Hollywood: Sunrises and sensations
Recently, Florida’s low-key Hollywood has gone, well, Hollywood. The 2.5-mile brick Broadwalk and its historic open-air bandshell have been rejuvenated. October saw the kick-off of the bandshell’s new free concerts featuring Latin to Conchy-Tonk -- and the opening of Margaritaville Hollywood Beach Resort.
Inspired by Jimmy Buffett’s 1977 hit song, the Texas-sized resort stretches from the Intracoastal Waterway to the beach with 17 stories, 8 restaurants and bars, 3 pools, 349 guestrooms, a spa and out front on the Broadwalk, a double FlowRider wave machine that offers skill-based recreation. Surfers pay to ride while spectators watch free. You hear the word awesome a lot. Margaritaville’s no worries, be happy vibe’s supported by sea, sand and sky hues, maritime accents and sea glass-colored tile. All rooms have water views. Lobby attractions include chandeliers festooned with margarita glasses, a giant blue flip-flop, Buffett’s antique surfboards and parrot-themed cabanas. Cool touches include sunny song lyrics spilling off walls, stilt walkers and live music themes like Jamaica Mistaica. At the 5 o’Clock Somewhere Bar & Grill, people arrive by Water Taxi and boats -- and sometimes leave on rented paddleboards.
In Downtown Hollywood, murals are blossoming on outdoor walls (look for Diana “DidiRok" Contreras’sassy beach beauty) and ArtsPark at Young Circle has ramped up free family-friendly offerings that include art-making, evening glassblowing demonstrations, outdoor performances, Funtastic Fridays and refreshing landscapes with ancient-looking baobab trees, flowers and fountains. $1 trolleys circulate about half-hourly every day between Hollywood’s beaches and downtown. The wide, clean beaches helped earn Hollywood awards like All-American City and 2015 TripAdvisor Travelers Choice top beaches. For solitude, head north to the dunes, then amble around the Stranahan River and adjacent lakes. Or spend a day at Anne Kolb Nature Center, a free-admission haven for paddling, pedaling and hiking. Elevated wooden walkways offer wildlife views; waterways reflect life-sustaining mangroves and come evening, streaming-color sunsets.