Let's be clear from the start: Hollywood is not a Miami-Dade County neighborhood, but actually part of Broward County. However, it's really just a few miles over the county line, and many Miami-Dade residents are actually closer to Hollywood beaches than Miami beaches. Plus, the heart of the town and the arteries of its nearby environs, which are largely residential communities, are nearly always alive with activity.

If you head north from Miami, you'll first hit Dania Beach, which is great for thrifting and antiquing. A stop at Jaxson's Ice Cream Parlour & Restaurant, in business since 1956, for a jumbo sundae is also almost always a good idea (unless you're lactose intolerant).

Continue heading north to Hallandale Beach, where The Village at Gulfstream Park sprawls. This complex, offering horse racing, a casino, sidewalk boutiques, restaurants, nightclubs and even Aquashop Indoor Surfing that features Flowrider, a simulation surfing ride that kids especially love, can entice you to spend an entire, entertaining day.

On the National Register of Historic Places, Hollywood Beach is just a few more minutes north, and this quaint city, a haven for French-Canadians in particular during the winter months, is known for two distinct parts. First, there's the beach and its car-free (but not wheel-free), two-and-a-half-mile Broadwalk, where you can rent all sorts of recreational bicycles and zip along from outdoor café to souvenir shop to ice cream parlor. Second, there's downtown Hollywood, a lively metropolis where the leafy trees shade outdoor cafes and live music joints along Hollywood Boulevard and Harrison Street, which run parallel to each other. Both the Broadwalk and the ArtsPark at Young Circle in downtown are hosts for all sorts of year-round outdoor festivities as well, ranging from the annual Latin, Turkish and Balloon festivals to the weekly concerts, art walks and food truck invasions.

If a day trip isn't enough, visitors can always arrange for longer stays at the luxurious Westin Diplomat Resort & Spa, which is located close to the action, or head over to the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino, which is its own little world of music, dining and retail entertainment.


Bryan in the Kitchen

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