While eagerly leaving thoughts of exams and paying for financial aid, college (and high school) students all over the country are preparing to spend their spring break in Florida.
If you haven’t made plans yet, it’s not too late. No, really. My freshman year of college, my best friend and I decided two days before spring break to cash in our student loan overages in exchange for airplane tickets. To this day, it’s one of the best damn vacations of my life.
Of course, back then you could go to Mexico on 48 hours notice with nothing more than an ID and US birth certificate. Now you need a passport – which takes planning – if you want to head south of the border.
In other words, Florida is the perfect Spring Break destination for last minute vacation planners! (Vacation planners is an official term. As of right now.)
6 Places To Go For Spring Break In Florida
Where should spring breakers head once they’ve hit the Florida border?
1. Daytona Beach
A lot of people associate Spring Break with Daytona Beach. MTV helped make the city notorious for party goers with their week long beach party broadcasts. In recent years, MTV has moved on, but the beaches and bars of Daytona still fill up every year with barely legal tourists. (In fact, last year saw Girls Gone Wild make an appearance. Don’t ask me why I know this.)
Nightly spring break hot spots include Razzles and Ocean Deck. When you’re looking for a hotel in Daytona Beach for spring break, try to book as close to A1A/Atlantic Avenue as possile. That’s where the magic happens.
(Daytona Beach pictures by Britt Reints)
Orlando isn’t just for families anymore! (I actually don’t know if it ever was, but I thought that sounded catchy. Like The Clap.) More and more spring break traffic is heading inland to The House of Mouse and the surrounding entertainment.
(Photo by Ravin on FlickR)
Orlando offers Disney World, Universal Studios, SeaWorld, a host of waterparks, shopping, dining and a short drive to Coco Beach. A party can be found any night of the week at Universal Studio’s City Walk as well as up and down Church Street in downtown Orlando. (Local guide tip: your best chance of seeing a celebrity in town is at the downtown bar, Antigua.)
3. Ft. Lauderdale
(Photo by Zach Klein on FlickR)
Made famous by the 1960 movie, “Where The Boys Are”, Fort Lauderdale continues to offer its own brand of Spring Break fun in the sun. It’s not as well known for upscale clubbing as other South Florida beach towns, but it does offer endless chances for you to enjoy an umbrella drink with your shirt off.
(Photo by Dawn Ashley on FlickR)
You can enjoy your own pub crawl along 2nd street (or Himmarshee Village) until last call at 3 am. But if you’re looking for an authentic beach party bar, you’ll want to step off the sand into the infamous Elbo Room. The Elbo Room offers two stories of party – including a deck and a patio – and is legendary destination for Florida spring break.
4. Miami’s South Beach
(Photo by Photog*Phillip on FlickR)
Just a short drive down 1-95 from Ft. Lauderdale, you’ll find another Spring Break safe haven in Miami’s South Beach. Although, I have to believe that someone besides poor college students is fitting the bill for these mid-semester flings.
South Beach is not a cheap place to visit, whether you’re on Spring Break or not. An average hotel room in South Beach is going to cost about $300 a night – or more. Drink prices are notoriously high, especially in tourist hang outs. So why in the heck are college students flocking to South Beach?
(Photo by wyntuition on Flickr)
The beautiful people. South Beach finds itself on lists like “Hottest Beaches in The World” over and over again and is a favorite winter destination for the fashion industry – including fashion models. There is no better eye candy for hormonal spring breakers than South Beach. Just bring your credit card.
5. Key West
(Photo by Kiril Kolev on Flickr)
The farthest south and therefore hottest of the Florida spring break hot spots, Key West is an up and coming destination in the spring break market. Key West is known for Ernest Hemingway and a party atmosphere year round, so it seems a natural place for college students looking for the hottest party to spend their vacations.
The place to let loose in Key West is Duval street. Any time of year you’re likely to find yourself with a night full of stories to tell (or not), but the rowdiness factor does get kicked up a notch or two during Spring Break.
(Photo by Joe Shlabotnik on FlickR)
Of course, there’s more to do on Spring Break than go to the bar. Key West is surrounded by water and endless beaches. The weather is practically guaranteed to be warmer than where you’re coming from. Spring Break in Key West is the perfect time to try surfing or kayaking or any other water sport you’ve considered.
6. Panama City
(photo by shutterchick on Flickr)
The farthest north of all of Florida’s Spring Break cities, Panama City is also one of the most popular spring break destinations in recent years. Unlike other more traditional spring break communities (like Daytona), the locals of Panama City have embraced Spring Break tourists and the money they bring with them!
Do you want your picture taken in a bikini? Have you dreamed of judging a wet t-shirt contest? Would you love to end up in the background on TV? Then Panama City Beach is the place to be for Spring Break.
Panama City has become the new home for MTV’s Spring Break shows and concerts and the official reigning King of Spring Break. Panama City hotels and bars have embraced the Spring Break vibe with their own packages, parties and special events all season long. You’re sure to feel welcome as part of the crowd anywhere in Panama City.
So, when’s the best time to visit these Florida Spring Break locations? Ideally, when you’re college gives you a week off from school. Check out this guide to college spring break dates to see when your school lets out and who you might be sharing your vacation with!
Ready to pack your bags? Here is a great resource for Fort Lauderdale flights.