Florida's Top 5 Spring Break Destinations

By Alicia Geigel on February 24, 2018

We all know the thoughts and feelings that arise once winter break is over and the spring semester starts; they sound a little something like, “when is spring break?” or “how many weeks until spring break?” I can’t tell you how many conversations I’ve either had with myself or with my friends that talked about the anticipated spring break; whether it be talking about when it is, where to travel during break, schoolwork over break, etc.

For college students, spring break is highly anticipated for many reasons, one being that unlike a short fall or long winter break, the typically week-long break encourages students to go to fun, warm and sunshine-filled places that capture feelings of upcoming sweet summertime. Another reason why students look forward to spring break is due to academics and school responsibilities hitting harder and feeling more burdensome after the long winter break, making it hard to concentrate and work on assigned tasks. All in all, spring break is a great time to relax, escape from school responsibilities (if you’re lucky) and enjoy fun with friends, family or just by yourself, the choice is yours!

sunglasses, pinapple, sky, sand, beach

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When thinking about spring break, a ton of questions can flood your brain, such as, “where should I go?”, “who should I go with?”, “what is my budget going to be?”, “how am I going to get there?”, etc. If you have had any of these questions, know you are not alone, and just about every student and person traveling during spring break have asked themselves at least one, if not all, of those questions. When considering a vacation paradise to go to during your highly anticipated break, the options are just about endless depending on your preference!

As stated earlier and according to a survey referenced by Gregory Karp in the Chicago Tribune, “55 percent of college students are planning to travel for Spring Break this year, with Las Vegas, Cancun and Punta Cana topping the list of the hottest destinations, according to the latest booking and survey data from CheapTickets.com.”

For many, traveling out of the country to places like Cancun, Puerto Rico and Punta Cana is not an option, whether it be for financial or personal reasons, so traveling within the U.S. may be more appealing to others. Johnny Jet of Forbes states that Florida is also a hot-spot spring break destination, with the state occupying five of the top 15 spring break destinations, the most top ten spring break destinations.

According to Allison Nielsen of Sunshine State News, “VISIT FLORIDA estimated approximately 88.2 million people came to the Sunshine State this year [2017], an increase from the 85.4 million visitors who came to Florida during the same period last year [2016]”.

Tourists and travelers cannot resist the charm and appeal of the Sunshine State with its numerous attractions, all year round warm temperatures, and unforgettable beaches. Perhaps one of the most popular spring break vacation spots, Florida is a great place to go if you are looking for warm weather, plenty of sunshine, beautiful beaches, fun and exciting nightlife, and a chance to party with students your age! When it comes to planning your spring break this year, Florida is definitely the place to go.

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Now that you have decided on traveling for spring break, there are several elements to consider such as: how you are going to get there, where you are going to stay, and most importantly, how much it is going to cost. Karp of the Chicago Tribune referenced the previous survey, further stating, “The results found price is the biggest factor in choosing a destination, with 70 percent planning to spend less than $1,000. Nearly half plan to drive rather than fly, and 95 percent will share hotel rooms with friends, with 12 percent staying more than seven to a room.”

Cost efficiency and budget planning are top priorities for students traveling for spring break, which to the benefit of students, is an opportunity many travel companies take advantage of during this time. When it comes to traveling, you just have to evaluate your preferences. Are you fearful of heights and would rather travel via car or train rather than plane? Or do you enjoy the thrill of a plane ride, and would rather travel this way? These are important questions to ask yourself, as well as, how much are you willing to spend?

- Plane: Behind traveling by car, traveling by plane is the second most popular form of transportation for spring break. Tickets are affordable for the most part, and many enjoy the swiftness of a plane ride rather than spend most of a day traveling on the road. Depending on where you plan on traveling in Florida, you will most likely find airfares that average out a little less than $300.

Johnny Jet from Forbes notes, “CheapFlights.com found that spring break beachgoers traveling between March 4-26, 2018 can snag airfares that average $277 (Miami), $243 (Daytona Beach), and $285 (Fort Lauderdale).” Additionally, when looking into flying as your choice for travel, MiniTime by the Huffington Post suggests purchasing tickets for either a Tuesday or Wednesday, since these are the cheapest days to travel as well as to check various websites to find the best fit for you.

- Train: If you get nauseous at the thought of being 37,000 feet in the air, then perhaps traveling on the ground would be more appealing to you. Traveling by train is great because you do not have to worry about driving and can just sit back, relax and soak up the non-existent anxiety from not being on a plane!

Personally, I’ve traveled by train many times using Amtrak and I have always had a great experience. Whether it was a short 2-hour ride from Philly to New York or a lengthy 14-hour ride from Philly to Georgia, Amtrak was always a smooth and pleasant ride. Amtrak tickets are typically more expensive than plane rides, with prices going up into the few hundreds depending on where you are coming from.

- Car: Half of the 55 percent of students traveling for spring break this year plan on driving because it’s most likely the least expensive way to go. Driving to your vacation spot is a great option for those who are tight on a budget and like to do some fun sightseeing.

