With its year-round balmy climate and gorgeous beaches, Florida is a go-to for spring breakers all over the country. But the Sunshine State has so much more to offer visitors than sun, sea, sand, and bottomless fruity cocktails. You’ll find endless adventures and activities, as well as live music, incredible food, and vibrant nightlife at every turn. Whether you’re looking to relax on the beach all day or party all night, Florida has something for everyone.
Nobody would blame you if you made Destin your spring break "destin"ation this year! You’ll find this gem on the Emerald Coast, which gets its name from its jaw-dropping, jewel-hued water that laps up against sugar-white shorelines. With vivid sunsets melting over the Gulf of Mexico, this place is a photographer’s dream — not to mention the perfect spot to sip tropical cocktails on the beach all day long.
If you’re in love with the idea of staying on a tropical island, why not go to St. Marco and surround yourself with hundreds of them? Nestled between Naples and the Everglades on the Gulf Coast, this balmy barrier island is the largest of Florida’s Ten Thousand Islands, so it’s just a quick boat ride away from an array of secluded, shell-studded shorelines. Though Marco Island boasts a thriving shopping district, limited traffic helps it maintain its authentic island allure.
Clearwater, St. Petersburg, and Tampa make up the coastal tri-city area known as Tampa Bay, a beach lovers’ mecca on the Gulf of Mexico. With 35 miles of shoreline and tropical temperatures, you’ll find no shortage of sugary sand and gentle surf to park your beach chair on for the day. The famous Clearwater Beach is consistently voted the best beach in the U.S. on TripAdvisor, with St. Pete’s Beach solidly in the top five.
If you need a break from beaches, the city of Tampa boasts unbeatable attractions like the Florida Aquarium, the Salvador Dalí Museum, Dinosaur World, Busch Gardens, and no shortage of nightlife. Don’t forget to stop by Ybor City, the historic Cuban neighborhood once called the "Cigar Capital of the World, while you're in town
If you like to mix a little history into your holiday, you’ll find plenty of it in St. Augustine, America’s oldest European-established city, founded in 1565 by Spanish explorers. The old-world architecture alone takes you straight back to another time and place. Unlike touristy hotspots, however, the lack of crowds helps the small city maintain a low-key, relaxed vibe. You’ll find no shortage of scenic boat rides, museums, markets, eateries, beaches, and ghost tours to enjoy at your leisure.
Sanibel Island may be famous for its sunsets, fishing piers, 19th-century lighthouses, boardwalks, and a wildlife refuge that covers half the island, but the most popular pastime of all? Shelling, which is exactly what it sounds like: searching for seashells in the sand. Locals actually have a name for the posture the island’s avid seashell-seekers are usually found in: “The Sanibel Stoop.” If you’re looking to bring back some truly authentic souvenirs from your spring break in Florida, Sanibel is the perfect place to stay.
Still can’t get enough shells? Stop by the Bailey-Matthews National Shell Museum, the only museum of its kind in the country.
The Florida Keys are a string of indescribably beautiful islands off the southern coast of Florida, bound together by the Overseas Highway. If you want to get away from it all without leaving the lower 48 states, this is the way to do it — the furthest island, Key West, is just 90 miles from Cuba. The Keys offer a wealth of world-class scuba diving, snorkeling, deep-sea fishing, and camping, not to mention old-world charm and endless entertainment. Oh, and they have Key lime pie.
Located about 70 miles south of Daytona, Merritt Island and nearby Cocoa Beach are brimming with natural beauty and awesome things to do — minus the crowds of more heavily traveled spring break destinations. Head over to Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge for 140,000 acres of unspoiled dunes, marshes, and pine forests, then stop by the manatee observation deck to say hello to some docile sea cows. When you’re ready to hit the beach or catch some of those Florida waves, Cocoa Beach is a surfer’s — and beach lover’s — paradise.
If you’re looking for a spring break location that isn’t too far out, just head to Jupiter. Located on the Atlantic Coast just north of West Palm Beach, this laid-back locale is jam-packed with casual waterfront dining, shopping, live concerts, and plenty of outdoor recreation for nature-lovers: kayaking, beach trails, and the Busch Wildlife Sanctuary. If you’re lucky, you might even spot a sea turtle or two.
Just 20 minutes north of Clearwater, you’ll find Tarpon Springs, the “Sponge Capital of the World.” Here, you can walk along the famous Sponge Docks as you soak in the historic downtown area and maybe buy a local sea sponge or two.
But what makes this hidden gem truly shine is its strong Greek influence. You'll hear the locals speaking Greek in the streets, you'll find no shortage of Greek-inspired souvenirs, and you’ll have your pick of authentic Greek restaurants to choose from.
If you’re looking for a tiny piece of Greece without the overseas flight, you’ll find it in Florida!
Want to avoid the crowds on your spring break? Anna Maria is for you. Less than an hour northwest of Sarasota, this seven-mile isle boasts several beaches and plenty of privacy. The nearby Egmont Key National Wildlife Reserve should not be missed and is only accessible by boat.
If you've had enough sea turtles and dolphins for the day and you’re ready to head downtown, hop on the free Monkey Bus, which will transport you to local dining spots, live music, and laid-back entertainment.