With surf, sun, and sand to spare, Florida has become one of the nation’s top spring break destinations. Its beaches offer a chance for families and students to take a break from cooler temps and soak up some rays on the sandy shores. Whether you want to unwind on a relaxing vacation or enjoy the party scene, you can find exactly what you’re looking for when you visit the Sunshine State. Check out one of these top spring break beaches in Florida to find your idea of paradise.

Daytona Beach

Daytona Beach is known for its party atmosphere. College students are known to gather here over spring break. The revelers enjoy celebrating all along the Atlantic’s sandy shores, especially near Main Street Pier and the boardwalk. You’ll find lots of bars, restaurants and tourist shops scattered along Atlantic Avenue. If you’re traveling by car, you’ll be pleased to discover that Daytona is one of the few places where you can actually drive right onto the beach, thanks to its hard-packed sand. However, parking on the beach is only allowed in specific areas.

This active city along Florida’s eastern shore is constantly hosting big events and draws huge crowds during the spring break season. Bike Week, which occurs in early to mid-March, is one of the biggest events of the year in Daytona, so you’ll have to book your accommodations well in advance if your spring break falls during the same time. Another big draw to this location is the Daytona International Speedway. 

Sanibel Island

For a more low-key Florida getaway, check out Sanibel Island. Located in the beautiful barrier islands on the Gulf Coast, Sanibel is considered a family-friendly spring break destination, with fewer crowds and a quieter atmosphere. Most visitors spend their days sunbathing on the sand, collecting seashells on the shore, or going for a relaxing swim in the calm, emerald waters.

One of Sanibel Island’s main attractions is its natural surroundings. Rather than the well-groomed white sand beaches along Florida’s western shore, Sanibel has darker and slightly rougher sand with plenty of sponges, driftwood, sand dollars, and seashells scattered throughout. The island features bright flowers and lush vegetation. You’re likely to encounter some fascinating wildlife, including colorful birds, tree frogs, and chameleons. Many people visit the island’s J.N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge for birdwatching.

Families visiting Sanibel Island for spring break can partake in plenty of other activities besides spending their days on the beach. You can rent bikes or scooters to explore the island or book a ride on a sightseeing boat. Fishing, kayaking, and snorkeling are popular activities here, as well. Rather than lots of fast-food chains, you’ll find charming local restaurants and cafes where you can enjoy a delicious and affordable meal.

South Beach

This popular beach in Miami is the perfect spring break destination for a more upscale vacation. Just steps from the beach, you’ll find an impressive array of restaurants, hotels, boutiques, and nightclubs, most of which are of the chic and expensive variety. The beach is also conducive to a number of sports and outdoor activities, including beach volleyball and windsurfing. After a day in the sun, most visitors head out for glamorous shopping and clubbing in the evening.

South Beach is also known for its cultural attractions. It’s home to the famous Miami Art Deco Historic District along Ocean Drive. Walk or drive along this road and the neighboring blocks to see the world’s largest collection of modern art deco architecture. You’ll also find a number of theaters, museums, and art galleries in South Beach.

Panama City Beach

The gorgeous green waters on this Emerald Coast Beach are spectacular to see in person. The white sand is so soft that it squeaks underfoot. This is a great spot to visit if you want to experience beaches as gorgeous as some of those found in the Bahamas without having to leave the continental U.S.

One of the other perks of Panama City Beach is its affordability. It’s not quite as pricey as some of the other destinations along the Emerald Coast, and you can choose from an abundance of hotel accommodations near the beach. There are also so many great activities, including dolphin tours, trips to nearby Shell Island, Ripley’s Believe It or Not! museum and several state parks.

Panama City Beach is especially popular with spring breakers from southern colleges. It has been known for the beach parties and club crawls hosted during this time of the year. Some of the spring break partying has become tamer in recent years due to new restrictions that ban alcohol on the beach. If you visit outside of the nearby college spring break dates, you’re much less likely to encounter this type of rowdy atmosphere.

Fort Lauderdale

For consistently great weather and a unique city to explore, visit Fort Lauderdale over spring break. This destination boasts warm weather and plenty of sunshine year-round. Though it’s a top pick for college spring breakers, the partying usually remains under control thanks to alcoholic beverages being banned on the beach. Most of the partying takes place at bars across the street from the beach along what’s known as The Strip. Families can enjoy a relatively quiet and calm atmosphere if they find a spot on the beach away from the bar scene.

One of Fort Lauderdale’s unique attractions is its network of canals, which have earned it the nickname of “The Venice of America.” Consider using the Fort Lauderdale Water Taxi as a way to get around while also enjoying scenic views of the area. You can also venture over to the Las Olas neighborhood to check out museums and other cultural attractions. While this downtown area has mostly upscale restaurants and boutiques, you’ll find plenty of affordable shops, restaurants, and cafes along The Strip.

Marco Island

Located just off Florida’s west coast, Marco Island is another great choice for a family-friendly spring break. This Gulf Coast destination features gorgeous white sand beaches, crystal clear blue waters, and plenty of sunshine for a warm, relaxing getaway.

Outdoor activities are popular on Marco Island. You can rent Jet Skis, go windsurfing, try birdwatching, or collect seashells along the shoreline. Many people also sign up for fishing charters or dolphin watching tours. You can check out a number of nature preserves and state parks nearby, as well, including Audubon’s Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary and Delnor-Wiggins Pass State Park.

Many of the resorts and dining spots on the island have a slightly higher price tag compared to some of the state’s other beach destinations. You’ll find more affordable accommodations when you opt for a Marco Island vacation rental, instead. There’s not as much of a nightlife scene on Marco Island, which is a bonus for families who want a quiet, relaxing experience. It can be a drawback, however, for those who like to stay out late on vacation.

Cocoa Beach

Enjoy a great combination of scenic beaches and nearby attractions when you visit Cocoa Beach for spring break. The scenic beach features a long pier and plenty of fun activities, including fishing and beach volleyball. It’s also one of the most famous surf destinations in the world and offers some of the best surfing on the United State’s East Coast. Make sure to stop by Ron Jon, the world’s largest surf shop, during your visit. You can also visit the East Coast Surfing Hall of Fame to learn more about the city’s surfing roots.

Located just south of the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Cocoa Beach is near the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex. A stop by this attraction can include access to historic launch sites and working spaceflight facilities. Depending on the timing of your visit, you might be able to catch a rocket launch.

You’ll discover fun places to eat and drink right along the beach. In general, Cocoa Beach has a calm atmosphere that’s ideal for families. While you can certainly enjoy a laid-back week of sunbathing on the beach, you can find plenty of things to do to keep you occupied if you prefer to be active.

If you want to make your spring break unforgettable this year, travel to one of these top beach destinations, you will not be disappointed!


Matt Moretti has worked in the travel and vacation rental industry for over a decade. He loves helping travelers find the best places to eat, the best things to do, and the perfect vacation rental for their trip.