Hollywood Beach Marriott Resort & Spa

    By Jill Martin

    Last Friday, I picked up my boys from school and I couldn't wait to tell them of the big surprise I had planned for them. "We're going to Hollywood for the weekend!"  I told them excitedly. My 6-year-old didn't skip a beat and replied, with his eyes open wide, "Mom! YOU GOT A GOLDEN TICKET?"

    It took me a moment to figure it out (we've obviously been watching too much "American Idol")! Now, let me tell you about our weekend at the Hollywood Beach Marriott Resort & Spa.

    Hollywood Beach is just north of Miami and south of Fort Lauderdale, and it's a fastastic family-friendly destination. The Marriott sits right on the famous Hollywood Broadwalk, a  2.5-mile, pedestrian-only roadway that runs parallel along the Atlantic Ocean. I couldn't believe how many people were out jogging, walking, strolling and roller blading. There's even a separate lane on the side for bicycles. We loved walking off our breakfast buffet each morning.

    The resort itself was very comfortable and had a nice family vibe. They have an onsite restaurant that serves breakfast, lunch and dinner, and you can sit inside or outside and even along the Broadwalk. The views are amazing (check out the video). And I have to tell you how nice the waitstaff was. On our second morning, the waitress, Yvaine, even remembered what we liked to drink (sweet tea and pink lemonade). We were so impressed. It really made our day.

    There's also a Starbucks counter open til mid-day, a small convenience store and a business center. WiFi is available (which my boys were very grateful for). There's a good size pool and whirlpool that overlooks the Atlantic as well, and they have cabana, chair and even segway rentals just steps away. Need a little pampering? Head upstairs to their onsite spa, rated Best Spa in Hollywood by the locals.

    There is plenty to do in the area as well. We drove over to the Ann Kolb Nature Center and saw lots of birds, crabs and a racoon as we walked on the elevated boardwalks. It's really beautiful. They have an indoor nature center (admission is only $1) and it's filled with educational displays, fish tanks, hands-on exhibits and more. Loved it!

    Even though it was just a quick weekend getaway, being on the water with the sun on my face and watching the boys wrestle on the beach was just what I needed to recharge. I really feel like I got a golden ticket to Hollywood!

    Jill Martin, Family Insider, VISIT FLORIDA