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Advice for Underage Students on Spring Break (Under 21)

March 09, 2007 By Matt Meltzer in Miami: Travel News  | 42 Comments

From the Spring Break Visitors Guide.


There was a time when being underaged in South Beach meant you still had all your original teeth and were not collecting social security.But things have changed here in South Florida over the past 25 years, and now pretty much the only people that are too young to hang out in South Beach are the ones dumb enough to admit it. Still, I perpetually receive requests from persons under the legal drinking age as to what they can do if they come to South Beach for vacation. My initial response is to tell them, much like Bobby Vee, to come back when they grow up. But then I realize that this would be detrimental to our already fragile tourist industry and that I need to, at the very least, lie and tell them there is plenty for them. Like, you know, Parrot Jungle. And, uh, you know, some other stuff.

Actually, as long as you are not concerned with nightlife there are a good variety of things you can do here in South Beach. If you are a guy, the beach is topless so you can pretty much spend the day ogling the naked girls. If you are a girl, the beach is topless. You can pretty much spend the day getting a tan without worrying about lines. Just try to ignore the idiot guys trying to ogle you.


Additionally, many Ocean Drive establishments, such as Senor Frog’s Clevelander and Nikki Beach, will let you in during the day regardless of age if you want to eat. So you can soak up the scene without having to worry about pesky ID’s. There is also Lincoln Road Mall for outdoor shopping (and a chance for you kids from fly over country to see real, live homosexuals) and a large Art Deco Movie Theater located at the end. You can sample one of our many fine South Beach restaurants, or maybe just go for a rollerblade along the beach. We also offer Jet Ski rentals at the Miami Beach Marina, along with snorkeling trips and parasailing. So your daytime, which will be typically longer than that over-21 set who won’t wake up until the crack of 2, can be immensely fulfilling.


But let’s be honest…..if you wanted to just lay on the beach, or go snorkeling or parasailing or watch movies, you’d have saved some money and gone on Spring Break with your parents to their timeshare in Boca. Then you could do it all on their dime. You are on Spring Break to get trashed and have sex like all the Juniors and Seniors are, the only problem is that without the proper preparation you will be left outside looking in like the poor little match girl on a cold winter’s night. And we all know what happened to her. So, underaged and underprepared, my advice to you still remains to come back when you are over 21 so you can truly get the most out of your South Beach experience. Go to Mexico or somewhere else where your age is about as relevant as your citizenship. But if I know one thing about 19 and 20 year olds, it’s that you never listen and you think you know everything. So I have no doubt you will summarily blow off that particular piece of advice and book your tickets to South Florida anyway. Should you do that, here are some tips that will help you have a memorable Spring Break before you are old enough to legally do so.


First thing is first, kids: If you’re gonna come to South Beach, you’d better have a rock-solid fake ID. Otherwise, you seriously should not even bother. And I’m not talking about that piece of crap you bought in Chinatown that lets you buy beer at the Kwik Stop in Storrs, I’m talking about an ID that even the most seasoned bouncer will let pass. The sad thing about most fake ID’s is that bouncers here can spot them from a mile away. You forget that unlike in some

less-sophisticated locales, our bouncers are trained to recognize ID’s from all over the world. Because once you leave the Chileans and Argentines start showing up. No matter how many holograms you have on your ID, most bouncers will take it away. And don’t even think about challenging them. Their next move will be to call the Miami Beach Police, a group known locally for arresting the likes of Dontrelle Willis, Brian Blades and Jose Canseco with little regard for their celebrity. Did I mention that Shaq was a Beach cop too? So, actually, this may make for a better Spring Break story than some of your more-legal counterparts. “Oh, so you got laid on Spring Break?! Oooh, la la! Did you get your ass kicked by Shaq because you had a fake ID? Didn’t think so! Loser!”


