ROCKLEDGE, FLORIDA

By  Mike Miller  Updated July 19, 2023

Rockledge, Florida Things To Do, Lodging, Dining, & Real Estate At End Of Article

Rockledge is in Central East Florida along the western shore of the Indian River.  It is adjacent to and immediately south of Cocoa and about 55 miles east of Orlando.  Its population is about 29,621. 

Vintage Postcard Rockledge, FloridaVintage Postcard Rockledge, Florida

A unique feature of Rockledge is that is is bounded by two major Florida rivers that have been a large part of Florida's history:  the Indian River on the east and the St. Johns River on the west.

Riverside Drive in the Early DaysRiverside Drive in the Early Days

ROCKLEDGE, FLORIDA HISTORY

Rockledge was incorporated in 1887 and is the oldest incorporated municipality in Brevard County. 

Gardner S. Hardee was an early settler given credit for coming up the with town's name.

It is named for the ledges of coquina rock that are prominent all along the shoreline of the Indian River in this area.

Rockledge Early Settler CabinRockledge Early Settler Cabin

The growing, packing, and shipping of citrus were the most important industries in the area in the early days. 

The importance of tourism also came to Rockledge before many other areas in the state.

Indian River HotelIndian River Hotel

In the years before the railroad, tourists and products relied on the Indian River for transportation.  Some even came by way of the St. Johns River and were transported over land into Rockledge.

Rockledge had several large resort hotels in the late 1800s and early 1900s that included the Hotel Indian River, the Plaza, and the Rockledge Hotel.

New Rockledge HotelNew Rockledge Hotel

These were located north of Barton Boulevard and had views of the Indian River.

The Plaza HotelThe Plaza Hotel

In the late 1800s the Florida East Coast Railway was extended through Rockledge.  Not long after that, the Dixie Highway opened the area to busses and cars.

It became US-1 and Rockledge began to grow into a prosperous small town that was larger in the winter because of tourists. 

Many of those early snowbirds became permanent residents.

Victory Groves Packing Plant, US-1, 1960Victory Groves Packing Plant, US-1, 1960

THE SPACE BOOM COMES TO ROCKLEDGE

The 1960s saw great changes in Rockledge. 

It became a bedroom community for thousands of aerospace workers and their families as Kennedy Space Center began to boom related to the Apollo moon landing mission.

The town began to expand in the late 1950s west toward the St. Johns River and south toward the huge Duda Ranch that has become what is now the large planned communities of Viera and Suntree.

Levitt Park AdvertisementLevitt Park Advertisement

Some of the new communities developed include Virginia Park, Marlin Manor, Fairway Estates, Rockledge County Club Estates, Kings Grant, Georgetown, Levitt Park and Woodsmere.

Barton Boulevard between US-1 and Fiske Boulevard became the town center for serve all of these new families.

Rockledge expanded further in the 1980s and is still doing so.  Many businesses and residential neighborhoods are now also located along Barnes Boulevard in the south part of the city.

A different street, Barton Avenue, between US-1 and the Indian River stayed largely residential and was formerly the center of the town.

There are many historic homes between US-1 and the river on Barton Avenue. 

The old Rockledge City Hall (I remember doing business there with City Manager Gus Hipp) is at the corner of Barton Avenue and Rockledge Drive.

Rockledge Old City HallRockledge Old City Hall

ROCKLEDGE, FLORIDA TODAY

The major north-south routes in Rockledge are Fiske Boulevard on the west and US-1 on the east.  Rockledge Drive runs north and south along the Indian River and is a residential street.

Most of the population lives in the area south of Barton Boulevard, so that thoroughfare developed naturally as the business center of the city.

Rockledge City HallRockledge City Hall

There are shopping centers and restaurants along Barton Boulevard, along with Rockledge City Hall.

The expansion of the city south in recent years has also made the east-west route of Barnes Boulevard a major business and residential corridor.

Indian River Club CondominiumIndian River Club Condominium

Rockledge Drive stretches along the Indian River shoreline from the Cocoa city limits south through Rockledge to the historic community of Bonaventure where it joins US-1.

A modern condominium, Indian River Club, was built in the 1970s on the Rockledge Drive site of one of the historic older hotels.

H.S. Williams House, Riverside DriveH.S. Williams House, Riverside Drive

Some of the nicest historic homes and beautiful tree canopies are along this long rocky Indian River shoreline. 

The H. S. Williams House at 1219 Rockledge drive, shown in the photo above, has been restored and furnished as a typical family home of 1895. 

It is open to the public the first Saturday of each month from 10-4 as a living history educational site.

This drive and several others are described in this website at Central East Florida Road Trips.

Magruder Whaley HouseMagruder Whaley House

The City of Rockledge has done a good job in historic preservation and in making sure there are plenty of parks for the city's citizens. 

McLarty Park, Taylor Park, Larry Schultz Park, and Dick Blake Park are examples, all named for city leaders.

