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Spring Break in Florida: Top spots, hot tips 2024

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Last updated on July 5th, 2024 at 09:44 am

Spring Break hot spot Fort Myers Beach is off the radar this year as it recovers from devastating hurricanes, but you can be sure other Florida destinations are ready for the party.

The No. 1 spring break destination in Florida remains Orlando’s theme parks, but Florida’s 825 miles of sandy beaches are where the boys and girls find liberation.

When is Spring Break in Florida?

Spring Break in Florida is associated with the weeks colleges and universities take their spring semester break, and every school is different.

The staggered schedule means Florida’s Spring Break begins in late February and runs through mid-April, peaking in mid-March.

Easter Week is commonly associated with Spring Break for families with children in primary and secondary schools. In 2024, Easter falls on March 31.

Live Beach Cams

Scroll to the bottom of this story for links to live beach cams at 30 popular Florida destinations.


Top 2024 Spring Break destinations

Orlando

Spring Break crowds at Disney World. (Photo by Jeff Christiansen)
Spring Break crowds at Disney World. (Photo by Jeff Christiansen)

Orlando tops the charts every year as the No. 1 Spring Break destination in Florida. The big attraction, of course, is the multiplex of theme parks with Disney World, Legoland and Universal Studios leading the way.

Orlando is also a great jumping off spot for visiting the Kennedy Space Center in Titusville and the beaches of Cocoa Beach and Daytona Beach, two popular Spring Break destinations in their own right.

If you are Orlando bound, you are probably interested in these closest beaches to Orlando and Disney World.

With more than 480 hotels and resorts in the Orlando, the keen competition should also provide the best deals for hotel stays. Compare rates on Hotels.com.

For camping near Disney World, check out Our picks within an hour’s drive. You also may find attractive camping options in Ocala National Forest.

Orlando’s official tourism agency has also put together this “College Students Guide to Spring Break in Orlando.”

Hot Tip: Try something different and get away from the crowds. The world’s largest concentration of springs can be found north of Orlando, in and around Ocala National Forest. We’ve picked out 19 springs worth visiting.


Miami Beach

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The official position of Miami Beach towards Spring Break in 2024.

Topless tolerance and Art Deco panache have propelled Miami’s South Beach to become a premier Spring Break destination, but rowdy crowds in recent years have put the brakes on fun and the city is clamping down.

Last year, more than 300 people were arrested, and you can be sure police have already ordered a fresh supply of handcuffs for 2024.

spring break in florida miami beach spring break Spring Break in Florida: Top spots, hot tips 2024

“Expect curfews, security searches and bag checks at beach access points,” as well as multiple DUI checkpoints, the city warns.

Sidewalk cafes have already been ordered to close on Ocean Drive in the heart of South Beach, and city parking rates have been jacked up to $100 per day for non-residents on key weekends.

Hardly a welcome with open arms.

For a full set of Miami Beach rules for Spring Break, go to www.miamibeachfl.gov/breakup/

Hot Tip: Go to the postcard-perfect beach in Crandon Park on Key Biscayne, or the legal clothing-optional beach at Haulover Park. Spend a day in Everglades National Park or explore the mysterious Loop Road.


Fort Lauderdale

spring break in florida, fort lauderdale
Fort Lauderdale Beach. (Photo by Bonnie Gross)

Fort Lauderdale is a perennial favorite for Spring Break, and efforts by the city to quell the debauchery has meant a more orderly gathering of the tribe. It’s almost peaceful these days.

Fort Lauderdale and Miami may have the most predictably pleasant weather of any Spring Break destination in Florida, and you can never discount Fort Lauderdale’s enduring reputation as a Spring Break mecca.

The world-famous Elbo Room is still the center of the action, as it has been since the 1960s film “Where the Boys Are” put Fort Lauderdale on the map.

Increasingly, spring breakers are dispersing to nearby beaches in Lauderdale-By-The-Sea, Pompano Beach, Hollywood, Deerfield Beach, Boca Raton, and Delray Beach.

