Steps from the Sand

By: LoAnn Halden

There's no need to stray far from your beach towel to savor these 10 great Hollywood activities.

Only swaying palms and sea oats come between the 6-mile-long sandy stretch of Hollywood Beach and its oceanfront district of cafes, shops and parks. In this family-friendly, car-free zone just 10 minutes south of Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood Airport, relaxing days on the beach go hand-in-hand with area exploration.

1 Cruise the Broadwalk

The Hollywood Beach Broadwalk, a 2.5-mile-long pedestrian promenade, bustles with joggers, skaters, cyclists and old-fashioned charm, a mere four steps from the beach's western edge. Rent wheels of the people-propelled variety and join the lively crowd on the brick-paved pathway, a popular people-watching spot since the 1920s. Hint: Sun and Fun Cycles sits just 48 steps from the sand.

2 Dine Caribbean-Style

Fresh fish with mango salsa and Jamaican pork complement the views of the turquoise Atlantic Ocean from Sugar Reef, a jaunty open-air eatery decked out in beach-glass mosaic trim and island art. Savor the flavors, just 22 steps from the sand.

3 Shop for a One-of-a-Kind Souvenir

Visiting the eclectic gift shop Sticks and Stones at Hollywood Beach Resort, just 172 steps from the sand, is like a tour through a miniature natural history museum. A taxidermied Catalina goat shares space with gaping shark jaws, used books, handmade jewelry, tribal masks and ancient fossils.

4 Grab a Healthy Snack

Every Sunday, Josh's Organic Garden opens onto the Broadwalk with an abundance of picnic-ready produce, nuts and dried fruit, just 30 steps from the sand. The accompanying juice bar makes custom smoothies so fresh they taste like the fruit toppled from a tree into the glass.

5 Let the Little Ones Run Loose

Charnow Park's pint-sized climbing wall and interactive splash fountain are a hit with the younger set; shaded picnic pavilions allow parents to keep a watchful eye on the action. Playtime awaits, just 20 steps from the sand.

6 Enjoy Free Entertainment

The sunny yellow 500-seat Hollywood Beach Theater hosts Friday night concerts twice a month, live music and dancing under the stars three nights a week and a variety of cultural performances throughout the year. It's just 25 steps from the sand to center stage.

7 Picnic in a Natural Setting

A 1.1-mile stretch of Hollywood's inviting sands flanks 56-acre Hollywood North Beach Park, where picnic tables and grills are nestled among an unspoiled grove of sea grape trees. At the park's entrance, a 60-foot observation tower provides sweeping views of the beach and Intracoastal Waterway. And from July to September, Nova Southeastern University students release sea turtle hatchlings into the wild two nights a week. Enjoy nature, just 40 steps from the sand. Hint: Protect the sea oats by using the wooden staircases.

8 Explore a Coral Reef

The first in a three-tiered reef system begins within swimming distance of Hollywood Beach. Local snorkelers gravitate toward the coral patches and sandy ledges offshore from Greene Street, three blocks north of Hollywood North Beach Park, to mingle with tropical underwater residents such as parrotfish, grunts and sergeant majors. Underwater wonders await, just 200 fin kicks from the sand.

9 Say Cheers to the Sunset

At the end of a sun-drenched day, the open-air environment at Ocean Alley on Hollywood Beach provides sanctuary for sipping a cold beverage, just 15 steps from the sand. The casual restaurant serves up breakfast, lunch and dinner and specializes in Italian-style seafood.

10 Spend the Night Without Leaving the Beach

At Hollywood's wide variety of seaside Superior Small Lodging options – cozy, top-notch hotels with fewer than 50 rooms – ocean breezes and surf sounds are included in the rate. Find a spot to sleep within 125 steps of the sand.

To plan your own beach getaway to Hollywood, call 877-672-2468 or visit Check out for more information on accommodations.

South Florida-based freelance editor and writer LoAnn Halden loves Hollywood Beach because her patience for sunbathing lasts about 10 minutes before she asks, "What else is there to do?"

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