This barrier island community is what you get when you cross an Old Florida fishing village with a lively (but not rowdy) beach town. In fact, Madeira Beach was named the No. 9 Beach in the U.S. by Tripadvisor for 2021. Known locally as “Mad Beach,” it’s where Florida’s largest grouper catch comes into dock. It’s also home to one of St. Pete/Clearwater’s biggest family attractions, John’s Pass Village & Boardwalk.
Things to Do
Relax, stroll and swim along 2.5 miles of beautiful beaches here, or check out Mad Beach’s rocky southern point, a popular spot for shore fishing. Save a day or more to explore John’s Pass Village & Boardwalk, a rustic waterfront complex with over 100 shops, restaurants and water recreation businesses. Here, you can catch a dolphin cruise or pirate-themed cruise, rent a boat or jet-ski, or even hop on a floating tiki bar.
If you like to shop, John’s Pass offers classic souvenirs at Surf Style, brilliant kites and chimes at Florida Windworks and pop-culture rarities at DD Collectables. Dining runs the gamut from seafood to pizza to Thai, and there are plenty of bars for live music and frosty beverages, including craft beer at Mad Beach Brewing.
Find more things to do in Madeira Beach here.
Events & Entertainment
One of the most popular events in St. Pete/Clearwater, John’s Pass Seafood Festival typically takes place in late October, featuring live bands, vendors and the seafood creations of talented local chefs.
Most days of the week, there’s live entertainment somewhere on Mad Beach. Legendary spot Daiquiri Shak brings in some of the best local acts, and Saltwater Hippie has live music nightly as well as during the day on weekends.
Places to Eat
With all the fish that comes in at local docks, seafood is undoubtedly the big draw here. Mad Beach Fish House, north of John’s Pass, is a beloved local spot for seafood, as are Sculley’s in John’s Pass and its sister establishment, The Hut. Walt’z Fish Shak at John’s Pass Village is a local fave for its super-casual Key West ambiance and fresh seafood. For some of the best Thai and sushi around (including an extensive vegetarian menu), head to Thai-Am II on the northern edge of John’s Pass.
Savor your coastal cuisine and tropical beverage in the sand at Caddy's Madeira Beach surfside, the only beachfront restaurant in town. It's part of a small, beloved local chain with an expansive menu of bar bites, beer and more – right in the sand.
Looking for a sweet treat? Head to The Candy Kitchen on Gulf Boulevard (just north of the internet-famous “Chicken Church”), a tiny brick-red building where you’ll find tons of ice cream flavors and a vast selection of candy. Check out the vintage Pez dispensers.
Find more places to eat in Madeira Beach here.
Places to Stay
You’ll find a handful of resorts, but most of the accommodations in Mad Beach are vacation rentals. If you’d like to stay in a hotel, look to the Courtyard by Marriott Madeira Beach on the scenic Intracoastal Waterway or the stylish Cambria Hotel with its rooftop bar offering views of the Gulf of Mexico. Looking for a cozy-and-unpretentious cottage stay? You’ll find waterfront charm at Changing Tide Cottages on Boca Ciega Bay or Sea Turtle Bungalows, located just steps from the beach. Other rental options include spacious apartment-style suites at Madeira Bay Resort and beachfront, Florida-themed rentals at the Sea Breeze Condominiums.
Find more places to stay in Madeira Beach here.