• Sunshine City Kids

Family Staycation: St. Petersburg/Madeira Beach KOA

Updated: May 28, 2018

With summer break officially underway, finding new and exciting places for the kids to explore is at the top of our priority list; doing this without breaking the bank, a huge bonus. So skip the plane tickets, long road trips, and expensive theme park passes for a family-friendly staycation right here in southern Pinellas County.

Deluxe Cabin, St. Petersburg Madeira Beach KOA
Cabins at St. Petersburg/Madeira Beach KOA

My six-year-old loves camping, but the idea of sleeping on the ground in a wet tent while swatting mosquitoes usually deters me from planning an extended trip to the Great Outdoors. Our local KOA, however, changes the concept of traditional camping. Think air conditioning, real beds, and most importantly, close proximity to home.

Just off of the Pinellas Trail in the Bay Pines area of St. Petersburg, Florida is where you'll find the St. Petersburg/Madeira Beach KOA. This hidden gem is nestled along the mangrove-lined intercoastal waterways just minutes away from both the white sands of the Gulf Beaches and cultural richness of Downtown St. Pete.

Though you won't be travelling far, it will definitely feel like it. This is a big benefit for families with young children, hectic work schedules, or not-so-large vacation budgets.

Speaking of budgets, there's a little something for everyone at the KOA- tent camping sites (with or without water and electricity), RV camping sites, camping cabins, and deluxe cabins. We stayed in a deluxe cabin and were pleasantly surprised with the amenities provided. Comfy beds, crisp linens, air conditioning, two TVs, free WiFi, spacious bathroom, and a kitchen complete with a mini-fridge, stove and Keurig coffee maker take us into "glamping" territory.

The waterfront view isn't so bad either.

Each deluxe cabin has its own gas grill, fire pit, and plenty of outdoor seating. This was the perfect space for grilling hot dogs and hamburgers, roasting marshmallows for s'mores, and having a relaxing drink with friends under the tiki umbrella. Ok, maybe a few relaxing drinks.

Outside of lodging, the campgrounds offer plenty of opportunities for fun. On site you'll find a large pool open year-round, hot tub, playground, shuffleboard, volleyball, miniature golf course, kayak launches, and fishing docks.

Weekly activity schedules are provided upon check-in and include themed weekends, family-friendly movies in the pool, DJ-led pool parties, ice cream socials and more.

Want a little adventure or maybe some peaceful solitude? A large inventory of rentals are available for use that will facilitate both. Traditional bicycles, electric bikes, canoes, and kayaks are all offered for very reasonable prices. Or you can bring your own to save a little money.

Don't forget to keep your eyes open for some cool wildlife sightings. Tons of tiny blue-clawed crabs shuffle through the mangroves, and the waterways are home to manatees, alligators, and many varieties of seabirds and fish. Crab watching was a big hit with my kids.

After a day of adventuring, convenience is key. Everything on the property is accessible by walking or very short bike ride if you must. The fully-stocked KOA General Store is open until 8 pm on weekdays and 9 pm on weekends. This is where you'll find it all- diapers, milk, s'mores kits, firewood, adult beverages and anything else you may need during your stay. There's also a Wawa open 24-hours located just outside of the entrance for any of those middle-of-the-night needs.

Who knew roughing it didn't have to be so rough?

Keep it simple, friends. Whether your family is looking for a night of quiet or a few days of fun, the St. Petersburg/Madeira Beach KOA is a great compromise for those wanting adventure and those wanting comfort without the drive. We're already looking forward to booking our next stay. And maybe a few more relaxing drinks under the tiki umbrella.

For more information, visit https://koa.com/campgrounds/st-petersburg/.

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