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Shopping-Tourist Spot: John's Pass

Birding / Hiking / Adventuring Roadtrip Info

Andrew Thoreson
Jan 2019
 Typical view [?]
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Typical View (6)

Snapshots! (13)
GRADES: Click each for info, * = Note
Revisit? A
Birding C *
Wildlife D *
Summer Heat C
Terrain A
Fun Hike Not Rated
Maintained Not Rated
Mosquitos A
Biting Files Not Rated
Ticks Not Rated
NOTE: Many of a few species
NOTE: Dolphins possible, alligators in shop.
 LOCATION: Accuracy: Read me
Map On Big Map: Click map (or on google maps). Address: 12901 Gulf Blvd, Madeira Beach, FL, Pinellas, USA, 33708

1) What It's Like

A nice place to walk around: A pier with seafood and other restaurants and tourist shops and tourist fishing docks. More like a mall than a town or authentic wharf but still manages to be fun.

2) Kinds of Birds

Oddly enough a huge number of pelicans and wading birds. Most at the dock when they clean the fish and get handouts but also night herons and wood storks hang out on the roof of the psychic.

3) Wildlife

Dolphins are usually more in the gulf but we've seen them in the distance here. They have baby alligators on the 2nd floor.

4) Amenities

It's more or less a mall so they definitely have bathrooms etc.

5) Directions

Most people park in the garage. There is a bit more around. To get in the garage turn left right after you enter the entrance nearest the bridge.

6) Time Requirements

We usually spend 30-45 minutes hanging out and more if we get something to eat.


I wish there was an authentic wharf in a small seaside community where locals sold sponges and fresh caught fish, there was some crab shack hole in the wall fish restaurant run by an old fishing captain, there was a little book store, and a country store with a post office in back. But that Florida was eradicated in the 1970s. What we have here is more or less an out door mall that makes a good effort to approximates that. Granted we walk around and complain and poke fun at how it's a mall but we do keep coming back. What's not so good is - 40% of the place is selling cheap tourist t-shirts or gifts you'd rather not receive. The clothing stores that aren't selling t-shirts are marketing to post menopausal women and post retirement men who forgot or don't own clothes to wear on their Florida vacation and want to create some look I don't get. I wouldn't call any of the restaurants good (though we haven't tried them all). We read good reviews for the Waltz's one but when we got there the seats were uncomfortable and cramped, most things were sold out pretty early in the day, and what we got was just kind of bad... but that might have been a bad day. We liked one fried food one for awhile but then one of us got food poisoning from fried clams. There's always Bubba Gump and Hooters upstairs. The parking garage is usually easy but a couple times while busy I've either gone to the top and found no spots or got stuck in a 30 minute line out because they couldn't get the cash register or something working (so they were holding us hostage because they couldn't collect payment). But all of that and we still come back so maybe it's not so bad. Some highlights:

  • There's a deep sea fishing company on the dock and virtually every time we show up here they are filleting fish from the boat and 100 pelicans and herons are waiting for handouts. That never gets old to watch. Also actually going deep sea fishing with them really is quite fun. Along here during the day they have jetski and boat rentals, dolphin watching boats, etc - it's an interesting view.
  • It's next to the actual pass from the intercoastal waterway to the gulf so there is boat traffic to watch.
  • There's a psychic a bit out of the way who's nice and who feeds herons and wood storks - they are usually hanging out on her roof day and night - fun to check out.
  • There are at least 3 ice cream stores. I think Kilwins sucks - I don't think it tastes good and I feel like someone kicked me in the groin while I'm licking my ice cream and they tell me the total. If it was gelato or something I'd get it but it isn't so I don't.
  • There's a not great video game place on the 2nd floor - not great but it exists which is good.
  • There's a place that you can see and maybe pick up baby alligators. I think you pay but I think you can see a little for free.
  • Why I care I don't know but we stop at the Tervis Tumbler store.
  • There's a tea and spice shop that's usually closed. It's something different even if I don't find myself stocking up on anything there.
  • There are one or two bars that are kind of fun if you're into bars.
  • And just in general it's a nice place to walk around. That's probably the best summary for this place - a nice place to walk around.


  • Most St.Pete beaches are pretty good and some are very close. Clearwater is crap compared to St.Pete IMHO.
  • Candy Kitchen is this tiny shop carrying every kind of candy known to man, vintage sodas, and ice cream. It's spectacular. Been there since the 1950s.
  • Right next to it is The Church by the Sea - it's a cheap thrill but if you spend time on the internet you'll recognize the top of the church that unintentionally looks like a cute cartoon bird with a cross on it's head.

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