Where is my Ship docked at Port Everglades in Fort Lauderdale – Cruise Ship Locator

Port Everglades from the AirPort Everglades from the Air

You are driving to Fort Lauderdale and wondering where your ship is docked! In this article you can see a real-time location map of all the docked ships at Port Everglades (those with location beacons enabled).

If this is your first time in Fort Lauderdale, do not be concerned. Once you enter the Port Everglades area there are plenty of sign boards to guide you.

Cruise Terminals and Parking Map

Port Everglades Terminals and Parking
Port Everglades Terminals and Parking (click to enlarge)

Planning Tip!

The Port Authority at Port Everglades publishes a ship schedule valid for several weeks. The file shows all cruise ships visiting the Port with information such as date, docking terminal, arrival time, departure time, etc.

Unfortunately things do change so it best to check my real-time map below on your arrival day.

Here is a sample page – note the Date column. the vessel, the “To” or” From” Column (it shows the Terminal number, eg. ARR TO or DEP FROM):

Port Everglades Ship Schedule
Port Everglades Ship Schedule (click to enlarge)

The Port Everglades Cruise Ship schedule is here – Go to Cruise Ship Schedule.

Link to my Port Everglades videos

I post videos on Youtube. Go Here to Watch my Port Everglades Videos.

Ship Locator

This map is easy to use! Simply zoom in out out and hover over the BLUE ships for names and information. The BLUE ships are cruise ships.

Where is my Ship docked at Port of Miami (PortMiami) – Cruise Ship Locator

Port of Miami Terminals Map

You are driving to PortMiami and wondering where your ship is docked! In this article you can see a real-time location map of all the docked ships at PortMiami (those with location beacons enabled).

If this is your first time at PortMiami, do not be concerned. Once you cross the bridge (or tunnel) to PortMiami, there are plenty of sign boards to guide you. You can also watch my series of videos showing the terminals and parking garages or lots.

Link to my PortMiami videos

My videos are available on Youtube. Go Here to Watch!

Upcoming Cruise Ship Schedule

I do not know of a reliable cruise ship schedule where one can see the berthing or docking locations of cruise ships. In the meantime, please use the map below and the cruise ship locator to find your ship!

PortMiami Cruise Terminal Map

PortMiami Cruise Terminals and Parking Map
PortMiami Cruise Terminals and Parking Map (click to enlarge)

Ship Locator

This map is easy to use! Simply zoom in out out and hover over the BLUE ships for names and information. The BLUE ships are cruise ships.

Best Miami Hotels for Cruise Passengers near PortMiami and Miami Airport

Port Miami Cruise Hotel Clusters

Cruise Hotels Near PortMiami (Port of Miami) and Miami Airport

The hotel choices near PortMiami can be overwhelming especially for first-time cruisers who are concerned not only about costs but also about safety. In this article I list the most popular areas in Miami to book a hotel for your next cruise.

Much have changed in Miami in recent years and some of the internet stories about crime are simply not true anymore but visitors should remain cautious and book wisely!

Please open my PortMiami Map to see the locations of these hotels as well as other important information such as public transportation routes (metrovers, Metrorail and trolleys)

The Four Most Popular Cruise Hotel Clusters

Here are the four most popular areas (or hotel clusters) to consider when booking your cruise hotel.

  • Miami Airport Hotel Clusters
  • Brickell Hotel Clusters
  • Downtown Hotel Clusters
  • Omni (Arts & Entertainment District) Hotel Clusters

Miami Airport Hotel Clusters

Miami Airport Hotel Map
Miami Airport Hotel Map

With over 50 hotels to choose from, the Miami Airport area is a popular choice for cruisers for many reasons.

Rates can be more affordable than elsewhere, airport transportation is mostly free and most of the hotels are very familiar to cruisers. Frequent travels can easily use their loyalty perks to secure complimentary rooms or upgrades; not so simple for beach or downtown properties!

Go here for my Miami Airport Hotel Guide For Cruisers

Brickell Hotel Clusters

Map - Brickell Hotels near PortMiami
Map – Brickell Hotels near PortMiami

The urban Brickell District is my favorite location for pre-and post cruise stays!

Known by some as the “Manhattan of the South”, Brickell was once known mainly as a financial district but it has grown into a residential hotspot with spiraling skyscrapers!

I love Brickell’s safe walkability, access to free public transport, outdoor and indoor shopping, vibrant nightlife, fabulous restaurants and proximity to Downtown and PortMiami.

Go here for my Brickell Hotel Guide For Cruisers

Downtown Hotel Clusters

Map - Downtown Miami
Map – Downtown Miami

If you want to stay near PortMiami with views of the cruise ships then look no further than Downtown Miami!

The Bayside Marketplace and areas immediately to its south and west are very visitor-friendly with easy access to sightsee companies and public transportation services.

Some hotels are surprisingly affordable making Downtown Miami my second choice for cruise hotels.

