Playing On Florida’s Gulf Coast With Babies & Young Children: Madeira Beach

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Madeira Beach, Florida

As a kid, I went to Florida quite a few times with my parents, and then again once they split with both my mom and my dad.  We always stayed in little beach motels or in rented condos on the Gulf Coast.  I have such fond memories of the beach and the sun – those trips have truly stayed with me.

When my husband and I first started dating, I thought it was a pretty good score that he had a brother who lived in Florida.  A few years later, when his dad moved down, I figured we’d be visiting several times a year – after all, it’s practically a free vacation right?

Well, real life happens, and in the almost 8 years my husband and I have been together, we’ve been 4 times: once pre-kids and 3 times with them.  I learned that living in a vacation destination does not mean you’ve on holiday all the time, and that visiting family does not always a vacation make.

But we love going down to visit Grandpa and Uncle and our cousins! So we’re trying to make it a yearly thing.  In order to preserve everyone’s sanity, we break up the visit by heading out to the beach for a night or two.  Last year our trip was longer, so it was Disney and Treasure Island.  This year we were down for less than a week – so it was a lovely night in Madeira Beach.

As with most of the Gulf Coast, the sand at Madeira Beach is white powder.  There are more shells than at Clearwater Beach, but not as many as Treasure Island.  Be sure to tread carefully and keep a watchful eye on baby – our bub’s motor control was just at the point of grabbing a shell, and of course it was headed for his mouth!  I was ever vigilant about keeping his sandy hands out of his mouth, but a sandy foot went straight in when I turned my head for a second!

I was absolutely delighted to see dolphins playing in the water, just a few feet from shore.  My daughter really didn’t seem that impressed, but I’m hoping the memory of it will be more meaningful as she gets a bit older.  I was 29 the first time I saw wild dolphins in Jamaica, and seeing them in Florida again just blew my mind.

In the two miles of coast that makes up Madeira Beach, there are 4 public areas – all of them have parking, 3 of them have restrooms, and two of them have showers.  It’s a really great little stretch of beach that offers many options for families – lots of condos, hotels and motels.  It’s close to both the Tampa and the St. Petersburg airports, and it’s on the little Suncoast Beach Trolley zips right through.

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