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North beaches, old-school fun

Often described as "2 miles long and a smile wide," Madeira Beach is home to the quaint, turn-of-the-century John's Pass Fishing Village and Boardwalk [150 John's Pass Boardwalk; johnspass.com], featuring restaurants, shopping, water scooter rentals and boat tours to see dolphins, catch fish or ride on a replica pirate ship.

Check out Candy Kitchen [13711 Gulf Blvd.], which has a wall of Pez and a shop full of vintage sweets. Burn off some of that sugar at Smuggler's Cove Adventure Golf [15395 Gulf Blvd.], with small live alligators you can feed with bamboo fishing poles.

Next up is Indian Shores, with Mahuffer's Beach Bar [19201 Gulf Blvd.] — an unforgettable Key West-style mix of nets, autographed bras and old ship parts — or the upscale Salt Rock Grill [19325 Gulf Blvd.] with fresh seafood, raw bar, deep wine list and patio bar that overlooks the water. Stop by the Suncoast Seabird Sanctuary [18328 Gulf Blvd.], a large wild bird hospital.

Indian Rocks Beach nearly tops the list of beach communities in the number of access points — there are 26. For casual beachfront dining, check out Guppy's on the Beach [1701 Gulf Blvd., Indian Rocks Beach]. Other popular spots include PJ's Oyster Bar [501 First St.] and Coasters [1309 Gulf Blvd.].

Lobster Pot [17814 Gulf Blvd., Redington Shores] has been a fine-dining favorite of returning snowbirds and beach vacationers since opening in 1978 in Redington Shores. Perhaps the most well known attraction at the beach is the Redington Long Pier, extending about 1,200 feet out into the Gulf of Mexico.

North beaches, old-school fun 08/14/12 [Last modified: Wednesday, August 15, 2012 4:47pm]
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