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13 great places for a Florida vacation!

Florida is a great place to visit in the cooler months when the warm weather lures icy travelers to its beautiful beaches and cool cities for fun times shared with good friends.

But there are so many nooks and crannies, beaches and cities, how to know where to choose?

Well I’ve done the research for you so you can skim through and narrow down your search for where you want to have a family vacation, or scoot down with friends and have a week to remember.

If you’re short on time you can click any of the places in the list below and jump straight to it.

If you’re looking for great spring break ideas for the family, this post has 25 fun Spring Break destinations in the US.

*This post may contain affiliate links. That means if you make a purchase, I will make a small commission at no extra cost to you.

Guy splashing in sea
Get into Spring Break! Pic Matador Network

South Beach Miami

South Beach is always a good time and one of my favourite places in Florida to visit (I think Key West takes out my top spot though! We did a 4-day Miami to Key West Drive and would do it again in a heartbeat). But SoBe really does have everything you’re looking for from its vast wide sandy beach edged in palm trees to pumping bars and boutique and chic hotels.

South Beach is covers 2.5 miles of Miami Beach and is the popular tourist hub. It also offers great shopping on pedestrianised Lincoln Road, which is lined with shops and eateries, and Ocean Dr for when you need a break from the sun.

Miami Beach

If you’re not interested in partying all day and night, don’t worry! There are plenty of other things to do from exploring art deco architecture to taking a stroll through the botanical gardens, or settling in on this vast beach and grabbing a few rays.

South Beach enjoys the hustle and bustle of street front bars and restaurants all shoulder to shoulder along Ocean Drive where cocktails the size of fish bowls are meant for sharing.

Head to bars like Mangoes where the staff dance on counter tops, or the Clevelander Hotel pool parties where my brother and I encountered topless girls were being body painted in football jerseys at the Saturday pool party! (Oh the hilarity).

Body painting team colors at The Clevelander
Body painting team colors at The Clevelander

Pro tip: If you’re looking for a unique experience, try visiting on a Sunday when the farmers market is open, and you can sample some authentic Cuban cuisine.

Accommodation tip: Check out beautiful and LEED sustainable 1 Hotel on South Beach.

Pool at 1 Hotel South Beach​
The Center Pool at 1 Hotel South Beach​. Pic Patrick Farrell

Miami Beach/Mid Beach

When you think of the ultimate spring break destination, Miami Beach is probably the first place that comes to mind.

Miami Beach and Mid Beach sprawl further north of South Beach, all on the same peninsula. They’re less crowded and hotels will be a little less expensive, so these are ideal if you’re looking for something a little quieter but still want to be close enough to the nightlife of South Beach.

Pro tip: Wander past the life guard huts all along the beach and take pics. They’re all different and make for amazing selfies.

Miami Beach life guard tower
Miami Beach life guard tower. Photo by Emanuel Ekström on Unsplash

Nikki Beach

For a super styly venue in South Beach, and if you’ve got cash to splash or just want to snuggle up to the glitterati, book a cabana or a table at Nikki Beach.

This is not a destination you can stay at, but a sophisticated beach club. I included it because it is located at the very southern tip of South Beach and is known for being thee place that the rich and famous jet in to and lounge in a cabana for the day.

Loungers at Nikki Beach Miami
Lounging at Nikki Beach Miami. Pic Facebook

Named after Nicole Penrod, the owner’s daughter who died in a car accident aged 18 (no, not Nikki Hilton or Nikki Menage) and now with locations all over the world, it was started originally as a stylish beach cafe with the mantra “only tell your best friends”.

But then everyone told their best friends, and while that mantra still exists you should probably bring your best friends too.

The food is designed by world renown chefs (order the sushi boat), book a cabana or try one of the first come-first served loungers for the day. Come for Sunday brunch any time of year, or plan to spend next New Year’s Eve here.

Pro tip: Miami Beach, Nikki Beach and South Beach are all within walking distance. If you’re looking for a great (and more affordable) restaurant scene, head down Espanola Way, on 15th Street.

Great restaurants along Espanola Way
Great restaurants along Espanola Way, South Beach

Daytona Beach

Daytona Beach boasts itself as the number 1 spring break capital in the US. Don’t even think of coming here then if you want peace!

The hotels in this popular destination are student-friendly and you can buy a Spring Break Card to get access into the nightclubs, discounts at restaurants and on attractions like parasailing.

Get the VIP Passport and that gets you access to the best parties and the most popular clubs. (Use the official link below so you don’t buy bogus passes).

