Florida Spring Break: Families and College Students Each Have Their Places

Florida Spring Break

Beth Rankin, Flickr

A recent AOL survey found that 75 percent of spring break travelers in 2011 will stay in the United States, and most of those will head to Florida.

Spring break destinations in Florida tend to cater to either college students or families, so you need to do a little research before embarking on your Florida spring break vacation to ensure you've booked your hotel or resort at an appropriate spot.

Florida Spring Break for the College Crowd

Daytona Beach and spring break go a long way back, and even though local law enforcement takes a hard line on public drinking and intoxication, the beaches still fill with young people sowing their wild oats under the sunshine. Plenty of Daytona Beach hotels and resorts welcome Florida spring breakers, not to mention the nightclubs, bars and restaurants.

Panama City Beach has become a go-to destination for the Florida spring break crowd. The Florida Panhandle community not only offers sugar-white sand beaches, but plenty of concerts, contests, celebrity appearances and late-night parties geared to the college crowd.

Even during the slow season, Key West exudes a let-it-all-hang-out attitude, and things can get pretty risque rather quickly on Duval Street in this casual city on the southernmost tip of Florida. Spring break amps it up even more, with throngs of college students partying well into the night in the melange of bars and nightclubs.

Florida Spring Break for Families

Hit the beaches of Southwest Florida for some relative solitude during your Florida spring break vacation. Though Siesta Beach in Sarasota can get quite crowded with spring breakers from local high schools during the day, you won't be subject to witnessing the over-the-top shenanigans of the college crowd. For a bit more solitude, head north to the beaches of Anna Maria Island, where you can park close to the sand and let your children play in the edges of the gentle surf while you relax nearby with a cold drink and a book. The nearby cities of Bradenton and Sarasota offer plenty of family-oriented activities for when you want to take a break from the afternoon sunshine.

The oldest permanent European settlement in the United States, St. Augustine offers families not only beaches, but plenty of fun – and educational – activities for a Florida spring break spot. You and your children can pretend to fire the cannons at the Castillo de San Marcos, the oldest existing fort in the United States, or get some up-close encounters with toothy reptiles and other wildlife at the St. Augustine Alligator Farm Zoological Park.

If you're willing to brave the crowds during Florida spring break, you can take your family to the theme parks. Walt Disney World, SeaWorld, Universal Studios and Busch Gardens Tampa are great places to take the family any time of the year, but they do become quite popular during the times that the kids are out of school. There are a few tricks to navigating the crowds, but you can expect to spend a few hours of your Florida spring break waiting in line.

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