This Beachside Florida City Is Artsy, Fun — And Surprisingly Affordable

You’ve probably heard of this city. But to fully grasp its magic, you need to visit.

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Hollywood FL
Photo Courtesy of Jackie Gutierrez-Jones

For some of us, living the dream means waking up to the smell of salty ocean air and walking to a warm, sandy shore less than 10 minutes from our bed. But what happens when you’ve got Miami/LA/Hawaii-sized visions on a Lansing, MI budget?

You head to Hollywood, of course. Hollywood, Florida that is.

Located about 20 miles north of Miami, this cozy beachside city has the soul of a sun-worshipping hippie. Here, things move a little slower, and you can find charming touches of vintage Florida beach life (the Hollywood Boulevard Historic Business District is on the National Register of Historic Places) mingling with big city modernity around every corner… at a fraction of the cost of major cities close to the water.

If that doesn’t convince you to start packing your bags, here are seven more reasons why you should plan your next getaway to Hollywood — and maybe even move there.

FL
Photo Courtesy of Jackie Gutierrez-Jones

1. You’ll have no problem meeting your daily recommended dose of art.

Hollywood has long embraced its inner gallerina, and the proof is all around you. The Downtown Hollywood Mural Project is the largest walkable mural project in the county and features work from local, national and international artists on buildings all around the city. You can tour the 26(!) murals every third Saturday during the Downtown Hollywood ArtWalk or get your visual arts fix by popping into local galleries like Anica Art Studios and Gallery 2014.

2. You can catch a live show and practice your lotus pose in the same 10-acre circle.

ArtsPark at Young Circle is a bustling gathering point in the middle of town with an amphitheater for live concerts, a splash pad and playground for the kiddos, and weekly yoga classes that are open to the public. It’s also a great place to curl up under the shade of one of five Baobob trees — in fact, ArtsPark is one of the few places in the U.S. where you can get up close and personal with this native-to-Africa species.

3. Your tastebuds will never be bored.

Feeling some pho? Or maybe a platter of kebabs with baklava for dessert? Hollywood has you covered. The city has no shortage of multicultural meal experiences, most within walking distance of each other. From Russian, Peruvian and Turkish treats to Cuban, Greek and Indonesian dishes, the world’s cuisine is right at your fingertips.

4. The beach. Obviously.

But this isn’t just “a beach.” Unlike its sister shorelines in Miami, you’ll find a quieter, more serene scene here, with families enjoying a picnic lunch next to solo sunbathers catching up on their NYT bestsellers. Along with the powdery white sand and vintage beach town vibe, what really sets this Hollywood apart is its 2.5-mile boardwalk. This terracotta tile path cuts a broad swath alongside the ocean, inviting cyclists, rollerbladers and Art Deco architecture chasers to spend a leisurely afternoon soaking up the sunshine. It was also named one of America’s Best Beach Boardwalks by Travel + Leisure magazine. No surprise there.

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Photo Courtesy of Jackie Gutierrez-Jones

5. Three words: Hollywood Hot Glass.

Maybe you have a secret dream to become the premier glass paperweight maker in a small beachside town. If so, first of all: that’s amazing and we support you 100%. Secondly: you’ve come to the right place. The glassblowing classes at Hollywood Hot Glass are ready to make that happen. They’ll even teach you how to memorialize the cremated remains of your pet in handblown glass … if that’s your thing.

But even if glassblowing isn’t on your dream career bucket list, picking up one of the shop’s gorgeous pieces is never a bad idea.

6. Big city living is right at your fingertips.

Although it still retains that old-school beach town vibe, Hollywood is a city on the move — and there are plenty of new developments taking advantage of it. Circ Hotel, located across from the ArtsPark at Young Circle, artfully blends some of Miami’s sleek vibe with the local culture. Sure, there’s a chic, scene-y rooftop bar for sipping an Aperol Spritz on a Friday night, but the contemporary 12-story, 111-room hotel also embraces the local scene, inviting artists to contribute to their gallery and put their personal touch on select rooms with colorful murals through the “Suite Art” program. The in-house Italian eatery, Olivia Restaurant & Bar, elevates the Hollywood dining scene with its dramatic ceilings, fresh mozzarella bar and over 800 bottles of wine.

But if you truly need your big city fix, don’t sweat it —  Miami is only a short 25-minute drive away.

7. You can actually live by the beach for less than $350,000.

Waterfront property doesn’t come cheap. But Hollywood is surprisingly affordable compared to other major cities on the water. Cute bungalows, townhouses and condos near the beach can be found for less than $350K. Which just might leave a little bit of wiggle room for all of the  sunscreen you’ll be stocking up on.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Jackie Gutierrez-Jones is a Livability editor covering the latest in food, drink, travel and parenting for both local and national publications. A born-and-raised Miami native, she... more

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Thu, 06/27/2019 - 12:35