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Everything you need to know about spring break restrictions in South Florida

College students have fun during their spring break in the South Beach area of Miami Beach, Fla., March 14, 2016.
Alan Diaz
College students have fun during their spring break in the South Beach area of Miami Beach, Fla., March 14, 2016.

Anyone hoping for a wild spring break in South Florida this year might have to look elsewhere.

Miami Beach has not been shy about its intention to curb spring break crowds, introducing heavy measures in the last few weeks to help them — as its recent campaign says — “break up” with the holiday.

"Miami Beach is a destination, and we open our doors to the world," City Commissioner Alex Fernandez told WLRN. "If you are a law-abiding person."

READ MORE: City of Miami Beach considers 'shutting the door on spring break'

Among these measures are a flat $30 rate on many city-owned parking locations, doubled towing fees, heightened police presence, and even security checkpoints on beaches. "It's all hands on deck," Fernandez said. He acknowledges how rigorous these restrictions have become this year.

"In order for us to continue being a great destination this year, we have to put some serious measures in place," he said. "And we kind of are killing the fun. I mean, we're literally shutting the door on spring break."

Crackdowns will be in effect throughout March. Some, like the sweeping closures of every city-owned parking lot and most city-owned garages, will only target the first and second weekends of the month.

This year's measures are just the latest effort by Miami Beach to curb rowdy crowds, prevent shootings, and rebrand itself as a safe community for everyone. In 2023, Miami Beach saw two deadly shootings, nearly 500 arrests, and over 100 seized firearms on its shores. City officials want to prevent a repeat.

Now, many residents and city officials question whether spring breakers who would’ve flooded Miami Beach will instead pour into Fort Lauderdale and the Keys.

Below are details of what restrictions are in place, what areas in our region will be affected, and if more restrictions will be introduced.

Miami Beach says 'we're over' spring break

This year, Miami Beach city commissioners have decided to close down city-owned garages during the second and third weekends of March. In past years, closures were limited to the city's Entertainment district.

On March 7-10 and March 14-17, the following parking garages in South Beach will be closed from 6 a.m. to 6 a.m.:

  • 7 Street and Collins Avenue (G1)
  • 12 Street and Washington Avenue (G2)
  • 13 Street and Collins Avenue (G3)
  • 16 Street between Collins and Washington Avenues (G4) 
  • 17 Street and Convention Center Drive (G5)
  • Pennsylvania Avenue and Lincoln Lane North (G9)
  • 18 Street and Meridian Avenue (G7)
  • 18 Street and Bay Road (G10) 
  • 23 Street and Liberty Avenue (G12)

A $100 flat fee will be in effect for the 42nd Street parking garage between Royal Palm and Sheridan Avenues (G6). All surface lots south of 42nd Street will also be closed.

However, the Convention Center Garage (G11) will remain open at the normal rate.

Residents and employees are exempt but must show proof of residency (typically a driver's license or utility bill will suffice) or employment identification.

Penalties will include a towing rate of $516 plus a $30 administrative fee for vehicles towed in South Beach within the boundaries of 23rd Street and Dade Boulevard.

During the three other weekends in March, the parking rate will be a $30 fee at all public garages and lots south of 42nd Street.

Drivers should expect heavy traffic as Miami Beach police will implement DUI checkpoints, and use License Plate Reader details (LPR). You can also access the South Beach neighborhood via Alton Road, Washington Avenue, and Collins Avenue.

'Organized fun' in Fort Lauderdale

If Miami Beach is cracking down, Fort Lauderdale is approaching the season with a lighter message — "organized fun." City officials said they also expect an influx of spring breakers and are implementing restrictions to keep visitors in line throughout the season albeit, not as strict.

Effective through March 1 to March 31, alcohol will not be allowed on the beach. The same goes for coolers, tents, tables, scooters, and live or amplified music, which will only be permitted in certain areas. Hotels will be allowed to serve alcohol but only in designated areas.

"Giving any alcohol to anyone under 21 will be strictly enforced," said Fort Lauderdale Police Chief Bill Schultz. "That will be enforced by both uniformed and undercover officers. In addition, we'll be watching for possessing, or displaying any fraudulent ID. If you have a fake ID, that is a crime and you can be arrested for it."

The city also advises people to watch their drinks, should someone try to spike them with illicit drugs. Fort Lauderdale Mayor Dean Trantalis said the city will also offer free test strips to check your drink.

Garages and parking lots in Fort Lauderdale are open — but it's first-come, first-serve. Parking rates on Fort Lauderdale Beach are $4 per hour and can be paid via the Pay-By-Phone mobile app or at the pay station with a credit card.

However, the city approved a measure that will allow the city manager to temporarily hike parking prices and fines — but only if the beaches get too packed. Fort Lauderdale parking rates could reach as high as $100 along the beach starting this week until the end of March. Drivers can face a $125 violation fee if they don’t move their car before the time expires.

The use of public transport and ride-sharing is also being encouraged to ease traffic. Designated pick-up and drop-off spots for the Micro Mover vehicles are outlined on the city’s website.

“If we see more and more people coming here with vehicles, we're going to have to raise the parking rates to discourage people from wanting to park here on the beach," said Fort Lauderdale Mayor Dean Trantalis at a press conference last week.

Spring breakers should also expect a higher police presence along the beach and other high-traffic areas. Police will conduct sweeps at 5:30 p.m. and fortify entertainment areas from 10 p.m. to 4 a.m. every day in March.

"We're always prepared for anyone who comes to our community," Trantalis said. "We don't know who's going to come, but it's not the question of the number of people, but the attitude of people. And as long as people come here with the right attitude to enjoy themselves and allow other people to enjoy the beauty that we have here, it's going to be a great season."

'Business as usual' in the Keys

At the southernmost point of Florida, spring break isn't the major blowout expected in Miami Beach and Fort Lauderdale. They are not expecting a big spring break crowd this year.

"For us, it's business as usual," said Key West Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Kerry Baker.

She said that Key West tends to have a higher price point for college students, and they do not typically promote spring break activities.

Alyssa Ramos is the multimedia producer for Morning Edition for WLRN. She produces regional stories for newscasts and manages digital content on WLRN.
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