Spring Break is a unique phenomenon, influenced by pop culture and the U.S. higher education system and perpetuated by the tourism industry.
Daytona Beach has always been one of the "original" spring break destination, a la MTV and the 80's. Just recently I read news that students are coming back to Daytona Beach after several years of South Florida dominance as the choice destination for spring break. Students told Wesh news that they chose Daytona Beach this year, over Panama City, for a simple reason: booze.
Panama City has recently denounced the consumption of alcohol on its beaches.
Another draw about Daytona is its weather. For early spring breakers (i.e. March) the temperatures are 10 degrees warmer than at other beaches like Miami.
Daytona Beach is, on average, more affordable for students, especially in terms of accommodations. One of the best choices among popular spring break hotels is the Hawaiian Inn Beach Resort. Situated right along the Atlantic, it offers an oceanfront pool, people watching and of course, a huge deck for spring break parties.