Go here for my Downtown Hotel Guide For Cruisers

OMNI (A&E) District Hotel Clusters

Hotel Map - A&E District In Miami
Hotel Map – A&E District In Miami

The old OMNI district is being transformed into a modern Arts and Entertainment District connecting the Arts and Design District (to the north) and Downtown (to the south).

While the area does not (yet) have the vibrant style of Brickell for example, the hotels are skyscrapers, giving you fabulous views of the Miami skyline and Port.

Go here for my A&E District Hotel Guide for Cruisers

Complete Guide to Parking at PortMiami

Parking at PortMiami

All you need to know about parking at or near PortMiami!

There are three PortMiami parking options to consider:

  • Parking ship-side
  • Parking off-site
  • Parking in hotel lots

PortMiami Parking Ship-side

Costs are $22 per night for normal vehicles.

Take a ticket upon entry and pay as you exit the lots – advance booking not available nor needed. Handicapped parking is available – but note FREE disabled parking rules are strict and you need to talk to a parking agent as you enter (find him/her in the booth of the exit lane)

Oversized vehicles (requiring larger parking spaces or exceeding the height of the parking garages) cost $44 per day.

The general idea is to drive up to the Terminal entrance, then drop your luggage (and passengers if you choose) with the baggage agents and proceed to park after which you rejoin the rest of your party.

Pros and Cons

You’ve driven far and the temperature is a blistering 90 degrees! Your family is a bit tired and you have more luggage than expected. It is extremely convenient to just drive up to your cruise terminal, hand your luggage to the attendant and have your family wait in the shade while you go and park in the shaded parking garage.  No waiting in the heat for crowded shuttles that are running late and no endless driving around the cruise terminals while dropping other passengers – all the while hoping no-one takes your luggage by mistake from the trailer behind!

After your cruise your family may be sunburned, tired of crowds and everyone just want to get home. While other passengers are waiting for shuttle buses, you just walk out to your vehicle (hopefully parked in a garage out of the sun), pick your family and luggage and drive home.

  • The benefits are convenience, less frustration and parking in a shaded garage (depending on your cruise terminal). 
  • The obvious drawback is cost. But consider this – many cruisers try to save money by parking off-site. They can save up 50% for the duration (do not forget about tips). Then they get frustrated with the off-site shuttle buses and end up calling taxis and pay $18 or more each way (tips included) – thereby negating a slice of their savings especially for short cruises!

TIP – Even if you are budget-minded, our advice is to park ship-side for 3 or 4 night cruises and off-site for longer cruises. 

Parking Directions

Signs will direct you to your parking lot as you approach the cruise terminals. Most parking garages/lots are directly across the terminals. With so much construction going on, there are parking shuttles between a few of the garages/terminals.

  • Terminal A – Parking garage is part of the terminal. Porters will handle your luggage soon after you enter.
  • Terminal B – Under construction. Currently sharing parking and check-in with Terminal C
  • Terminal C – Parking garage (6-levels) across the road. The surface lot is under construction and may be opened any time.
  • Terminal D – Parking garage (4-levels) across the road. A small surface lot is next door.
  • Terminal E – Large surface lot across the street
  • Terminal F – no garage or lot
  • Terminal G – Parking garage (4-levels) is connected to the terminal via a walkway on level 3.
PortMiami - Terminal A Parking
PortMiami – Terminal A Parking
Parking at Terminal A
PortMiami - Terminal C Parking
PortMiami – Terminal C Parking
Parking Terminal D
Parking Terminal D
PortMiami - Terminal E Parking
PortMiami – Terminal E Parking
Terminals B and C Parking
PortMiami - Terminal G Parking
PortMiami – Terminal G Parking

PortMiami Off-site Parking

An internet search shows many off-site parking lots with a 15-minute drive from the Port. But buyer beware!

It is tough to recommend any but perhaps four are worth your consideration.

While vehicles are generally safe, online reviews reveal slow shuttle services, no customer service and unfriendly or unhelpful drivers. As a result passengers often end up calling an Uber or taxi when they get frustrated with waiting. It is best to add $25 or so to your parking budget in order to compare costs with shipside parking.

Also know taxes and services fees are not shown online until you check out! So be wary of low online ads!

ISSUE – There seems to be a process whereby someone with a van mamages to secure parking spaces in garages and lots around the city. Then they rent those spaces to airport or cruise passengers. You call the shuttle upon arrival then they show up after some time!  Unfortunately these agreements seem to perish after a while and clients are moved to different lots than advertised.

This is why we stick to the four companies mentioned. At least they have a permanent set up (or so it seems).

MAP of Parking Locations

Look for the parking lots on this map! 

Parking Rate Comparison

Here are typical SEVEN NIGHT (8 days) pre-booked cruise parking rates in December 2018 BUT please get accurate quotes for your own dates! Competition dictates frequent rate changes!

And do pre-book online – you may pay more if you just show up at the lots.