Aerial view of Daytona Beach, FL
Daytona Beach. Credit 500PX

Daytona Beach is located on the sunrise coast on the Atlantic Ocean. The last time I came here it was Easter and I’ll never forget how wonderful it was to stand on the beach at dawn for an Easter service, when everyone else was still asleep, and just drink in the stillness.

If you’re looking for a spring break destination with plenty of excitement, Daytona Beach is the place for you!

A perfect day on Daytona Beach!
A perfect day on Daytona Beach!

Besides the miles of beaches you can visit, the Daytona pier and boardwalk are a must-see. This pier is home to various shops, restaurants, and bars, making it the perfect place to spend an afternoon or evening. Plus, there are multiple arcades, and even amusement park-style rides to add a bit of thrill to your visit.

Pro tip: Bike Week and Spring Break is when you’ll experience the best nightlife Daytona Beach has to offer. During these events, the entire city turns into one big party!

Fort Lauderdale

Ft Lauderdale is another super popular Spring Break destination. College students descend on this beach town, 25 miles north of Miami, and while it’s busy and fun, it’s not as upmarket as the glitz and glam of South Beach.

Book early and get a hotel room with a view of that sandy beach, and enjoy walking everywhere to restaurants with indoor and outdoor dining.

Pack your volleyball, beach bag and BFFs and enjoy dipping in the ocean and sunning on the sand by day, and the buzzing nightlife by night.

Traffic heading to Ft Lauderdale
Here come the hordes! Credit 500PX

This vibrant city is the perfect destination if you’re looking to party! Head to Fort Lauderdale’s famous downtown area known as Las Olas Boulevard. There’s something going on almost every day of the week in this fantastic city!

You might like to explore famous museums, soak up the sun, enjoy delicious Cuban cuisine, or get your thrills with some water sports.

Ft Lauderdale water sports
Enjoying Ft Lauderdale watersports. Pic Chris Joy

Pro tip: If you want an authentic experience during your trip, try visiting Marios Catalina restaurant at sunset and order their world-famous mojito before heading out onto the streets to dance the night away.

Florida Keys

The entire Florida Keys is dotted with beaches on the eastern Atlantic Ocean side as well as the sunset Gulf Coast side and any one of them would make great spring break destinations with safe swimming beaches for the family or a casual party vibe with friends.

Bridge down Florida Keys
Florida Keys and those epic bridges

The last time I visited we were on a four-day Florida Keys road trip from Miami to Key West and stopped in at Islamorada for a night too. Your Spring Break in Florida Keys could be in camp sites or hotels or even take an RV and hook up at these beautiful RV campgrounds.

But you’d better book in advance if you don’t want to be parked in a carpark overnight with no power to hook up to!

Key West

Key West is my favourite FL city with so many things to do and see here. (Read my post on things to do in Key West if you only have a day!)

This city has something to offer everyone. From riding jet skis and parasailing on the ocean to taking in incredible views at one of its many scenic overlooks, to getting amongst some pirate history, visiting Ernest Hemmingway’s house – and eating key lime pie, of course.

The old town is filled with New Orleans-style wooden houses all painted in adorable colours, fronted with picket fences embroidered with tropical flowers.

Boutique shopping in Key West
Boutique shopping in Key West. Pic Megan Singleton

While other major cities may get chaotic and overrun by college kids seeking fun times away from campus during Spring Break, Key West offers an escape where families and couples can enjoy themselves without being bothered by rowdy large crowds day after day.

Accommodation tip: My pick is to stay near the main street, Duval, so you can walk everywhere in what becomes the entertainment district by night. We stayed at Windslow Bungalows, which are cute historic inns within easy walking to everywhere. Make sure you visit Blue Heaven for dinner and a drink (or two) from the outdoor bar too!

You can read more about our FL Keys road trip in this post on the Miami to Key West drive. I cover lots of things to do in Key West, as well as places to stop and stay along the way.

cocktail at Blue Heaven
Grab a cocktail at Blue Heaven! Pic Megan Singleton


I’m not going to lie, Orlando’s theme parks are going to be crazt busy if you come during Spring Break!

But for families, high school and college students looking to have unlimited good, clean fun, this is going to be a really great week away. (Read my post about the best time to visit Disney World).

Minnie Mouse ears

There is something for everyone in Orlando. Yes, it’s probably all about the theme parks and water parks, but actually there’s more to do in Orlando besides Disney World like outdoor movies in amazing gardens, visiting the Kennedy Space Center on the coast, and make time for shopping at the malls and the nightlife options downtown. There’s never a dull moment!

Pro tip: If you take a vacation to Orlando and want to visit the theme parks, consider staying on property to take advantage of exclusive perks like earlier opening hours at the parks and priority access to theme parks.

