Florida remains “Spring Break King,” with record attendance in 2014

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Florida continues to be the hottest of the spring break hot spots, with the first quarter of 2014 poised to be a record breaker.

For students looking to blow off steam and drink copious amounts of alcohol, specially after a harsh winter in the northern regions, Florida is the spring break king, writes Rick Neale of USA Today, .

Out-of-state visitors in January, February and March increased to 26.3 million in 2013 — a leap of 36 percent since 2000, according to the VISIT FLORIDA, the state’s quasi-governmental tourism agency.

“This is going to be a very good year for spring break because of the weather that the Northeast has experienced for several months,” said VISIT FLORIDA marketing officer Paul Phipps. “There’s pent-up demand, and it’s the opportunity to go south and have a good time.”

Unusual weather in other southern regions, such as Alabama, Nashville and Atlanta, makes Florida even more attractive to spring breakers.

Data from the online-booking website Travelocity shows Orlando is the second-most popular winter destination in the United States between March 1 and April 15, Neale notes. For the third consecutive year, South Florida has been in the top 10, with Fort Myers fourth and Tampa/St. Petersburg ranked eighth.

Another popular spot, Cocoa Beach, is “mobbed” when the weather is pleasant, says Beach Shack bartender Mike Morris, who has been a part of the venerable spring break hangout since the late 1970s.

“Did you guys used to come here when you could bring furniture on the beach? They’d haul out couches, end tables, lamps,” Morris told USA Today. “Guys would put the hotel room on their credit card and leave all the hotel furniture on the beach.”

Cocoa Beach banned indoor furniture on the beach in 2007.

However, record beach attendance goes beyond hard-partying 20-somethings; parents and children also help attain those astronomical spring break attendance records — with Orlando an obvious choice.

“Families of all ages can spend anywhere from one day to two weeks fully immersed in the sights and sounds of Universal Studios, Epcot, Disney’s Magic Kingdom and Legoland Florida, just to name a few,” said Travelocity senior travel editor Courtney Scott. “Yet, within an hour’s drive — or two hours with frequent toddler stops — families can shift gears to lounge and play at Cocoa Beach or explore Kennedy Space Center.”

Phil Ammann is a St. Petersburg-based journalist and blogger. With more than three decades of writing, editing and management experience, Phil produced material for both print and online, in addition to founding HRNewsDaily.com. His broad range includes covering news, local government and culture reviews for Patch.com, technical articles and profiles for BetterRVing Magazine and advice columns for a metaphysical website, among others. Phil has served as a contributor and production manager for SaintPetersBlog since 2013. He lives in St. Pete with his wife, visual artist Margaret Juul and can be reached at phil@floridapolitics.com and on Twitter @PhilAmmann.