Hidden Gems in Hollywood, FL
I’m not new to Florida. I’ve traveled the entire state throughout my short almost 30 years. From Jacksonville to Key West. I even lived in Tampa Bay for a few years when I was younger. I’ve grown to appreciate the free access to the sun and beach whenever my heart desires. Now listen, I’m a city girl from the midwest. Where the sun doesn’t always shine and the water definitely isn’t clear. Winter takes up more than half of the year and summer is what we all live for! Although I love my great city of Cleveland Ohio, there’s something special about the sunshine state!
With all of that being said I recently took a trip to Hollywood….Florida that it is! I wanted the beach, sun, and shorts! Not too busy like Miami but close enough if I wanted it. Which landed me in Hollywood. Let me tell you how I fell in love with this small town vibe. As I searched for a short and sweet disconnect I came across many options. But what drew me to Hollywood was the walkable neighborhood, quick access to beaches, and the friendly hospitality. How could I hardly be disappointed with all of that!!!
The food scene was superb. I’m definitely a local eater when I travel. You will hardly catch me at a chain restaurant even in my hometown. With having a Chef as a mother I learned to truly value and appreciate the hospitality industry. Over the years we have worked hard to develop my palette. I love food. I definitely can’t deny that! But it’s the appreciation now that I have for it that makes it even a greater experience. For years I’ve seen my mother sweat in the kitchen just for others to have a good experience. She’s the type that wants to know how every bite tastes. I remember as a young girl how mad she would get when we didn’t eat right away when the food was ready. Now I understand the level of disrespect it is truly to allow someone's art expression to get cold or go to waste.
This blog is just a fraction of my awesome trip to Hollywood, Florida showcasing the sunshine hospitality, good cooking, and BEACHES! Here’s the hidden gems I came across while visiting. I hope you enjoy it!!!
Hidden Gem #1 - Sonder The Circ Hotel
Marvelous views, amazing food, and great service! As my Uber pulled up to the hotel I was surprised by the outer appearance, in a good way. Clean and welcoming! I stayed five nights and ate at the lovely Olivia Restaurant twice. The second time I ordered the Chicken Milanese which was simply to die for. Actually the gentleman next me recommended it. And for dessert I had their Apple Tart served hot with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.
Omg my mouth is watering all over again!
Of course the view from the rooftop was nothing short of spectacular.
Pool days were perfect peace filled with sun rays and lounging. Not to mention the limitless pool towels that they kept restocking which I snuck to the beach a few times.
There’s nothing like good food and peace and quiet. However, the hotel service was my present all wrapped up in a delightful bow. From greetings at the door to cleaning I was utterly impressed. Always welcomed a smile and hello. No bad days!
Hidden Gem #2 Street Eats by Drastix
Hands down one of the best street food restaurants I’ve been at. From their art collection to their personable service, I loved it. As soon as I walked in I was greeted. The Owner Victor and I had a pretty lengthy conversation as I waited for my friends to join. Not knowing he was the owner, I shared with my personal appreciation for the food and service industry. I stressed the importance of how much food is an artistic expression that my mother has taught me to value.
I honestly wanted to try a little bit of everything on the menu. But I didn’t allow my stomach to overreact in the situation. I ordered their jerk chicken and shrimp bowl with sweet plantains (you can’t forget the plantains).
I got the Jamaican style sauce which was Jamaican hot! Let me tell you…… it was DA BOMB! My noise only dripped a few times from the heat. I can handle it well, believe me. From the seasoning to the rice it was delicious. I loved the freshness it had throughout the entire bowl. Of course the plantains didn’t disappoint. Only thing that I was disappointed about was the fact that I ate so much food that I couldn't handle desert! Lol
The service was great, family owned. I soon learned they were a part of the art strip that was displayed throughout the neighborhood. They had a small art exhibit of local artists throughout the entire space. Beautiful art! Best part is that it's free for artists to display their art for one month. I thought that was amazing!
My friends who are lifetime Hollywood locals loved everything about the space as well. They joined me for lunch. They only had praises just like me for their food and experience.
Drastik took international street food to another level.
Hidden Gem #3 Arts Park in Young Circle
This attraction was one of the first things I noticed when I arrived in Hollywood. I didn’t realize how it connected the entire neighborhood at its center. As I walked I was amazed by the detailed architect displayed, engaging activities, and friendly scenery. I was amazed that almost every building and store front fostered creativity and expressed art. From sidewalks to walls art was embodied. Although I missed the live music concert I could feel the culture radiating through the park into the streets. I could tell it was a gathering place from many including kids playing at the jungle gym, mothers with babies, and people walking their dogs.
I immediately knew why this was such a gem for the neighborhood and an attraction for visitors. You could partake in a glass blowing class or listen to music. If you had kids they would be easily occupied by the playground, and if you were a single visitor like myself the walk through was simply enough.
Of course I couldn’t leave this one off the list. It was the main reason I came to Florida to begin with. The water felt amazing. Not too cold, not too hot. Just perfect. And the sun piercing through the clouds made the whole trip worth it. The waves were gentle and the breeze was lite.
The first trip to the beach my friend and I went north. More private and less busy not intentionally but it’s where google maps took us. Our three hours seemed like it flew by. Not worried about time of course, just relaxing and enjoying the quietness of paradise. Until our stomachs told us it was time to find food. We ventured off to the boardwalk where we found an amazing Peruvian restaurant called Pachamanka. Delicious, fresh and clean!
The second trip to the beach was solo! Determined to enjoy my last full day listening to music with sand in my toes. And I did just that. The waves picked up more power but I was okay with that. I love a nice take over from ocean waves! It’s priceless. I couldn’t leave that day without enjoying a refreshing pina colada!
My final gem is C4 Eats with a vegan twist.
I was in search of a quick smoothie when I stumbled upon this Caribbean vegan spot. Loaded with spice, flavor, and color I felt right at home. I love a good smoothie no matter where I’m at. Hot or cold outside, smoothies are a must have for me. This place was great. Fresh fruit and great recommendations. My smoothie was gone within minutes! I enjoyed the freshness of the ingredients and the mindful suppliers. Friendly staff, willing to make suggestions are always appreciated in my books. Especially if you’re a new customer. Good thing for them it doesn’t take much to sell me on a tasty smoothie with fresh ingredients!
This completes my Hidden Gems in Hollywood, Florida! Thank you for all of the great hospitality and amazing experiences. To my fantastic friends who spent time with me, thank you! I will be back, believe that!!!