Ship-side parking for 8 days = $154

(click on the names for pictures and links)

Safe Cruise Parking – The area looks very shady but the open surface lot has high walls and is gated. $88

Safe Cruise Parking - Miami
Safe Cruise Parking – Miami

Premier Cruise Parking – A nice area. In the MET3 parking garage (Whole Foods). $90

Premier Cruise Parking - Miami
Premier Cruise Parking – Miami

Miami Port Parking – A parking garage in an OK area. $120.

Best Cruise Parking - Miami
Best Cruise Parking – Miami

Pros and Cons

The benefit is cheaper parking if you are budget-minded.

The drawbacks are plenty

  • The lots are often not as secure as promised and only as good as the least trusted employee. Do you keep your car keys?
  • The rates you see advertised are rarely the amount you pay! You have to complete the booking forms or call to get the actual costs (with service fees and taxes added). And you have to consider tipping the shuttle driver.
  • Rates for the same lot varies at times because of booking agents! You can shop around to find the lowest price but it is best to book direct! For example – Parkjockey,  Instapark
  • Shuttles often get delayed due to unforeseen problems (such as slow passengers) and wait times between shuttles are increased
  • Shuttles are packed (especially on the return trips from the cruise ships)
  • Watch your luggage while passengers unload! It is very possible for someone to mistakenly grab the wrong bag while in a hurry at the cruise terminal. You will not know about this until you reach your own stop, creating a huge problem!
  • Shuttles make multiple stops – sometimes including a drop at the airport on the way to the cruise terminal! If your ship is number 6 on the drop-off list it will not be a fast transfer!
  • Frustration do set in and many passengers simply call taxis (especially after the cruise while fighting the crowds at the ship). After tipping the shuttle and taxi drivers, their savings are diminished.

TIP – If you are budget-minded, our advice is to park ship-side for 3 or 4 night cruises and off-site for longer cruises. 

PortMiami Parking at Hotels

There is no consistent advice that can be shared because the options vary greatly depending on your booking. Some hotels do not allow parking while you are cruising while others have different rules/rates depending on how you booked.

You have a few options: Book direct with the hotel. Our hotel section list all the popular hotels with parking/shuttle/review information.

  • Book via an online hotel booking agency but these are best for room-only bookings. Trivago is an excellent source for price comparison. There are other favorites like ValueTrips and Priceline 
  • Book with specialist sites that offer packages to include breakfast, parking and shuttles (for example). Stay123, ParkSleepFly

Pros and Cons

The benefit is obviously peace of mind and the ease of simply booking a hotel package with everything included. Sometimes it is cheaper too.

The drawbacks are:

  • Hotel shuttles are often subcontracted to local transportation companies and quality of vehicles/service vary.
  • Many hotels offer free airport shuttles but port shuttles cost extra.
  • Hotel shuttles to the Port often run on a limited fixed schedule – say 10am and 11am. They do not run non-stop so plan accordingly! If you get frustrated with waiting then calling a taxi will negate your package savings
  • Hotel cruise shuttles make various stops (including the airport at times). If your stop is number 6 then you will get a tour of the Port!
  • Watch your luggage while passengers unload! It is very possible for someone to mistakenly grab the wrong bag while in a hurry at the cruise terminal. You will not know about this until you reach your own stop, creating a huge problem!
  • The wait times for hotel shuttles from the ship back to the hotel at the end of the cruise can be frustratingly long! Many passengers simply hail taxis. Keep this in mind before paying upfront for return hotel shuttles.

Cruise Lines

This information is valid for:

Carnival Cruise Line

Norwegian Cruise Line

Royal Caribbean

Holland America

Princess Cruises

and others

Popular Brickell Miami Hotels for Cruise Passengers

Brickell Miami Skyline

Brickell Miami Hotels for Cruisers

Brickell Miami Hotels are extremely popular for good reason and Brickell is my top choice for pre-cruise stays at PortMiami.

Booking.com

The area is safe and very walkable with a wide selection of restaurants, bars, shops and cruise necessities such as grocery stores and pharmacies. It has two fabulous shopping centers.

The towering modern skyscrapers are visually stunning at night and your senses will immediately feel the energy of this fast-growing district.

You have many wonderful hotels to choose from as shown on the map below. The Hampton Inn, Marriott, SLS Lux and EAST are the most centrally located.

In our opinion the Homewood, Atton, and Extendend Stay are somewhat isolated in terms of public transport and the area is not as vibrant as the rest of Brickell shown on my map. The Aloft Hotel is also a bit further away.

At times the areas underneath the MetroRail tracks attract aggressive homeless and I prefer to avoid it after dark. For this reason I prefer the hotels to the east of the MetroRail tracks.

NOTE – The Brickell area of interest to cruisers is quite small. It is only 0.7 miles from the Four Seasons to the W Hotel (15 minutes walking)! But if you want transport, you have many options!

