When I was in college I worked as a nanny for my aunt and my uncle. We moved to Florida from Massachusetts and the idea was to find a house on the beach to enjoy the best South Florida has to offer: the wonderful weather, the ocean, and clean beaches. On the train down, we met a nice young couple from New Jersey that was moving to Hollywood Beach as they were expecting their first child. They told us all about Hollywood and how great it was. Our goal was to find this Hollywood Beach and move there.
But once we arrived, realtors saw a family of five and sent us on our way west to the suburbs, not anywhere near the ocean. We lived in Coral Springs and Pembroke Pines, way out west, taking about 20 to 30 minutes, if not more in traffic, to ever making it to the beach. And when you have children with you and so many people to feed, the beach days were long, hectic, and required a lot of hauling. Toys, towels, food, drinks, chairs, hats, creams, coolers, bikes, roller blades, umbrellas, and the list goes on. It would take up to 3 trips back to the car to bring our things to the beach. That was a lot of work!
One day during the summer, my aunt rented a place on the beach, on Hollywood Beach! It wasn’t a holiday weekend, it wasn’t even a weekend. It was a week day. We all had school and work to attend, but she did it! And we stayed on the beach and lived there for three glorious days, leaving the worries back west in Pembroke Pines.
Each day, I woke up to the sunrise, went outside and sat on the beach before going to school and taking the kids to their schools. My aunt went to work too and we all came back to our little room on the beach in the afternoon. No trips back and forth to the car for toys, bicycles, or more food. Everything we needed we had at the hotel we stayed and we felt home for those three days. I felt as if I lived on the beach and was on vacation each moment. It was awesome! The kids loved it and so did my aunt who also needed a nice getaway without having to plan a big vacation for five.
My best friend in college also rented places on the beach and stayed there for no other reason that to have a break from her life out west in the suburbs. And later, when I married my husband, we would rent a room on Hollywood beach to celebrate our birthdays without having to worry about spending a great deal of money on a vacation. Many hotels and inns offer great deals for locals during the summer months that even a large family can afford and save on flights and eating out as many rooms come with kitchens.
We now live on the beach and enjoy the stress-free life that comes as a reward by being near the ocean. When we are here, it feels you are on vacation each day, and staycations have never been better in South Florida for me.
By Lina Gonzalez
Photo by @panyvinito