Five Places Not to Go in Florida During Spring Break

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Spring Break Party
In March, Florida is the home of spring break and all the partying that comes with it.  (iStockphoto)

Finding yourself in the state of Florida during the height of college spring break is like being stranded in the middle of a bad B-movie: Attack of the Raging Hormones. For young college students, spring break in Florida is a rite of passage; for families looking for a laidback vacation, it’s teenage tomfoolery gone wild. In March, Florida becomes a magnet for hundreds of thousands of collegians looking to party under the golden sun, and a number of the state’s cities and beach resorts spread out the welcome mat for them. Those are the destinations that you, as a family on a very different kind of spring break holiday, might want to avoid like the plague. Luckily, Florida is a big place, and there’s plenty of room for both you and frolicking young hedonists. Here are five places not to go in Florida during spring break—and remember: If you spot an MTV camera crew, run for your life.

1. Panama City
Panama City is so committed to its place at the top of the spring break heap that it even has its own spring break website. It must be doing everything right, because this Florida Panhandle city was named the mtvU spring break destination for 2012. It’s Bacchanalia 101 as a reputed half-million spring breakers descend upon this Gulf Coast beach town for bikini contests, foam parties, and nonstop clubbing. No fake ID? Don’t sweat it: In Panama City Beach (PCB to the cognoscenti), you only have to be 18 years of age to gain admission to the clubs.

The family-friendly alternative: Destin, named a top-ten budget beach destination by Away.com and a top-five family beach by Southern Living magazine, has soft-sand beaches, waterslides, and a laidback pace that makes it ideal for families.

2. Pensacola Beach
Northwest of Panama City on the Florida Panhandle, Pensacola Beach has an old-fashioned appeal, with a ramshackle lineup of funky beach bars that gets cooking when thousands of spring breakers hit the sands. The crowd thronging Pensacola Beach is reputedly more mature than its party-hearty compadres in Panama City, but hey, they ain’t here for the fishin’.

The family-friendly alternative: Fort Walton Beach is a low-key charmer where you and the kids can play on broad, white-sand Gulf Coast beaches or join other families at the seaside Boardwalk, a wooden pavilion with volleyball nets, an arcade, shops, and a handful of seafood restaurants. Or drop a fishing line into the glassy blue seas off the Okaloosa Island Fishing Pier.

Published: 8 Mar 2012 | Last Updated: 9 May 2012
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication
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