What you need to do is obtain a valid ID from someone who looks vaguely like you. An older sibling is the best route to take, but lacking that perhaps an older fraternity brother or sorority sister. This may be common knowledge for many of you already, but I cannot stress enough that even the slightest discrepancy here in The Beach will lead you to have your ID taken. We are much less lax than most college towns, as even the likes of Britney Spears have been thrown out of clubs for being underage (if only we could still do that to her now). So make sure the ID is NOT expired as that is the first thing most bouncers look for to spot a pseudo fake. If you can’t find someone cool to lend you their ID, start perusing the dorms late-night for the guys drinking Mountain Dew and playing Warcraft. Because lord knows they’re not going to be using their ID’s for Spring Break. Offer them some money or a hooker or an upgrade to their computer or do pretty much whatever you have to do to get that ID from them. Otherwise, you may very well be spending the week at Kafkas playing Warcraft with those same people.


And a word to you ladies: No matter how hot you may think you are back in Austin or Athens, every door guy in the beach has seen hotter than you on a Tuesday in July. This is to say that do not think that flirting or looking cute will exempt you from being forced to produce a valid ID. That shit may fly back in whatever college town you come from, but here our door guys are generally either A) Gay or B) So indifferent to your appearance you’d swear they were gay. Go to any gym in South Beach and see how big our homosexuals are, they are bred to be doormen. Tim Hardaway, he doesn’t come to the Beach much anymore for good reason.



So let’s say you forgot your ID. Or maybe you have a fake, but it isn’t good enough to fool that former Dolphin working the door at Mynt. There are still ways to get into several Spring Break hotspots, you just have to invest a little more time than some of the older crowd. The law in Dade County, as in many places, is that if you serve food you may have people of any age in your establishment up to a certain time. In Miami, this is 11 PM. The thing is, during Spring Break it is often so crowded that management does not have time to kick out the kiddies before the real fun starts. So this opens up a very interesting opportunity for you.

If you have the money to do so, go have dinner at The Clevelander around 9. Linger for a while, have four or five courses, and drag dinner out as late as you can. Chances are you can still be there eating well after 11, and your server is going to be way too busy to try and kick you out. Just make sure you are dressed for the occasion, and as soon as you pay your bill you can meander over to the bar and get yourself a lovely beverage. Once you have one, you are good for the night. If you are willing to invest the time, you can get away with this pretty easily.

This will not work everywhere, though, as some places ID during the day. Fat Tuesday’s and Wet Willie’s are two examples, and there may be others so be aware. The Playwright is hit or miss on this, as some days you can walk in at 9 with no problem, and other days you will be ID’d upon entrance for lunch. Typically this is on weekends, but a lot of those rules are changed during Spring Break.



Bartenders are taught that serving a minor is the equivalent of career suicide. That being said, servers are not bartenders. Servers, while certainly apt to ID you from time to time, tend to be a LOT more lax about carding their patrons. Why is this? Well, in case you missed it, servers work on tips. So if your bill is going to be $40 without alcohol, but $140 with, they are going to be much less inclined to be diligent in their examination of your ID. If a manager asks them if you checked their ID, the server can say yes. Especially when it is busy, a harried server is also not going to sit there while you fumble through your wallet looking for an ID when they have six tables demanding more water and free bread. And ketchup, oh the f*&%ing ketchup. They may very well just take your drink order and let it go at that. So if you are trying to get lit, find a waiter who looks like they need to make rent by the end of the day and you are golden. But, for the love of God, make sure you are tipping at LEAST 20%.



There are a variety of Dive Bars on the Beach that do not ID if you are tall enough to reach the bar. I have been going to many of them for many years and rarely am I carded. The problem, of course, is that I cannot in good faith name them here on this site. Because should I do that the Liquor Board would no doubt get wind of the article, raid the bars, and then all my favorite hangouts would be shut down. And much as I like all of you, I’m not giving up my South Beach haunts so you kids have a place to drink. I will leave it as simply this: If the place looks run down and dirty and disgusting and there is nobody working the door, it’s a pretty safe bet. Not a guarantee, but a pretty safe bet. Walk around and I guarantee you’ll find them. Most of these places are good spots to buy drugs too, for those who are interested.



