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College Spring Break: 6 Favorite Student Vacation Destinations

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It seems like the semester just started, but Spring Break 2011 is actually approaching at breakneck speed. The party-centric week of not hitting the books typically falls between late February and early April, depending on your college or university’s schedule.

The most popular spring break destinations vary slightly from year to year, but college students have been flocking to sun-soaked locales for decades. Read on and learn about 6 favorite spring break hotspots.

#1 Panama City Beach, FL

With miles of white sandy beaches and accommodations ranging from full-service resorts to budget-friendly chain hotels, it’s easy to see why Panama City Beach is a long-standing college spring break favorite. In the face of the tragic Deepwater Horizon oil spill last April, when tar balls washed up along beaches and tourism plummeted, Panama City Beach is raring to go and welcoming Spring Breakers. The city’s tourism officials have held promotional events near several Northern college campuses, spreading the word with Panama City Beach T-shirts, coolers and koozies, even raffling off prizes including Southwest Airlines gift cards.

“When the kids come down here and have a great time and see our beaches are clean, they’ll be our ambassadors and tell the rest of the world,” Dan Rowe, president and chief executive of the Panama City Beach Convention and Visitors Bureau, told the Wall Street Journal.

#2 Lake Havasu City, AZ

At AZSpringBreak, Lake Havasu City prides itself as the “ultimate affordable College Spring Break 2011 destination.” Promising non-stop outrageous activities in a fun and safe atmosphere, perpetually-sunny Lake Havasu City boasts boating, parasailing, jet-skiing, water-skiing, fishing, canoeing, kayaking and sailing, not to mention reasonably priced hotels, great restaurants, a hot nightlife, miles of shoreline and beaches, warm temperatures, and “some of the best looking people on the planet.”

The city’s Convention and Visitors Bureau and Hospitality Association joined forces earlier this year to launch a $12,000 marketing campaign promoting the Lake Havasu City as a destination for college students around the country from March through mid-April. Looks like it worked- the Facebook campaign aimed at drawing spring breakers has already gathered more than 3,800 “likes,” reports the Havasu News-Herald.

# 3 Las Vegas, NV

Despite being known for its teen following, MTV is heading to Sin City to celebrate spring break Las Vegas-style. A yearly celebration that started in 1986, MTV Spring Break 2011 headquarters is the Palms Casino’s massive pool complex, featuring a resident DJ, live concerts from up-and-comers and big-name acts, and celebrity appearances including the cast of Jersey Shore.

College students often seek spring break destinations with relaxed laws because they most don’t turn 21 until their junior or senior year in school, but George Maloof, owner of the Palms, assured the Associated Press that “Everyone’s going to be 21 that will be at the pool. We’ll make sure of that, have plenty of security.”

#4 New Orleans, LA

For the first time in decades, Mardi Gras—the annual carnival celebration that takes place before Lent— falls on March 8, when many colleges and universities are on spring break. It won’t happen again until 2038, reports the Bradenton Herald, which is why more college students are heading to New Orleans for spring break in 2011 than ever before.

A plethora of famous bars, restaurants and museums—combined with music, culture and let’s not forget Mardi Gras—make this tradition-rich city an appealing choice for students.

#5 Daytona Beach, FL

With an average March temperature of 75 degrees, it’s easy to see why spring break in Daytona Beach is a longstanding tradition. The first-ever MTV Spring Break was held on the World’s Most Famous Beach in 1986 and college students continue to flock there each year. “Great music, great food, great company and great deals” are promised by the Daytona Beach Spring Break 2011 website and the city definitely delivers.

Oh, and if you need a break from the beach during your stay, don’t worry— Disney World, Universal Studios, Sea World and the Kennedy Space Center are all within an hour’s drive.

#6 Cancun, Mexico

Despite recent headlines about Mexico’s violent drug war, tourism remains relatively strong in 2011 and Cancun is still expecting college students to head down for spring break. According to Alfonso Sumano, director of the Americas for the Mexico Tourism Board, the area is far from the U.S. border, where most of the drug violence has taken place and where the U.S. State Department recently warned students not to travel, reports the Sioux City Journal.

Mexico’s top beach destination, Cancun offers affordable all-inclusive resorts, semi-tropical weather and average temperature of 80 degrees—not to mention a legal drinking age of 18, which is (unfortunately) a big selling point for many college students.


Melissa Rhone+

Melissa Rhone earned her Bachelor of Music in Education from the University of Tampa. She resides in the Tampa Bay area and enjoys writing about college, pop culture, and epilepsy awareness.

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