Map - Brickell Hotels near PortMiami
Map – Brickell Hotels near PortMiami

Metromover

  • A driver-less experience!
  • The yellow line of the free metromover transport system runs through the middle of Brickell and connects it to Downtown Miami and beyond.
  • It takes only 30 minutes to ride the complete yellow-line loop, meaning you can reach Downtown Miami in under 15 minutes!
  • The City Centre Station is a part of the City Centre modern shopping complex!
Miami Metromover
Miami Metromover
Metromover Station - Miami
Metromover Station – Miami

MetroRail

  • Did you know you can use the train between MIA and Brickell?
  • As shown on the map, the Brickell station of MetroRail is near the Hampton Inn
  • Use the Orange Line for service to/from Miami International Airport Station. It takes 20-30 minutes
  • The MIA Station is at the Rental Car Center. From the station you take the MIA Mover to the airline terminals
Miami MetroRail
Miami MetroRail
Miami Trolley Stop
Miami Trolley Stop

Miami Trolley

If you take some time to study the FREE MIAMI TROLLEY routes you may find it very convenient for sightseeing!

  • The drivers are fun and knowledgeable. Just tell them where you want to go and they will assist you
  • Just look for the bus stops with the Palm Tree signs and flag the trolleys
  • The Trolley Route is displayed above the windshield as it aproaches
  • Once seated, every stop is announced. You can pull a wire to bell the driver.
  • The Biscayne and Brickell Trolley routes are of interest to Brickell visitors
  • FYI – the Coral Way Trolley stops at PortMiami (2 or 3 cruise terminals)
Miami Trolley
Miami Trolley

Shopping

Cruisers love to stroll these two modern shopping areas in Brickell! It is all happening between the 10th St and City Centre Metromover stations!

Brickell City Centre – Much more than just an ultra-modern shopping mall. It has office space, residential towers and the EAST Miami Hotel!

Mary Brickell Village – A neighborhood complex with an outdoorsy feel designed to create a “downtown” experience.

City Centre - Brickell Miami
City Centre – Brickell Miami
Mary Brickell Village Shops
Mary Brickell Village Shops
Map-Brickell Shops in Miami
Map-Brickell Shops in Miami
Booking.com

Popular Arts and Entertainment District Hotels for Cruise Passengers

A and E District - Miami

Arts and Entertainment District Hotels in Miami are growing in popularity and the area is best known as the cultural center in this vibrant city! Anchored by Adrienne Arsht Center and the Broward Center for the Performing Arts to the south, visitors are advised to plan ahead to ensure their visit coincides with major entertainment events.

Booking.com

The area is not as vibrant as Downtown or Brickell and fine dining is missing but cruisers will find solid eats and panoramic views in the hotels overlooking Biscayne Bay.

And if you want to venture out, you have easy access to the Biscayne Route of the FREE Miami Trolley as well as a Metromover Station at the Art Center.

But folks love to stay in the Arts and Entertainment District Hotels for the views of PortMiami from the high floors as listed below.

NOTE – these are large hotels with rooms facing in all directions! Some views are blocked by other buildings. Please ask for a room with a clear view at time of booking!

Three Hotel Views in the A&E District of Miami
Three Hotel Views in the A&E District of Miami

Hotel Map

Hotel Map - A&E District In Miami
Hotel Map – A&E District In Miami

Port Views

Here is a selection of port views from the hotels in this area!

Hilton Hotel Views - Miami
Hilton Hotel Views – Miami
Marriott Hotel Views - Miami
Marriott Hotel Views – Miami
Doubletree Hotel Views - Miami
Doubletree Hotel Views – Miami
ME Hotel Views - Miami
ME Hotel Views – Miami
Booking.com

Popular Downtown Miami Hotels for Cruisers Passengers

Downtown Miami Hotels

Downtown Miami Hotels for Cruisers

Cruisers looking for Downtown Miami Hotels will love the hotel choices and proximity to the Port as well as the views of the cruise ships!

Holiday Inn Downtown Miami - 7th Floor View
Holiday Inn Downtown Miami – 7th Floor View

Downtown Miami is 2nd on my cruise hotel recommendation list after Brickell.

Booking.com
  • Bayside Marketplace is a very popular waterfront entertainment/shopping/restaurant complex.
  • Miami River separates Brickell from Downtown. The north bank is home to several hotels and highrise condominiums with shops and restaurants.

Downtown Miami near the hotels is a very safe and walkable area with easy access to the:

  • Miami Trolley.  Free
  • Metromover. Free. The map below shows the routes that are of most interest to visitors. The short Inner Loop (blue) travels clockwise and the Brickell Loop (yellow) travels anti-clockwise.
Miami Trolley
Miami Trolley
Miami Metromover
Miami Metromover

The Metrorail Orange Line to/from Miami International Airport stops Downtown (Government Center Station) where you can transfer to Metromover.

Miami MetroRail
Miami MetroRail

Other transportation options include rental cars from several Downtown locations- please read my dedicated page called Miami Car Rental for Cruisers.

For shopping and more upscale restaurant options I recommend you use the Metromover (Yellow Line) to visit Brickell (just 15 minutes or so, exit at City Centre station).

I recommend Whole Foods for grocery shopping and CVS, Chandi Liquors or Xtra Liquors for wine. You can also go to Publix in Brickell.

