Florida: Hollywood

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Usually, by this time of the year, we’ve already visited a few countries, so our friends and family found it surprising when we told them we still had no travel plans.  We have been busy with our 9-5 jobs (yes we still have those) in the first half of 2017 and have not had time to really plan, let alone go anywhere.  When June rolled around, I felt like we were overdue for another trip, especially one with a lot of R&R at the beach.

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So it was kismet when I found out that the annual Society of Actuaries meeting was going to be held in Hollywood, Florida this year. Hollywood is located between Fort Lauderdale and Miami. It has been awhile since we visited Florida, so it could feel like exploring a whole new place.   A plan was quickly hatched where we decided to combine our business trip with a short vacation. We split our trip into two parts, the first was in Hollywood where we had our conference and the second in Siesta Key.   

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The weeks leading up to our trip were pretty wet in New York.  The continual downpours and overcast skies only made me long for the Florida sunshine even more.   I began to obsessively check the weather, only to find rain and thunderstorms in the forecast for the whole week that we were there, and ironically it would be nice and sunny in New York.  News broadcasts of floods in the Florida did nothing to assuage my growing fears.  I scoffed when Fausto told me that these forecasts would probably change 5 times before I arrived, and there was nothing to worry about.  I secretly believed that we were doomed to never see the sun again (dramatic I know,  but it’s been a very wet Spring!) I gave up on the visions of me lying out by the beach and instead planned on a complete washout.

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Fortunately, I am happy to report that the weather was beautiful the whole time we were there! This is the one time I couldn’t be happier to admit to Fausto that I was completely wrong.  There were a few rain showers and thunderstorms, but they were in the evening – and it was definitely not a washout.

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Where to Stay

In Hollywood, we stayed at the recently renovated Diplomat Beach Resort.  Since it’s a Hilton property, my Gold status got us upgraded to an ocean view room with a balcony, overlooking the sprawling complex.  Since we got there a few days earlier, we got to go on quiet walks on the beach and spend some time by the pool before the conference started.  During the weekends, this family friendly resort is usually filled with guests – usually locals – from the area coming to enjoy the pools.  During the week, when there are only business visitors, the pools were pretty empty.

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In between our sessions, I spent my time out on our balcony enjoying the sea breeze.  The amazing view of the ocean and the pool made up for the fact that I couldn’t be down there.  Every night, I let the sounds of crashing waves lull me to sleep.

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Places to Eat

There are a few highly rated restaurants in the Hollywood area, and luckily they are all located within the Diplomat resort.  The newly renovated resort saw the opening of new restaurants boldly led by celebrity chefs.  Our favorites were Point Royal featuring coastal American cuisine and Monkitail a modern contemporary izakaya.  Each dish that we had was packed full of flavor and textures.

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If you want to venture out for dinner, head over to Runas, the #1 rated Peruvian restaurant in the area. It is housed in an historic building in downtown Hollywood along the railroad tracks.  The menu has plenty of traditional Peruvian favorites, including ceviches mixto, seafood soup, and lomo saltado along with some Italian fare.  Runas featured reasonable prices, big portions, and delicious food. While we were there the restaurant was full, but our server was nice and attentive.

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Things to Do

During our few days in Hollywood, we did manage to tear ourselves away from the pool to visit the historic one-of-a-kind oceanfront promenade that stretches nearly two and a half miles along the Atlantic. This area, named one of America’s Best Beach Boardwalks by Travel + Leisure magazine, has countless eateries, cafés, and shops.  The wide boardwalk is also a haven for joggers, bicyclists, and roller-bladers.

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If you venture a little further out, head down to the Homestead area where you’ll find orchards full of tropical fruits.  The Redland area stretches between the Everglades and Biscayne Bay with fertile land that allows the local farmers to cultivate exotic fruits. Along the road you’ll find trees laden with fruits.  Depending on the season, you can buy lychee, mangos, jackfruits, guava, longan, rambutan and many others.

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