While maligned, Florida is still one of America's best trips

To be frank, Florida has become the butt of the joke in recent years. Take the current Twitter trend, for example. The challenge asks each user to Google search “Florida man” along with their birthday and share the ridiculous news headline that pops up first. 

For my birthday, Oct. 17, I got: “Florida man gets 40 years for plotting to bomb Target stores.” Compared to others, my result wasn’t so extreme, and the more wild ones that went viral make you question what’s really in that Floridian water. Aside from Twitter trends, Florida has always been known as one of the weirder states in the U.S., and stereotypical demographics include senior citizens, college spring breakers and Cubans. Because of its domestic location and lackluster reputation, Florida has become a last resort vacation option for many Americans. 

Personally, I never had a particular desire to visit the Sunshine State myself. As a native New Yorker, one of my weaknesses is my snobbiness — when it comes to location, I’m a little hard to impress. That is, until I was invited to Miami for a long weekend birthday celebration last month, and it quickly became one of my favorite destinations. 

The everlasting 80-degree weather and clear ocean blues made me feel like I was in Mexico or the Caribbean, especially since I stayed at the famous Fontainebleau hotel. The nightlife is booming, and there’s plenty of culture to immerse yourself in as a tourist, from Wynwood to Little Havana to the Everglades. The city itself is diverse and it’s really difficult to get bored there, especially as a lively young person. Once a person who stuck up my nose to the idea of Miami, it wasn’t long before I understood why it’s such a popular destination. 

And I think our generation is beginning to catch on. After having one of the most fun weekends of my life a month before spring break, I prepared myself for another Floridian escape, except this time in a more stereotypical fashion — I was off to Boca Raton for the week, a coastal albeit generally boring town made up of mostly families and retirees. Although I definitely needed something more relaxing, I couldn’t help but feel jealous toward the countless college students I knew who were hitting Miami. 

I was also a little surprised — Vegas I get, and Cancun or Cabo I definitely understand, but for some reason, it felt like every college student went to Miami for spring break this year. That’s not to say the sunny city doesn’t deserve it — actually, it makes total sense as to why everyone hopped on the bandwagon. 

Mexican resorts marketed toward college students are cool because you don’t have to be 21 to enjoy the nightlife and partying, but they can be on the pricier side, require a passport and overall lack culture. Many Mexican spring break spots are Americanized, and you mostly stay on the resort for a week. 

The most convenient part about Miami is that it’s domestic. It's only a 3-hour flight from Newark Liberty International Airport, but if you do it right, Miami feels like it’s a designated vacation town far, far away. If you can afford to stay on glitzy South Beach, great, but Miami Beach and its surrounding areas are nice too. Miami Beach is free and open to the public, so you can enjoy white sand and crystal clear ocean at the same price it would cost you back at the Jersey Shore. 

Need some cheap but Instagrammable restaurant options? We recommend Naked Taco on South Beach, a casual joint with vibrant aesthetics and delicious Mexican fare. Miami is also filled with gorgeous Art Deco architecture and has become one of the art capitals of the world, so if you decide to go next spring break, be sure to check out Wynwood, Miami’s arts district. 

For all of these reasons, Miami is the ideal spring break spot for college students. Before you rush to the DMV to finally renew your passport, consider taking your talents out to South Beach instead. 

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