After dark, you may find the panhandlers get more aggressive as you wander away from the waterfront areas. I suggest you do not walk futher west than the Metromover stations.

Map - Downtown Miami
Map – Downtown Miami (click to enlarge)
Booking.com

Popular Miami Airport Hotels for Cruise Passengers

Miami Airport Hotel Map

Cruise Hotels Near Miami International Airport

Miami International Airport hotels are popular with cruise enthusiasts and business travelers alike, often for similar reasons. In this article I discuss the most popular cruise hotels at or near Miami International Airport.

Booking.com

Most airport hotels are part of national chains, they are familiar, they are generally more affordable than Downtown hotels, it is easier to use frequent stay perks such as complementary nights and upgrades, airport transfers are free and PortMiami is just under 10 miles away.

It is busy around Miami Airport!

Do be aware the airport is always expanding and construction never stops around its perimeter. For example, in 2020 there are plenty of road and building activity on the east side near the MIA Rental Car Center.

TIP – While PortMiami appears to take about 15 minutes by taxi, give yourself about 30 minutes because traffic near the airport can be heavy.

Nothing interesting nearby

With the exception of the Blue Lagoon area on the south side of the airport, do not expect much in terms of scenery and landscaping. The airport is surrounded by industrial buildings, lower-income housing and busy highways.

VERY IMPORTANT – Miami Airport Hotel Pickup/Drop Locations

Hotel shuttle vans have designated areas for pick/drop operations at the airport and it is your responsibility to go these areas. The vans cannot stop everywhere!

The pickup/drop location is downstairs on the Arrivals Level (1), at designated zones outside of baggage claim across from doors 1,2,3,4,7,15,20 & 23. Please follow signage at curbside to the “bus zones”. You must use the crosswalks and walk across to the bus zones.

Miami Airport Hotel Shuttles Map
Miami Airport Hotel Shuttles Map – note the purple crosswalks (click to enlarge)

The Miami Airport Hotel Clusters

Before discussing the individual hotels and their locations, it is useful to understand the layout of the airport and general hotel areas. In other words, where are the clusters of hotels located?

Please refer to the featured image above as you read the next sections.

IMPORTANT – The photos below are not meant to showcase each hotel! These were taken to show the areas and neighborhoods and sidewalks and roads! It is about what you will experience when you walk outside!

Also, until COVID-19 restrictions are lifted, many standard and expected hotel amenities are restricted. No airport shuttles in many cases, no restaurant service, etc.

Miami International Airport Hotel

This popular airport hotel is located right before the security checkpoint on the 2nd floor in Central Terminal Concourse E. A great choice if you arrive late the night before your cruise!

Blue Lagoon Hotels

On the south side of the airport are several lakes in a office park/residental setting. This is the most scenic hotel cluster and if you want a more quiet setting in a leafy area then choose the Hilton, Homewood Suites, Pullman or Hyatt House .

Blue Lagoon Hotels Map
Blue Lagoon Hotels Map (click to enlarge)

The Hampton Inn is nearby but on a very busy street corner however you will be across the street from Airpark Plaza Mall with restaurants, Publix, Starbucks and other shops.

Hampton Inn - Blue Lagoon Shops - Miami Airport
Hampton Inn – Blue Lagoon Shops – Miami Airport

You can easily walk to this Mall from Hyatt House but Homewood or Pullman (0.5 miles) and especially the Hilton (0.8 miles) will be a bit far in the Florida heat.

Homewood Suites - Blue Lagoon
Homewood Suites – Blue Lagoon
Hilton Hotel  - Blue Lagoon
Hilton Hotel – Blue Lagoon
Pullman Hotel - Blue Lagoon
Pullman Hotel – Blue Lagoon
Hyatt House - Blue Lagoon
Hyatt House – Blue Lagoon

Lake Mahar Hotels (marketed as Blue Lagoon properties)

To the west of Blue Lagoon near the SW corner of the airport, this area is being upgraded with new residential apartments. It is also home to several hotels but there is nothing within easy walking distance unless you stay at the Doubletree.

Lake Mahar Hotels Map - Miami Airport
Lake Mahar Hotels Map – Miami Airport (click to enlarge)

You will be traveling away from PortMiami if you overnight in this area, meaning a longer ride from the airport and also to the Port the following day.

Extended Stay America - Lake Mahar
Extended Stay America – Lake Mahar (Blue Lagoon)

Springhill Suites and Cambria Suites offer lake views from the south-facing rooms while Extended Stay America has a few north-facing rooms overlooking Lake Joanne.

Springhill-Cambria-Lake Mahar
Springhill-Cambria-Lake Mahar

The Doubletree and Days Inn are surrounded by highways and airport roads! But the Doubletree is connected to the Miami Merchandise Mart – an interesting indoor outlet-type shopping center. Reviews are mixed so check the website before going!

