Turn a Layover in Miami into a Vacation

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The next time you have a long layover in Miami, don’t spend it sitting at your gate. Take the time to explore what the city has to offer. Depending on your schedule, you can visit high-end boutiques for airport shopping, stroll South Beach, take a lavish boat ride, or taste your way through one of the city’s coolest neighborhoods.

4-Hour Layover

With only a few hours to spare in Magic City, you’ll want to stay in or close to the airport, especially if you’ve got an international connection. To be safe, spend these hours exploring everything Miami International has to offer for dining and airport shopping. Indulge at one of Miami’s most iconic dessert stops, Icebox Café, which has a location in Terminal D. Here, you can grab-and-go from an assortment of healthy sandwiches, such as the portobello panini. This delicious sandwich includes portobello mushrooms, which are marinated in balsamic vinegar, wilted spinach, goat cheese, and sun-dried tomato pesto. Want to settle in? Grab a cheese plate or charcuterie board and a glass of Pinot Grigio to sip on. Either way, you’ll want to savor a slice of deep-dish key lime pie—a gravity-defying key lime custard in a graham cracker crust topped with whipped cream—for a little piece of authentic South Florida.

Once you’ve recharged over food, hit the shops. You can pick up travel essentials, such as a lightweight scarf or a hefty leather tote, or even just browse the racks at Ron Jon Surf Shop (Terminal G) for some accessories to remind you of your time in the sun. This fun store makes you feel like you’re back in a beachside bungalow: it has wooden floors, and wooden walls with surfboards hanging from them. Even though a wooden longboard would be an awesome souvenir, it’d probably be a safer bet to go with the flip-flops.

8-Hour Layover

With a little more wiggle room in your layover in Miami, you can dig into real South Florida culture. Rent a car from one of the airport’s luxury car suppliers—yes, you can even land yourself a Lamborghini—and drive a quick 25 minutes to South Beach, one of the city’s essential strips. Peruse the beach’s fascinating art deco architecture, cruise by a glamorous fashion designer’s former South Beach mansion, stroll through the sand, or even just people-watch through the windows.

Want a fish-eye view of the coast? Get out on the water on a boat for a relaxing tour of the city. You can also charter a 40-foot boat from Sailing on Biscayne Bay, and sit back as a captain takes you on a cruise through the bay and to a private island. On board, you can snack on ceviche, fruit, and cheese, and once you dock on the island, you can go snorkeling or kayaking though the mangroves.

If you’d rather stay dry, head a little more inland and get a taste of some of Miami’s rich neighborhoods on a private food tour. One of the coolest neighborhoods for walking tours with Miami Culinary Tours is Wynwood, the city’s vibrant arts district. Not only will you get to sample a half-dozen dishes, such as Caribbean mofongo (mashed plantains), from local restaurants, you’ll also learn about the area’s history, and all about the modern murals that are painted on the neighborhood’s buildings— it’s the largest outdoor art museum in the world.

Once you realize there are so many ways to delve into the city, even with a time constraint, you’ll be booking your next layover in Miami for a whole lot longer.

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