By: Shayne Benowitz
At 7.5 million square feet with 127 gates, Miami International Airport (MIA) sees an average of 40 million people every year and about 100,000 every day. Often referred to as the Gateway to Latin America, MIA is a major international port of entry to the United States.
Whether you’re coming or going, or you find yourself on a lengthy layover, Miami International has plenty to offer business and leisure travelers en route with over 200 destinations for dining, shopping and entertainment. View the latest Miami Connections Magazine for tips and tricks to navigate the city.
Many of the shops and Miami airport restaurants are classic establishments found around the Magic City. MIA also boasts one of the most impressive art initiatives of any major international airport with a variety of galleries and site specific installations that showcase South Florida culture, lifestyle and history. And to make the process of getting through airport security much easier, be sure to check out the Trusted Traveler Programs.
Want to fly through the lines at MIA? The Department of Homeland Security has introduced several programs, including TSA Pre✔® and Global Entry. These programs can help expedite security and customs screenings when traveling to and from the U.S. and Miami. Certain programs are available for U.S. citizens and residents as well as those from certain foreign countries.
TSA Pre✔® is an expedited security screening program that connects travelers departing from airports within the United States with smarter security and a better air travel experience. The program helps take the stress out of travel with no need to remove shoes, laptops, liquids, belts or light jackets. Travelers enrolled in the program pass an information screening and background check; they then receive expedited security screening. Additionally, family members ages 12 and under traveling with a parent or guardian who has TSA Pre✔® can accompany them in the expedited lanes.
For more information about Trusted Traveler Programs, please visit: the U.S. Department of Homeland Security website.
U.S. citizens and Canadian visitors looking for a quick way to clear passport control at Miami International Airport can now look no further than MIA's official mobile app. MIA Airport Official 2.0 is available for free for iPhone and Android. Watch the video for more details.
Miami Airport Food & Drink
If ever there was a hotspot at an airport, it’s American Airlines’ Terminal D at Miami International Airport. With an abundance of options for food and drink, take your pick from a number of locally owned establishments.
There’s Ice Box Café, a favorite Miami Beach lunch spot that Oprah even lauded for its cakes. If you’re in the mood for sushi, try Brickell hot spot Sushi Maki for a fresh hand roll. It’s also available in-store at South Beach’s Whole Foods. If you’ve got plenty of time, grab a table at Shula’s Bar & Grill, named for legendary Miami Dolphins coach Don Shula.
When in Miami, you might be craving Cuban coffee and food. Lucky for you, outposts of the iconic Café Versailles are located throughout the airport for a café con leche and pastelito on the go.
Terminal H/J also features Gloria and Emilio Estefan’s Bongos Cuban Café. And if you’ve got to have one last mojito before your plane departs, the Bacardi Bar is there to serve up the Bacardi Mojito, the official drink of Miami and the Beaches.
Miami Airport Shopping & Services
At MIA, you’ll find duty free shops, newsstands and currency exchanges throughout the concourse for your convenience. You’ll also find a number of places to shop for more than just your standard Miami souvenir.
The much-loved local bookstore Books & Books with outposts in Coral Gables and South Beach has a location at MIA Terminal D. Get to know Miami’s own pop artist Romero Britto at Shop Britto, also in Terminal D.
Terminal H/J features Jetsetter Spa for a little rest and relaxation before your next flight. And if you’re feeling lucky, there’s even a store dedicated to buying Florida Lottery tickets at Terminals E/F/G.
Miami Airport Art
Thanks to the “Art in Public Places” countywide capital improvement program developed in the 1970s, 1.5 percent of all new construction costs is invested into art initiatives. At Miami International Airport, this has resulted in public art pieces spanning the North and South Terminals, the north side of the airport on NW 136th Street, the MIA Mover Station to the Rental Car Center, and the MIA Central Collection Plaza.
The works range from marine life sculptures swimming up the walls and arranged in snowflake-like constellations by artist Donald Lipski to “Miami Wave,” featuring brick pastel undulations paved into the concrete at the Central Collection Plaza, reminiscent of the ocean.
Dr. Yolanda Sanchez, Division Director for Fine Arts and Cultural Affairs of the Miami-Dade Aviation Department, is also charged with curating rotating exhibitions inside four different airport galleries.
The Fine Art Gallery, located in the Central Terminal, features contemporary fine art. Also in the Central Terminal is the Children’s Gallery featuring work by Miami-Dade Public School students in grades K-12.
The Handmade Gallery in the South Terminal features handcrafts and folk art from around the world.
And, finally, the Camera Works Gallery in Terminal D showcases photography.
Things To Do During Long Layovers
If you happen to be at MIA for a long layover of more than five hours, it’s possible to escape the terminal and even do a little Miami shopping and sightseeing. Baggage storage is available at Central Terminal E, level 2. From there, you can catch public transportation for a mere $2 to almost anywhere in the city.
There’s also a free shuttle to the Dolphin Mall, Melreese Golf Course and Trump National Doral Miami. The next time you arrive to the airport early or you’re on a long layover, you’ll know there are plenty of things to do at Miami International Airport.
The stress of air travel is bringing passengers to the airport earlier these days, and that means more time spent inside the terminal. Fortunately for Miami travelers, there’s more than just your utilitarian amenities at the airport. It’s possible to get a slice of Miami life without even leaving the terminal.
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