Doubletree Hotel - Lake Mahar
Doubletree Hotel – Lake Mahar
Doubletree Hotel - Lake Mahar
Doubletree Hotel – Lake Mahar (Mart to the right)
Days Inn - Miami Airport West
Days Inn – Miami Airport West

Doral Hotels

Be aware these hotels are in the “wrong direction” meaning you will be driving away from PortMiami should you stay in Doral. This makes for a longer ride from the airport to the hotel and to the Port the next day.

A dozen or so hotels are located in the Doral area NW of the airport. But first, let’s travel a short distance south along the Palmetto Expressway to 25th Street where you will find an Extended Stay America next to the highway.

Next door to the hotel at The Shops at MICC are pretty good local eateries, especially La Crema De Las Empanada (even better if you enjoy Venezuelan food)!   I mention this because folks often want hotels within walking distance of local favorites.

The Hotels

Returning north to the very busy corner of Palmetto and NW 36th St, you will find many hotels.

Miami Airport - Doral Hotels Map
Miami Airport – Doral Hotels Map (click to enlarge)

The Hyatt Place and Hampton Inn are next to Boykin Center, one of the better strip malls in the airport area. I recommend you consider these hotels if you want a decent selection of restaurants and shops within easy and safe walking distance. You may even run into Carnival Cruise Line employees at this mall because their corporate office is a few blocks west.

Hampton Inn - Doral
Hampton Inn – Doral
Boykin Shops in Doral - Miami Airport
Boykin Shops in Doral – Miami Airport

You can also walk to Boykin Center from Wingate, Courtyard and Quality Inn but you have to cross busy roads.

Courtyard by Marriott - Doral
Courtyard by Marriott – Doral
Quality Inn - Doral
Quality Inn – Doral
Wingate by Wyndham - Doral
Wingate by Wyndham – Doral

East of Palmetto a bit closer the airport are Four Points, Garden Inn and Homewood Suites in a secluded corner surrounded by highways and industry.

Homewood Suites - Doral
Homewood Suites – Doral
Four Points by Sheraton - Doral
Four Points by Sheraton – Doral
Hilton Garden Inn - Doral
Hilton Garden Inn – Doral

Their neighbor the Motel 6 is a bit closer to the West Airport Shopping Centre but you have to cross the very busy NW 36th St., making these hotels somewhat isolated.

Motel 6 - Doral
Motel 6 – Doral
West Airport Shopping Center - Doral
West Airport Shopping Center – Doral

On the mall side of 36th St is La Quinta in a good location if you want to explore the strip mall but frankly do not expect much.

La Quinta Hotel - Doral
La Quinta Hotel – Doral

Aloft Hotel is across the street a bit further east with nothing nearby except for Chipotle.

Aloft Hotel Miami Airport - Doral
Aloft Hotel Miami Airport – Doral

Airport North Hotels

More than a dozen hotels line the busy NW 36th St close to Miami Springs. In general the room rates are lower in this cluster so you may want to start here if you want to stay as cheap as possible near the airport.

Candlewood Suites - Miami Airport North
Candlewood Suites – Miami Airport North
Clarion Inn - Miami Airport North
Clarion Inn – Miami Airport North
Days Inn - Miami Airport North
Days Inn – Miami Airport North

Nothing stands out in terms of restaurants or shops. You can buy liquor and wine at Airport Café and Liquors (they do serve good food too!) but it may be many blocks from your hotel. Be careful after dark.

Holiday Inn Express - Miami Airport North
Holiday Inn Express – Miami Airport North
EB Hotel - Miami Airport North
EB Hotel – Miami Airport North
Ramada - Miami Airport North
Ramada – Miami Airport North

The north-facing rooms of Best Western and Sleep Inn overlook a golf course making them a bit more attractive.

Airport East Hotels

This is a popular area on the PortMiami side of the airport – divided into hotels north of the MIA Rental Car Center and hotels south of the Center.

Unfortunately, this area is industrial and does not offer much in terms of shopping, restaurants and activities. Higher floors do have good views of the airport terminals and the Downtown Miami skyline.

On the NE corner of the airport, the Red Roof Inn, Hampton Inn, La Quinta, Hyatt Place, Embassy Suites and Holiday Inn are isolated. Surrounded by busy highways there is nowhere to go unless you walk to the hotel next door!

Miami Airport East Hotels Map
Miami Airport East Hotels Map (click to enlarge)
Red Roof Inn - Miami Airport
Red Roof Inn – Miami Airport
Hampton Inn - Miami Airport East
Hampton Inn – Miami Airport East
La Quinta Hotel - Miami Airport East
La Quinta Hotel – Miami Airport East
Hyatt Place - Miami Airport East
Hyatt Place – Miami Airport East
Embassy Suites - Miami Airport East
Embassy Suites – Miami Airport East

Surrounding the MIA Rental Car Center is a Holiday Inn Express, Element, Staybridge, Sheraton, EVEN Hotel and Radisson Red (upcoming). Nothing nearby however and walking is very inconvenient with all the industry, trucks and airport business traffic.

And it feels as if the aircraft is right next door! Exciting actually!