Rendering of Valencia Entrance on Riverside DriveRendering of Valencia Entrance on Rockledge Drive

An example of a well preserved historic development is Valencia on Rockledge Drive. 

The entrance to the tree lined neighborhood is still flanked by columns reflecting the original entrance shown in the rendering above.

The local economy of Rockledge includes many technology firms providing goods and services to the programs at Kennedy Space Center.

Schools include Hans Christian Elementary, Golfview Elementary, John F. Kennedy Middle School, Ronald McNair Magnet Middle School, and Rockledge High School.

Some interesting places to visit in Rockledge include:

Ashley's Restaurant and Bar is a favorite Rockledge restaurant on US-1.

It is rumored to be haunted by ghosts and appears in many paranormal publications on the subject.  

Ashley's Restaurant and PubAshley's Restaurant and Pub

It has enjoyed many different names over the years including "The Loose Caboose" referring to its location next to the railroad tracks.


THINGS TO DO IN ROCKLEDGE, FLORIDA

Rockledge Gardens
2153 US-1, Rockledge, FL 32955 | (321) 636-7662

This family-owned garden center is more than just a place to buy plants. It's an oasis of beauty.

With lush displays of flowers, a butterfly house, and a farmer's market, there's so much to explore. Our favorite part is the “Little Bugs Club” workshops for kids, making it a great spot for family fun.

Riverwalk Nature Center
5355 US-1, Rockledge, FL 32955 | (321) 433-4490

This peaceful park along the Indian River offers scenic walking trails, a boardwalk, and a kayak launch. Our favorite activity here is the guided nature walks, where you can learn about local wildlife and ecosystems.

It’s perfect for nature lovers and those looking to unwind amidst natural beauty.

Rockledge Country Club
1591 S Fiske Blvd, Rockledge, FL 32955 | (321) 636-6022

This historic golf club, established in 1918, features a challenging 18-hole course set amidst beautiful natural surroundings.

Our favorite part is the friendly atmosphere and the beautiful views, making it a delightful place for golfers of all skill levels.

Rockledge Drive
Rockledge, FL 32955

As discussed earlier, take a scenic drive down this historic roadway. It offers breathtaking views of the Indian River and is lined with beautiful homes and lush landscapes.

We enjoy the tranquil beauty of the drive, perfect for a leisurely afternoon outing. The numerous riverfront parks along the way are great spots for a picnic or just to soak in the serene waterfront ambiance.

McLarty Park
790 Barton Blvd, Rockledge, FL 32955 | (321) 633-1874

This 19.85-acre community park offers a variety of recreational facilities. It has a swimming pool, a barbeque pit at the pavilion with restrooms nearby, scattered picnic tables, tennis courts, basketball court, volleyball court, ball field concession stand, and a swimming pool.

The pool is open for swim classes and public swim during the guarded summer season.Our favorite is the shaded picnic areas where families can gather for a fun day out. It’s a wonderful spot for relaxation and recreation.

Helen & Allan Cruickshank Sanctuary
326 Barnes Blvd #300, Rockledge, FL 32955 | (321) 449-4720

Guests at the Cruickshank Sanctuary have the opportunity to explore the trail located in the sanctuary's western section, spanning 140 acres. The path meanders through a pine flatwoods ecosystem.

This is a habitat where one might spot raptors soaring above or resting atop tall pine trees. The presence of oak clusters, sand pine scrub, and freshwater depression marshes further enriches the ecological variety of the Sanctuary.

Taylor Park Rockledge
1292 Florida Ave, Rockledge, FL 32955 | (321) 633-1874

An ornate arched gateway at the intersection of Florida Avenue and US Hwy 1 marks a notable feature of this 3.06-acre local park. Ancient oaks provide shade over the modest pavilion, various picnic tables, benches, a paved pathway, and a children's play area, making it an ideal spot for community gatherings.

Additionally, a sensory garden beautifies the location where the park's benefactors, Albert and Grace Taylor, are memorialized with a mausoleum. There is a 9 Station - .29 mile Exercise Trail. Restrooms are available. Dogs are welcome.

The Lawndale Museum
1219 Rockledge Dr, Rockledge, FL 32955 | (321) 632-5650

Also known as the H.S. Williams House, it stands as a beacon of historical significance in Rockledge. This exquisite museum offers visitors a unique glimpse into the life and times of the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

The house itself, an architectural gem, was constructed in the 1880s by Hiram Smith Williams. Each room within the museum is meticulously preserved, adorned with period furniture and artifacts that tell the story of a bygone era. We enjoy the guided tours provided by knowledgeable docents.

Ashley's Restaurant
1609 US-1, Rockledge, FL 32955 | (321) 636-6430

As mentioned above, Ashley’s of Rockledge serves American basics & celebrates its ghost rumors. They serve happy hour food, great cocktails, and have sports TVs. They have an indoor and an outdoor bar. We, of course, enjoy the outdoor bar.



ROCKLEDGE, FLORIDA INTERACTIVE GOOGLE MAP




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