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A Weekend in Hollywood...Florida
Margaritas, tiki bars, and miles of while sand beaches for Florida vibes just a half-hour from Miami
Tucked in between the cities of Fort Lauderdale and Miami lies Hollywood, a small beachside town that’s a haven for people seeking a taste of “old Florida.” Instead of expensive restaurants with dress codes and clubs filled with celebrities, you’ll find tiki bars where guitarists play yacht rock, pirate bars, and a burger that Oprah deemed one of the best in the world.
Hollywood is also one of the most convenient places for a getaway. Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport is less than ten minutes from Hollywood Beach, and Miami International Airport is 30 minutes away by car or Uber.
There are two main parts of Hollywood: the mainland, with a quaint downtown filled with restaurants, bars, and a few shops; and Hollywood Beach, which features a two-mile-long Broadwalk along the sand. The Broadwalk is perfect for a morning or evening jog, walk, or bike ride. Along the two-mile-long strip, you’ll also find a plethora of restaurants, bars, small inns, and residences. At the epicenter of the Broadwalk, lies a bandshell that offers live music most evenings.
Hollywood Beach is pristine and family-friendly and no matter what time of year you visit, you’ll be able to find a stretch of beach that’s all your own; it’s one of the charms of Hollywood over its sister beaches of Fort Lauderdale and Miami Beach to the north and south.
At the heart of Hollywood Beach lies the Margaritaville Resort, a mega tribute to the toes-in-the-sand lifestyle that made singer-songwriter Jimmy Buffett a multi-millionaire.
If you’re seeking a laid-back weekend that’s more flip flops and pina coladas than Prada and velvet ropes, Hollywood might just be the place for you.
Where to Stay
Hollywood’s Margaritaville Resort boasts three pools (including an adults-only, guests-only pool complete with rooftop views and bar), eight places to eat and drink, and 369 rooms and suites with either beach or Intracoastal views.
Parrotheads will love the nods to his songs. Take a selfie with the giant blue flip flop sculpture in the lobby, check out the chandeliers made of upside-down giant margarita glasses, and listen to Buffett songs softly wafting through the speakers. The property is a coastal chic property that manages to cater to families, Buffett fans, and people who enjoy a room with coastal vibes and water views. The hotel manages the entertainment for the Hollywood Bandshell, which offers live bands nightly that range from reggae to classic rock. Directly on the Broadwalk — there’s no need to even see your car for the weekend — all bars and restaurants on the beach are within a 10 to 20-minute stroll and the City of Hollywood offers a free shuttle service to the Downtown area.
Where to Eat
This restaurant, located inside Margaritaville, offers prime steaks, seafood, and cocktails. The restaurant is open for dinner only and is a pleasant surprise. Here, the mood is elevated from your day of “booze in the blender” by the pool. Instead, start with lobster bisque or a perfectly done French onion soup while you decide between a Prime NY strip or a local catch of the day. Don’t forget the banana cream pie — a dense dessert, rich in bananas that’s meant for sharing.
Both GQ Magazine and Oprah have declared Le Tub’s burger among the best in the country, so you’re thinking a trip to Hollywood can’t be complete without a trip here — but level your expectations. Le Tub is the diviest of dives: We’re talking about “decorating with toilets” dive. The dock that holds tables feels like it may or may not give way, tumbling you into the water as you take a sip of your beer. The entire kitchen consists of one grill behind the bar. But the burgers are indeed divine: A thick patty (almost like a semi-smashed giant meatball) has a crisp meaty crust, yet is moist inside. The burger is served with a slice of cheese on a poppy seed bun. Start with some seafood salad or smoked fish dip, finish with a slice of key lime pie, and you’ve got a no-frills meal that’s Oprah-approved.
Bonny & Read’s Toucan Hideout
If you’re looking to hang with the locals, this pirate-themed bar is the place. Located inside an old house that’s been outfitted with a giant bar, Bonny & Read’s is the place to get out of the sun (it’s my personal hangout when I want to sit out a sudden thunderstorm), have a few drinks, and get some grub. The place actually makes some great fish dip (ask for extra lemon) and a decent Philly cheesesteak. cheesesteak. Plus, the view cannot be beat.
This Italian restaurant is as old-school as it gets. Start with a stuffed cubanelle pepper, before tucking into some red-sauce classics like rigatoni with meatballs, sausage, and short rib or linguini carbonara. Sardelli’s also makes a great steak, as its name implies.
Located in Downtown Hollywood, the Tipsy Boar is a neighborhood gastropub that offers a large, rotating selection of craft beers. There’s also wood-fired pizza, burgers, lobster BLT tacos, and more gastropub grub in a friendly setting with bartenders who know how to make a good drink.
Where to Drink
This small brewery, located directly on Hollywood Beach, is a little strange ( I often wonder if it’s a front for something else), but the beer is legit — especially the Hollywood Mango IPA, a well-balanced India Pale Ale with a subtle hint of fragrant mangos.
Located on the Intercoastal Waterway, this bar (owned by Margaritaville) offers (what else) a full line of margaritas, frozen blender drinks, and tiki cocktails. The bar also hosts frequent live music and is a stop along the Water Taxi route that connects Hollywood to Fort Lauderdale. The Water Taxi, by the way, is the cheapest way to get a little boat trip in, with most people using it as a booze cruise of sorts, hopping on and off at various watering holes throughout South Florida. A good way to spend a day, for sure.
You’re going to need to take a short, 15-minute Uber to LauderAle, but it’s worth it. This small brewery is located in Port Everglades, and has a lush outdoor patio where a colony of Vervets can be seen from time to time (the brewery often does fundraisers to help maintain the monkeys who are descendants of a group of primates that escaped a laboratory decades back). Monkeys aside, LauderAle is a dog-friendly brewery that offers good beer, a game library, nightly food trucks, and live music. It’s one of the best places to chill in the area (and where I can be found many Sundays with my Frenchie, Luna).
This small tiki bar, located directly on the Hollywood Broadwalk, is the place to go get refreshments while still in your sandy swimsuit. There are no pretenses here — just drinks in recycled plastic cups (Hollywood has strict rules about plastic and styrofoam use). The tiki bar is great for people watching, as it’s frequented by a mix of tourists lured by the guitar players who cover light rock of the ‘70s, and locals who have retired to Hollywood beach (at any age), trading in their New Jersey or Cleveland lifestyles to become professional beach bums. After nursing a few beers while watching the tide roll in, you might just think that's not a bad way to spend your days, too.