Element Hotel - Miami Airport East
Element Hotel – Miami Airport East
Staybridge Suites - Miami Airport East
Staybridge Suites – Miami Airport East
Holiday Inn Express - Miami Airport East
Holiday Inn Express – Miami Airport East
Sheraton Hotel - Miami Airport East
Sheraton Hotel – Miami Airport East

The Marriott Campus

Marriott Campus Map - Miami Airport
Marriott Campus Map – Miami Airport (click to enlarge)

On the SE corner of the airport is a group of hotels commonly referred to as the Marriott Campus with a Residence Inn, Courtyard, Townplace and Marriott sharing a city block.

Marriott Hotel Center - Miami Airport
Marriott Hotel Center – Miami Airport

The campus is flanked by a lower-income residential neighborhood and a busy road – 42nd Avenue. There are security walls on the east and south sides. You can walk through the neighborhood to the large Central Shopping Plaza but I will avoid walking after dark.

This is a busy area!

Central Shopping Plaza - Miami
Central Shopping Plaza – Miami

Latin Café 2000 is on 42nd Avenue near the hotels and highly recommended!

Marriott Hotel Area - Latin Cafe is in front
Marriott Hotel Area – Latin Cafe is in front
Booking.com

Free Camping in Florida – The Ultimate Guide – Bureau of Land Management (BLM Land) – Part 2

BLM Website Search

When you arrive in Florida after camping on BLM Land in the Western part of the USA, you may find the free camping opportunities confusing and rather disappointing. In fact, some folks still think free camping in Florida is a myth! Well, BLM Land camping in Florida is non-existent. But you have plenty of other opportunities to explore.

While talking about camping in Florida, there is no need to discuss BLM in depth but I want to point out a few important things just as a comparison to the public land management in Florida.

What is the Bureau of Land Management (BLM)?

Simply put, it is an Agency within the Department of the Interior responsible for administering public lands as shown in the diagram below.

The diagram also shows the States where BLM operates (including all the Eastern States) as well as two websites – one for information and one for booking.

BLM Organization
BLM Organization

Where does BLM operate?

Nationwide as shown above but in terms of camping most of the opportunities are west of the Mississippi River.

The image below illustrates the distribution of BLM land quite clearly.

Bureau of Land Management Map
Bureau of Land Management Map (Source – Department of the Interior)

How to find BLM Campgrounds and sites?

There are mainly two types of BLM camping styles –

  • Campgrounds – developed camping areas with amenities of some kind! Most are fee-based. Many (most?) are first-come-first-serve, meaning you choose an available campsite and pay a nightly fee. Some sites can be pre-booked online (link below)
  • Dispersed – Mostly free. You scout the BLM land and set up camp away from developed campgrounds. As long as you follow the rules for that particular land you can generally stay free for 14 days.

To find developed campgrounds, you have two options:

BLM Camping Search
BLM Website Camping Search

To book a reservable site in a developed campground, Go Here to Book Using Recreation.gov

Recreationgov Booking
Recreation.gov Booking website

Experienced campers often go straight to Recreation.gov because they know what they are looking for and how to navigate this useful site! I will write a future article to share tips and tricks!

To find dispersed campsites, the third-party websites mentioned above are your best friends. The dispersed camp sites listed on their maps often have fire rings and you can expect these sites to comply with local rules (such as distance from water sources, etc). Unfortunately when sites are easy to find and listed everywhere they tend to get busy!

Many full-time road warriors use free dispersed camping and their Youtube videos are fun and informative if your’re interested. Some say they have not paid for camping in 5 or more years!

To avoid the crowds, experienced gypsys do their own research using Google Maps and Google Earth to scout for new dispersed camp spots in advance. To avoid getting into trouble with rangers, they educate themselves with land boundaries and local rules. If you want to do the same, please adhere to “Leave-no-Trace” principles and don’t unintentionally “develop” new campsites.

BLM areas have this signage:

Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Logo
Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Logo

Free Camping in Florida – The Ultimate Guide to Public Campgrounds and Dispersed Sites – Part 1

Florida River Island Campground

YES, FREE camping is possible in Florida!

At first glance, finding free camping in Florida is an easy process. Simply go to one of several websites or camping phone apps and browse an area of interest. But that’s when things get interesting because the State of Florida is host to a variety of free (or cheap) camping possibilities and many ways to book a site!

In this article I discuss the overall management or organization of public camping (free or not) in Florida. It is important to understand this Organization Chart because ultimately you are required to have a solid understanding of the rules and regulations of each wildlife/outdoor department or branch of the State of Florida.

