Just about the time that cold weather, snow, and freezing toes get to be a bit too much, it’s time to think about spring break. For many of us, this means heading south for some sun, sand, and relaxation, but Florida’s tropical climate and beautiful beaches mean you don’t have to leave the country to do it.
While some people may think Florida is a bit of a tourist trap, others know that the Sunshine State offers more than just beaches and theme parks. There are dozens of Florida spring break destinations to choose from, so whether you enjoy colonial history, shopping, national parks, or wildlife viewing, you are bound to find the perfect vacation spot.One thing’s for sure: You’ll never get bored in the Sunshine State.
When is Spring Break season in Florida?
The Spring Break period in Florida typically runs from mid-March to the end of April, which is when many colleges and universities break from classes.
Many families choose to take a spring break trip at this time, because it’s when K-12 schools take time off as well.
The most common weeks for spring break are the week before Easter and the week after Easter. However, because different schools have different spring break dates, there is no one “universal” spring break week.
Omigosh―Can you imagine the spring break crowds if there were? Yikes!
ⓘ Want a less crowded spring break idea? Check out this list of the best winter getaways in New England!
Where to go for spring break in Florida
Here’s our list of the top spring break destinations for families and college students. There are so many wonderful places to choose from. Why not book a ticket for Ourbus online and visit more than one?
1. Miami and South Beach
The Magic City has plenty to offer its visitors. Its south Florida location makes it an excellent spring break destination for couples and college students.
You can wander through the Wynwood Arts District to take in the street art, join college spring breakers at a few South Beach bars, and shop or ’til you drop at Bayside Marketplace, the upscale Bal Harbour Shops, and the massive Dolphin Mall.
And don’t forget about all the art galleries, museums, and cultural events that take place here throughout the year! Miami is home to many great museums, including the Perez Art Museum Miami (PAMM) and the Frost Science Museum.
You can take day trips from Miami too―like Everglades National Park and the Florida Keys.
If you’re looking for some Cuban flavor during your stay, Little Havana is the place to be. This vibrant district is filled with lively bars, tasty eateries serving up Cuban food favorites like ropa vieja (shredded beef), and music venues showcasing the best in Latin music. We highly recommend going on a food tour of Little Havana to experience it all.
For fun in the sun, Miami Beach has always been popular. It offers an ideal combination of culture with laidback charm. All the necessary amenities for luxury relaxation.
South Beach is full of Art Deco architecture, stylish sidewalk cafes, and miles of wide, sandy beaches. Lincoln Road Mall has over 160 shops and restaurants, while the Design District is home to high-end art galleries, showrooms, and boutiques.
2. Key Largo
If you’re looking for some diving and snorkeling, Key Largo is a great choice for your Florida spring break. This island is located in the Florida Keys and is known for its clear waters and coral reefs.
John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park is a protected marine area and the only undersea park in the continental United States. The coral reef here is one of the most diverse in the world, so you’re likely to see all sorts of marine life here, including dolphins, manatees, and sea turtles.
Along with diving and snorkeling, Key Largo has other water-based activities like jet skiing, kayaking, boating, and fishing charters. If you’d rather stay dry, you can hop on a glass-bottom boat tour to see all the underwater sights without getting wet.
You can also find plenty of restaurants and bars on Key Largo, as well as a few shopping areas.
Interesting fact: Key Largo has one of the most unique places to stay in the world: Jules Undersea Lodge. This unusual hotel is located 21 feet below the surface of the water and can only be reached by scuba diving to the entrance!
3. Key West
If you’re looking for a more lively Florida spring break destination, Key West is the place to go. This island is located at the end of the Florida Keys and is known for its party atmosphere.
Duval Street is the main artery of this small town and is full of shops, restaurants, and bars. There’s plenty of live music and dancing to be had. Mallory Square is one of the best places to find street performers. Head there at sunset to watch them show off their talents, and reward the best ones with a tip.
