As ever more highrises fill the skyline in Broward County, it seems a miracle that the low-rise, Old Florida, mom-and-pop Hollywood Beach Broadwalk remains.
So far, the 2.5-mile pedestrian and bike path along the ocean hasn’t been ruined by development, even though the Jimmy Buffet Margaritaville Resort was built in the middle of it a few years ago. At the time, many said it would ruin the ambiance they’d grown to love. In my visits, the Hollywood Beach Broadwalk is as charming as ever.
I love the Hollywood Beach Broadwalk — and yes, it is the Hollywood Broadwalk, not the Hollywood Boardwalk — for 10 big and little reasons:
1. In an urban area where it is downright dangerous to bike on many streets, the Broadwalk is a safe traffic-free bike path with spectacular ocean views and breezes. See more below on bicycling the Hollywood Beach Broadwalk.
2. There are still many surviving low- and mid-rise hotels and apartments built during the late 1920s and 1930s in the Streamline/Art Moderne, Mediterranean Revival, and Mid-Century Modern architectural styles.
3. The vintage architecture might remind you a little of the Art Deco hotels of Miami Beach’s South Beach, but there is absolutely nothing hip about the Hollywood Beach Boardwalk. It has a small-town feel, where for years middle-aged French Canadians, rather than hipsters, have dominated the scene.
4. I admit I love the extraordinarily expensive lifeguard towers. Controversial because the little blue-and-yellow wooden structures cost $74,415 apiece, I think they are a perfect complement to the Broadwalk.
5. You won’t find this many open-air beachfront bars and restaurants that are casual and moderately priced anywhere else in South Florida. There are also multiple places to get an ice cream cone.
6. This may sound strange, but here’s another thing that’s great about the Hollywood Beach Broadwalk: Public bathrooms. There are a number of bathroom facilities along the Hollywood Broadwalk, an amenity it is often hard to find in Florida beach areas.
7. Charnow Park, in the middle of the Broadwalk, at 300 Connecticut St., is conveniently adjacent to a large parking garage. It has shaded seating areas, a few covered pavilions with picnic tables, rest rooms and the star, if you’re with kids, a fountain you can run through and play in.
8. As you continue north on the paved pathway, you pass through shady Hollywood North Beach Park. The county park has lots of parking ($10 all day; which may be cheaper than hour-by-hour meter parking if you’re spending the day.) Here picnic tables are nestled under the seagrape trees near bathrooms and with easy access to a section of the beach where we found lots of seashells.
9. The nostalgic and historic bandshell on the Broadwalk, called the the Hollywood Beach Theatre, features live music from 7 to 9 p.m. five nights a week, Wednesday to Sunday. Programming is provided by the Margaritaville Hollywood Beach Resort, which is right across the Broadwalk from the stage. Margaritaville contracts with 30 local bands and musicians to program this and other stages at the resort, and musical styles vary. The bandshell, by the way, was built in 1924 by Hollywood founder Joseph Young.
10. Two blocks north of North Beach Park on Surf Road is one of Broward County’s top freebies, where you can see captive sea turtles and other marine life– the Marine Environmental Education Center at the Carpenter House, operated by Nova Southeastern University. MEEC is located in a refurbished 1940s beachfront home. Inside, there are exhibits including aquariums with fish and turtles, sea turtle skulls and an excellent display of seashells.
Outside, a swimming pool is the permanent home to two green turtle. Members of an endangered species, these injured turtles cannot be released into the wild. Every day at 3:30 p.m., the turtles are fed lettuce grown on the grounds while a staff members gives a short talk and answers questions.
Biking Hollywood Beach Broadwalk
When we bring our bikes, we like to park at the Anne Kolb Nature Center in West Lake Park, 751 Sheridan St., Hollywood. Parking there is free, as opposed to beachfront parking meters where it’s easy to drop $12 for a few hours of biking.
From West Lake Park, it’s a five-minute ride east on Sheridan. (Don’t take the bike path; it goes under the Intracoastal bridge and then heads west on Sheridan again.) Crossing A1A, you’re at North Beach Park, a good place to start your Hollywood Broadwalk ride.
As you ride south on the Broadwalk, you’ll pass bars with live bands on weekends playing reggae or classic rock oldies. There is always a breeze, but if you get hot, stop and take a swim. At the south end, the Broadwalk gives way to an alley-like Surf Road that continues through 1960s vintage low-rise hotels that evoke an earlier era.
