By Jennifer Olvera
Each spring break, a sea of students hit the sand for beach vacations — you know, the kind where beer-slugging sun enthusiasts of a certain age gather, their finger-wagging parents far, far away. That can only mean one thing: The mantra is fun, fun, fun.
When it comes to planning spring break travel, consider Miami Beach a no brainer: It’s easy to get to, relatively inexpensive and temperate most every day of the year. Besides, it’s a great place to go and forget about midterm exams, thanks to walkable South Beach, which beckons with scenester-packed clubs. The same is true of Ocean Drive, a wine and dine-worthy stretch that’s loaded with people watching–worthy patios, the perfect precursor to the nightlife action along Washington Avenue. Notsure where to rest your head? There’s a Miami hotel for every budget.
Of course, spring break beach vacations and South Padre Island go hand in hand. Situated at the tip of Texas along the warm waters of the Gulf of Mexico and Laguna Madre Bay, it’s a fave among collegiates, in no small part since its beaches afford endless, lazy afternoons and breezy, flip-flops-friendly confines for kicking back. But it’s also a nature lover’s paradise and one of the Western Hemisphere’s top birding destinations. That’s good news for spring breakers who don’t party too hard. What’s more, South Padre Island vacations can be had at every price point.
Panama City, Fla., is another solid option for spring break vacation. After all, it’s the self-professed “spring break capital of the world.” Given the throngs that flock here, the roster of celeb-bathed parties on powder-sand beaches and Panama City hotels that range from resort-posh to penny pincher-worthy, there’s something for to suit all persuasions. That’s true whether you tap kegs at Hammerhead Fred’s, snag a swimsuit from Alvin’s Island or refuel over conch fritters at open-air The Boatyard Club.
Jennifer Olvera is a Chicago-based author, editor and food enthusiast, who travels often — usually in search of her next great meal.