South Florida’s wide, white sand beaches, framed by calm, turquoise waters and coconut palm trees, are certainly appealing. But not everyone enjoys appreciating the tranquil Florida coastline while lounging, greased with sunscreen, on a towel or chair. For those who crave a little action with their sand and surf, venture beyond Fort Lauderdale and discover historic Hollywood Beach.
An archetypal Broward County beach town that was founded in 1925, Hollywood Beach is now the twelfth largest city in Florida and attracts hosts of international visitors, especially “snowbirds,” or those who winter over from colder climes. One of its famed features is the two-and-a-half mile historic Hollywood Beach Broadwalk, which runs along the centre of the city’s public beaches (the rest are connected to the city’s many resorts). On the Broadwalk – a brick-paved promenade – guests can jog, cycle and roller-blade without worrying about running into obstacles – other than people, of course.
Didn’t bring your bicycle with you from overseas? Plenty of rental sites abound, including ones that offer surreys, or “party cycles” with canopies and seating for groups. Globally themed cafés rife with outdoor seating and souvenir stands put snacking and shopping for basic necessities within easy reach of the sand, so whether you crave a full Turkish meal, an ice cream cone or could use an extra towel to dry off after boogie boarding, relief is only steps away. You can even stay right on the Broadwalk; perky, pretty boutique lodgings lead right to the bright, hot silica. In fact, 28 of the 77 hotels and inns that have been rated “Superior Small Lodgings” within the Greater Fort Lauderdale region are located here.
The Broadwalk is also where you can find family activities that occupy young children and older teenagers, including three playgrounds, paddleball courts, ping-pong tables, and an interactive water play fountain. Free concerts take place at the Hollywood Beach Theatre, which has been closed while Johnson Street has been under redevelopment and is scheduled to re-open when the street debuts its new look in summer, 2015.
When – or if – you tire of the beach, take the free Hollywood Trolley, which travels from the Broadwalk to Downtown, to ArtsPark at Young Circle for a change of pace. ArtsPark offers regular weekly activities, mostly in the evenings, that make the most of the open spaces and gorgeous South Florida evenings, such as the popular Food Trucks at ArtsPark, a gathering of decked-out trucks offering gourmet eats for sale every Monday night; Funtastic Fridays for Kids, a free Friday evening social event for youngsters with a bounce house, face painters and more; ArtsPark Movie Night, free family-friendly movies; and ArtsPark Live!, a free concert featuring local talent, every Saturday night at the Artspark Amphitheatre. Every Thursday, Friday and Saturday evening, master glassblowers demonstrate their craft to rapt audiences, and once per month, renowned international groups take to the stage as part of the Hollywood ArtsPark Experience.
Venture beyond the beach and discover Hollywood’s Downtown district with a stroll along the gallery-heavy Harrison Street and Hollywood Boulevard, which is rich with bars, fine dining and nightlife. More fine dining opportunities stretch along the Intracoastal Waterway, where you can sip cocktails outside and watch the boats slip by. The Downtown monthly events calendar features the interactive Full Moon Drum Circle (upcoming dates are 1st & 31st July, 29th Aug, and 27th Sept), the Dream Car Classic Car Show (every first Sunday) and Artwalk (every third Saturday), where you can visit the local galleries on Harrison Street and watch artists in action. And if none of this floats your boat, the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino, with a complex that includes a concert hall with pop music and comedic acts, Las Vegas-style gaming, fine shops and restaurants, is within just a few miles. After a night out in Hollywood, you’ll never think of the city as a sleepy beach town again.
Have you visited historic Hollywood Beach? Share your recommendations with us in the comments section below.
Written by Jen Karetnick