Alright. So being the cocky, “I know everything” barely-not-a-teenager that you are, you have summarily dismissed all of my fake-ID advice in the first three sections and have showed up on my Beach with no fake ID.  I am not inclined to help such moronic individuals, but since I am being paid to write this I will consider it my job. Your last resort to getting hammered on Spring Break is finding people to buy booze for you at one of our lovely variety of liquor stores. You can then take that liquor to your hotel or to the beach, get drunk, and pass out watching porn in your room. Or maybe just roam the streets eating slice after slice until one of you pukes. Either way, it makes the best of an unfortunate situation and at least lets you enjoy some of the party if you can’t have it all.


Your best bet is to bring along someone who is over 21 to buy it for you, but if you can do that you can probably find an ID to use and therefore don’t need to be slamming SoCo on the sand. Should you not have enough of-age friends to do this, try making some while you are here. If you are a girl, this is as easy and asking the first guy who hits on you on the beach how old he is, and if he’s over 21 get his number and have him buy you some booze later. At the very least you’ve found a sucker to do you a favor, at the very best he may buy it for you. And if he’s cute you’ve found some guys to hang out with for the week. If no guys hit on you, just approach some. Even if you are not the belle of the beach, most guys are down to do whatever it takes to get girls drunk on Spring Break. Whether or not you have no intention of talking to them again, they don’t have to know. Just have them buy you your bottle of Stoli Razz and be done with them. Until you need another bottle the next night.


If you are male, well, this is the unfortunate time of your life where women have it way easier than you do. If you can’t make any friends over 21, Miami Beach is home to a great many people who are wiling to do you favors for money. No, I’m not talking about hookers, although they will do that too, I am talking about the homeless.  Now, they may smell or be unshaven or talk to themselves, often all 3, but there is no greater resource for illicit liquor purchases than a vagrant. First of all, they could find the nearest liquor store with their eyes closed and earplugs on, and secondly they have no moral objection at all to anything. Anyone who’s seen Bumfights can attest to that. You just wait for the first vagrant to ask you for money and tell him as follows:

“Look, I’ll not only give you $10, but I’ll buy you 32 of Steel Reserve if you go in there and get me and my friends a bottle of Jack.”

I have never seen anyone turned down. Most of the liquor store clerks in the Beach know the local homeless and have no problem selling to them. Just wait for your vagrant outside and make sure you get all you wanted. Don’t give him the extra 10 until he comes out with your booze either. At the very least you’ll get taken for about two bucks. At the very best you’ve made a new friend in South Florida.


So kids, when you decide to come to our little slice of Paradise and you are not old enough to party with the big kids, all is not lost. Whether you choose to get a solid ID, sneak into bars and restaurants, or pay homeless people to buy you alcohol, there is plenty of degenerate fun to be had on Spring Break. Just make sure you don’t get caught, or you may end up with a 14-time NBA all-star berating you as you spend the coldest night of your life in Beach lockup. Good luck finding the party, and if you can’t, just come back when you grow up. As long as you have money, all will be forgiven and you’ll be welcomed with open arms.

Spring Break Visitors Guide:

Related Categories: Miami: Travel News,

About the Author: Matt Meltzer is a featured columnist at Miami Beach 411.

See more articles by Matt Meltzer.

See more articles by Matt Meltzer

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42 Comments on

"Advice for Underage Students on Spring Break (Under 21)"

Johanna says:

I really enjoyed reading this, but I have to say that when the drinking age is 21 in america it is not in Europe. And in our country we are allowed to drink and go to bars at 18 because we are “grown up” when we turn 18. We also have a different way of “going out” usually we don’t go out to get wasted cus that’s kind of dumb.. We enjoy a place with a lot of people and music instead of having it at home. I just think that the age 21 is way to high and it makes the kids in america drink way more than they should.. You can freaking drive a car at 16 but not drink a beet until 21? buullshit.

Posted on 10/20/2008 at 8:47 PM

Matt Meltzer says:

Thanks, Johanna. I’m with you. Although I kinda see the point in requiring someone to have at least 5 years driving experience before he or she can start driving drunk. Your first 2 years, you pretty much drive worse than most drunks anyway.

