Saturday, February 16, 2008
Defrosting. Decompressing. Deerfield Beach.
photo by tricia chatterton
It's cold outside. Bloody cold. So cold that the skin on my face feels like it's going to fall right off. I'm suddenly appreciating the small beach community I grew up in and took for granted... Deerfield Beach. It's not posh but just a great little homey place with the best beach in south Florida, tucked between Boca Raton and Pompano Beach, FL. Blue skies, blue water... Surfers... ahhhhhh...
Don't get me wrong; I love New York City...and I have no intention of leaving any time soon, but sometimes you just need to defrost on the beach, decompress, drink cocktails, and do absolutely nothing other than maybe surf, swim, or float... just like I did about a week ago in Deerfield Beach. If you're in dire need of a weekend getaway for pure relaxation, here's how to relax like a local in my favorite little beach community:
Firstly, I suggest you go there for at least 4 days...otherwise, you're just not relaxing enough. A week is preferrable but I understand some of us can only do a long weekend. You're going to fly 2.5 hours south into Ft.Liquordale and rent a car. Why aren't you just going to stay in Ft.Lauderdale and lay on the beach there? Because the beach sucks there and unless you're a gay male, 25 years old, or a swinging senior citizen, it will hold no interest for you. (Sorry Lauderdale, but you know I'm right).
I digress...so, you drive north on I-95 and exit Hillsboro Blvd. Head east and you'll run into the beach where depending on the hotel you book, you make either a right or a left on A1A. Straight ahead of you will be The Comfort Inn and to your left, Howard Johnson's which is in the middle of all the action. But if you're allergic to budget hotels (actually both hotels are at least $150-$250 in season), The Embassy Suites Hotel is about 3/4 mile down A1A (Ocean Drive) heading south. They've got a decent brunch and Manager's cocktail hour but if you want to be closer to all the acion, as I mentioned, you'll want to either be at Hojo or Comfort. Just bring your antibacterial and your own pillows if you're neurotically clean.
Secondly, you should fly in on Friday during the day so you can hit happy hour at the Cove.
Get there around 6:00, order dinner (great seafood) and enjoy the 2 for 1 drinks as you watch the locals interact. It's a varied age group, anywhere from twentysomethings to sixtysomethings with the majority of them in the 20s and 30s. Fair warning: it's a meat market, but it's alright if you don't mind a considerable amount of eye candy for both men and women. Just drink up because happy hour only lasts until 8:00pm.
Should you feel you want to carry cocktail hour on further, you'll move onto JB's on the beach. Watch the link on their website and you'll get a good idea of what Deerfield has to offer.
But don't stay at JB's too long because you want to ensure you make your free 7:00am surfing lesson at Island Water Sports (Known as "Island" by the locals)...
After you've worked up a hearty appetite surfing and laying on the beach, go have conch fritters, a dolphin wrap with whale fries (they look like potato chips and are simply awesome), and a ginormous iced tea at The Whale's Rib (you'll never get thirsty in this place). If you're not into seafood, have The Whale sandwich. Actually all the food here is awesome. And this restaurant is full of locals (surfers, fishermen) who practially live there, so you know it's got to be good. I've had many great adolescent memories of flip flopping it into that place full of sand with my quicksilver shorts and Billabong tank top over my Rusty kini (totally pre-Roxy). Needless to say, I love this place. Sweet memories.
Now you're going to go back to the beach and lay there like a useless blob. You are going to do absolutely NOTHING. NOTHING! Just slather that sunscreen all over your bod and fry. Fair warning: it's tanned locals with flawless bodies on the north side of the pier and everyone else on the south side of the pier. Don't say I didn't warn you.
Thirdly, for you water babies-you can also rent a boat and go fishing, go waterskiing and do all the water sports you love. Just ask your hotel concierge about organizing your required water oriented adventures. I, myself, prefer to just lay on the beach but I do give in now and then to laying on a boat...or even snorkeling. There are some nice reefs at various points of the beach to behold barracuda up close, but the bigger reefs are in an area the locals call "Tresspass."
[Tresspass is the "No Tresspassing" area of the beach in front of the condos about 1/2 mile to 3/4 miles south of the pier and also includes the beach in front of Embassy Suites, so if you're staying there, you're golden. You just have a longer walk to the restaurants and city center. If there are waves, however, you will find the water filled with surfers that don't particularly care to share their water space. It's fun to watch them in action, though.]
Lastly, in regards to nightlife or partying, JB's is good for late night fratranizing. They usually have a band, either reggae or top 20, and sometimes, a guitarist. It's a bit of a scene but gets rather rowdy (drunken) as the night progresses.
Other notable places:
-Caffe Luna Rosa (across from the beach)-great breakfast, lunch or dinner.
-Kahuna Bar & Grill (It's across the street from JB's, usually has a DJ at night, and has those slushy frozen fruity drinks if you're into that).
249 N Ocean Blvd, Deerfield Beach, FL
-Amante's (Italian restaurant located in strip of shops behind Hojo)-owned by people I went to highschool with.
-Taco Joe's (good drink specials and tacos a couple of doors down from Amante's) and also owned by a guy who went to my highschool.
My only suggestion is that if you need to have a cocktail whilst on the beach, bring your concoction in a thermos or water bottle. You're not allowed to drink literally ON the beach but whose to know if you've hidden it well. Otherwise, you can do drinks as the beach air blows through your hair at JB's, Ocean's 234 or the bar at Hojo's (you'll definitely run into some characters there).
And that's about it. Defrosting and Decompressing in Deerfield (as my frozen fingers slow their tapping on the keyboard of my laptop-SIGH). If you're looking for an earthy little vacation, this will be perfect for you. Enjoy! I did.