Spring Break Travel Guide: Exploring Florida

If you are looking to plan a last minute Spring Break trip, with no passport or out of the country requirements, your de­sired destination may very well be Florida. The state is a short two hour flight and less than 20 hours driving distance if you want to take a road trip. Besides the moderately easy travel, the southern climate generates sun­shine year round making for a pleasant stay.

One of Florida’s most attrac­tive tourism spot is Fort Lau­derdale. Located in Southern Florida on the Atlantic Ocean, Ft. Lauderdale has 23 miles of clean beaches. The city holds many attractions such as visiting Everglades National Park and a vast night life from night clubs, to comedy clubs to western sa­loons.

For most spring breakers looking to party, Florida’s city of Miami is where college stu­dents nationwide swarm for their Spring Breaks. A half hour drive south of Ft. Lauderdale, the city famous for its gorgeous beaches and luxurious lifestyle.

Although Miami might be known for its upscale atmo­sphere, it does offer reasonable hotel prices with rooms starting as low as $105 per night accord­ing to

The infamous South Beach is a popular location, serving as the place to be during the day for the beach and at night for clubs like Liv and Set Miami. Downtown Miami also offers an assortment of clubs like Club Space, where the cast of Jersey Shore often ap­peared during filming.

Also on Florida’s Atlantic coast is Daytona, a city famed mainly for its affiliation with NASCAR. Offering beaches, forest trails, and historical monuments, Day­tona is commonly mistaken for just a speedway heaven.

Off the bottom of Florida’s east coast begins the islands of the Florida Keys. Driving through the keys might be the most amazing part as you are surrounded by turquoise waters. Perhaps the most famous of all the Florida Keys is the island of Key West which regarded as a spectacular place for art enthu­siasts. In fact, at Maloey Square, tourists can watch the sunset and observe artists’ work.

Home to literary genius Er­nest Hemingway, The Keys are praised for their reefs and wrecks where snorkelers and divers can swim around. The Keys are also known for their plethora of bars with live music, such as Smokey Joe’s, a personal favorite of Hemingway’s.

On the other side of Florida, you will find the city of Tampa Bay. Tampa is located minutes from gulf coast beaches and its outlet malls offer plenty of shop­ping. Busch Gardens, an amuse­ment park similar to Six Flags, is also located in the city. Ju­nior public relations major Tara Ackaway has a vacation home in Tampa and thinks the city is one of Florida’s best treasures. “Tampa is so beautiful, I love all the palm trees, plus my dad has a boat we always go on,” Ackaway said.

Sophomore business mar­keting and management ma­jor, Steve Romano has already booked Tampa as his spring break choice. He will be visiting his uncle, who is friends with the general manager of the NHL Tampa Bay Lightning team and they will be attending a game in the GM suite.

“I’m most excited to get away from school and relax for a week,” Romano said. Other pop­ular destinations near Tampa are Clearwater and St. Petersburg. Sophomore Public Relations ma­jor Becca Zidik went to Clearwater in August of 2008.

“I loved watching the sunset and I stayed at the Marriott ho­tel,” Zidik said. “It had a great restaurant Cocomo, which I rec­ommend.”

Clearwater also houses spring training for MLB’s Philadelphia Phillies. One of the most famed days in Phillies spring training is St. Patrick’s Day when the play­ers dawn Irish inspired jerseys.

St. Petersburg is nicknamed “The Sunshine City” with an av­erage of 360 days of sunshine a year, but is known for the rejuve­nating breeze it gets from Tampa Bay. An hour below the Tampa area, you will find the county of Sarasota. Downtown Sara­sota has various shopping along with the Mote Marine Aquarium which is home to local aquatic life.

If you are looking for pure re­laxation, Sarasota County con­tains Manasota Key, a barrier island of beaches off the town of Englewood, notorious for great shells and shark teeth. From my personal home in Englewood, I have learned throughout the years that the community is quite tropical and makes for a unique getaway.

The beach offers barbecue pits, picnic tables and the area is ideal for fishing as well as boat­ing. North of Englewood, you will find the prime snorkeling beach, Siesta Key, where tropi­cal gulf coast fish can be seen at The Point of Rocks coral reef. If you are more into fishing, south of Englewood is Boca Grande beach, famous for tarpon fish­ing.

The most obvious and not yet mentioned Florida attraction is none other than Walt Disney World. First opened in 1971, Walt Disney World has been turned into a timeless classic appreciated by all generations. Senior business major Samantha Hopkins traveled to Walt Disney World for her spring break vaca­tion last year with her friends.

“I love Disney,” Hopkins said. “None of us were 21-years-old and it was cheaper than going to another country. The best part was being with my best friends and when I’m anywhere with them I have fun.”

Since The Walt Disney Com­pany owns ESPN, you can take a short five minute bus trip from any of the Disney resorts to the Atlanta Braves spring training facility, ESPN’s Champion Sta­dium. Being so close to Orlando also holds an advantage for those who want to relive their child­hood and yet have a night life over break as well since the city offers both night clubs and com­edy clubs.

No matter what part of Florida you choose as your destination, the opportunities for a fulfilling vacation are endless. It is impos­sible to go wrong with the sun­shine state. So travel to Florida for Spring Break, the choice is clearer than the ocean.

PHOTO COURTESY of Kelly Hughes