Indian Shores

By SHEILA MULLANE ESTARDA, Times Correspondent
Published September 30, 2007

Geography: Indian Shores averages only a block wide but extends 2.65 miles along the Gulf of Mexico. The town's population of about 1,500 residents grows to more than 5,000 in the winter.

A little history: Originally incorporated as Indian Rocks Beach South Shore in 1949, the town changed its name to Indian Shores in 1973. Historically, the area was frequented by Native Americans who came to fish and for the reputed healing waters of a nearby spring.

The beach: One of the longest beach communities in Pinellas County, Indian Shores' beach is lined mostly by condominiums, many of them built within the past few years, as well as time shares, a few bed and breakfasts and small motels.

Amenities: Visitors definitely should not miss Mahuffer's Beach Bar -- an unforgettable Key West-style mix of fish nets, autographed bras, crab trap markers and old ship parts. Popular spots include Mickey Quinns or The Pub for casual fun and food, or the Saltrock Grill for fine dining. And don't forget to stop by the Suncoast Seabird Sanctuary, North America's largest wild bird hospital. The facility has emergency facilities, a surgical center, and indoor and outdoor rehabilitation areas where hundreds of injured birds are on display.

Some drawbacks: There are no major hotels here, so consider that carefully if you want full-service amenities.

Parking: Free parking is available at six of the town's 11 beach access points. About 200 parking spaces also are available on the west side of Gulf Boulevard at the Tiki Gardens County Beach Access Park, where parking fees are 50 cents an hour. The park has restrooms and showers for visitors.

Bottom line: Indian Shores definitely has miles of beaches, the parking, unique spots to visit, and plenty of entertainment and dining choices.