I didn’t really plan on seeing Miami on my trip out to the Galapagos, but I had one overnight layover, and another from 5am to 2pm, so I actually ended up spending nearly two days in the city. Luckily for me, the Miami International Airport is connected to the Miami Metro rail system, which is a great way to get around the city when time is short.
My friend and I had the chance to explore Coconut Grove on our first layover. The area is a little far from the rail station, and we really just happened to find the main shopping area by chance. We were also jeered at by an extremely rude driver while we were traveling from the station to Coconut Grove, so I found myself a little uncomfortable in the area surrounding the manicured shopping area of Coconut Grove. Amid the shops and restaurants we also found the Barnacle State Park, which was a nice little refuge from the heat and relative crowds of Coconut Grove. The state park contained some great historical and biological information about the area as well, and overall it was a really great place to spend some time.
On my second lay over, I went to the Vizcaya station. I had hoped to see the Vizcaya Gardens there, but since I happened to be in the city on a Tuesday, I was out of luck, as the gardens are closed on Tuesdays. However, following cues from some runners and bikers, I wandering into an amazingly beautiful and affluent neighborhood where I was able to check out the Alice Wainwright park (which has some pretty great views of the bay), and the Rickenbacker Trail. I ended up spending about an hour and half walking along the trail with people out to get some exercise in the morning. I walked far enough along the trail to cross the Rickenbacker Bridge to Virginia Key. The views of the city and the bay were wonderful, and there were plenty of beaches along the way as well. After that, I took the train downtown, where I spent some time at the Bayside Market and the Bayfront Park. These were fairly crowded even in the morning, and didn’t compare to my sunrise sojourn. That being said, Miami’s downtown has a lot to offer travelers.
There’s still plenty in Miami that I wasn’t able to see, mostly because I wasn’t willing to complicate my trip back to the airport by taking any buses. That being said, of any airport to be stuck at for such long layovers, Miami International is actually pretty great. I would definitely suggest a ride on the Miami Metro for anyone looking for something to do while waiting for a flight out of the city.