Hollywood Beach: A place to get away from big crowds, pace of South Beach

Posted Sept. 20, 2012


HOLLYWOOD, Fla. — Michelle Pouso, 23, can’t get enough of the clear blue waters at Hollywood Beach.

“In all my life, I have never swam in a beach where I can actually see my feet,” said Pouso.

Pouso is staying at the Hollywood Beach Marriott Hotel, located on 2501 N. Ocean Dr., where she is literally steps away from the beach that she has fallen in love with since visiting Hollywood Beach for the first time.

“I feel at peace being here in Hollywood and not having to deal with the madness of South Beach,” said Pouso.

The City of Hollywood, located in Broward County, offers the South Beach life without having to deal with the cramped sidewalks filled with tourists and the typical interesting characters that make you wonder what earth they come from.

At the Hollywood Broadwalk, there is enough room for those who skate, bike, and jog.

At the Hollywood Broadwalk, there is enough room for those who skate, bike, and jog (Photo courtesy of City of Hollywood).

What was once an undeveloped piece of land filled with pine forests, palmetto plants and many tomato farms and marshland, Hollywood has become the second most populated city in Broward County and the ninth-largest city in the state of Florida, with a size of 30.8 square miles, thanks to the $100 million in renovations it has undergone over the years.

The City of Hollywood, located 27 minutes from South Beach, plays host to many restaurants, shopping, beaches, hotels, and activities for families and couples to enjoy. It is also located 15 minutes from the Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport and 30 minutes from Miami International Airport by car or around two hours by Miami Metro Bus and Tri-Rail train. This means that there is no need to feel like it is in a foreign place since it is lodged between neighboring cities of Miami and Fort Lauderdale.

With more than seven miles of Blue Wave Certified Clean beaches, a certification Hollywood Beach has been given for 10 consecutive years for cleanest beaches, there is enough space to soak up the sun without worrying about debris in the sand or water. Take a walk along the Hollywood Beach Broadwalk and be prepared to enjoy a perfect day with everything at walking distance.

The Broadwalk is an oceanfront promenade where people can be seen skating, bicycling, jogging, or strolling either for exercising or for leisure. The sound of laughter and chattering can be heard from inside the cafes and restaurants such as those enjoying an ice cold margarita at Mamacita’s Mexican Bar & Grill, a Mexican restaurant with dancing waitresses that put on a show for passersby to enjoy or the many ice-cream shops to cure symptoms of a hot, sunny day. Maria Gomez and Marion Gomez, owners of Mamacita’s, opened on the Broadwalk in 2005.

“We are happy to see so many people come from different states and countries and enjoy everything Hollywood Beach has to offer,” said Marion Gomez. “Our restaurant has been very successful, thanks to them.”

For the music lovers, Broadwalk also offers a beachside outdoor venue where concerts are held and it is the only of its kind in Broward County. Music from classical jazz to soft rock is played by local or up-and-coming artists and the admission is free to everybody who wants to enjoy a day of music.

Future performances are announced on a white board, just so that people can mark their calendars and make room for a free concert in their busy schedules. As for seating, no need to sit on the floor or stand around. There is seating for about 100 people.

Luis Fernando, 28, is visiting from Colombia and has enjoyed the music he has heard so far.

“I am a big fan of old-school rock, so to listen to that here while enjoying the beach environment, its almost like heaven,” said Fernando.

If the noises that come along with going to the beach, such as kids running around and making sandcastles on the fine grained sand or the loud music blaring from the restaurants aren’t ideal, take a drive further north on North Ocean Drive till you get to North Beach Park on Dania Beach Boulevard.

This 56-acre park offers two medium-size shelters for family gatherings or picnics with your significant other. They have a capacity of 40 to 60 diners and include water, electricity, a large grill, and a picnic table. The only catch to nabbing one of these shelters is a reservation and a deposit are required to use them.

The beaches are steps away from the many restaurants and shopping stores along the Broadwalk.

The beaches are steps away from the many restaurants and shopping stores along the Broadwalk (Photo courtesy of City of Hollywood).

There is an observation tower, a 60-foot-tall wooden structure that provides a panoramic view of the beach. From there, the fishing piers can be observed, which are accessible from the Intracoastal Waterway side of the park.

For the families that want to do a fun and have a great learning experience, the Sea Turtles and Their Babies Program highlights how sea turtles use the beaches to lay their eggs and their struggle for survival. This program ends with a beachside release of hatchlings on Wednesday and Friday nights from the beginning of July through the end of August. Reservations need to be made early because they sell out fast.

