Take Another Road: Hollywood, Florida

The opening of Margaritaville Hollywood Beach Resort just under three years ago has no doubt played a part in the rejuvenation of Hollywood, Florida. Each year – inspired by the ideals of escapism and dreams of beachside cocktails – tens of thousands flock to this casual-luxe oceanfront resort in the heart of Hollywood Beach.

And who can blame them? With all the amenities the hotel has to offer and the turquoise waters of the Atlantic Ocean just a few steps away, MHBR is a vacation in and of itself.

Although it may be tempting to spend your mornings beachside, afternoons at the spa, and happy hour at the LandShark Bar and Grill everyday, you don’t want to miss out on what the city has to offer.

Aside from living the dream of actually being where it really is 5 o’Clock Somewhere, there are a few places around Hollywood worth exploring. So, peel yourself away from the pool bar for a few hours and check out some of my favorite spots in Hollywood.

BG Whiskey Creek Hideout
Located in Dr. Von D. Mizell-Eula Johnson State Park, formerly known as John U Lloyd Beach State Park, BG Whiskey Creek Hideout offers kayak and paddleboard rentals as well as day, sunset and full moon tours.

I spent the better part of the afternoon kayaking through the mangrove-lined canal that runs parallel to the ocean, before looping back around via the intracoastal. Cruising at a leisurely pace and stopping for photos, the trip took me just over three hours. This was a great alternative to the beach and allowed me to get up close and personal with some of Florida’s wildlife.

Mangroves predominantly cover the banks, but there are small beaches scattered along the way, and upon close inspection, you will see they are home to millions of crustaceans.

Blending in with the sand and hiding in the brush, casts of up to a thousand crabs sit relatively motionless along the banks. As my kayak would approach, like a mass evacuation, they would scatter in every direction. It was quite the spectacle every time it happened… which was about every minute as I’d near the next beach.

Another tropical animal I saw hiding in the mangroves was the iguana. Unfortunately, this has become an invasive species in Florida, but nonetheless, an amazing creature.

I was able to get very close to them in my kayak, much closer than if I had seen them while walking; perhaps they felt less threatened with me in the water?

I saw at least three different species and the largest was well hidden, but clearly well over 3 feet in length. It was surprisingly captivating to sit and watch this prehistoric animal in the wild.

Hollywood Beach Broadwalk
Spanning 2.5 miles, this beachside promenade is just steps from MHBR and hosts dozens of restaurants, bars, souvenir shops, and motels; making it a great place to stroll and people watch.

Throughout the day, you’ll see bikers riding along the bike path, joggers weaving in and out of the families strolling the walkway, cafes and bars filled with hungry tourists, and beach-goers basking in the sun.

The Taco Spot is one of my favorite restaurants along the Broadwalk and one of the best places for an authentic Mexican meal. With amazing tacos, even better sauces, delicious mojitos and a front row view of the ocean, this is definitely one of my happy places.

But no matter where your taste buds take you along the strip, there is something for everyone – from fine dining to ice cream shops and everything in between

I recommend waking up early one morning to walk the strip. It is an entirely different vibe at 6 a.m., when the Broadwalk is still sleeping – shops closed, street lights still on and only a few dedicated fitness fanatics out for a jog. In this brief moment of peacefulness, enjoy the beauty of the sun rising over the Atlantic Ocean as the city slowly awakens.

Downtown Hollywood
Along Hollywood Blvd, just a short trolley ride from the beach, you will find historic downtown Hollywood.

This quaint neighborhood is on the National Register of Historic Places and for good reason. It was created in 1921 by Hollywood founder Joseph Young, and today, with many of its original structures still intact, is home to many local businesses and a growing art and music scene. Within its six-block span, the street is lined with cafes, boutique shops, and trendy art galleries.

With the addition of ArtsPark in 2007 and the recent revitalization of the neighboring Harrison Street, Historic Hollywood has become a hub for all things art and music. The park, located in the center of Young Circle, features an outdoor amphitheater, a playground with a Splash Pad and a Visual Arts Pavilion that hosts numerous exhibits and demonstrations.

Vendors along Harrison Street accommodate live music and art shows on a nightly basis and, nearby, you can experience contemporary exhibitions and performances at the Art and Culture Center of Hollywood.

“Searching is half the fun; life is much more manageable when thought of as a scavenger hunt as opposed to a surprise party.” – Jimmy Buffett

So, on your next trip to Margaritaville – in between laying poolside and afternoon cocktails – go and explore what Hollywood has to offer. Whether you’re looking to frolic on the beach, dine on fantastic cuisine, discover nature’s wildlife, or get artsy in the downtown district, Hollywood’s got a little something for every appetite.

About the Author: I’m Sarah, and I love exploring our planet and learning from its many wonders. You can follow my adventures and insights on Instagram @sarahthewanderess and on my blog TheWanderessWriter.com.

Happy Travels and Fins Up!