The long Presidents’ Day weekend is coming up and so are the two large Miami boat shows, the Miami International Boat Show on Rickenbacker Causeway on Virginia Key, and the Miami Yacht Show downtown. Both shows run from Thursday, February 13, through Monday, February 17, and they’ll have a total of about 1,800 boats on display and expected crowds of 132,000 people.
The larger, more established show at the Miami Marine Stadium Park and Basin on Virginia Key (pictured above), is produced by the National Marine Manufacturers Association, and this will be its 79th year. It will have more than 1,400 new boats (including just about every size and shape of vessel you can imagine) displayed in the water and on land with more than 1,000 exhibitors.
The boat show also showcases marine engines, electronics, accessories and gear from manufacturers around the world. Some exhibitors offer sea trials directly from the docks there, and the show features power and sailboat lessons through the BoatU.S. On Water Training Program (register online at www.miamiboatshow.com).
The NMMA expects about 100,000 people to attend the show. If you want to get away from the crowds, the show offers an air-conditioned VIP Lounge in Tent A with food, drink, an outdoor deck and views of downtown Miami. Such comforts aren’t cheap, however. A pass costs $180 per person on Thursday and $155 Monday through Friday.
Tickets to the boat show itself are $45 on Thursday for adults (13 years old and older) and $30 on Friday through Monday. Children 12 and under are free with a paid adult ticket. Show hours are 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Thursday through Sunday, and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Monday.
The NMMA says it is making access to the show easier than last year. Free water taxis will run from Bayfront Park and the America Airlines Arena from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. on all show days. Free shuttle buses will run from the American Airlines Arena and several large Miami garages. (Go to the show’s website for details.) If you’re ride-sharing, the drop-off and pick-up point is at the show’s Lot C, the Seaquarium lot, which is within walking distance to the show. (Take comfortable walking shoes; this is a good half mile each way.)
The other show, the Miami Yacht Show, is centered at One Herald Plaza downtown, between the Venetian and the MacArthur Causeways, plus the Sea Isle Marina north of the Venetian Causeway. It will have 400 new and used boats in the water, and it too runs from Thursday through Monday, from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. each day. About 32,000 visitors are expected for the yacht show, although there also is a mega-yacht show at Superyacht Miami at Island Gardens Deep Harbour on Watson Island, off MacArthur Causeway.
The yacht show itself will have a large pavilion with more than 200 exhibitors, and two cocktail barges will be floating in the water. If you want to escape the crowds there, the show has a Windward VIP Lounge with a premium open bar, gourmet food, and special events. Tickets for the Windward Experience are $200 a person per day. Daily tickets to the yacht show are $45 on Thursday and $30 on Friday through Monday for adults and anyone 13 and older; children 12 and under are free. Tickets for Superyacht Miami are $135 on Thursday and $100 on the other days. To make access to both shows easier, this year, for the first time, there will be water taxis running between the boat show on Virginia Key and the yacht show downtown.