Crucial Presidents' Day weekend looms for Miami tourism industry
Presidents’ Day Weekend is here again. And that means more art than any one person can peruse, hundreds of yachts, power boats and sailboats, and traffic. Lots and lots of traffic.
With the Miami International Boat Show on Virginia Key, the Coconut Grove Arts Festival across the bay, plus Art Wynwood and Yachts Miami Beach all taking place this weekend, traversing Miami-Dade County can be a burden. Some streets will be closed. And those that aren’t may very well be bumper to bumper.
But thankfully, there are options beyond getting behind the wheel. Uber. Lyft. Bicycles. Buses. Trains. Water taxis. And for those who must get around on their own four wheels, with just a little preparation, going from A to Z doesn’t have to be so painful.
So, if you’re heading to the…
MIAMI INTERNATIONAL BOAT SHOW
Now in their second year on Virginia Key, where the only road in and out is the Rickenbacker Causeway, Boat Show organizers have beefed up an already extensive traffic management plan to handle estimated crowds of 25,000 a day. The transportation plan relies heavily on drivers parking on the mainland and taking ferries or shuttles onto the island.
In the mornings, starting around 10 a.m., traffic heading east on the Rickenbacker will be divided into two queues, one heading to the show and another continuing on toward Key Biscayne. Drivers who have one of about 4,000 pre-paid parking tickets can park on Virginia Key off Arthur Lamb Road, at Virginia Key Beach or at the Miami Seaquarium.
Starting at 4 p.m. Friday, MAST Academy is also offering an additional 350 spaces or so at $40 a space (additional charge for large vehicles and payment by credit card). Parking at the school Saturday, Sunday and Monday is from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. (Get your car out on time or it will be towed at your expense.)
Everyone else will be encouraged to drive to Marlins Park, pay to park and catch a free shuttle bus to the boat show. AmericanAirlines Arena, Bayside Marketplace, and the James L Knight Center will also offer paid parking and shuttle buses. Meanwhile, attendees can catch a free water taxi to the show from the W Hotel in Brickell, the Hyatt Regency downtown, AmericanAirlines Arena and Bayfront Park, which is also serviced by the Metromover.
Shuttles and water taxis run from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m., with the last outbound options leaving the mainland at 4:30 p.m. (For a detailed map click here.) This year, the boat show has expanded its water taxi capacity while cutting out routes to Miami Beach and the Coconut Grove Arts Festival. Yachts Miami Beach will also operate its own water taxi to and from the two boating shows from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
The Metrobus Route B also takes passengers to the show, and organizers have set up areas specifically for taxis and Uber rides.
COCONUT GROVE ARTS FESTIVAL
If you’re going to this sprawling arts festival, know that it opens at 10 a.m. on Saturday, Sunday and Monday. But after that, perhaps the most important detail to remember is that streets will be closed starting around Friday morning and will remain so until 11 p.m. Monday.
The first stretch of closures spans McFarlane Road from Main Highway to Mary Street, and Mary Street from Grand Avenue to South Bayshore Drive. Then, South Bayshore Drive will be closed down to Chart House Road. Southwest 27th Avenue will be closed from Bayshore to Tigertail Avenue. Pan American Drive will be closed, as well.
To help traffic flow, the Miami Police Department has planned detours on South Bayshore Drive at Aviation Avenue and on Tigertail between Aviation Avenue and Southwest 27th Avenue.
But what about parking?
Garages are available at CocoWalk, Mayfair and Oak Avenue. Coconut Grove Elementary also offers space at the school’s playing fields. Or, if you don’t want to deal with driving and parking, take the Metrobus Route 249 to the show.
YACHTS MIAMI BEACH
Not to be confused with the Miami International Boat Show, Yachts Miami Beach, in its 29th year on the Indian Creek Waterway, covers 1.2 million square feet and brings its own traffic headaches to the Fun and Sun Capital of the World. Although Collins Avenue remains open during the show, one lane will be closed to traffic, and parking options in the immediate area are limited.
To make things easier for attendees, drivers are encouraged to park at the 17th Street and City Hall garages near the Miami Beach Convention Center and the 67th Street parking garage, which are serviced by shuttle buses that connect to water taxis. Valet parking ($60) is available on the east side of 46th Street and Collins Avenue.
A water taxi and shuttle bus will also take attendees to and from the Miami International Boat Show on Virginia Key.
And for anyone planning to travel around Miami Beach, here’s a link to the routes and schedules of the city’s free trolley system.
Located off of Northeast First Avenue, Art Wynwood is surrounded by parking garages, which makes getting there a little easier. Still, event organizers run shuttles to the JW Marriott downtown and also to Yachts Miami Beach. The show starts at 6 p.m. Thursday with a VIP preview and runs through 6 p.m. Monday.
BEYOND THE CAR
A few tips if you want to leave your car at home:
▪ Uber will have special pick-up points at the Miami International Boat Show and Coconut Grove Arts Festival. At the boat show, attendees will have to board a shuttle and head to Lot C in order to meet their Uber driver. Near the arts festival, the Coconut Grove Playhouse and the corner of Bayshore Drive and Charthouse Drive have been specially designated as pick-up zones. Lyft, another popular ride-sharing app, offers $5 off a new Miami rider’s first three uses with the code PRESIDENTMIA. First-time Uber riders can punch in the code boatshow17! to get a free ride.
(Be aware of price surging, when the cost of hailing a ride increases due to demand.)
▪ If you’re in shape, Citi Bike can get you out of traffic and relieve you of the burden of parking a car. The bike-sharing service has stops within the arts festival boundaries, a few blocks from Art Wynwood, next to Yachts Miami Beach, and at Bayfront Park, where you can grab a water taxi to the boat show. Just be aware of the calories you’ll have to burn to reach your destination.
▪ Metrorail and Metromover will remain on their regular schedules. Metrorail runs until midnight, as does the free Metromover, which circulates downtown and in Brickell. The Metromover extends its hours until 2 a.m. on Fridays and Saturdays.
Parking at a Metrorail lot costs just $4.50 for an entire day when you ride the train and connects you to buses. Speaking of which, attendees can also hop on a Metrobus, which has routes that lead to the arts festival (the 249) and the Miami International Boat Show (Route B). Routes J, S and 120 head past the yacht show in Miami Beach.
Routes 249, 48 and 22 will be temporarily detoured during the Coconut Grove Arts Festival.
This article was corrected to update the hours of the Metromover, which extends operations until 2 a.m. on Fridays and Saturdays.