Families love to stop at Charnow Park (at Connecticut Street) where there is shaded seating and an interactive fountain usually teeming with delighted children.
Don’t expect to ride fast here — too many kids on training wheels, four-wheel “bike buggies” and clueless pedestrians wandering into the marked bike lane. If you’re not patient and willing to take it slow, walk your bike through the busiest section at the middle.
On the north end of the Hollywood Broadwalk, you can continue as the urban setting gives way to a seagrape-lined route through North Beach Park and then onto a narrow Surf Road through a funky residential area. This is my favorite part of the ride; it’s much less crowded and has more trees and foliage. You can continue all the way to the Dania Beach fishing pier. This is the section where you’ll find that free Marine Environmental Education Center.
If you don’t pause, the bike ride will take about 90 minutes. If you stop for a drink or meal, as we did, you could spend considerably longer.
We love to start this bike ride early before the Broadwalk gets too busy and have breakfast overlooking the ocean.
Hollywood Beach Broadwalk bike rentals
If you don’t bring your own bike, you can rent bikes and surreys at two locations on the Hollywood Beach Broadwalk:
Sun and Fun Cycles, which is located where Hayes Street meets the Hollywood Beach Broadwalk. This business offers a variety of bikes, including adult tricycles, low riders and recumbent models. They also carry wheelchairs and motorized scooters.
The Hollywood Beach Bike Shack, at 101 N. Ocean Drive also rents bikes, trikes, surreys and more.
Are electric bikes allowed on the Hollywood Broadwalk? No. But Segways and motorized wheelchairs or mobility scooters are allowed.
Are roller blades allowed on the Hollywood Broadwalk? Yes. While Hollywood considered banning roller blades in 2022, in the end it did not. Hollywood did ban “banana bikes,” which can do hairpin turns, something city leaders said was dangerous on the much-used Broadwalk.
Hotels on the Hollywood Beach Broadwalk
The most prominent lodging on the Broadwalk is Margaritaville Beach Resort, 1111 N. Ocean Drive, where rates start around $250 a night off-season.
In that same price range is the Hollywood Beach Marriott, 2501 N Ocean Drive, at the northern end and, at the southern end of the Broadwalk, the Hilton-operated Diplomat Beach Resort, 3555 S Ocean Drive.
There are also nearly 100 smaller older hotels including some mom-and-pop place whose nightly rates begin as low as $80 off season.
How Hollywood Beach Broadwalk got its start
The Broadwalk began with a vision by Hollywood founder Joseph Young, whose development company carved it out of the sand and paved it in 1922. Two years later, he built the now long-gone Hollywood Beach Casino on the Broadwalk. It was a huge facility — 824 dressing rooms, 80 showers, a shopping arcade, and an Olympic-sized swimming pool.
Two years later, however, a disastrous hurricane marked the end of the boom, with property values plummeting and the city going bankrupt. The population of Hollywood dropped from 18,000 to 2,500.
Over the years, however, the Broadwalk retained its appeal. In 2007, it was ready for an upgrade and Hollywood added many of the features we appreciate today — bathrooms, palm trees, the distinctive coquina stone retaining wall, historic street lighting, and “lanes” for walking, jogging, and biking.
Things to do near Hollywood Beach Broadwalk
- Nearby: West Lake Park is also a great place to kayak
- Ten favorite South Florida bike trails
- Ten best kayaking places in South Florida.
- Flamingo Gardens
- Dr. Von D. Mizell-Eula Johnson State Park (formerly known as John U. Lloyd Beach State Park)
- Hillsboro Lighthouse
- Cap’s Place, a historic waterfront restaurant
- Wakodohatchee and Green Cay: Best birding in Palm Beach suburbs
- Oleta River State Park
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The author, Bonnie Gross, travels with her husband David Blasco, discovering off-the-beaten path places to hike, kayak, bike, swim and explore. Florida Rambler was founded in 2010 by Bonnie and fellow journalist Bob Rountree, two long-time Florida residents who have spent decades exploring the Florida outdoors. Their articles have been published in the Sun Sentinel, the Miami Herald, the Orlando Sentinel, The Guardian and Visit Florida.