Florida is famous for its beautiful beaches and warm sunny days. The Sunshine State boasts long stretches of sandy coastline, perfect for a tropical getaway. It is no wonder why a Florida spring break is so popular.
Spring break is a great time of year to plan an escape to paradise. While the month of March can get crowded here, there are still plenty of Florida spring break destinations where you can enjoy a trip to these salty seafronts.
The year-round warm weather always makes Florida an enticing spot for a relaxing vacation with the little ones. Whether you’re looking for an action-packed itinerary in a big city or seeking peace on a more tranquil waterfront, or soaking in the sun at one of the best beaches in Florida, there’s something for every plan and preference. Here are all the best Florida spring break destinations for the whole family.
Florida Spring Break FAQ
Q: Where can I go in Florida to avoid college spring break crowds?
A: If you’re hoping to avoid crowds of partying college kids during spring break in Florida, there are plenty of family-friendly places to go. Cocoa Beach and Clearwater Beach are considered some of the favorite shores for children and the whole clan to visit.
Q: Where do college students go for spring break in college?
A: College students have a reputation for heading to Florida to let loose and party during spring break. The beaches most known for more wild behavior are Key West, Panama City Beach, and of course, Miami. It’s better to stay clear of these coasts when you have any little ones in tow.
We can attest to this because Adam and I both came to Panama City beach during spring break in college. I came to Florida during spring break in college twice, actually.
Q: What destination in Florida is the most popular for spring break?
A: The most popular destination in Florida for spring break is commonly thought to be Orlando. It continues to be at the top of the list for a wide variety of vacationers and has been classically considered an iconic location for all ages.
Orlando is one of the most popular spring break destinations in all of Florida. This is probably because it is packed full of exciting theme parks. Walt Disney World is, of course, the most famous. This globally iconic destination includes three adventure parks, two water parks, a shopping and dining district, and a golf course alone. It’s easy, though pricey, to spend a whole week within this magical wonderland.
Orlando is also home to the beloved Universal Orlando. Aside from these action-filled attractions, you can also find a diverse range of world-class restaurants, shops, and resorts. More off-the-beaten-path spots that are also amazing for any little ones include the Crayola Experience, the Wheel at Icon Park, and the Sea Life Aquarium. Regardless of budget, something awaits in Orlando for everyone.
We suggest saving a day or two to visit some of the best beaches near Disney World. There are several beaches just an hour away that are worth the trip.
If you are taking a family spring break to Florida and visiting Disney with younger kids, read our Disney stroller article. There are so many stroller rules. You wouldn’t want to get to Disney and have your stroller turned away.
2. St. Petersburg/Clearwater
St. Pete Beach and the close by Clearwater Beach are both considered hotspots for families on spring break. It’s known for its scenic Gulf coastline marked by soft white sands and warm azure seas. There are an array of water sports to partake in here, including swimming, snorkeling, and kayaking. It’s easy to book tours and lessons or rent equipment. to get out on the waves.
From outdoor adventure at the Weedon Island Preserve, Sunken Gardens, and the Florida Botanical Gardens to state-of-the-art cultural attractions like the Dali Museum and the Clearwater Marine Aquarium, there’s so much to see and do in Clearwater. Many say watching the sunset from the Clearwater Pier is one of the most breathtaking sights in the whole state.
On our last family trip to St Petersburg, we stayed on St. Pete beach at the Beach House Suites. There are tons of things to do in St. Petersburg too. You can choose to stay in either city. You can easily drive between the two cities.
Related: Best Beaches in Clearwater
Tampa has earned a reputation as a cosmopolitan coastal city with a retro style. Busch Gardens is one of the most popular places to go for a good time here, especially for any daredevils and thrill seekers. The river walk is also absolutely idyllic to partake in scenic strolls, leisurely shopping, and chowing down on some of the coolest foodie cuisines in the country.
This city boasts an exciting mix of historic architecture and modern culture, all with Cuban influence. There are plenty of options for nature lovers too. You can spot local wildlife or hike and bike through the lush landscape at the Hillsborough River State Park or the Lettuce Lake Park.
Every age can enjoy exploring all Tampa has to offer. Plus, there are comfortable accommodations for every budget and interest.
4. Cocoa Beach
Cocoa Beach is one of the calmer Florida beaches to visit during spring break. It’s set along what’s known as the Space Coast. As such, the Kennedy Space Center is well worth a visit while here.
Many families head over to enjoy a week of sunbathing, surfing, swimming, and strolling along the world-famous pier. The historic Cocoa Village is a quaint creative community to wander through as well.
If you prefer to get off the sand and out of the sun, there are so many other exciting activities to try. You can meet some of the cutest gentle creatures of the sea at the Manatee Sanctuary Park. Mini Golf is also a popular pastime here, and there are several kitschy courses to choose from. The massive and iconic Ron Jon Surf Shop is an essential stop while in Cocoa Beach for all your beach-going necessities, from sports gear to souvenir towels.
For a unique outdoor adventure, Cocoa Beach is also one of the best places for bioluminescent kayaking in Florida. It isn’t just any beach where you can see bioluminescence! This is the tour we recommend.
