In the late 1950s, it was well documented that college students from all over the country were flocking to the beaches of Florida in March and Fort Lauderdale became the first Spring Break destination. But did you also know that since the late 1800’s American college students have participated in a travel vacation away during the spring break vacation period?
A student interviewed by Time Magazine at the time said that she had come to Fort Lauderdale because “this is where the boys are.” This simple comment set the scene for the 1960 movie – Where the Boys Are, which premiered at Fort Lauderdale’s Gateway Theatre on Sunrise Boulevard on 21 December 1960. The movie was a massive success and promoted across the country the annual mass migration of college students to the beaches of Fort Lauderdale. The “invasion” in March of 1961 saw over 50,000 college students arriving in Fort Lauderdale, overwhelming the 80,000 local residents.
Although Fort Lauderdale is where it all started, by 1989, the number of spring breakers heading to Fort Lauderdale fell from 350,000 at its peak, to just 20,000. Why did all the people just stop coming to Fort Lauderdale for Spring Break? In the early 1980s, Fort Lauderdale residents became upset at the damage done by Spring Breakers and in 1985 the local government passed laws restricting parties. As well, this was around the time that the National Minimum Drinking Age Act was enacted in the United States, which meant that Florida raised its minimum drinking age to 21. This encouraged many 18 to 20 year old spring breakers to travel outside the United States for Spring Break.
MTV’s first Spring Break promotion was from Daytona Beach in 1986 and the following few years up to 200,000 students headed to Daytona Beach for Spring Break. Daytona Beach emerged as the new hot spot Spring Break destination. Daytona’s local government undertook similar measures to Fort Lauderdale and the crowds of the mid-1990’s and early 2000’s had fallen away.
Due to its relative proximity to many southern colleges, Panama City Beach in Florida has become the most popular Spring Break destination. As well as this the locals in Panama City Beach welcome Spring Breakers every year, making Spring Break a major factor in the city’s economy.
Other major Spring Break destinations in the USA are South Padre Island in Texas, Las Vegas, Miami’s South Beach and Daytona Beach has reamerged as a Spring Break destination.
Spring Break international destinations, with their lower minimum drinking ages, are a major factor for the increase in Spring Breakers heading overseas for their vacation.
Internationally popular Spring Break destinations include Cancun, Cabo San Lucas, Mazatln, Puerto Vallarta and Acapulco in Mexico, as well as the Bahamas, Jamaica and other Caribbean islands.
For the must-do event on any college students calendar dont forget Spring Break.
FOMO Travel, the events and festival travel specialists, provides an extensive array of Spring Break information and advice on tour operators, travel options, travel tips, party spots and other activities.