John’s Pass Village is the star attraction of Madeira Beach, Florida. Skirted by a 1,100-foot overwater boardwalk and home to 100-plus merchants, it comes as no surprise that John’s Pass Village is Pinellas County’s number-one rated attraction. Oozing charm, decorated in a rich pirate history – on top of so much to eat, drink, see and do – the Village appeals equally to the young and young-at-heart. It’s a family-friendly boardwalk that won’t leave parents on a bored-walk. Here are five attractions that the entire family will love.
Everglades and alligators are iconic Florida, but you need not venture deep into the wetlands to get up-close and personal with gators. A visit to Alligator Attraction will have the kiddos stealing a kiss from an alligator. (Can you say that your last vacation was this memorable?) Parents will also appreciate learning opportunities that touch on Florida’s unique ecology and conservation efforts. Plus, the baby alligators are pretty darn cute. Visitors will also get the chance to see tortoises, fish, frogs and other amphibians.
Get swept up in pirate history
Who can resist some colourful pirate history? In 1848, John LeVique, a French pirate who had given up his pillaging ways, set sail for Madeira Beach – the location of his stashed treasure. In a twist of bad fortune, a hurricane ravaged the island. When he arrived, LeVique made two discoveries: the booty had been washed into the Gulf of Mexico and the island had been carved in two. LeVique lost his fortune but gained a legacy: the new access between the Gulf and the Intracoastal Waterway ultimately became known as John’s Pass.
LeVique’s treasure may be long gone but the buccaneer spirit still lingers at John’s Pass Village. Taking a stroll and you might just meet a real-live pirate marauding the boardwalk. Offshore, sail the high seas on a pirate ship. The Pirate Ship Cruise takes you on a two-hour swashbuckling adventure. Kids will love spending the day in the life of a pirate, adults will love the bar that serves beer and wine, and everyone will love an on-deck dance party. While pirates of yore might have left port when the booty ran low, the Pirate Ship Cruise boasts three reliable daily departures: 11 a.m., 2 p.m. and sunset. Advance bookings are highly recommended.
Cruise through Boca Ciega Bay with eyes peeled on the horizon. You won’t likely have to look long or hard to spy bottlenose dolphins. These playful Florida locals inhabit the waters year-round and guided cruises get you close enough to watch them swim, jump and play. You might also spot manatees, pelicans and osprey.
Dolphin Quest sets sail four times a day. Tours fill up fast, so it's best to book in advance.
Hubbard's Dolphin Watching hosts several fully-narrated tours per day. Times depend on the season. Riding on "The Big Blue Boat" is a unique part of the experience.
Get competitive at the arcade
Before we gamed on screens that fit in our palms, Pac-Man and pinballs captured our attention. Get nostalgic at John’s Pass Arcade by challenging the kiddos to a game of Pop-A-Shot or air hockey. Perhaps wagering a bet might up the ante? Winners get a treat from Zeno's Boardwalk Sweet Shop or ice cream from Kilwin’s!
Hit the beach
Kids don’t need to be convinced to spend a day at the beach. (It’s Florida after all!) Steps off the boardwalk, Madeira Beach (“Mad Beach”) offers up white sand and emerald-turquoise shallows. Unpack for a laid-back afternoon of swim and sun, or just dip your toes in the water.
This article was brought to you by our friends at John's Pass Village & Boardwalk.
Located on the waterfront at John's Pass, this quaint turn-of-the-century fishing village is Pinellas County’s #1 tourist attraction.
Start planning your visit: Peruse the merchants and check out upcoming events.
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