Tampa Bay

Tampa Bay is one of the most diverse destinations in Florida. It’s a large, shallow harbor on the Gulf of Mexico in Central Florida.

It has stunning beaches, world-class theme parks, Cuban culture and a vibrant nightlife. You can explore the nightlife in Soho, relax with a coffee from Buddy Brew, or take a day trip to Busch Gardens.

Enjoy waterfront bars and restaurants and visit the historic Latin Quarter, Ybor City for lunching and shopping by day, and cigars and fedoras by night.

Tampa Bay waterfront
Tampa Bay waterfront

Pro tip: Spring break is a great time to visit Tampa. However, if you want a unique experience, plan to visit a little earlier and try to make it for Gasparilla. Gasparilla is a pirate-themed festival that turns the entire downtown area into a party.

Saint Augustine

Saint Augustine is the oldest city in North America and is a popular tourist destination due to its quaint charm.

With more than 20 miles of coastline, tourists can enjoy swimming in warm waters or exploring Florida’s first lighthouse.

In St Augustine you can dive through more than four centuries of history that wanders through Spanish and English, to Greek and Native American and African American peoples.

Stroll the narrow lanes, enter the many museums, visit landmarks such as Castillo de San Marcos, Ponce de Leon’s “Fountain of Youth,” and the Oldest Wooden Schoolhouse.

Castillo de San Marcos
Castillo de San Marcos. Pic Matador Network

If you’re looking for a laid-back spring break destination, this is one of the best spots to visit in Florida.

Pro tip: If you’re looking for a unique experience, make sure to visit The St Augustine Alligator Farm. This farm is home to more than 2000 alligators and offers a variety of exhibits and activities for tourists. Then, when you’re ready to relax, try seafood from one of the town’s local restaurants, such as The Sunset Grille.

St Augustine kayaking
St Augustine kayaking. Pic Matador Network

Panama City Beach

This city is known as the “Spring Break Capital of the World” (it’s true, Google it!) and offers a variety of activities to enjoy. There’s something for everyone here, from swimming in the Gulf of Mexico to partying at one of the many nightclubs, like Club Lavella.

Panama Beach, northwest
Panama Beach, northwest. Pic Paradise Media for VISIT FLORIDA

Besides all of the beach fun you can have, Panama City Beach also has good shopping and dining. There are tons of options available at Pier Park, one of the most popular shopping destinations. Plus, it’s open very late offering a great spot to stop by after a long day at the beach.

Pro tip: Visit during the week if you want to avoid the crowds of Spring Breakers. While the weekends are definitely more lively, they can also be a bit too chaotic for some people’s liking.

Clearwater Beach

If you’re looking for a spring break destination with plenty of beaches and family-friendly activities, Clearwater Beach, on the Florida Gulf Coast, is the place for you.

This city is known as one of the most beautiful in Florida and offers tourists a variety of activities to enjoy, from swimming in the ocean to exploring downtown.

Clearwater Beach, FL
Clearwater Beach, FL

One of the best things about Clearwater Beach is that it’s perfect for those who want to relax and take it easy or those who want to party all night.

There are plenty of peaceful and scenic areas as well, so you’ll never have trouble finding somewhere to sit back and relax for a bit if that’s what you’re into.

Pro tip: If there’s one thing to love about Clearwater Beach, it has to be the sunset cruises available through many local tour companies. Experience breathtaking views while enjoying delicious food and drinks on board a private boat!


Sarasota, on Florida’s Gulf Coast, also makes a great Spring Break destination, and this post covers a huge 26 FREE things to do in Sarasota any time of year.

Get your passport out!

Or if you really want to splash out this spring break and get out of the United States for a few days, why not head down to the Cayman Islands?

My brother and his family have lived there about 20 years and I’ve visited seven times. Here’s my post on Things to know before you go to the Cayman Islands, written with the help of my 14-year old niece (and local Cayman resident) Georgia Singleton.

Rubber duck in sea at Cayman Islands
Bobbing with my rubber ducky on Seven Mile Beach. Pic Megan Singleton

Florida is also home to the wonderful Everglades National Park, which is an easy day trip from Miami. You can read more about my top picks for the best National Parks for Spring Break in this post too.

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Hi, I'm Megan Singleton and I'm the word slinger of this travel blog as well as on radio in NZ every Sunday. Former Travel Editor at Yahoo NZ and current freelance writer for a few newspapers and mags from time to time, I set off on this travel writing journey 20 years ago and I've pretty much always got a suitcase half packed (or half un-packed!) I'd love you to join me on Facebook or Twitter and sign up for my newsletters if you want loads of travel tips, advice and deals!