By Jodi Mailander Farrell
It's still all about the beach in Broward, where the preening crowds thin out and almost no one worries about whether their Jimmy Choos match their bathing suits. Geographically centered between the old Latin money of Miami and the old East Coast money of Palm Beach, Broward is where they don't care about the age of your dollars. People here just want to have fun. While pricey hotels are starting to take over the Fort Lauderdale beach strip, you won't have to cash in your 401K to stay in these places:
A Little Inn by the Sea
A lazy beach town with old-fashioned charm, this Lauderdale-by-the-Sea in northern Broward is filled with mom-and-pop-style hotels. On the ocean, A Little Inn is a gem among them, with a small pool and private beach. There are only 29 rooms, all furnished in wicker and rattan. Find free beach chairs, complimentary breakfast and in-house bicycles perfect for exploring the quaint downtown and the fishing pier. From $119 a night.
4446 El Mar Dr., Lauderdale-by-the-Sea; 954-772-2450.
Hollywood By the Sea
A vintage beach bungalow vibe rules at this eclectic bed and breakfast steps away from the beach. It has eight rooms, plus two cottages with wood floors and kitchens (even one with a fireplace). Better yet, it's near Hollywood's Broadwalk, a no-cars-allowed stretch of concrete along the beach where you can stroll, bike or skate past outdoor cafes, beach bars and souvenir shops. From $122-145 a night, including breakfast in the dining room or poolside patio. Two night minimum. A suite is $175.
301 Jackson St., Hollywood Beach; 954-927-5301.
Howard Johnson's Deerfield Beach
Not every HoJo's can claim to have had Cameron Diaz on its property (the starlet filmed part of the movie "In Her Shoes" here). Renovated about five years ago, this hotel still has an old-time polyester feel, with 177 rooms that are nothing to crow about, but who cares when you can see the ocean from your room? Plus, there's a beachside pool. Its proximity to almost a dozen restaurants (from grills to upscale dinner options), as well as the 900-foot fishing pier, makes this an affordable, delightful find. From $99 a night. It is $185 for an ocean view but always give "in-house" special with major discounts.
2096 NE Second St., Deerfield Beach; 954-428-2850.
Lighthouse Cove Resort
A poolside tiki bar and ping pong are the diversions of choice at this four-building beachside complex in Pompano Beach. There are also tennis courts and an on-site restaurant. Plenty of fake flowers and mirrored walls are found in the typical beach hotel rooms, with a full kitchen in each. This is where you come to get away from the action, stick an umbrella in your drink and work on your tan. From $125 (base price) a night.
1406 N. Ocean Blvd., Pompano Beach; 954-941-3410.
High Noon Beach Resort
One of the most established family-owned resorts in our favorite Broward beach town, Lauderdale-by-the-Sea, High Noon has been in the Novak family since 1961. The quiet beachside resort is a collection of apartments, hotel rooms and a two-bedroom, two-bath house with its own private courtyard. Décor in the rooms, which all have kitchens, will remind you of grandma's beach cottage. The complex has two pools and a shuffleboard court. Rock-lined paths lead out to the beach, where you can seek shade under tiki huts. Walk to nearby Old Florida souvenir shops (think salt water taffy and ships in a bottle) and grab a diner-style lunch in town for less than 10 bucks. From $130 a night.
4424 El Mar Dr., Lauderdale-by-the-Sea, 800-382-1265.
Pier Sixty-Six Resort & Spa
Back in the 1960s and '70s, the revolving Pier Top restaurant at the pinnacle of this 384-room Fort Lauderdale hotel was known for revolving 360 degrees every 66 minutes. It still spins (although only for private parties) and the Hyatt Regency has taken over, renovating rooms and the three-pool courtyard. You can't beat the views of Fort Lauderdale from this tower, which overshadows a 127-slip marina. It's not on the beach, but boaters and pool lovers will appreciate its nautical site on the Intracoastal Waterway. The ocean, as well as the shops and cafes of Las Olas Boulevard, is a short drive away. Summer rates start from $119-139; from $189-219 during the high winter season.
2301 SE 17th St., Fort Lauderdale; 954-525-6666.
The pool scene at the Hyatt Regency Pier Sixty Six in Fort Lauderdale. Photo courtesy of the Hyatt.