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Things to do in Madeira Beach, FLorida
Madeira Beach is a very small seaside community sandwiched between the Intracoastal Waterway and St. Petersburg to the east, and the Gulf of Mexico to the west. Measuring only two miles long and with only about 5,000 residents, this small community draws beach lovers to its pristine white sandy beaches. Despite its small size this vacation paradise has much to offer. The warm and calm waters of the Gulf of Mexico make this a wonderful family vacation spot and there are many nearby attractions to keep you busy when you are done at the beach.
John's Pass and Boardwalk
Located at the southern end of Madeira Beach right on the waterfront is the John’s Pass Village and Boardwalk. Legend has it that a pirate named John LeVique was the first European to settle the Madeira Beach area and John’s Pass bears his name today.
The Village and the 1,100 foot boardwalk is the area’s top attraction with over one hundred merchants offering unique retail shopping, restaurants, boat rentals, para-sailing, dolphin tours and much more. If you’re looking to do some deep sea fishing or just take a boat tour of the area head over to see the folks at Hubbard’s Marina who will be glad to assist you. The local fishing fleet is also situated here and it can be fun to just sit back and watch the fishing boats come and go. A short walk from John’s Pass takes you right back to the beach and if you’re lucky you may catch a pod of dolphins playing in the surf.
For a tasty break grab an ice cream at Kilwin’s Ice Cream & Fudge shop or if you need something more substantial grab a bite to eat at Scully’s Seafood Restaurant or any of the numerous other restaurants in the area. John’s Pass is a great spot to spend a few hours after beaching it all day and it you’re looking to do some shopping there are ample retailers available offering a wide variety products.
Fort De Soto Park
For a little outdoor adventure why not rent a kayak and patrol the mangroves of the park while taking in the abundant wildlife in the area. If history is your thing take a tour of the remnants of the Fort that once stood guard to Tampa Bay. Fort De Soto Park is also home to two of the finest beaches in the area and has two piers available to the general public for fishing.
Clearwater Marine Aquarium
Head a few miles north from Madeira Beach to the community of Clearwater Beach and visit the Clearwater Marine Aquarium. This aquarium is home to many sea animals who have been rescued and need rehabilitatIon. The ultimate goal is to release them back into the wild, but many become permanent residents due to their injuries.
Among the full time residents here are two North American river otters, three dolphins and some sea turtles. There is also a small pool where you can get up close and personal with sting rays, starfish, and other small marine life.
Certainly the stars of the aquarium are Winter, Hope and Nickolas, three rescue bottlenose dolphins who are permanent residents of the aquarium and best friends. The movie Dolphin Tale tells the heartwarming story of Winter, who lost her tail at a very young age after becoming entangled in a crab line.
For the Sports Enthusiast
For all the sports fans out there you have many options available to you depending on when you are visiting the area. Late winter and early spring offer baseball fans the opportunity to check in on some of the MLB teams that do their spring training in the area. The Blue Jays, Phillie's and NY Yankees are all located within a few minutes of Madeira Beach. Oddly, the Tampa Bay Rays do their spring training farther down the coast in Port Charlotte.
If you’re visiting during baseballs regular season then certainly you will have the opportunity to see a Tampa Bay Rays game at nearby Tropicana Field.
And if you find yourself in the area during the fall season and you happen to be a football fan then head on over to Raymond James Stadium to catch a Buccaneers game.
If you’re an amusement park fan then plan a day of fun and adventure at Busch Gardens of Tampa. Busch Gardens has some great roller coasters if that’s your thing and plenty of rides and attractions to keep the kids amused and happy. They are also renowned for their animal conservation programs and their Serengeti Plain animal exhibit houses a wide variety of animals including: Lions, Cheetahs, Tigers, Hyena, Zebra, Giraffes, Elephants and Rhinos. With over 2,000 animals you’re sure to see your favorites. For something special and a little different take part in a “Meet the Keeper” where you can get up close and personal with one of the parks animal trainers.
Where to Stay
Staying in Madeira Beach is easy as the waterfront is dotted with Condominiums located right on the beach. Our favorite place to stay is the Collwood Condo’s which are located just up the coast from John’s Pass and right on the Gulf of Mexico. This convenient location provides easy access to the beach, has a pool on site, and is walking distance to John’s Pass and numerous restaurants. The beaches here are wide and have very fine powdery white sand. The surf is generally low to moderate so young children can play in the water without getting walloped by high surf.
Take the Trolley
For a great way to ride up and down the coast from John's Pass all the way to Clearwater hop on the Suncoast Beach Trolley. The trolleys run between 5am and 10pm and arrive every twenty minutes or so. For just $2 per ride or $4.50 for an all day Go Card you can leave the car behind and enjoy the sights as you hop on and off at the stops of your choice. The trolley is a convenient way to get around with worrying about directions or where to park the car.
If you've never been to the west coast of Florida then check it out for your next vacation. Madeira Beach has much to offer for everyone and is centrally located to all of the major attractions in this area. Its pristine beaches make it a wonderful location to kick back, relax, and re-energize.
© 2012 Bill De Giulio