The Sunshine State is home to America's rowdiest spring break scenes, as well as the motorcycle classic Bike Week and a flurry of NASCAR races. It doesn't take a detective to discern that Florida's party scene is, in a word, epic. When raging nights lead to raging headaches, you'll be grateful to find a beach on which to unwind. We've picked out Florida's top party beaches, home to the hottest places to get your drink on … and to recover come morning.
Don't be fooled by Panama City Beach's 27 miles of soft, white sands and soothing, emerald green waters. This beach town is synonymous with one thing: partying. Panama City has ingrained itself in the minds of spring breakers and pretty young things across the nation with good reason. Some of Florida's biggest -- and wildest -- beach clubs, like Sharky's Tiki Bar and Hammerhead Fred's, are found in Panama City, and whip visitors into a beer-fueled frenzy day and night.
When the party's over and it's time to crash, make sure you've booked a room at one of Panama City's most affordable beachfront hotels, like the modest Seahaven Beach Hotel, where you can stumble from your room to the beach, and spend the day lounging alongside lapping waves, napping and rehydrating in preparation for the upcoming night's festivities.
Daytona Beach is Florida's land o' plenty -- that is, plenty of motorcycles, NASCAR fans, spring breakers and beer. Yes, Daytona is a classic, home to Bike Week, the Daytona 500 and one of Florida's biggest spring break crowds. Clubgoers will be hard-pressed to decide where to spend their dollars: Razzle's Nightclub, where nightly, double-shot drink specials get you where you're going fast, or the Ocean Deck Beach Club, Daytona's only beachfront club where string bikinis are de rigueur.
It's no surprise that many a visitor has spent the day beachside at the so-called "World's Most Famous Beach," resting up from the previous night's shenanigans. Daytona's ready for your recovery, with 23 miles of beaches, open to the public 24 hours, 7 days a week. Think you'll have trouble walking to the shore? Daytona allows cars in designated sections of the beach.
Typically considered more sedate than party towns like Daytona or Panama City, St. Petersburg has gained considerable buzz as a party scene since it was featured in the recent James Franco-Vanessa Hudgens movie, Spring Breakers. Seek and ye shall find, we say. Indeed, if you're here to let loose, St. Pete's Beach has its share of places to party. Start your evening early with sunset beers at Caddy's on the Beach (you might even catch a bikini contest while you're here), or get your dirty dancing on at the notorious Push Ultra Lounge, an upscale nightclub in downtown St. Pete's known for hot DJs and strong drinks.
When morning comes, make your way toward St. Pete's sugar-white shores and turquoise waters, and spend the day recovering while soaking up the sun on one of America's best beaches. Set up camp on the sands near iconic Undertow Beach Bar along Gulf Boulevard. When you're ready to start the next round (or need some "hair of the dog"), head to the Undertow for a drink served by bikini-clad waitresses.
From neon-lit, booze-fueled bars to the velvet-rope clubs of South Beach, it's easy to get lost in Miami's sexy nightlife. Start the night with a cabaret show and a Frozen Mango-Rita at Mango's Tropical Cafe on Ocean Drive, then head down the block to the upstairs bar at Wet Willie's for more libations and dancing.
The good times might leave you too wiped out for round 2 come morning, but no worries -- you've got one of America's softest stretches of beach on which to lounge. Head to the white sands of South Beach where, let's be honest, a heck of a lot of beautiful people are suffering through the morning after the night before. Grab your sunglasses, microscopic bikini (the sparklier, the better) and a big bottle of chilled water, then rent a lounge chair or cabana for the day and kick back. May the people watching -- and recovery -- commence.
Fort Lauderdale's nightlife serves as a less expensive but no less rowdy alternative to Miami's ritzy world -- and leaves partiers in dire need of rest and relaxation on the town's sprawling 7 miles of beaches. Clubs like Off the Hookah offer a sultry scene, with plenty of swiveling hips (yup, there are belly dancers), creative cocktails and wild theme parties. Make your way down trendy Las Olas Boulevard to pay a visit to the legendary Elbo Room, where the drinks flow and partiers convene for a raucous, down-and-dirty bar scene, often featuring live music. After whooping it up, settle in at the W Fort Lauderdale, where you'll be pampered and in close proximity to the hub of Fort Lauderdale's beach action.
Come morning, make a beeline for the beach, where you'll be greeted by 7 miles of pearly white sands and sapphire-blue ocean. Soothe your weary liver with a dip in the warm water, then settle in for an afternoon session of sunbathing and unwinding until you've got the itch to do it all again. In that case, walk right up to the Elbo and order a cold one.