Free Camping Resources

Here are the two best websites to research when looking for free or cheap campgrounds in Florida:

  • Freecampsites.net
  • Campendium

Other websites/apps to try:

  • The Dyrt
  • FreeRoam
  • Allstays
  • iOverlander
  • Boondockers Welcome – a free host stay but token gifts are standard

It really depends on what you are looking for and your experience level. If you are familiar with an area it is best to go directly to the relevant website, for example the National Forests in Florida – https://www.fs.usda.gov/florida

Regardless of the source of your information, it can be incomplete/missing, dated, vague or plain wrong! In addition:

  • Every season in Florida brings new camping challenges and site reviews can be misleading. For example, a camp site gets 5 stars in January but go camp there in June and you may encounter swarms of biting yellow flies and aggressive mosquitoes.
  • Hunting seasons present more challenges and campers are expected to know and respect the many different hunting timetables and rules.
  • Vague directions can get you lost and you cannot depend on cell phone service to assist you!
  • Road conditions vary greatly depending on seasons and rainfall. Florida remote camping is often on swampland and roads flood easy. High-clearance 4WD vehicles do provide peace of mind.

For these reasons (and others), I ‘ve decided to do some research and author a series of articles explaining the options for free (or cheap) camping in Florida.

Free versus Cheap Camping

Free camping is available in Florida but with strings attached! I will get into the details of this in future articles but for now just be aware there are different procedures and rules in place when camping for free on different lands.

For example, some free sites require an online booking. Others are available on a first-come-first-serve basis, meaning you can just show up. Most have stay limits (14 days usually). Some free sites are closed in hunting season or other times of the year.

Unfortunately, the most popular free camping locations in Florida are often fully occupied in winter when snowbirds flock to the area. At times you may have to opt for a fee-based site. For this reason I include cheap campgrounds and sites in my articles. How much is CHEAP you wonder?

  • $1 – $10 per site per night – CHEAP camping in my opinion.
  • $11 -$20 per night – AFFORDABLE camping.
  • $21 plus per night is generally beyond my budget except for special occasions. These campgrounds are mostly in State Parks and a lack of privacy can be an issue despite the high rates. It is a shame that some Florida State Park campgrounds are poorly planned and overpriced.

Terminology – Dispersed Camping

If you camp on public land away from a designated campground, you are doing dispersed camping! Generally, this means no services; such as trash removal, and little or no facilities; such as tables and fire pits. Some popular dispersed camping areas may have toilets – either seasonal or permanent.

In Florida, dispersed camping is allowed on some (not all) public land and during certain times of the year. I will discuss this in future articles but hunting season (“general gun” in particular) is not the best time to disperse camp! In most areas you are then required to utilize designated campgrounds (often called “hunt camps”).

Terminology – BLM (Bureau of Land Management) in Florida

It irks me when folks talk about free BLM camping in Florida because BLM Camping does not exist in Florida! BLM is huge out west but not so in the East.

I will say a lot more about BLM in future articles but for now let’s stop using the term “BLM Camping in Florida“. Please folks!

Terminology – Boondocking versus Dry Camping

I use the term “boondocking” rather loosely! In my writings it covers all types of overnight stays as long as it’s free. A Walmart parking lot can be a boondocking spot, or a truck stop, or a pullout along a dirt road in the middle of nowhere. These are short-term stays and you generally do not set up camp. At times you must park stealthily in order to avoid law enforcement officials!

Dry Camping refers to actual camping but without hookups of any kind. You camp at some basic level without available water sources, power or sewer. It can be challenging especially in the heat or cold but it is often the most rewarding style of camping.

Free camping in Florida requires a dry camping setup – you have to be self-efficient and self-contained! Water and even the occasional toilet and/or dump station are available at a few free camp sites but you cannot depend on it because these may be locked for some reason or another. I will point to these sites in upcoming articles.

Organization of Public Camping in Florida

Organization of Camping in Florida
Organization of Public Camping in Florida – source: Eben Schoeman (click to enlarge image)

The State of Florida has 3 departments that are of great interest to outdoor enthusiasts. These are marked in blue in the chart above. I will discuss them in more detail in upcoming articles:

  • Department of Environmental Protection
  • Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC)
  • Agriculture and Consumer Services

The State of Florida also has stewardship of the lands of 4 national organizations (most of these are well-known and very popular destinations) and dotted-line connections to local county and city governments:

  • National Forests
  • National Parks
  • Army Corps of Engineers
  • Bureau of Land Management
  • City and County Parks in Florida

Looking at the chart above, there are many “owners” of public camping lands in Florida with many different booking procedures and rules. As stated earlier – in upcoming articles I will explain them all!

To prepare for my future articles, please study my map below.

  • The campgrounds or sites of each Department or Division are shown in different colors. Click on the Table of Contents icon (top-left) to see the Index.
  • Nightly rates are provided in most cases but this is a work-in-progress! I show both FREE and FEE-BASED campgrounds.
  • If you find a missing campground please let me know!
  • Only campgrounds accessible by vehicles are shown. Walk-in sites are not shown unless next to a parking area.

Free or Cheap Camping Map of Florida

This map shows each of the campgrounds or areas, grouped by color. For example, State Park Campgrounds (fee required) are shown as Orange, National Park Campgrounds (fee required) are shown in Red.

In Part 2, I write about BLM and its presence (or lack thereof) in Florida!

YES, Take me to Part 2!