Indian Rocks Beach is one of my favorite beach communities in Pinellas County. It runs for about 28 blocks (about 3 miles) along the Gulf of Mexico, between Belleair Shore to the north, and Indian Shores, to the south.
Sure it's overbuilt, but there are lots of beach houses, and fewer condominiums than on most Pinellas beaches. And, the condos are three stories or less. No big high-rises here.
There are plenty of beachfront rentals and lots of excellent small, award-winning restaurants to eat in and shops to enjoy. Fast food and corporate chains do not have a presence on Indian Rocks Beach.
The City of Indian Rocks Beach has a beach management plan and takes great pride in maintaining their beaches, dunes, vegetation, and wildlife. The really remarkable thing about Indian Rocks Beach is that the city provides FREE parking to all beaches except the main Pinellas County public Beach at 17th Avenue (you have to pay to park, but it does have restrooms and outdoor showers). Every street end provides a path to the beach. Most streets provide at least a few parking spaces for cars.
Why Choose Indian Rocks Beach?
If you're looking for a beach vacation spot the the Tampa Bay area without high-rise condominiums and mega-resort hotels, Indian Rocks Beach is worth consideration. It's close to Clearwater Beach (5 minutes), but not too close.
Indian Rocks Beach still has a lot of the Old-Florida style beach cottages that were built back in the 1940s and 1950s. It still has a strong surfing and "beach life" culture. Tourism and commerce has drastically changed the beach culture of nearby cities like Belleair, Redington, and even Madeira Beach.
The beach at Indian Rocks is not super-wide; the water is not super-clear, and the accommodations are not super-luxurious. But it is a relatively laid-back beach town that's still close to all the conveniences without being dominated by them. You can probably walk to many of the restaurants, depending on where you're located.
Want surfing lessons? Want to rent a stand-up-paddle board? No problem. The surf shops and rental companies are right across the street from the beach. And if you must drive up to Clearwater Beach, it's only 15 minutes away. And you can even take the trolley if you don't want to worry about finding parking for your car.
Where To Stay on Indian Rocks Beach
You won't find a lot of chain hotels here. There's a Holiday Inn & Suites on the bay side of the island. The resto of the hotels are smaller properties with names like the Gulf Breeze Inn, Sea Star Motel, Great Heron Inn, and Gulfside Resorts.
The other option is to rent a beach house or condominium. People who have weddings on the beach often rent a beach house. That way they can have the ceremony on the beach and the reception at the house. Some of the houses are big enough to accommodate quite a few overnight guests.