Other things to do in Key West include:
- Key West Aquarium
- Truman Little White House
- Fort Zachary Taylor Historic State Park
- Ernest Hemingway Home and Museum
- Southernmost Point in the United States (Don’t forget to take a selfie!)
If you want to get out on the water, there are plenty of activities available, including jet skiing, parasailing, sailing, fishing charters, and snorkeling.
You can also book a Key West snorkeling cruise, take a sunset cruise or―for something really unusual―book a day trip to Dry Tortugas National Park. Located 70 miles west of Key West, it’s the hardest national park to get to, because it’s only accessible by boat or air.
When it comes time for dinner, don’t miss out on some of Key West’s best restaurants. We can recommend Blue Heaven as well as Pepe’s Cafe for breakfast (try their famous key lime pie!) Also pop in to Sloppy Joe’s, Hemingway’s favorite watering hole.
ⓘ TIP: To avoid the trouble of driving and save your feet, take the Old Town Trolley. The tour is designed so that you can hop-on and off at any of the 12 stops and explore on your own.
Located on Florida’s Gulf Coast, Sarasota’s star attraction is Siesta Key Beach, a pristine stretch of snow-white, powdery sand. The beach is family-friendly with its shallow water and lifeguards on duty, as well as picnic pavilions and nearby Siesta Key Village.
For more shopping and dining, head to St. Armand’s Circle and Main Street in downtown Sarasota.
Sarasota is home to one of the oldest tourist attractions in Florida: Sarasota Jungle Gardens (1939). Other fun things to do include visiting Mote Marine Laboratory & Aquarium for a hands-on look at marine life, and wandering through Selby Gardens’ 45 acres of tropical plants, flowers, and banyan trees, and a huge collection of orchids.
Take in a unique show at the Ringling Circus Museum, tour Ringling mansion Ca d’Zan, and visit the Ringling Museum of Art, one of Florida’s most-visited art museums. Or for a bit of history, head to nearby Anna Maria Island to see a restored 1920 cottage and the wooden City Pier, dating from 1911.
Myakka River State Park and Celery Fields have some of the best birdwatching in Florida.
Interesting fact: Sarasota’s Pinecraft is one of the most unique communities in Florida: an Amish vacation enclave right on the outskirts of town. Tours are available.
5. Sanibel Island and Captiva Island
When it comes to family spring break destinations, Captiva and Sanibel Islands could be two of the best. Located on the Gulf Coast near Fort Myers, the barrier islands are known for the many colorful seashells that wash ashore every night.
In addition to a quaint fishing pier and 19th-century lighthouse, there’s also a boardwalk through mangrove swamps to enjoy, as well as J.N. Ding Darling National Wildlife Refuge, which covers nearly half of Sanibel Island and is home to a diverse range of fauna and flora.
More things to do in this Southwest Florida destination: Enjoy a high-speed catamaran cruise, go picnicking at the Causeway Beaches, or visit the Bailey-Matthews National Shell Museum. This unique natural history museum is dedicated to everything related to mollusks and the shells they create. Kids love touching live mollusks in their touch pools, winning scavenger hunt prizes, and watching their Giant Pacific Octopus.
For a relaxing beach vacation, head as far south as you can on the Gulf Coast. Naples has an upscale vibe, with 30 miles of wide, white sand and plenty of waterfront dining options. It’s the perfect place to enjoy fresh seafood while watching the sun set over the Gulf of Mexico.
This Southwest Florida beach town may not be as well known as Miami or Fort Lauderdale (or even Panama City Beach), but it still offers plenty of fun things to do.
Stroll along the beach to Naples Pier and enjoy the sunshine and calm waters while you watch for dolphins. Drive around and drool over the dozens of extravagant homes near the water, and shop in the high-end art galleries, chic boutique shops, and trendy boutiques along the legendary Fifth Avenue South.
Like museums? The city has several worth visiting, including The Baker Museum at Artis—Naples, the Holocaust Museum & Cohen Education Center, and the Collier County Museums complex. The complex houses three separate museums: the Immokalee Pioneer Museum; Marco Island Historical Society; and the Naples Depot Museum.