Posted on 10/21/2008 at 10:18 PM

Johanna says:

Your welcome, well you see we don’t just start driving when we’re in age like they do here in america. We start as 16 to “train” and keeps doing it until 18, then you spend a fortune on the license. I payed 1500 dollar for my license. It’s hard and you really really have to know how to drive to pass. AND we all drive stickshift no aoutomatic, and we do not have such a big problem with drunk people driving either if you compare to the US.  I took my license here and it cost me around 20 dollars and I had to drive around the block..Alos I was speeding here and I got a ticket for driving a red light, in my country I would have lost my license right away.

Posted on 10/21/2008 at 10:26 PM

Matt Meltzer says:

That’s bullshit. This is why America is great….we hold the right to drive about on par with our right to own as many guns as we want. Because most of this country is set up for people with automobiles, we can’t put too harsh of penalties on traffic violations or the society would fall apart. Which is great for me becasue I haven’t paid a ticket in years.

Posted on 10/21/2008 at 10:35 PM

Johanna says:

It’s so not bullshit. I rater pay so and you will know that everyone knows how to handle a car. Well americans drives like assholes, sorry about that but its very true. I do not agree, america is not that great that people here keep telling them selves.

Posted on 10/21/2008 at 10:40 PM

Gus says:

Where are you from, Johanna?

Posted on 10/22/2008 at 12:50 PM

Johanna says:


Posted on 10/22/2008 at 3:54 PM

Matt Meltzer says:

We’re gonna have to agree to disagree on that one, Johanna. Sweeden does have, hands down, the hottest women in the world. But I still think America is great.

Posted on 10/22/2008 at 4:52 PM

Johanna says:

Haha well it’s not the first time i’ve heard someone say that.. It’s been kind of fun becuase i’m like a stereotype swede, Platina blonde hair, uber-blue eyes and i’m 5.10.

I mean I like america too, but it’s just not a country I would like to build a family in. I see this place as a playground to have fun in for a few years but I def not see myself here in the future.

Posted on 10/22/2008 at 8:12 PM

Matt Meltzer says:

“I mean I like america too, but it’s just not a country I would like to build a family in. I see this place as a playground to have fun in for a few years but I def not see myself here in the future.”

That’s Miami, Johanna, not the entire country. Some of this place actually is normal.

And if you’re 5’10” and blonde with blue eyes, please do let us know next time you’re in town.

Posted on 10/24/2008 at 1:41 PM

leader of the wingnuts says:


spot on!

Posted on 01/30/2009 at 11:06 AM

Dee says:

So what if you have 2 ids and you let a friend use one that looks fairly close to you, but is a inch or two talker. Do you think that will work to get in?

Posted on 02/21/2009 at 2:48 PM

Gus says:

It might, Dee. If not, the worse thing that will probably happen is the doorman will keep your id.

Since your friend is taller than you, tell them to squat down, when they’re walking past the velvet rope to get in.

Please come back and tell us about your trip.

Posted on 02/21/2009 at 7:04 PM

Dee says:

Yeah I think we are going to try it. The trip isn’t for a few weeks, but I will definitly be back to share my story with everyone. This site has given me a lot of good advice. Thanks!!

Posted on 02/21/2009 at 7:29 PM

LouC says:

So question about eating at the Clevelander.  So my brother is 19.  Where do I reserve for dinner there on Saturday so he can be in the club.  Or should we eat at the sidewalk cafe and then wait for the party poolside?

Posted on 05/22/2010 at 9:04 PM

Matt Meltzer says:

You don’t really need to “reserve” anything. He won’t get into the indoor club no matter where you eat. But if you have dinner outside and just hang out you’ll still be there for the poolside fun at night. I don’t believe they take reservations, though.

Posted on 05/23/2010 at 6:56 PM

ShannonSoBe says:

Thank God I’m over 21 and don’t have to deal with this issue but I happend upon it and read it anyway. Great article!

Posted on 01/09/2011 at 11:31 PM

Danielle says:

So, my friends and i are trying to go somewhere that its not freezing on the beach, and miami sounds like its our best bet. the issue is, half of us are over age, the other half not. my question is, is it ABSOLUTELY necessary to go to the clubs in Miami to have a good time? or is there enough partying on the beach to have fun. I don’t drink, so i really don’t care about alcohol, i just want to get a tan not damn frostbite!!!

