The moment we realized we had the entire Labor Day Weekend off together we knew we had to do something special. Even though I am a Florida Native, there is a side of my homestate that I have never really seen: South Florida. So we booked our room and planned our two night trip to Hollywood, Florida. As I write this, I am left with mixed emotions: half good, half bad.
On one hand the hotel at which we stayed was fabulous… truly, truly fabulous. And sadly, because I work in the hotel industry, I do not feel comfortable reviewing hotels on thisfloridalife. It really is the gem of this beachside town located in shadows of Fort Lauderdale and Miami. As much as we loved the hotel we didn’t travel four hours just for the hotel. We wanted to explore Hollywood, Florida. And that is where things became a challenge.
After spending some quality chill time at the hotel’s impressive pool, I wanted venture out (partly due to being surrounded by would-be cast members of the Jersey Shore). We went back to A1A in hopes of enjoying dinner at Joe’s Tiki Bar and Grill (during my pre-trip planning I saw that it was closeby). Five or six restaurants all occupied one small strip of land on the inter-coastal, with not nearly enough parking. Bad zoning and planning on the city’s part, in my opinion. There was no parking and no room anywhere. Hungry and frustrated, we turned around and headed further South on A1A. We passed condo after condo, hotels dotted throughout, and continued into the next county. The only food we came upon was KFC, Burger King, and a strip mall which did not look appealing. Deflated we decided to head back toward the hotel.
There was a lounge we had read about near the hotel, we wanted to give it a try and now it seemed the perfect time. Aizia seemed like a really cool place, an Asian inspired lounge and restaurant that would transform into a late night club, all right along the water. As we approached the dark, quiet windows we began to worry – why was it so quiet? We peered into the windows. It was closed.
We felt defeated. After soaking up the view of the moonlit marina we walked over to Aizia’s neighbor, Rival’s sportsbar. An upgraded, waterfront sports bar and grille, Rival’s offers a unique atmosphere. Flatscreen televisions surrounds this casual, yet slightly upscale sportsbar with a view of the marina. We sat at the bar and found the bartenders to be nice and helpful, both from New Jersey. Husband enjoyed a sausage pizza – very flavorful. I ordered the “sunshine salad” of romaine lettuce, crab meat, mango, orange, papaya and a roasted lemon dressing. I mean really, would you expect this Florida girl to not order it?
And so after a four hour drive to get to Hollywood and a challenging evening we returned to our room,…gladly. We sipped white wine, sat on our balcony and basked in the view of the blue moon shining down on the Atlantic Ocean.
The next morning we were bound and determined to have a better day. After an early breakfast, husband ventured to the gym and I made a date with my Jimmy Buffett novel “A Salty Piece of Land“. Jimmy and I found an empty dock in the marina. I walked to the edge, sat down, and enjoyed the quiet serenity of a morning on the water. Marina men prepared their boats and yachts. Seagulls and pelicans stretched their wings and searched for breakfast. Reading a nautical novel during such a splendid morning turned out to be a moment of genius.
Soon husband emerged from the gym and we headed back up to our room to gather our beach supplies. Admittedly I was excited to try out my new beach toy, which I lovingly call “big red”, a red sportbrella. We found a quiet, vacant spot on the beach and began to set up “big red” and our chairs. Morning clouds rolled in and refreshing rain sprinkled us as we set up and claimed our salty piece of land. These blissful hours at the marina and then the beach proved to be the highlights of Hollywood for us. For lunch, we ventured back out down A1A. This decision changed the course of our remaining day in Hollywood, Florida.
To be continued…