Compare hotel prices in Fort Lauderdale on Hotels.com

Hot Tips: Escape on a ferry out of Fort Lauderdale to Bimini or Grand Bahama Island. Hard Rock Live in Hollywood hosts several major acts this spring, including Stevie Nicks, the Eagles, Lynyrd Skynyrd and ZZ Top. Take a ride on Alligator Alley.


Daytona Beach

daytona beach spring break
Spring Break in Daytona Beach. (Photo/wikipedia)

The “World’s Most Famous Beach” has long been a popular Spring Break destination and will remain so this year, though normally laid back New Smyrna Beach just to the south seems to be experiencing more and more overflow revelry.

New Smyrna has the same weather, arguably nicer beaches and a “small town” atmosphere that comes alive during Spring Break.

Still, Daytona Beach will never relinquish it’s crown. It’s a town that likes to party.

Kicking off peak season with Bike Week in early March, things get crazy near the Main Street Pier and boardwalk and stay that way for two more months.

A beach alcohol ban remains in effect for 2024, but that’s unlikely to dampen spirits.

There are numerous scenic drives nearby if you want to get away. Try the Ormond Scenic Loop, or cruise to Ocala National Forest.

Campers can check out the best campgrounds near Daytona Beach. Check hotel rates in New Smyrna Beach, Daytona Beach and less-crowded Ormond Beach.

Hot Tip: Escape for a day from the Daytona mayhem to the pristine beaches of nearby Canaveral National Seashore, which you can access from A1A in New Smyrna Beach. A clothing optional beach is at Parking Lot No. 5.


Key West

Key West sunset at Mallory Squarew
Busker on a tightrope at sunset in Key West. (Photo by Bob Krist/Florida Keys News Bureau)

Key West is Key West, party capitol at the end of the world, 24/7 at any time of the year.

Not surprisingly, the revelry kicks up a notch during Spring Break as students swarm Duval Street and jam beaches and bars. (Yes, Key West has several beaches.)

But be ready to shell out the big bucks for rooms. Don’t give up. There are a lot of options for vacation rentals and rooms throughout the Lower Keys on Hotels.com.

Arriving by car, bring Florida Rambler’s popular Florida Keys Overseas Highway Mile-Marker Guide and check out the less-crowded Lower Keys as you get closer to Key West.

It’s a four-hour drive from Miami’s airport to Key West, so you might just want to stop (or stay) in Key Largo and snorkel at John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park.

Hot Tips: The most underrated and least-visited destination in Key West is the beach at Fort Zachary Taylor State Park. On a budget? Free things to do in Key West: Fun without breaking your budget


Cocoa Beach

Coconuts Beach in Downtown Cocoa Beach
Coconuts Beach in Cocoa Beach (Photo by Bob Rountree)

Cocoa Beach is the surfing capitol of Florida with sprawling beaches and dozens of beachfront hotels.

It’s also the closest beach to Disney World, Orlando International Airport and the Kennedy Space Center.

There is plenty of action on these beaches and in the air around them. This is the Space Coast, after all, and with a little luck you might see a rocket launch.

Look for a campsite or a cabin at Jetty Park. Most Cocoa Beach hotel rooms are in the pier area, which rocks during Spring Break. Compare prices on Hotels.com.

Get your beach gear and souvenirs at world famous Ron Jon’s Surf Shop, one of at least five things to discover near Cocoa Beach.

Hot Tip: Avoid the pier area and venture further south on A1A to “Coconuts Beach.” Get your beach souvenirs at Ron Jon’s Surf Shop, one of five things to discover near Cocoa Beach.


Clearwater Beach

Clearwater Beach during Spring Break (Photo by Matthew Paulson)
Clearwater Beach during Spring Break (Photo by Matthew Paulson)

Last year’s wave of red tide did little to discourage spring-breakers from flooding Clearwater Beach and neighboring Indian Rocks Beach, and the attraction of these beaches won’t change any time soon.

Part of Clearwater’s undying appeal are two other awesome beaches, Caladesi Island and Honeymoon Island.

