Nestled between the vibrant, glamorous metropolises of Fort Lauderdale and Miami, Hollywood Beach is quite the contrast to its Californian namesake. You won’t find many red carpets or glittering movie stars here, but rather miles and miles of glorious, pristine beaches with crystal clear water, incredible street art, delightfully retro architecture, and a surprising amount of natural beauty.
Hollywood, FL is one of South Florida’s most beautiful beach spots, often overlooked thanks to the glitzier options in Miami and the bright lights of central Fort Lauderdale just up the coast. It is a gorgeous spot, however, a little pocket of peace, tranquility, and slightly alternative charm that hides its light under a bushel but is well worth discovering.
Although the main attraction here is the wonderful beach, the surrounding streets and old-school boardwalk straight out of a rose-tinted America past offer a whole range of awesome and exciting things to do, see, and experience. From Jimmy Buffet’s Margaritaville to the excellent Anne Kolb Nature Center, there’s plenty of entertainment to be found if you find yourself in need of a break from sun, sand, and surf.
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How to Get There
Hollywood Beach is located just south of downtown Ft. Lauderdale, with the outskirts of Miami touching its southern fringes. Getting here is a breeze, as it is only around a ten-minute drive from Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport. It is not much further to the center of Fort Lauderdale itself, around twenty minutes driving, meaning that arriving by plane or by cruise ship are both excellent options.
From further afield, Hollywood Beach is well connected. It is a 45-minute drive from central Miami, just off the I-95 Expressway, making it incredibly easy to find for anyone driving down the Atlantic coast of Florida or enjoying a getaway to the Everglades.
Where to Stay
Hollywood Beach is full of great accommodation options to suit every taste and every budget. Whether you want an all-inclusive luxury oceanfront hotel or something a little more bespoke or boutique, there are loads of Hollywood Beach hotels, guesthouses, beachside suites, and vacation rentals to choose from.
Hollywood Beachside Suites
These excellent suites are perfect for no-frills travelers, a set of simple, clean, and really rather charming rooms just off the main Hollywood Boardwalk. There’s even a (small) pool, although it hardly seems necessary when you are this close to the beach!
Casa Pellegrino is an enchanting little boutique hotel with a deliberately alternative vibe, which is firmly targeted at musicians, artists, authors, and more creative travelers. Infused with a Mediterranean ambiance, it is a superb choice for anyone looking for a touch of class at a reasonable price.
Margaritaville Hollywood Beach Resort
One of the most famous and most recognizable sights on the Hollywood Beach boardwalk, Margaritaville offers glitz, glamour, and luxury right on the beachfront. With eight restaurants, a live music venue, a fitness center, and even a surfing simulator, you’ll never run out of things to do.
Where to Eat
Hollywood Beach is an immensely multicultural spot, reflected most of all in its restaurants which offer a wide selection of excellent culinary delights from around the world. There’s a taste for every palette right on the beachfront from Mexico and Peru to Russia, Turkey, and Georgia.
Le Tub Saloon
Described by The Oprah Winfrey Show as ‘one of the best places in America to eat a hamburger’, Le Tub is a must-visit. It’s an incredibly quirky spot, all mismatched decor and multi-level dining areas, and with hamburgers as big as your head, you won’t go hungry.
J28 Sandwich Bar
A Peruvian-themed sandwich bar might sound odd initially, but it’s an absolute treat and is one of the best places to grab a lighter bite in Hollywood Beach. Think lots of quinoa and sweet potato, all washed down with a delicious glass of la chicha, a traditional beverage made from dried purple corn with fruit and spices.
Taco Beach Shack
Just off the boardwalk and a few steps from the oceanfront, the Taco Beach Shack is regularly included in various ‘Best of Broward County’ lists. This is a hip, alternative take on classic Mexican fare, with Korean short rib and buttered cilantro lobster tacos the highlights of an excellent menu.
What to Do
Hollywood Beach itself is exceptional, one of the most impressive of all the Florida beaches. Miles and miles of unspoiled golden sand, backed by picturesque dunes, a retro beach boardwalk, and the Stranahan River. The Atlantic is lively but not overly rough, with plenty of waves for surfers and kiteboarders, but calmer periods for swimming as well. The beach has excellent facilities up and down its length, with lifeguard stations, beach chair and parasol rentals, showers, and children’s play areas in plentiful supply. For those of you who don’t want to parasail, check out my other post on fun beach activities you can bring to the beach with you. From beach volleyball to spike ball, there’s a game that everyone in the family will enjoy!
The Hollywood Beach Broadwalk
Hollywood’s historic Broadwalk is a charming, old-timey beach boardwalk full of restaurants, bars, shops, and parks. It effortlessly combines family-friendly beach entertainment, live music, excellent dining options, and a great party atmosphere come nightfall. No trip to Hollywood Beach would be complete without sampling the nightlife on the Broadwalk. It is also a favorite spot for rollerbladers, runners, and cyclists. This is actually the first spot I ever learned to rollerblade! If you want to learn, I’d recommend giving it a go here. And Here are the rollerblades I currently use if you’re looking for a rec 🙂 Not only will you look super cool rollerblading (depending on who you ask), you’ll also be getting some exercise! Win-Win in my book!
Anne Kolb Nature Center
If you can drag yourself away from the beach, then the Anne Kolb Nature Center is a wonderful option for an afternoon exploring the natural world. Hike trails or paddle through mangroves, watch birds from the observation tower, and discover the marine life of the Atlantic Ocean at the aquarium.
Hollywood’s Street Art
Hollywood really leans into its cultural, artistic, and alternative reputation with its Artspark, as well as the magnificent selection of commissioned street art that is scattered along the oceanfront and in the backstreets just off the Broadwalk. The Downtown Hollywood Mural Project adds a weird and wonderful touch to this beach that finishes off the experience!