Nov 27, 2012, 10:18 AM EDT
Though an official bowl invitation won’t be extended until Sunday, all signs point towards South Beach for the #1 ranked Fighting Irish.
Christianne Harder, our social media manager and resident Miami expert offers a few tips for those planning on joining the Irish in the Sunshine State.
I have been to Miami three times. A Super Bowl, an Orange Bowl, and right after New Year’s Eve. These have been some of the best trips of my life during the most chaotic weekends of the year, but they weren’t without lessons learned. If I knew then what I know now, they would have been a little less expensive experiences.
From me to you, here are some tips to have a smooth national championship experience. But remember, for all things Notre Dame, the Ticket Office and Anthony Travel are your friends. Bienvenidos a Miami.
Airport: Ft. Lauderdale
We’re going to Miami so we should fly into Miami right? Not so fast. I have flown into both FLL and Miami International, and the winner, by a long shot, is FLL.
Ft. Lauderdale Airport is 45 minutes from South Beach, as opposed to the 15 minutes from Miami International (in no traffic). But here is the main difference. Miami International is, as it says in the name, an international airport, which means it is large, crowded, and the wait for check in and security are a nightmare.
In contrast, FLL is smaller, and I usually get out of there in 15 minutes after getting off the plane. It is also faster to get your luggage, pick up a rental car, get a town car (or taxi), and not get caught in Miami traffic.
Also: Southwest Airlines and Virgin America don’t fly into Miami International, only FLL.
Bonus note: Think about red eye flights, especially if you are coming from the West Coast, otherwise you will lose a whole day traveling (time zones).
If you are traveling with a group and coming from FLL, rent a car. Use a service like priceline.com to bid on one. I once managed to rent a car for three days during the Orange Bowl for $12 a day, and was able to take our group to the game with very little fuss (Sun Life Stadium is 20 miles or so from SoBe).
The other option, with a group, is to split a town car (not a taxi). Much cheaper, a set rate, and easy to split with friends (usually fits up to 4 people). From FLL it will be around $70 + tip.
If you are coming from Miami International, take a cab. Note that the wait will be 20-30 minutes for a cab. After you get off the plane, go downstairs to the cab area and get in line. They move as fast as they can to get people into transportation. It will be around $40 to South Beach (including tip).
I’m not going to lie – this is going to be expensive. Miami is just expensive. Accept that up front and you will be in a good mindset.
I have already heard rumors of hotels in South Beach (SoBe) and Downtown being booked up. Try hotels in Ft. Lauderdale (especially if you rented that car). They will be less expensive, closer to the stadium, and have larger rooms.
But if you want to have an authentic experience, try for South Beach, but the boutique hotels will cost you and the rooms will be small. Personally, I stay Downtown when I hit up the MIA.
Again, try any of those discount websites to find your hotel. They reserve blocks of rooms and will be cheaper than calling the hotel directly. Using one of these services, I once got a room at the nicest hotel I have ever stayed in for $150 a night (the room normally would have been $225) for the Orange Bowl. My friends’ room at a SoBe institution fit into my hotel bathroom.
Also remember, it’s the national championship – all you will be doing in your room is sleeping and showering. Think about that before you throw down too much on a room you are barely going to be in.
Do’s, Don’ts, and Tips:
- DO bring cash. Lots of cash. For taxis, for going out, for the toll roads, for emergencies.
- DO NOT tip on meals. The tip is already worked into the bill in SoBe.
- This is the city that rages until 5 am. Plans before 11 am are probably not going to happen.
- Service is slow. It’s Miami, baby. With no tip to work for, and a laid back lifestyle, it’s going to be a leisurely meal.
- DO cab it to South Beach at night. Even if you rent a car. Parking is a nightmare, and you don’t want to drink and drive.
- If you are staying in South Beach, all of the action is on Collins Ave. But do your research – there are some fantastic entertainment options farther away from the main strip.
- Sunday is the night when the locals go out, so expect a better crowd. Also note that the game is on a Monday night.
- DO plan for beach and pool time. January is beautiful in Miami, but it will be in the mid 70s, not the 90s.
- DO NOT get bottle service if you are going out in SoBe. Drinks are expensive (around $16-25) but it is not worth the price of the bottle, even split among friends. Think Vegas, but more.
- DO go to the events set up by the Alumni Association. This is a once in a lifetime opportunity. Share it with your fellow Domers.
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