If you do come to Clearwater, bring your bicycle so you can enjoy one of Florida’s most appealing multi-use trails, the Pinellas Trail.

Like many other beach hot spots in Florida, Clearwater’s hotel rates are eye-opening this year, so comparison shopping is critical if you hope to save a few bucks. Here’s a link to Hotels.com for Clearwater Beach.

For the best camping near Clearwater and Tampa Bay, check out these 9 choice campgrounds.

Hot Tip: The best alternate destination may be 20 miles south of Clearwater to the stunning dunes and more leisurely pace of Pass-A-Grille.


Panama City Beach

spring break in florida panamacityrules Spring Break in Florida: Top spots, hot tips 2024
Panama City Beach is toughening up Spring Break policies, and surrounding Bay County this year joined the fight by also banning alcohol sales after 2 a.m.

‘Girls Gone Wild’ had its roots Panama City, but the city’s heyday as a premier Spring Break destination has faded as local governments crack down on alcohol sales and consumption.

With temperatures rarely rising much above the high 60s during March, this may not be the best place in Florida to soak up the sun anyway.

On the other hand, if you are suffering from sub-zero snow pack, a sunny beach in the 60s could be nirvana.

Panama City Beach has long been a Spring Break party town, and the alcohol bans have not yet dulled the revelry.

Because of unpredictable weather, you likely will find a few bargains on Hotels.com. Campers might consider our choices for the beach camping in Florida’s Panhandle.

Hot Tip: A cozier, Old Florida small-town atmosphere can be found 30 miles east of Panama City in Grayton Beach, but accommodations there are few.


Sarasota Beaches

spring break in florida siesta key beach Spring Break in Florida: Top spots, hot tips 2024
Spring Break in Florida: Top spots, hot tips 2024 13

Siesta Key Beach. (Photo by Jonathan Singel)

In recent years, Spring Break has been a growing phenomena along the beaches off Sarasota, particularly Siesta Key, attracted by beautiful beaches and vibrant night life.

There are plenty of things to do in and near Sarasota, and we recommend bringing your bicycle and riding the paved multi-use Legacy Trail between Sarasota and Venice, 20 miles south.

The Sarasota area is home base for the Ringling Brothers, Barnum and Bailey Circus, and you can explore its 100+ year history at the Ringling Circus Museum.

Civil War history is reflected in the Gamble Mansion, a majestic southern plantation house reminiscent of the mansion in the movie Gone with the Wind and is a state historic site.

For an adventure on the wild side of Sarasota County, venture out to Myakka River State Park, the oldest and one of the largest state parks in Florida. If you’re lucky, you might find an available campsite here.

Hot Tip: Red tide has been an issue during Spring Break in Sarasota for the past two years, but the problem seems to have eased this year. Still, it’s worth monitoring. See our red tide forecast, which we update every week.


Key Largo

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“Christ of the Abyss” Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park. (Photo/Stephen Frink/Florida Keys News Bureau)

Another rising star for spending Spring Break in Florida is Key Largo, the northernmost island in the Florida Keys and “snorkeling and diving capitol of the world.”

To suggest you can have fun here is an understatement, and the sun is always shining.

Our Visitors’ Guide to Key Largo details hundreds of things to do, including dive and snorkel tours, kayak trails and rental locations, parks and beaches on Key Largo, restaurants and bars, places to stay, places to camp, RV services and where to find groceries.

You can mosey on down to Islamorada for some of the best fishing you’ll find anywhere in the world, or take a side trip back to the mainland and visit Everglades National Park.

Hot tip: One of the first things you should do on arrival in Key Largo is book a 90-minute cruise on the “African Queen,” steamboat from the 1951 movie classic starring Audrey Hepburn and Humphrey Bogart.



Florida Beach Cams

These links will take you to live beach cameras at popular Florida beaches.

Atlantic Beaches (North to South)

Surfing area at Deerfield Beach, north of the pier. Webcam hosted by City of Deerfield Beach.

Gulf Beaches (Panhandle to South)


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