Spring breakers

Bilal Saleh and Michael Fawaz, both of Detroit, catch some sun during spring break on Fort Lauderdale Beach at Las Olas Blvd. and A1A. (Sarah Dussault / Sun Sentinel / March 14, 2011)

From swanky South Beach to laid-back Fort Lauderdale, there’s plenty to see and do this spring break. But before you check into your hotel and head over to the 7-11 for a 24-pack of Miller Lite to take with you to the beach, you need to know a few things. 

Spanish is our second language, so learn the basics. When you’re hungover from a night of binge drinking, you will NEED a café con leche to help with the headache.

Topless tanning is an option.  I personally hate tan lines.  While Broward County has a strict no-topless law, South Beach welcomes you to flaunt your ta-tas on the sand.  Just know that there are creepy weird dudes walking around with cameras that will take photos of sexy, young thangs, so you might end up on the Internet.

VIDEO: Pick-up lines for Spring Break

Bars and clubs stay open late.  You’re used to the bartender turning on the lights and screaming "last call" at 1:45 a.m., right?  Here, be prepared to watch the sun come up.  Closing time is 5 a.m. at most clubs, so you might want to take a nap before you and your little black dress and Jimmy Choos head out.

Speaking of clothes, dress to impress.  At bars, sneakers, jeans, shorts and thong sandals are acceptable attire, but don’t dare walk into a club without swag, money, and a nice outfit.  And unless you look like a supermodel or happen to know a burly bouncer, be prepared to stand in a LONG line. The pretty people get in first.

If you plan on driving in Miami Beach, DO NOT speed or drag race your rental in the residential areas a la Justin Bieber. Cops will stop you if you go over 30 MPH.

I don’t care how much you tanned at the Jersey Shore or on Lake Michigan, if you’re fair-skinned, your skin will BURN.  Nothing hurts more than a burnt back and blisters.  A better idea: go to the nearest Walgreen's, buy a bottle of SPF 30 and aloe vera gel. Be sure to find a hottie to rub you down.

Beer guzzlers: South Beach and Fort Lauderdale have open container laws so buy some red plastic cups. 

Speaking of hotties, one-night stands and random hookups are popular here, but so are STDs. If you plan on doing the dirty deed, wear a condom.

Before jumping in the ocean, be aware of rip currents.  Lost at sea might have worked for Tom Hanks in "Castaway" but that was a movie.  If you feel the water taking you away, don’t fight back.  Swim out of the current in a parallel direction, following the shoreline.  

Your rental car will be towed.  If you see a "Towing Enforced" sign, it’s not a joke.  Park on the street or in a garage ONLY.  You don’t want to call Daddy at 5 a.m. asking him to wire you $300, trust me.

Tip only when asked.  A lot of beach-front restaurants automatically add gratuity to the bill so make sure to pay attention when paying the tab.

Don’t trust the cabby.  Cab drivers get lost in South Florida, too.  It’s better to ask Siri for directions. And carry cash. For the most part, taxi drivers don't have credit cards machines.

Lastly, if you plan on drinking in a South Beach club, carry lots of mula. On average, a glass of bubbly costs $20, a (watered) down vodka and cranberry $18, and a beer $8.  Drinks at Fort Lauderdale's hotspots are easier on the wallet. The average price for a well-drink is $8.