Posted on 02/03/2011 at 5:36 PM

Shannon says:

Of course you can have fun on the beach w/ out drinking!  Lay out on the beach, swim in the ocean, swim in the pool, rent a scooter, rent a wave runner, check out one of the 2 awesome parks, check out the free holocost memorial and the free botanical gardens, rent roller blades or a bike and walk, blade or bike up and down the strips, window shop and spend a little or really shop and spend a lot. There are lots of great restaurants of all different price levels. Ask to peek at a menue if you want to check out the prices. In South Beach if you are not rich def find out drink and food prices ahead of time. I’ve seen drinks as high as $50 each. There are lots of bars that don’t have bouncers at the door, try these, go up to the bar w/ your friends, and order a water, or soda or other non-alcoholic beverage, when the bartender asks you for ID, tell them u don’t have it on you but you are not drinking alcohol, then have your friends who are drinking alcohol order their drinks. If the bartender says you have to be over 21 w/ ID just to be at the bar, then say okay thanks, and all leave together. They may think twice knowing they are loosing about 4 sales and tips, but no big deal, TONS of bars in South Beach should half of you want to drink and the other half not want to and stick all together. Also your over 21 friends can always buy bottles of liquor and juice/soda for your hotel room, (if you have a fridge) mix drinks there, pour them into gatorade bottles and just walk around the strips drinking. Its WAY cheaper then buying drinks at the bars anyway smile There are liquor stores all over the beach. There are also tourist places that sell tickets for everglades tours, a key west tour, other stuff I can’t think of right now and that rent out segways. They are all over the beach. Things start to warm up little by little mid February in South Beach and by warm up I mean go from 60-70 degrees climbing on up to 70-85 degrees. U won’t freeze if you come mid Feb or later. There is always a random cold day or two but less likely after Feb. Good luck.

Posted on 02/03/2011 at 6:42 PM

Z says:

My friends and I are going to South Beach for our spring break.  I was just wondering if you have to be 21 to just get into clubs or do they mark your hand or something if your underage?  I don’t really drink and would rather just dance.  Are there clubs that let people under 21 in?

Posted on 02/18/2011 at 4:12 AM

Shannon says:

All the clubs I know of ID you are the door, but if you go to a bar (you don’t see a person at the door checking ID’s) they usually don’t card you until you order a drink. Try going in to these if you walk by and hear some music you like and just go up to the bar and order a non-alcohol beverage.  Good Luck smile

Posted on 02/18/2011 at 9:36 AM

Matt Meltzer says:

Space in downtown Miami lets girls in at 18 and marks them so they can’t drink. But again, you’re really much better served to just wait until you’re of age to come here.

Posted on 02/19/2011 at 3:18 PM

Z says:

I will definitely agree with the “waiting till you’re of age.”  Unfortunately we already had our tickets and everything booked.  I will admit it’s fun in the afternoons on South Beach and there are plenty of beautiful girls our age that we were able to meet, but the nightlife kills it.  The only club we got into so far was Nocturnal. Not only did they try to hustle us at the door, but I could have more fun at frat parties in East Lansing.  We still have 5 more days here, maybe we’ll find some more things too do.

Posted on 03/07/2011 at 9:56 PM

JP says:

How do bouncers react to military ID’s? Thanks

Posted on 03/11/2011 at 1:44 PM

katina says:

hey so what is the best way for knowing if clubs are doing a 18 + ladies night when they are usually 21+, it is really annoying calling all of the clubs any other suggestions for figuring out this information?

Posted on 03/13/2011 at 8:16 PM

lulu says:

during the day in sobe you dont need an id as long as you pay and take your drink to go or you make it clear to the people you are probs going to go to the restaurant next door. alcohol is expensive. they want your money. so offer to pay, get your drink, and leave grin

Posted on 03/13/2011 at 8:19 PM

Matt Meltzer says:

JP. it’s been a while since I was in the mlitary (2005) but back then they recognized the IDs and didn’t question them at all. I will say, though, you’re not getting any special hookups or anything with it either. Like occasionally I’d get a “Semper Fi” from a bouncer who was also a Marine, but they still made me pay cover. And you still have to be 21 on the military ID or no go.

