By Aurora Rodríguez
Poor Hallandale Beach, stuck between artsy Hollywood and high-end Aventura. While it’s slowly trying to create a personality of its own as a place where you can actually impress a date or buddies with a variety of restaurants and local bars, it still can’t seem to shake that "home of the Florida Derby/gambling" reputation. Can’t a city get a chance to prove that there’s more to it than just casinos, horse races and dog tracks?
It’s time to impress that date always complaining that there’s "Nothing to doooo in this areeea!" by showing him/her exactly how much fun there’s to be had in this area known as a winter escape for many a Canadian tourist. In fact, ask your date to dress up in semi-casual duds and let them know it’s time to learn to appreciate this mini-Las Vegas. Expect the unexpected.
Start at Gulfstream Park Racing & Casino. There’s more to this spot than horse racing and gambling, so splurge on a late lunch at Frank’s Energy Beach, where picks include everything from sushi to burgers. The sandy, hip bar and lounge – complete with Nikki Beach-style cabanas and a DJ spinning top 40 tracks – might be right next to the horse track, but it’s a world away from stuffy casino restaurants and bars.
Once you’re done with sipping, munching and dancing, whisk your date away for a relaxed walk a short drive away on Hallandale Beach (A1A and Hallandale Beach Boulevard) and see what all the fuss is about over the big, historic Beach Ball Water Tower. Once you’re done taking a picture, it’s time to partake in a quick game of bocce ball on the beach’s bocce ball courts.
End your relaxed evening by hitting up upscale sports bar Upper Deck Ale & Sports Grill, a popular spot that features a relaxed outdoor bar where fancy (and affordable) martinis are mixed in a jiffy. Still feeling adventurous? Then head to popular biker/rock bar Ballers Rock N Roll Sports Bar, the area’s only bar with a 23-hour liquor license, yummy panini sandwiches and pizza, DJs blasting 80s hair bands and waitresses with a penchant of dancing while donning black leather chaps and tops.
As you venture back outside, bask in the glow of an evening filled with unique sights in Florida’s own tiny Sin City. Watch out… your Hallandale Beach is showing.
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