There are many excellent parks in Naples as well. Two of our favorites are Cambier Park, which has a playground and basketball courts, and Delnor-Wiggins Pass State Park, which is a great spot for hiking, swimming, fishing and birdwatching.
7. Marco Island
If your idea of a fun spring break in Florida is lounging on a sandy beach with an umbrella drink in your hand, head to Marco Island. It has plenty of luxury resorts to choose from.
Every spring break in Marco Island should include the Briggs Nature Center. The half-kilometre walk is surrounded by an enchanted nature park where you will have an opportunity to observe and explore a wide range of wildlife. Activities include a guided canoe tour and boat excursion. Also head to Collier Seminole State Park, located close to Marco Island, which offers simple camping, picnicking, kayaking, kayaking, fishing, and a mile of walking trails.
Orlando is the world’s theme park capital, and probably the most popular Florida spring break destination for families. Sure, Orlando’s theme parks are a big draw, but a ride on The Wheel at ICON Park will show you just how much else there is to do in the area.
Orlando is a good spring break destination even if the hustle and bustle of the theme parks isn’t your thing. In the city alone, you can explore the Chocolate Kingdom, enjoy an Orlando Magic home game, or head to the city’s Harry P. Leu Gardens and Lake Eola Park.
You can visit Gatorland, enjoy airboat rides for an adrenaline-pumping ride through Florida’s swamps, or take your kids to WonderWorks Orlando. The science museum offers over 100 hands-on exhibits like rope obstacle courses, zip lines and laser tag.
ⓘ BUDGET TIP: You will get free entry to over 25 top-notch Orlando attractions with the Orlando Go City Explorer Pass. Click here to see the list.
On the food front, Orlando is a foodie hotspot as well. It has an incredible selection of restaurants—everything from downhome barbecue joints to fine dining establishments serving up classic Southern cuisine or innovative farm-to-table dishes.
Because Orlando is in the middle of Central Florida, it makes an ideal base for sightseeing. Many of the best Florida beaches and attractions are easy day trips from Orlando, so you can see a lot of the state on spring break without having to change hotels!
How many theme parks are in Orlando?
Orlando has at least 16 theme parks and amusement parks. They include:
- Sea World Orlando has three parks: SeaWorld Orlando, Aquatica Orlando and Discovery Cove.
- Universal Orlando Resort has three parks: Universal Studios Florida, Universal’s Islands of Adventure, and Universal’s Volcano Bay (a water theme park).
- Walt Disney World Resort has six parks in total. There are four theme parks (Magic Kingdom, Animal Kingdom, Hollywood Studios, and Epcot Center), as well as two water parks (Typhoon Lagoon and Blizzard Beach). There’s also Disney Springs, an entertainment, dining, and retail complex.
- Fun Spot America has two theme parks (Kissimmee and Orlando)
- Old Town
9. Daytona Beach
The hottest Florida spring break destination for college students may well be Daytona Beach. It has a long history of spring break parties and wild nightlife, but there are plenty of things to do here for families on vacation as well.
Daytona Beach has 23 miles of hard-packed sand and warm water year-round, Daytona Lagoon water park and the world-famous Daytona International Speedway. There are also plenty of golf courses, charter fishing boats, and nature trails to enjoy.
Take a drive on the world-famous Daytona Beach, go fishing in the Halifax River, and visit the Marine Science Center. And don’t forget the iconic Daytona Beach Boardwalk with its carnival games, arcades, restaurants, and shops.
10. Cocoa Beach
Nearby Cocoa Beach is known for its beautiful beaches and great surf. If you enjoy watching surfers or want to take a surfing lesson, this is the Florida destination for you.
The Westgate Cocoa Beach Pier has been a landmark for over 50 years. Stretching 800 feet over the Atlantic Ocean, it is home to restaurants, bars and gift shops. It’s a favorite fishing spot and offers live entertainment every weekend from local bands and DJs―though that’s temporarily suspended until things return to normal.