5. Fort Myers
Fort Myers is located on Estero Island, just off the southwest coast of Florida. It’s a small seaside town with plenty of charm, and there are some great restaurants in Fort Myers too. The clear waters here are known for accommodating a wide range of fun water sports, from deep sea fishing to wave running. You can also cruise on eco-friendly dolphin tours to see some of the most famous marine residents here.
You can learn more about the enchanting natural landscape of Fort Myers by checking out Ostego Bay Marine Science Center and the Matanzas Pass Preserve. There are also fascinating archeological remains to discover at the 1900s Mound House. Of course, a day simply spent soaking up some sunshine on the long stretches of shoreline always promises an amazing time as well.
***Update*** The picture above was taken before Hurricane Ian hit in September 2022. Hurricane Ian devastated most of Fort Myers Beach, Sanibel Island, and Captiva. The Fort Myers area is one of our favorite places in Florida and one of the best Florida spring break destinations. We cannot wait to revisit again soon.
Sarasota is a bustling hub ideal for a family Florida spring break along the Gulf of Mexico. The sugar sands and crystal clear waters are definitely the main draws here. The Mote Marine Laboratory and Aquarium are sure to entertain the kids for hours, especially when the adorable otters are around. Keep in mind that Bayfront Park is the perfect spot to spend a day full of surf and sunshine.
The sweeping views of the waterfront and skyline from Sarasota are stunning. There are a variety of gardens, restaurants, and museums to explore, such as the John and Mable Ringling Museum and the Marie Selby Botanical Gardens. You can even soak up the culture at the Sarasota Opera House and the Beatrice Friedman Symphony Center. Myakka State Park is also one of the biggest and oldest natural spaces of its kind in the entire state.
7. Daytona Beach
Daytona Beach is located along Florida’s Atlantic coast and is known for its colorful culture, world-class amenities, and historic downtown. While it may be most famous for NASCAR, since it’s home to the International Speedway, there’s so much more to discover in this city.
There are 23 miles of beautiful white sandy beaches (some of the best in Florida), often with 4x4s cruising up and down them. The vibrant boardwalk here is the heart of the whole town. You can always find themed rides, arcades, and live music performances along it.
Daytona Lagoon Water Park is a great way to have fun in the sun away from the waterfront. It’s a kid-friendly destination with several attractions for a younger audience, like the Angel & Phelps Chocolate Factory.
Throughout the year, you can attend all kinds of celebratory festivities and events here, such as Shrimp and Seafood Fest or Art Festival Wine Walk. Many come here to shop until they drop as well, with independent boutiques and outlets galore.
8. Key Largo
Set in the Upper Florida Keys, the name Key Largo actually translates to long key in Spanish. It offers a slice of paradise life, boasting scenic beachfront all around. It’s the self-proclaimed dive capital of the world, and people flock here to discover the underwater treasures of these calm and clear waters. There’s a natural protected coral reef state park to check out, along with the world’s largest artificial coral reef sight.
If you don’t want to scuba, snorkeling and glass bottom boating are other favorite pastimes to try here too. The Everglades National Park is set just outside of Key Largo for anyone keen on more outdoor adventures like kayaking, fishing, and swimming. It’s also the place where the whole family will want to chow down on fresh seafood as they watch the colorful sunset over the sea. After a busy day, head to one of the best restaurants in Key Largo, our personal favorite is Buzzard’s Roost.
On our last three trips, we drove from Miami to Key West and spent a few nights in Key Largo. There are tons of things to do in Key Largo, so it is best to stay a few nights before driving straight down to Key West.
Destin promises a good time for all ages while vacationing on a Florida spring break trip. In what’s known as the panhandle, this northeastern Florida hotspot is a vibrant city for both relaxing and playing.
Many families flock here for the beaches alone, whether it’s for fishing, parasailing, or simply sunbathing. For family-friendly fun out of the sun, head to the famous Gulfarium. Here you can see a lot of the local marine life, including dolphins and stingrays. There are so many things to do in Destin you will never get bored.
The Destin Harbor Boardwalk always makes for a quaint and beautiful afternoon on the seaside as well. Henderson Beach State Park is home to some impressive sand dunes and lovely nature walks. The Big Kahuna Water Park boasts thrilling slides, waterfalls, and pools for splashing around away from the sea. You can learn more about the local history of this charming hamlet at the Destin History and Fishing Museum.
Related: Where to find the Clearest Water in Florida
Pensacola is located at the tip of the Florida panhandle along the Emerald Coast. Named for sparkling green waters, it’s one of the state’s best spots for a seaside spring break. There’s a slew of activities that are designed just for kids here, so the whole family is sure to have a blast.
The Pensacola Children’s Museum is easy, but younger visitors will also love climbing aboard real fighter jets at the National Naval Aviation Museum. The historic downtown offers plenty of ways to spend some time wandering quaint streets and popping into local independent shops. The Gulf Islands National Seashore is a pristine and protected stretch of coast for hiking, admiring the scenery, and spotting native wildlife.