If you are traveling with a group of friends, driving is even better because each of you can switch as the driver every few hours! Doing this will make the trip go by fast, and if you have a sweet playlist to accompany the ride, it will feel like a breeze!

Alright, enough about the boring details of spring break travel, lets take a dip into the best five spring break destinations in Florida! After I’m done going through them, you won’t know which one to pick!

infographic, florida, spring break, sun, colors

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1. Panama City Beach: Noted as the “Spring Break Capital of the World”, Panama City Beach perfectly captures the spring break experience for students: awesome nightlife, fun events, amusement parks, and cheap hotels. What more could someone ask for?

In addition to being known as the “Spring Break Capital of the World”, Panama City Beach is also known to have one of the worlds most beautiful beaches, having 27 miles of sugar white sand and being the fourth most visited travel tourism destination in Florida, according to the Panama City Beach website. This lively and beautiful beach city is full of shops, restaurants, clubs, museums, and parks which is bound to make your spring break one to remember!

StaTravel states, “PCB turns into a spring break mecca for thousands of students every year who want to go to a great destination that has moderate prices and an outrageous nightlife.” For more information on Panama City Beach, visit their official spring break website!

2. Daytona Beach: Besides the beautiful beach and the numerous attractions, Daytona Beach is known for being a great destination for students traveling on a budget for spring break. The scenic beach itself is 23 miles and features large festivals, spectator sports, and racing, as well as a number of boutiques, outlets, restaurants, microbreweries and wine bars.

According to SpringBreakGuide, “Daytona Beach is quite close to Walt Disney World, SeaWorld and Universal Studios in Orlando. Daytona also has its own local attractions like DaytonaUSA, an exhibit that celebrates the history of NASCAR and the famous Daytona International Speedway.” For more information on Daytona Beach, visit their official website!

3. Cocoa Beach: Another gorgeous and fun beach city to go to for spring break is Cocoa Beach. Known as one of the more affordable vacation spots in Florida, Cocoa Beach has a multitude of wonders to offer. On top of being the closest beach to Orlando (Disney World, anyone?), the beach itself is minutes from Port Canaveral if you are feeling like going a cruise trip!

Among its many features, Cocoa Beach has plenty of activities to keep you occupied, such as deep sea fishing, eco-tours, kayak tours, museum and attraction visits (like the Kennedy Space Center), golf courses, watersports, and a large variety of restaurants both on and off the beach. For more information on Cocoa Beach, visit their official website!

4. Orlando: If you are wanting to stray away from the traditional party hard scene, picking Orlando for your spring break vacation is the perfect choice for you. With popular attractions like Walt Disney World and Universal Studios, you’ll never be bored in this family-friendly city! After a fun day in Disney World, you can get in touch with your inner nature lover and explore the Everglades.

Katie Sagal of SmartDestinations emphasizes the wonders of the Everglades noting, “explore the Everglades on an airboat tour that highlights both the amazing grasses and trees of this National Park, and the iconic gators that Florida is so famous for.” Orlando also has a great Urban life, featuring loads of restaurants, shops, and tours that will keep you engaged the whole trip! For more information on Orlando, visit their official website!

party, arms, hands, fog, lights, fun

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5. Miami: I don’t know about you, but for whatever reason, whenever I think of Miami, three things pop into my head: one being Will Smith’s song Miami (which I still get jiggy with, may I add), the infamous Jersey Shore season where the crew went to Miami, and Pitbull, just Pitbull. Miami is one of those Florida destinations that just screams party and fun-filled beach adventures.

Home to a number of gorgeous, world-renowned beaches, lively and energetic clubs, an eclectic urban life, and historic neighborhoods like Little Havana, Miami is the spring breakers dream. There’s so much to see in the #4 rated spring break destination. For more information on Miami and an extensive guide of areas, events, and things to do, check out their official website!

After reading the features of these wonderful destinations, I know it must be impossible to narrow down your choices! I mean, how can anyone resist any of these beautiful beaches? When making the selection of where to go in Florida for your spring break, make sure to keep in mind what your preferences are and once again, how much money you are looking to spend.

If you aren’t much of a partier and are looking for more of a relaxed and family-centric destination, Orlando or Cocoa Beach may be more suitable for you! If you are looking to have loads of fun, party and go to clubs, Panama City Beach or Daytona Beach are probably better choices for you, as they are considered to be some of the biggest party beaches out there!

Whether you choose to play it safe and go with a more low-key vacation spot, or venture out and let your inner party animal free at a large touristy beach, you will be bound to have an experience of a lifetime! Lastly, don’t forget that if you want to see more of the sunshine state, there’s always another year to explore a different spot! As always, have fun and Happy Spring Break 2018!

By Alicia Geigel

Uloop Writer
Temple alum | columnist at Uloop News | writer at Top5Must & KnowPhilly | photographer | food blogger

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