In addition to watersports like parasailing, fishing and kayaking, you can also go riverboat cruising along the Banana River or visit Ron Jon Surf Shop – one of Florida’s largest surf shops – which hosts live music throughout the year. You can also day trip from Cocoa Beach to Kennedy Space Center, Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge, and many other fun places.
11. St Augustine
The city of St. Augustine is an American icon, a historic destination that beckons to visitors year-round. From its 17th-century Spanish fort to its quaint cobblestone streets lined with historic buildings, there are plenty of things to do here.
Explore the city’s fascinating history by touring St. Augustine’s centuries-old architecture, including Castillo de San Marcos National Monument and Ponce de Leon Hotel (now Flagler College). If you have time, stop at one of its many museums as well.You can also take your family on an eco tour or go beach hopping at Vilano Beach north of St. Augustine or Anastasia State Park south of the city.
The beaches are safe for swimming thanks to shallow water with no undertow currents—plus they’re lifeguard patrolled. Even better: The warm waters are teeming with marine life including dolphins and sea turtles!
Not far from the Georgia border, Jacksonville is a major city and regional business center as well as a natural paradise for visitors looking for a wintertime escape.
The “River City on the Sea,” Jacksonville boasts 22 miles of sandy and unpopulated spring break beaches and nearly 40 miles of meandering waterways in the inland river. A burgeoning food and beverage scene consists of award-winning restaurants, lively bars and booming nightlife.
13. Panama City Beach
If you’re looking for a lively beach town to spend your spring break, Panama City Beach is the place to go. This popular beach town is located on the Gulf Coast of Florida’s panhandle and surrounded by 27 miles of white sand beaches.
The city offers a wide variety of things to do, from lounging on the beach to shore dives in St. Andrews State Park and kayaking through Shell Island’s mangrove-lined waterways. For more outdoor fun, head to Conservation Park for some birdwatching or go fishing at Deer Point Lake; you may even spot an alligator!
And when it comes time for dinner, treat yourself to fresh seafood caught in neighboring Apalachicola Bay before dancing off those calories at one of Panama City Beach’s many nightclubs. The best part? Most club admission fees are free after 11pm.
Known as “The World’s Luckiest Fishing Village” thanks to its world class deep sea fishing charters and inshore charter boats, Destin is located on what locals refer to affectionately as “the Redneck Riveria.”
If you fancy spending spring break in Florida’s panhandle, the area has some of the most beautiful family-friendly beaches in Florida. You can also enjoy fishing, water sports like kayaking, snorkeling and paddleboarding, or outdoor activities such as dolphin watching and hiking at Henderson Beach State Park.
15. Fort Walton Beach
Fort Walton Beach is a pleasant coastal city near Destin. It’s a popular spring break destination because of its quaint resorts and attractions.
Best things to do include Gulfarium Marine Adventure Park, Indian Temple Mound, and the Air Force Armament Museum.
Several charming coastal neighborhoods around the city center are bursting with shops, museums and an impressive array of restaurants and bar venues which come alive when night falls.
Tips for planning a Florida spring break
1. Find out if your destination offers a city card; many places in Florida do. City Cards offer good value for money, with things like free admission to sightseeing activities, free public transportation, and discounts in restaurants, shops and entertainment.
2. Give yourself permission to spend money on a few activities that will create lasting memories.
3. Be realistic about what you can pack. Especially when you’re flying to Florida, it’s may be better to rent or buy things when you get there.
4. To ensure you don’t miss out on the place you want, book your accommodation as early as possible.
5. Consider sharing vacation homes with other families. Renting a house can be much cheaper than staying at a hotel, and you’ll probably have more space for everyone to spread out (and more bathrooms).
6. Book your flights as early as possible, as fares increase as you get closer to departure day. Also try not to fly on the weekends, as those fares are usually much more expensive.
7. Spring break is an exciting time for your family, so make sure you choose a destination that offers lots of things to do for every age group.
Ready for spring break in Florida?
We hope our list of top destinations has helped you decide where to go.
Have a great time! Spring break is all about relaxing and spending time with your family – so make the most of it!