Spring Break in Florida

Daytona Beach, the Florida Keys, Panama City, Miami and South Beach

Daytona Beach, Florida
Richard Cummins/Robert Harding World Imagery/Getty Images

Florida is and forever shall be one of the lower 48's most popular spring break hot spots. Endless beaches, sunny days and warm water bring student travelers down south in droves to hit the sand and surf in March and April for spring break in Florida -- so, where to go?

On this page, learn about Key West (cool), Daytona Beach (gradually going the way of the dinosaur) and South Beach (soon to be a bigger scene); on the next page, the low on Panama City.

Daytona Beach

Daytona Beach, on the central East coast, enjoys balmy temperatures -- both air and water range from 75-80 degrees: perfect for boogie boarding or lying on the beach. Daytona Beach is out as a top ten hot spot, though -- you'll like Panama City, Key West or Miami way more better (see below).

If you are heading to Daytona Beach for a getting-more-boring (but always warm and getting less crowded) spring break in Florida, check About.com's Dawn Henthorn's pages here, where you can expect to find information like this, which comes from Dawn's list of beach regulations:

"Beach driving is allowed during daylight hours from one hour after sunrise to one hour before sunset, with the exception of turtle nesting season, which runs from May 1, through October 31, at which time the hours are set from 8:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. Beach driving conditions are sometimes poor during high tides and the beach may be closed to vehicles, however it is always accessible to pedestrians."

Learn more: About.com's Guide to Daytona Beach
Outside About.com: Daytona Beach Spring Break Guide

The Florida Keys and Key West

Learn travel basics about Key Largo, Islamorada, Marathon, the Lower Keys and Key West -- Dawn Henthorn includes her typically in-depth information like a directory of cyber cafes and a collection of safety tips.

With daytime air and water temperatures around 80, Florida Keys visitors will want to get outside and stay there except for forays into charming open air restaurants (try some she-crab soup) and hot nights in cool bars. Evening temps are cool, and island breezes keep the Keys comfortable 24 hours a day. Snorkelers will find undersea paradise in the beautiful, blue blue water, and a little hunting will turn up uncrowded beaches if that's your bag.

Having spent a winter in Key West myself many moons ago, I can report that it may be the most exotic getaway you can find without leaving the country. The residents are fiercely independent and call their town "The Conch Republic" (conchs are shelled sea creatures eaten in every imaginable form in Key West). The "Conchs", as citizens like to be called, rumbled about seceding from the US several years ago - that didn't happen, of course, but it demonstrates what sort of folk are attracted to this island at, literally, the end of the road (Highway A1A -- do drive; it's a cool road trip).

Key West is a funky, charming place: for instance, residents and tourists alike gather each evening on a dock to applaud the moment that the descending sun touches the horizon at sea level. Why? Who knows - just another interesting quirk in this eclectic town. Read more about Key West's pirate, private shady past and sunny present here.

Key West is also very welcoming to gay visitors - part of its long legacy of live and let live: learn more about gay spring break in Florida.

Miami and South Beach

Miami and especially South Beach are giving some serious competition to Panama City for spring break in Florida, and they've Daytona Beach right off the springtime Florida map. Unfriendly-to-you Fort Lauderdale doesn't want you, but getting-hotter South Beach's heating up hostel scene (check out Jazz's South Beach hostel!) is a sign of the student-friendly times, as are some South Beach spring break specials. A very cool club scene is the order of the night in South Beach -- are you ready?

Panama City and Panama City Beach Spring Break

Panama City is a very welcoming place to be for Florida spring break, more so than (for instance) Daytona Beach, which continues its spin down, down, and out in 2012. And Panama City's got a wide open, golden white beach that's easy to get to from anywhere (take Amtrak almost all the way there and get a 15% student discount).

Temperatures in this small city on Florida's Gulf Coast range in the 70's during the day and it's cool enough at night that you should pack a sweater. Read more about Panama City and Panama City Beach:

And what you need if you're going to go to Panama City beach for spring break 2012:

Florida Spring Break

Florida for spring break will forever be one of the top hot spots in the US and the world, but do know that not everyone in the Sunshine State wants you there in March and April if you're under 25. Read more:

  • Florida Spring Break in Daytona Beach, and Key West
  • Spring Break in South Beach
  • Gay Spring Break in Key West

​The Rest of the Hot Spots for 2012

So besides a Florida spring break, where's the other action for 2012? Get the skinny with this list of 2012 destinations -- Cancun tops the top hot spots again, and new passport rules keep Puerto Rico (no passport needed and a reasonable drinking age) in the running; Lake Havasu and Vegas -- still nowhere; Europe: way in. The hot spots for 2012:

And some other options:

And the mothership:

  • Spring Break 101