florida is hard to miss. Its bright sunflower yellow walls, multi-story structure, and giant clock tower take center stage on Beach Boulevard both day and night.
Gulfport is a popular hub for entertainment, artists, dancing, delicious food, unique and vibrant events, and even beach volleyball. In Gulfport, streets are lined with businesses and houses are painted in quirky colors surrounded by tropical palm trees. The town lays on the edge of the Boca Ciega Bay, which flows out into the Gulf Coast. Gulfport even has its own beach. Take a stroll or a drive down Beach Blvd and you’ll be met with a wide array of restaurants, small shops, and the famous Gulfport Casino. But keep your gambling money at home. This Casino is a gathering place and dance hall for community events.
Even with all of the beauty the town has to offer, there is no doubt that the architectural highlight of the town is The Historic Peninsula Inn.
On the outside, the Historic Peninsula Inn has the emblematic architecture primarily seen in Florida beach towns, but once inside you’ll be transported to the glory days of Old Florida. It’s also a haunted bed & breakfast! But no worries – only friendly ghosts live here.
The History of the Inn
The Peninsula Inn has a rich history and has served several purposes over the years. The building was founded in 1905 as the Bayview Hotel. At the time, it was marketed as the perfect place for fishing enthusiasts and beach lovers. The hotel was used as a hospital after both WWI and WWII, as was common with many Florida hotels. After World War II ended, the hotel was permanently turned into a veteran’s hospital.
To support the needs of the hospital, extensive upgrades were made, including the addition of a classic Otis elevator in 1952 to help transport patients with ease. When the hospital was no longer needed, the building was converted into a nursing home. It later became a retirement home for men. It remained a retirement home until the 1980s when new state guidelines forced operations to halt.
The historic building sat empty for over a decade and demolitions nearly destroyed the building in the 90s. On the brink of being destroyed and erased from history, Alexandra and Jim Kingzett purchased the property at the turn of the century and from this rose a new hope.
After careful planning and major remodeling, the Inn reopened as the “Peninsula Inn and Spa” in 2002. In 2016, it was sold to the current owner Veronica Champion, who renamed it “The Historic Peninsula Inn” and it has remained one of the crown jewels of Gulfport ever since.
Is the Historic Peninsula Inn Haunted?
According to Champion, yes! This 120 year old building is also haunted bed & breakfast! “Many people died in the building but not all of those spirits moved on. After all, it was both a hospital and retirement community at different points in history, so their energy is still alive. But no worries – they are all friendly!”
Regardless of whether or not you believe in an afterlife, everyone will love the timeless and spooky stories hidden within the building. If you’re an avid ghost hunter or just a curious onlooker, feel free to ask Champion to recount some of these confounding tales.
It seems that couples aren’t the only ones who go bump in the night the Inn. A few guests have reported bed bumping, a physical sensation that feels like a lovable pup bumping you at night but Fido is nowhere to be found. Other guests have heard knocking in different places, especially in secluded spots like on walls and behind headboards. There are even reports of the sound of someone running down the halls.
Don’t be scared though! These ghosts are all friendly and beloved by guests and owners alike. In fact, Isabelle’s Restaurant is named after one of them.
The Historic Peninsula Inn Today
Currently a bed and breakfast, the Historic Peninsula Inn has 12 quaint rooms and suites to accommodate every need. The Inn has three floors and towers above most buildings along Beach Drive. In fact, city code ordinances prevent any building from being built higher than the Inn.
Though it may feel like stepping back in time, Champion has made several upgrades to keep the property current with sustainability in mind. Over the past 5.5 years, energy-efficient AC units and a roof have been added. Plenty of parking is available, too, including a few charging spots for Teslas and other makes of electric cars.
Modifications were also made to open up the space. The walk-in kitchen was expanded to allow for easier passibility and comfort. The carpeting was replaced with fresh new vinyl for a cleaner yet vintage look without looking tacky or old. With safety top of mind, all emergency exit doors were replaced. And a fresh coat of yellow paint gave the building a bright new vibrancy.
Note: The Inn is currently for sale but fully operational. All projects have been either started or finished with the intent of maintaining a long-term site for the next owner.
Guests can find all of the modern amenities needed during their stay. From a friendly concierge to a full service restaurant with a full bar to comfortable beds, guests feel right at home at the Historic Peninsula Inn. If you are planning a perfect beach day, the B&B offers the complimentary use of beach chairs and towels. Additionally, the front desk staff are happy to make suggestions for events and things to do in the area.
Also, The Historic Peninsula Inn isn’t just an LGBTQ-friendly bed & breakfast. It’s kid and pet-friendly, so don’t be afraid to bring little ones. In fact, the Inn is perfect for larger family reunions. Florida bungalows tend to be a bit small, especially in Gulfport where the average home is under 1,000 square feet and has two bedrooms and one bath. So while visiting relatives, you can skip cozying up with your cousin at their house and stay in your own comfortable room with private bath at The Historic Peninsula Inn. Now, who wouldn’t prefer that?
A complimentary, enhanced continental Breakfast is provided each morning for the guests to enjoy.
While staying at the Inn, grab a bite at Isabelle’s Restaurant. Isabelle’s serves up classic southern cuisine with a modern twist. They also have a robust drink and cocktail menu with both classic and seasonal favorites.
Their famous outdoor patio hosts live music multiple times a week. If you prefer sitting inside, the dining rooms are picturesque and alluring. Or you can belly up to the bar and watch the big game on TV.
The covered outdoor dining venue is also perfect for LGBTQ weddings, birthdays, reunions and family celebrations. And the outdoor canopy will keep guests dry, which is perfect for Florida’s unpredictable weather.
LGBTQ-Friendly Bed & Breakfast Accommodations
The Peninsula Inn welcomes everyone. Although not LGBTQ-owned, this LGBTQ-friendly Bed & Breakfast is loved by all. The Inn has hosted LGBTQ weddings and events for many years and even has a rainbow bench by the front door, one of the most popular selfie stops in town!
As a town, Gulfport is one of the most LGBTQ-friendly places to visit in St Pete, with an LGBTQ population well above the state’s average. We’d venture to guess that 15-20% of residents are LGBTQ.
Getting Around Town
As mentioned, the Historic Peninsula Inn is situated in a convenient part of town with easy access to everything. If you enjoy biking, there are plenty of bike rental options in the region. If you cruise down Beach Boulevard, you’ll find restaurants, stores, coffee shops, and even a beautiful pier that overlooks the Boca Ciega Bay. Downtown St. Pete is only 15 minutes away as is St. Pete Beach. So whether you feel like shopping or lounging in the sun, the Inn provides the perfect spot to stay and play.
Gulfport even has its own special events trolley in partnership with the Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority (PSTA) to serve the Gulfport community. This trolley is present for popular community events, like the Friday and Saturday arts walks, Shopalooza at Vinoy Park in downtown St Petersburg, the Fine Arts Festival and St Pete Pride.
Make sure to book a room at this whimsical haunted LGBTQ-friendly Bed & Breakfast the next time you’re traveling to St Petersburg, Florida. And make sure to explore our gay-friendly St. Pete travel guide for a full list of things to do while in the area.
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