By Chloe Mulliner, on September 6, 2016

Best ways to spend 24 hours in Miami

For some, a long layover in Miami, Florida, could mean sitting in the terminal counting down the minutes until their next flight, but for others, it’s just enough time to hit the beach! The next time you find yourself with a flight to Miami and an extended stop, embrace your adventurous side and soak up the Florida sunshine. Instead of wasting precious time in the terminal, slip on your favorite sunglasses, tap into your sense of exploration, and make the most of one day in Miami.

How to get around

Miami International Airport (MIA) is conveniently located just 10 miles east of Miami’s most popular beaches, proving that you have more than enough time to experience Magic City before the last call for boarding.

Hailing a cab is generally the quickest way to get around town, but you can also hop on public transportation from the airport. The Miami Beach Airport Flyer runs between the airport and Miami Beach, while the Metrorail services downtown and South Miami. The Metrobus is another convenient mode of transportation, offering rides to the beaches and other popular regions, such as the shops in Coconut Grove and the Cuban neighborhood of Little Havana. Furthermore, if you want the freedom to be behind the wheel, you can always rent a car in Miami in advance.

What to do in Miami for a day

Miami is a bustling hot spot with sizzling beaches and a spicy nightlife. Take a daytime dip in the blue water of the ocean, followed by a trip to the dance floor come nightfall. Experience the magnetic pull of this coastal city on your next layover in Miami, and you just might find yourself putting off your next flight.

If you’re looking to get a true sense of this city in the Sunshine State, use your time wisely and head to the shore. Kick-start your adventure at Miami Beach, which is located on the barrier island just east of Miami. Decked out in art deco architecture and surrounded by palm trees, Miami Beach is known for its wide stretches of sand, so join the resident sun worshippers and lounge at the seaside or splash around in the turquoise waves. The sea temperature lingers in the 70s and 80s F year round, meaning even a winter swim isn’t unheard of.

Feeling adventurous down by the sea? Join a speedboat tour and watch palm trees whiz past your vision or go for an adrenaline-pumping jet ski tour around Biscayne Bay. If you’re not in the mood for venturing off dry land, you can always make time for a Segway tour or a bike ride along the coast. You could even carve out an hour or so for a walking tour of the Art Deco District and see more than 800 historically significant structures. Trust us, even with a time crunch, there are plenty of things to do in Miami that’ll give you your fun fix.

Still have time to kill while exploring Miami in a day? Venture down to South Beach. Although it’s technically a portion of Miami Beach, South Beach has a unique flair that sets it apart from other Miami neighborhoods. It’s fondly referred to as the American Riviera, flaunting flashy nightclubs, haute shops along Lincoln Road Mall, and pastel-colored lifeguard stations. Organize a pick-up game of volleyball at the Lummus Park courts if you’re visiting during the day, but don’t miss the pumping party scene if you’re in town for the night.

What to eat

They don’t call Miami “Little Cuba” for nothing. From the language to the cuisine, Cuban culture has infiltrated the Miami scene. The Cuban coffee serves up a caffeinated jolt with espresso kicks like the colada and cortadito, while vaca fritas—fried flank steak—is a popular traditional dish. As for snacks, you can’t go wrong with an empanada, but if you’re feeling brave, go for the frituras de sesos if you don’t mind noshing on pork brain fritters.

Viewfinder Tip: Many nightclubs stay open until 5 a.m., meaning you can find entertainment at almost any hour.

To say the restaurant scene is overwhelming is an understatement. From poke places to Latin joints, this coastal city knows how to do breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Turf tasters who are looking for a hefty plate of seafood can chow down at South Beach’s Lure Fishbar, and those with a vegan palate, you can’t go wrong at the nearby Plant Food + Wine Vegan Restaurant. With all the cultural fusions and influences, you can expect unique flavors in every bite.

Your airport layover is the perfect excuse to experience one day in Miami. Twenty-four hours gives you just enough time to dabble in the art deco scene, dive into the Atlantic Ocean, taste the local flavors, and toy with the nightlife. If you’ve scored more than a day in the city, stay at one of the Miami hotels for easy access to it all.

Note: The Florida Department of Health has identified Miami Beach and the nearby Wynwood neighborhood as areas where the Zika virus has spread. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention urge pregnant women to avoid these areas. For additional information regarding the virus, consult the CDC.

What else should you squeeze in during a 24-hour stay in Miami?