Natural beauty in Hollywood, Florida — Photo courtesy of Dale Mack
Say Hollywood, Fla., and immediately people think of either old Florida with its picture-postcard mid-century architecture or the buzz along the famous Broadwalk next to the Atlantic Ocean. The name can even bring to mind a more glamorous image with its famous-named hotels and restaurants and sophisticated towering condos.
And while this city just south of Fort Lauderdale offers all of this, it is also known locally as a nature-lover's haven because of its amazing nature preserves. This is where the locals head to enjoy the wooded trails and the subtropical atmosphere and to participate in the area's superb connection with nature.
A Hollywood picnic area — Photo courtesy of Dale Mack
This is a day for a picnic. Winter months here are ideal for outdoor activities of every kind, with pleasant temperatures in the mid-70s most days. Even in the heat and humidity of the summer months, late morning and early afternoon hours are ideal for eating al fresco.
Hollywood is ideal for this. So pack a picnic lunch with everyone's favorites, and - from Fort Lauderdale - head south on Federal Highway to Dania Beach. Then head east on East Dania Beach Boulevard and follow A1A.
Along scenic and playful Intracoastal Waterway, just north of Sheridan Street, the city has set up pleasant picnic areas equipped with heavy-duty stone tables and secured BBQ grills with plenty of free parking and amazing views. Plan to spend a few hours, and be sure to take plenty of pictures to entice friends and family members to join you next time.
Ann Kolb Nature Center — Photo courtesy of Greater Fort Lauderdale Convention & Visitors Bureau
After your picnic, get prepared for an amazing experience at the Ann Kolb Nature Center. Continuing down A1A, turn right (west) on Sheridan Street and the entrance is on the right, just over the bridge. Part of the 1,400-acre West Lake Park, the center features an impressive exhibit hall with a hands-on eco-room, captivating displays about the park's mangrove ecosystem and a mesmerizing 3,500-gallon aquarium.
Families can also bike or walk along the mangrove estuary's stroller-friendly trails before delighting in breathtaking views from atop the observation deck. You'll be amazed at how quickly you go from urban to pure outdoor nature in just a few blocks. Boat tours and rentals are available, as well.
Speaking of the city's famous Broadwalk, that's next on the list. By now, a sit-down is needed, and along this famous and playful Broadwalk are any number of eateries and bars such as Toucan's Oceanside Bar & Grill and Istanbul Restaurant, a delightful Turkish eatery.
Rent a bike at the Hollywood Broadwalk — Photo courtesy of Dale Mack
What could be better now than a bike ride along the Broadwalk? This is offered for a nominal fee at 1500 N. Hollywood Broadwalk. Hop on and enjoy the end of the day and the beautiful scenery.
Great efforts have been taken to retain the natural, serene sanctuary here. In fact, it’s often hard to believe that the never-ending activity of this South Florida urban sprawl is just blocks away. Sit and pause and absorb the calming quiet; the sound of the water lapping on shore along the intracostal; the tropical bird calls; the buzz of the insects; and the swaying of the palm frawns.
Wait, and it won’t be long before an impromptu boat parade passes by - either a few exotic and jaw-dropping yachts with fun-sounding names painted on them, or a buzzing fishing boat with its occupants waving at those watching them on the shore. Either way, this is the ebb and flow of what makes this part of Hollywood unique and an important part of Broward County’s diverse landscape and offerings for its many visitors and residents.