Home Travel USA Hollywood, Florida: When the winter sun hides behind a cloud

Hollywood, Florida: When the winter sun hides behind a cloud

Story by Fyllis Hockman. Photographs by Victor Block

So my mid-January weekend escape to Hollywood, Florida where temperatures in the ’60’s immediately killed the momentary dream of sun, surf and beach bars posed a problem. How to entertain myself without too much pouting. I chose the Margaritaville Resort to further my research. In honor of Jimmy Buffett’s recent passing,this massive memorial to Beach Vibe, License to Chill, and Welcome to Paradise ambiance helped to lift my spirits. Okay, maybe it was more the plentiful margaritas – and the ever-present Jimmy Buffet serenade — that did that but I found my way to two intriguing outings. While always keeping in mind that it’s always 5 o’clock somewhere…. (assuming you all know that that is one of Buffett’s many legacies).

The huge flip-flop in the Margaritaville Resort lobby in Hollywood, Florida conveys the all-pervasive Jimmy Buffett beach vibe. Photo by Victor Block.

So I was ready to move on from his sonorous tones to the more live-band atmosphere at the Yellow Green Farmer’s Market. Over 300 booths all promoting sustainability through all kinds of artisanal products created by local artists and craftsmen didn’t disappoint.

The outside food court presented offerings from Mexico, Uruguay, Peru, Brazil, Ecuador. Notice a pattern? At one point I saw someone with a sweatshirt from a U.S. city and got excited – until I realized we were NOT in a foreign country despite the ubiquitous South American ambiance. Think of it as a mini-Epcot Center.

Latin American food offerings are pervasive at the Yellow Green Farmer’s Market in Hollywood, Florida. Photo by Victor Block.

The expansive table area is surrounded by a large herd of life-size black and white cow sculptures for which I could see little purpose other than to re-enforce the idea of the farm part of the farmer’s market. Worked for me.

And we hadn’t even entered the huge barn containing all the afore-mentioned stalls proffering fresh fruits and veggies, baked goods, cheese and chocolates, plants and more varieties of nuts and dried fruits than you ever knew existed. Also clothes, backpacks, jewelry, African handicrafts, tropical oils, bath products and too many other items to even contemplate. If there’s anything you could possibly want, I promise you it’s there – you just need the patience to seek it out.

Veggies are among the more mundane offerings at the Yellow Green Farmer’s Market in Hollywood, Florida. Photo by Victor Block.

And, of course, there are even more food and drink options scattered throughout. Did I mention the free samples? And if you hadn’t already had enough Margaritas, they’re here too — along with Bloody Marys, Bellinis and Mojitos. And dogs – lots and lots of dogs – so indeed there are also lots of designated watering holes for them, as well.

Just when I thought I had found my way to the final aisle, I discovered multiple other arteries with multiple other interesting offerings. And just when I thought I had seen all of them, there was a fooz-ball game and a billiards table. I know dozens of towns and villages boast Farmer’s Markets of their own – and I’ve been to many – but the diversity of products, food items, entertainment — and for me, especially dogs – made this a most welcome diversion from Margaritaville.

If perhaps live animals and wild flowers appeal more than cow statues and bouquets for sale, the Flamingo Botanical Gardens and Wildlife Sanctuary heartily beckon. The first offers 3000 species of rare and exotic native tropical plants; the second, home to over 90 species of rescued birds and animals. On the way to the tram, I saw about a dozen cats and was hoping there was more to the wildlife. By the time I got to the Black Bear and the Panther, I was well reassured.

Flocks of flamingos entertain at the aptly named Flamingo Gardens in Hollywood, Florida. Photo by Victor Block.

Just walking along the paths enveloped by green canopies, you are engulfed in foliage, small, large, low, high and enormous, with leaves the size of surfboards that make you stop and stare. Plants are light, dark, thin, thick, mottled, marbled. Birds – tall, short, multi-colored are everywhere – flocks of flamingoes, prancing peacocks and so many Ibises that they almost form a white blanket over the entire property.

A cloud of white Ibises covers the Flamingo Gardens near Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Photo by Victor Block.

The tram expands the journey into vast varieties of trees, plants, shrubs and lush vegetation where I felt mesmerized by the sheer green overload. I became one with the forest as the constant chatter of the guide faded into background noise. I was actually disappointed when we came back into sunlight.

My favorite enclosure was the cactus and succulent garden housing bizarre shapes, grotesque creations and other-worldly forms promoting nature at its most imaginative.

Other highlights included Wildlife Encounters with animals who have been injured or rescued. Okay, a lot more information than I cared to know but still interesting. Feeding frenzies of playful otters and majestic flamingoes and visits to bobcats, tortoises and other wildlife further delight.

Did I still miss going to the beach? Yes. Was I somewhat placated? Also, yes. For more information go to: Hollywood, Florida.

Load More Related Articles
Load More By Fyllis Hockman
Load More In Travel USA

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Check Also

Margaritaville: A Time-Honored Memorial to Jimmy Buffett

Most people know of - and many people live by - the aphorism "It's 5 o'clock somewhere," b…