Get to Know Hollywood
By Jenny Lee Allen
Conveniently located between Fort Lauderdale and Miami Beach, Hollywood offers all the sun and sand of the Sunshine State, along with a diverse array of activities.
Feeling restless one Saturday and wanting to take advantage of the sun-filled sky, I headed south an hour to one of my favorite seaside cities.
Hollywood is an eclectic East Coast destination where you can kick back at the beach by day and live it up at a trendy bistro by night. I didn't have a plan, but I figured I'd hit the oceanfront Broadwalk before hopping a trolley to explore downtown's boutiques and restaurants.
Located off Interstate 95 between Fort Lauderdale and Miami Beach, Hollywood is an easy in-state getaway. If you haven't visited the town, take a weekend to introduce yourself. If you have, take a few days to see what's new.
Beach Lovers, Nature Buffs
I'm a Florida girl, so the beach had to be my starting point. Like a scene from a postcard, Hollywood Beach's turquoise waves lapped onto the shore. Children built sandcastles. A couple napped under a cabana.
I laced up my rollerblades and set off on the Hollywood Beach Broadwalk, a 2.5-mile oceanfront path that's lined with shops, bars and restaurants. You can rent bikes or surreys at the Bike Shack, or simply stroll the brick-lined promenade.
After browsing the souvenir shops (Dolphin Jewelers seemed to be a hotspot for sea-themed accessories), I cooled off with an ice cream cone.
Down the path at Charnow Park, a recreational oasis right off the Broadwalk, I found a picnic pavilion, performance pavilion, interactive fountain, paddleball courts and other kid-friendly features. For a bigger dose of nature, visit the Anne Kolb Nature Center, where you can hike trails, and West Lake Park Recreation Area, where you can rent kayaks or canoes, both at West Lake Park.
Back on the Broadwalk, I stowed my blades and headed for Le Tub Saloon, a cozy, seat-yourself kind of place on the Intracoastal Waterway with world-famous hamburgers. Toby Keith's "I Love This Bar" played on the jukebox as I shot – and lost – a game of pool.
There's plenty to do up and down the Intracoastal. Board a fishing charter or visit AiZia at The Westin Diplomat Resort & Spa, a waterfront bar where you can sip mojitos and watch mega yachts dock. Another popular hangout is the upscale Elements Bistro, which serves contemporary fusion creations with a Caribbean flair. Sit outside for the best Intracoastal views.
My next stop was the vibrant downtown district, just minutes from the beach. Historic Downtown Hollywood is a hip place to spend an afternoon, and it's a Wi-Fi hotspot to boot. I strolled through the ArtsPark at Young Circle, a 10-acre park with a playground and visual arts pavilion displaying modern works.
I let the sidewalk lead me to art galleries, boutiques and restaurants. I sat at the granite-topped bar and sipped a glass of chardonnay at Hollywood Vine (check out their free tastings on Tuesdays). Nearby, Inedit Spanish Cuisine & Tapas Lounge and PRL Euro Café are other favorites.
At night, catch a live performance at the Hollywood Central Performing Arts Center. Or check out two of the area's nightlife and entertainment staples: Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino and Dave & Buster's.
If you opt to stay overnight, you'll be greeted with accommodations as diverse as the town itself. For true luxury, check out the Westin Diplomat Resort & Spa, a AAA Four Diamond property with ultra-modern flair. The Hollywood Beach Marriott, a new boutique-style resort on the Broadwalk, is another upscale option. There are also several Superior Small Lodgings, known for their solid amenities, affordability and service. Some to check out are Tide Vacation Apartments and Villa Sinclair Beach Suites & Spa. The latter offers a Welcome Pineapple and a complimentary chocolate on the bed.
It's those kinds of touches that make Hollywood one of my favorite Florida cities.
For more information on planning your in-state getaway to Hollywood Beach, call 877-672-2468 or go to www.visithollywoodfl.org.