Fort Lauderdale is the nation’s second-most popular destination for a Spring Break vacation next month, according to a tally of flights and tours booked through travel club AAA and released Tuesday.
Of course, Spring Break doesn’t just mean college students anymore. The city made famous in 1960 by the movie, “Where the Boys Are,” decided long ago to market itself to visitors of all stripes and from all parts of the globe.
And Florida overall remains popular for March vacations by people of all ages, the survey shows. Three Florida cities are on the Top 10 list: Orlando tops the list, while Miami is No. 8.
After Fort Lauderdale, the most-booked destinations are Honolulu, Hawaii (3); Punta Cana, Dominican Republic (4); Cancun, Mexico (5); Anaheim, Calif. (6); Kahului (Maui), Hawaii (7); Phoenix, Ariz. (9); and Montego Bay, Jamaica (10).
“Spring break is not just for college kids who want to party on the beach,” said Vicky Evans, AAA’s assistant vice president for travel sales development. “This is often the first chance of the year when the entire family can take a break and go somewhere together.”
Evans said damage to Eastern Caribbean destinations during last year’s hurricanes caused travelers to turn to Hawaii and Mexico as alternatives. She added, “Fortunately, the Eastern Caribbean has recovered, and travel providers are offering incentives to get people back into the region.”
March has traditionally been one of the most popular months of the year for tourism throughout Florida, as visitors come for Major League Baseball’s spring training, motorsports, theme parks and a wide variety of water activities. Plus, the state’s seasonal snowbirds typically stay through Easter, which this year falls on April 1.
That’s not to say college students won’t be showing up. Fort Lauderdale has experienced a resurgence in popularity among the college-age set in recent years, though the influx is in no danger of rivaling the event’s mid-’80s peak.
Last year, police were called to the central beach area north of Las Olas Boulevard 131 times in response to reports of disorderly intoxication, drug use, battery and other crimes, a Sun Sentinel review found. That was a 72 percent increase from the previous year, and city leaders vowed to take a zero-tolerance approach to drinking on the beach this year.
Not yet known is whether any effects will be felt from Parkland school shooting survivor David Hogg’s call for visitors to boycott Florida vacations this spring unless legislators enact gun control. The Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School student issued his call on Twitter on Saturday.