If the family dog feels left out from all the family vacations, that won’t be a problem anymore at North Beach. Between Pershing and Custer streets, the Dog Beach of Hollywood allows man’s best friend to catch as many flying Frisbees as he wants without being a nuisance to beach-goers.

Lucia Serje, an 18-year-old resident of Hollywood, says that she loves that she can spend a day at the beach without having to leave her dog at home.

“I hated having to see her little puppy eyes whenever I wanted to go to the beach but now I can bring her and give her all the attention she wants,” said Serje.

Historic Downtown
The Downtown District, currently in the National Register of Historic Places, also has close similarities compared to Downtown Miami. There are plenty of small sidewalk cafes and six blocks of a variety of boutiques, shops, art galleries, and more than 50 restaurants to choose from along Hollywood Boulevard and Harrison Street.

Anybody looking for a good time or looking to do enjoy some of the nightlife in Downtown Hollywood can get there in minutes from Hollywood Beach. The fun never stops in the downtown area with its year-round festivals, street markets and entertainment. You can catch many bars and nightclubs blaring music ranging from jazz, blues, rock, Latin and R&B.

A vintage car show held at Downtown Hollywood.

A vintage car show held at Downtown Hollywood (Photo courtesy of City of Hollywood).

Add some Latin flavor to the night at Legends Cafe Nightclub on Harrison Street where authentic Latin rhythms from Puerto Rico and Cuba can be heard.

If the desire to eat Latin food is at an all-time high after a night of dancing at Legends, make sure to order some crunchy and soft yuca bites served with garlic mojo and cilantro mayo or have some chicharrones de pollo Bayamon, deep fried chicken chunks topped with an onion garlic mojo served with jasmine rice, tostones, and black bean cream with cheese. Don’t worry about breaking the bank either since most meals at Legends are under $20.

Being on vacation shouldn’t be a hassle and South Beach can be just that. Give Hollywood’s beaches and downtown area a try and be assured that it is the place to get away from the stress of Miami.

History of Hollywood
The City of Hollywood was founded by Joseph Young in 1925 and it is approximately 30 square miles in size. It is Broward’s third-largest city with a population of 143,000 residents. It is also the location of the Seminole Indian Reservation, a politically independent entity, within the corporate limits of the city.


Hollywood Beach Welcome Center
1100 N. Broadwalk (between Johnson & Michigan Streets) Offers visitors personalized information services, centralized hotel and motel booking, tour and transportation services, event information, area maps, and much more.
Website: http://www.visithollywoodfl.org/hollywoodbeachbroadwalk.aspx

Hollywood North Beach Park
3601 N. Ocean Dr., Hollywood, Fla. 33019
Phone: 954-357-5187
E-mail: WestLakePark@Broward.org
Beachside parking is available for a per-vehicle fee daily. Metered parking (bring change) is available on the Intracoastal Waterway side and along side streets. There are also four parking garages. During weekends and holidays, it is advised to get there early since it gets hard to find parking.

Mamacita’s Bar & Grill
591 N. Broadwalk,  Hollywood, Fla. 33019
Open daily from noon to 11 p.m.
Website: http://www.mamacitagrill.com/

Legend’s Cafe Nightclub
2029 Harrison St., Hollywood, Fla. 33020
Monday to Thursday, 5:30 p.m. to 2 a.m.
Friday to Sunday, 5:30 p.m. to 4 a.m.
Website: http://www.legendscafenightclub.com/

Sea Turtles and Their Babies Program
The 2012 Sea Turtles and Their Babies Program will run from Friday, July 6 through Friday, Aug. 31. This evening program begins at 8 p.m. at the Mangrove Hall at the Anne Kolb Nature Center, followed by a hatchling release on the beach afterward.  The fee is $8 per person, and preregistration and prepayment are required – no walk-ins are accepted, as space is so limited. Participants should also anticipate paying for metered parking at the release site. For further information, call the park office (954-357-5161) between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m
Website: http://www.broward.org/PARKS/WESTLAKEPARK/Pages/SeaTurtles.aspx

Handicap Access
Hollywood Beach is the first destination in Florida to offer mobi-mat wheelchair access mats, providing convenient access to the beach. The four mobi-mat locations are Connecticut Street (Charnow Park), Johnson Street (just south of bandshell), New York Street, and the ADA ramp between Tyler & Harrison streets (behind Ramada Hollywood Beach Resort/Oceanwalk Mall).

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