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Hollywood Beach

Hollywood Beach

Finding the Hidden South Florida.

Nestled between the tropical Floridian party cities of Miami and Fort Lauderdale is a serene, classy gem: Hollywood Beach. A destination for the 1960s Rat Pack and celebrities of today, this city is perfect for basking amongst the climactic beauty of South Florida without the high-energy hustle. Hollywood not only has nice beaches and pedestrian-friendly boardwalk, but also some charming cultural attractions of its own. The city has a sizable LGBT population as well, so you certainly won't be the only gay in the village.

Getting There
The Ft. Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport (FLL) is about 15 minutes away from most Hollywood beach hotels, and is serviced by Delta, US Airways, and JetBlue, which is currently offering one-way tickets between New York's John F. Kennedy (JFK) airport and FLL for $89, and from La Guardia airport (LGA) for only $79 each way, and it's a much easier route from Manhattan. Also, the Miami International Airport (MIA) is about 20 miles south of Hollywood.

Getting Around
Hollywood, like most American cities, requires some form of wheels to get around. The rental car center at Terminal 1 in Ft. Lauderdale-Hollywood airport hosts several well-known agencies, such as Hertz and Alamo. There's also the HOTexpress, a trolley that loops around the downtown area and to many of the beach hotels, costing only $1 a day. When all else fails, Yellow Cab can be reached at 954-777-7777.

Stay
The Westin Diplomat Hotel and Spa (3555 S. Ocean Dr.; 888-627-9057; $284- $639) delivers waterfront luxury with sunken bathtubs, ocean views, and exceptional service. Their high profile guest list has included President Barack Obama, Madonna, Cameron Diaz, and Ashton Kutcher. Spa and golf services are available at the Diplomat resort, a nearby, separate property owned by the hotel.

Gay-owned Ocean Inn Motel (3405 N. Ocean Dr.; 954-923-0313; $120- $225) is a simple family-run property right on the Hollywood boardwalk, and a winner of the Superior Small Lodging White Glove Award for exemplary housekeeping. Rates include breakfast, in-room coffee, and free WiFi.

Do and See
While Hollywood's shopping and gallery scene is still pretty limited, the ArtsPark at Young Circle is a lovely place to see an outdoor concert, catch some shade, or even view live glassblowing at the outdoor artists' studio. Head into Ft. Lauderdale (perhaps taking advantage of the hour-long Water Taxi ride, which includes a tour of famous homes on the Intracoastal Waterway) to visit Las Olas Boulevard, site of shopping and plenty of galleries, including gay-owned Las Olas Fine Arts. Also worth the stop is Kilwin's, a sweet shop full of fancy pastries and homemade artisanal ice cream perfect for cooling down the tropical heat. While it may not be gay-owned, it's certainly staffed by a gaggle of cheerful gay men and delightfully cynical lesbians.

The Full Moon Kayak Co. offers numerous tours -- from sunrise to moonlight -- including a trip through the lush John U. Lloyd Beach State Park in Dania Beach (just north of Hollywood) and Port Everglades. This arm-toning boat voyage through the mangroves and palms promises views of local wildlife, such as pelicans, ibis, cormorants, even manatees. Landlubbers can rent bikes at Sun & Fun Cycles (1500 N. Broadwalk at Hayes St.; 954-925-9735); HT4 offers a variety of cycling tours (eco, history, gallery/museum) that depart from Sun & Fun.

Part One | Part Two

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