How to Spend a Layover in Miami

May 9, 2015

Several years ago, our family took a trip to Paraguay to visit a friend. Due to various circumstances, we ended up missing our original flight home, and spent an overnight layover in Miami.

Though the experience was stressful at the time, it turned out to be a blessing in disguise. Miami is a fun city to spend an airport layover. And if you have a few hours to spend between flights, you can even squeeze in a beach visit while you're there!

This post was updated on May 24, 2021.

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Flying above the clouds

Spending a layover in Miami

Although having to spend an unexpected overnight layover may have seemed inconvenient at first, this turned out to be a pleasant turn of events for us. Essentially, it allowed us to spend a few more days on vacation, and explore a city that we had never been to before! As a worldschooling family, we love taking advantage of learning and travel opportunities when we can.

Spending a long layover in Miami is not as bad as it sounds. South Beach is just a bus ride away. So whether you're there during the day to enjoy the beach, or spending your time there in the evening to enjoy the nightlife, there's something for you to see and do in this exciting city. The Miami and Florida Keys guidebook is a great starting point of ideas for things to do in Miami!

Need more tips on flying with kids? Check out my posts about air travel.

Art Deco buildings in Miami (April 2015)

At the the Miami airport

If you don't have enough time to leave the airport, there are plenty of options for you to pass the time at the airport. The standard airport shops and restaurants are there, along with some more Miami-themed ones. Additionally, there are art exhibits and galleries. This includes a children's art gallery, throughout the airport that you can see and enjoy.

Carpe Diem Our Way has a great list of airplane activities for toddlers and preschoolers to help you pass the time with your kids. Don't feel like you have to leave the airport to make the most of your layover time.

The Miami Airport is made up of three terminals: the North Terminal, Central Terminal, and South Terminal. You can transfer between terminals for free with the MIA Mover.

My husband and me in Miami (April 2013)

Baggage storage during your layover in Miami

My family and I love to take advantage of being in a new city. If we have more than five hours to spend during a layover, we try and get out of the airport to explore. Fortunately, Miami airport has a baggage storage area. You can leave your carry on luggage during your excursion.

Rates are charged daily, and vary from $4 to $17 depending on the size of your luggage. The baggage storage area is open from 5 am to 9 pm, so plan accordingly. When we were there, we were traveling with our carry on and a car seat for my daughter, and we were able to leave both of them at the baggage storage area for a total cost of $14.

Trying to figure out what bags to bring for your trip? Take a look at my suggestions.

Bags for travel

Ready for a change? Take the first step to living a life of full time travel.

Leaving Miami airport

Leaving Miami airport is cheap and easy with the Miami Beach Airport Flyer bus. For only $2.65, this bus takes you from the airport down to Miami Beach and South Beach, with a wait time of only 30 minutes between buses.

There are other parts of Miami that are also accessible through Metrobus or Metrorail, but during our layover, we chose to spend our time at South Beach, since it was so convenient and easy to get to. To catch the Miami Beach Airport Flyer, take the MIA Mover from the airport to the Miami Central Station. Buses take cash, but make sure you have exact change.

South Beach Miami, Florida, a place to visit during a layover in Miami
South Beach Miami (April 2013)

Hanging out at South Beach

This part of Miami is known for its art deco architecture. We loved walking around and checking out the bright colored buildings along Collins Avenue and Ocean Drive. Both streets have an abundance of restaurants and cafes to grab a bite to eat or a margarita to drink, but there are other streets near by that are worth checking out. We stumbled upon a pedestrian only area called Espanola Way, which was filled with cute little Mexican, Italian and Spanish cafes.

The highlight of South Beach, of course, is the beach, which is accessible through Lummus Park, located on Ocean Drive. The park has plenty of swings and play structures that are perfect for toddlers and kids. You can access the beach through various places along the park. Pack along some reef safe travel sized sunscreen in your carry-on to avoid getting sunburned!

When we were there, it was a particularly hot day, and we were lucky to come across a man selling fresh coconuts at the park. It was refreshing to drink, and reminded us of our time in visiting Costa Rica. We spent most of our time at the beach, enjoying the sand and playing in the water.

Remember to travel responsibly, even during your layover. Here are some easy sustainable travel tips.

My daughter, playing in the sand (April 2013)

Heading back to the airport

After your excursion into Miami, getting back to the airport is easy with the Miami Beach Airport Flyer. Since you already have your boarding pass, going through security should be a breeze. Just remember to give yourself some time, though, in case there is a delay in the bus, getting your bags, or going through security.

We loved our brief time in Miami, and can't wait for another chance to spend more time in that city. The atmosphere of that city, particularly in South Beach, was so lively and vibrant. It felt like we were visiting another country.

Getting to and from South Beach was so easy and convenient with the bus. For anyone with an upcoming layover in Miami airport, an excursion into the city is definitely worth your time. At the very least, you'll have a chance to soak up the sun, allowing you to be rested and relaxed for your next flight.

How To Spend A Layover In Miami | The Wandering Daughter

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