Posted on 03/14/2011 at 2:40 PM

Scott Jones says:

Hey goin down for Ultra then spending a few days in SoBe. Do most of the clubs scan the mag stripes on ids or is it merely looking at them?

Posted on 03/14/2011 at 4:27 PM

Matt Meltzer says:

I haven’t been too many places that scan them, no.

Posted on 03/15/2011 at 1:12 PM

Ryan says:

Coming from Canada to South Beach for Miami Music Week this Wednesday.
Planning on going to LIV for a DJ party which I am on the DJs personal guest list (Tickets are 125$) But I am 19. What are the chances there will be a problem seeing as this is a very exlusive party and the guy hosting it himself put me on his list?

Posted on 03/19/2011 at 1:14 PM

Princess says:

Just came from Miami beach and I was under 21. Catch is I’m a female lol so it was virtually no problem for me to get in anywhere. I was on a few lists and in VIP also so as long as you look good, it doesn’t matter. lol they just quickly looked at my id for a second ( I had someone elses ID) and they let me in.  Make sure u dress to the upmost though! smile

Posted on 03/27/2011 at 11:07 AM

Matt Meltzer says:

Princess, the thing you kind of glanced over there is that you had an ID. And, more importantly, a legit ID from someone else. That’s how you do it if you come here. Not a fake, not “looking good.” A real ID that’s not you is the best way to go.

But glad you think you got in for other reasons….

Posted on 03/27/2011 at 6:36 PM

Princess says:

I wasn’t saying that was my only reason lol but I did have some friends that had IDs and still got turned around so yeah…..point is have an ID and don’t look ratty. And your good

Posted on 03/27/2011 at 6:39 PM

Princess says:

and ps u don’t have to be rude about it either lol I’m just speaking on my experience in SOBE. and I guess the bouncers that told me I looked really nice doesn’t mean that it helped i guess either?..........

Posted on 03/27/2011 at 6:47 PM

Matt Meltzer says:

Oh, don’t take my rudeness personally, Princess. I’m pretty much snarky to everybody on this site. So, really, nothing on you at all.

Posted on 03/28/2011 at 9:11 PM

Mary says:

There are people who can get you into clubs without id.. lol

Posted on 05/19/2011 at 5:08 PM

Lauren says:

supperrrr awesome article. My bff is coming from PA. yes amish town, nothing to do but stay in and get drunk at a friend’s house, and ofcourse it all ends at 11. So.. I really want to hear about the places i must take her to. btw we are 18 and my bf is 19. I have been to the cove on thursday and it is verrrrrryy chill.. but i mean where else can i take her. And other days than thursday, i usually know of alot of places only good on a thursday.

Posted on 12/01/2011 at 9:34 PM

Matt Meltzer says:

Space and Mecca allow in people over 18 but under 21.

Posted on 12/05/2011 at 11:52 AM

Rich says:

I like how this conversation opens up with Joanna’s Post. LMAO! either way! whoo! im excited to party (under 21 :/ ) VERY HELPFUL article ;p

Posted on 03/14/2013 at 5:31 PM

Payton says:

Know anything about key west for SB. I have a real ID and kinda look like the girl in the photo (we have the same color hair & eyes, height, weight, BUT a slightly different face structure PLUS im a little tanner then her) ..  Do the door men at the bars there REALLY stare you & your ID down. &&& Whats the best way to approach them?

Posted on 02/26/2014 at 9:59 PM

Liz says:

I thought the writing was so good I googled the author. Lol.
Pretty cool articles on Thrillest.
My friend is turning 21. Our flight is the night before her birthday. Will they take her virtical ID?

Posted on 03/30/2014 at 1:49 AM

Matt Meltzer says:

Thanks, Liz!

Yes, they’ll accept her ID. I’ll say typically the night before a 21st birthday they’ll let the person in.

Posted on 03/31/2014 at 12:19 AM

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