All About the Miami International Airport

Miami International Airport Art

Miami International Airport Art

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By: Shayne Benowitz

At 7.5-million-square-feet with 127 gates and 157 daily flights, Miami International Airport (MIA) sees an average of 45 million people every year and about 125,000 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, MIA has plenty to offer business and leisure travelers en route with over 250 destinations for dining, shopping and entertainment. You can get a slice of Miami life without even leaving the terminal. Many of the shops and restaurants inside the airport are classic establishments found around the 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. So what will be your first stop on your Miami itinerary? A stroll through the concourse at MIA!

And to make the process of getting through airport security easier, be sure to check out the Trusted Traveler Programs.

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. This is also where the American Express Centurion Lounge is located featuring cuisine by award-winning Miami chef Michelle Bernstein.

There’s Ice Box Café, a favorite Miami Beach lunch spot that Oprah even lauded for its cakes. For a frosty local brew from Wynwood, head to Concrete Beach Brewery. If you’ve got extra 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.

Terminals H/J also feature 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 you.

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 Miami indie bookstore Books & Books has an outpost inside Terminal D. You can also get to know the work of Miami’s famed pop artist Romero Britto at Shop Britto, in Terminal D. Terminal H is home to Jetsetter Spa, while Terminal D features as XpresSpa for a little rest and relaxation before your flight.

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 are invested into arts initiatives. At MIA, this has resulted in public artworks spanning the North and South Terminals, the MIA Mover Station to the Rental Car Center and the MIA Central Collection Plaza, as well as the airport’s exterior.

Works range from marine life sculptures swimming up the walls and arranged in snowflake-like constellations by artist Donald Lipski to the “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. If you arrive to the airport early, gallery-hopping throughout MIA is the perfect pastime.

Things to Do During Your Layover

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, sightseeing and golfing. Baggage storage is available at Central Terminal E, Level 2. You can also access free shuttles to the Dolphin Mall and Melreese Golf.

If you’ve missed a connection or have a particularly long layover, then perhaps there’s nothing more appealing than checking into a hotel that’s actually inside the airport. That’s what you’ll find at the 252-room Miami International Airport Hotel located in the Central Terminal’s Concourse E. With direct access to airline ticket counters, departure concourses, public transportation and the rental car center, you can easily make this your headquarters for a brief and convenient stay in Miami. Their Top of the Port restaurant also offers panoramic views of the runways—a bonus for aviation geeks.

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.

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