Clean and modern, there's little to complain about architecturally speaking. With three levels of seating, American Airlines Arena fits almost 20,000 people. Things can be pricey inside so be prepared to spend some money if you plan on eating and drinking at the game.
There's a wide range of food choices inside AA Arena. You have the standard food like hot dogs (mediocre) and nachos (pretty darn good), but we found plenty of other options too that we liked. Try the empanadas at Fuego Grill (Sec 105 and 117) and then there's the dangerously delicious Cinnabon on the 300 and 400 Levels. For more specialty food, look for Sushi near Section 117 and a Kosher Stand near 101.
For the vegetarian fans, there's a so-so veggie burger at Fuego Grill or you can get a Veggie Wrap at Asian Wrap (Sec 108).
Definitely try to check out Bongo's if you can. There's the larger sit-down venue attached to the arena, or there's also smaller concessions stands serving up pretty good Cuban food.
If you have suite level tickets, Dewar's Clubhouse is a great place to grab dinner. Serving signature dishes, you can enjoy great panoramic views of the court here.
Most of the draft beer at general concessions stands are Budwesier and Bud Light but there are numerous Bacardi Bars around where there are other options.
Go Heat! Don't be afraid to park a little further away from the stadium to save some money. Downtown Miami can seem sketchy, but it's not that bad. Traffic sucks getting there, so I sometimes go early and hang at Bayside. Pretty nice arena overall.
The Arena and Surrounding Neighborhood:
Open since 1999, American Airlines Arena sits on the waterfront of Biscayne Bay in downtown Miami. Located next to Bayside Marketplace and Bayfront Park, Bicentennial Park, and just a short causeway drive away from Miami Beach, it's a great spot to visit especially for out-of-towners. Downtown Miami can be a little sketchy the further you get from the water, but we've never felt too unsafe walking around at night. It's a diverse neighborhood with a variety of places to go pre or post game.
Bongo's Cuban Cafe (owned by Gloria Estafan) is popular as it's right at the arena andBayside is also right next door and is a large outdoor shopping area with lots of spots to grab a meal or just drinks - ranging from chains like Hooters to local Miami restaurants serving up great Latin American fare.
There's plenty more places that are just a short walk or drive away. You can hop over to South Beach for a club scene (via car or taxi - I-395 aka MacArthur Causeway is just north of the arena), or do the opposite and stay downtown and walk to someplace like Tobacco Road - Miami's oldest bar and restaurant.
Check our "Before & After the Game" map for these and other great suggestions, as there's a range of options.
Getting There and Parking:
Right off I-95, the arena is fairly easy to get to, although traffic will be fairly unpleasant on game days so leave yourself time. If you can avoid Biscayne Blvd on your way to a parking space, definitely do so. There are lots run by American Airlines, but they are pretty pricey and fill up quickly. Luckily, there are numerous other lots nearby ranging from $5-$30 although prices may be higher for certain games.
Don't be too tempted to park at the first lot you see when exiting 95, as you'll find better deals the further you get. We found a garage run by Miami-Dade College off 3rd Street and N 1st Avenue that was on the cheaper side and just a quick walk away, and doesn't require you to deal with Biscayne Blvd traffic. If you're worried about safety, we do recommend finding a lot on Biscayne as some of the other streets can be dimly lit at night.
Also check our map for links to our affiliate parkwhiz.com where you can reserve a spot online. (click the "more" button)
While public transportation isn't generally that popular in most of South Florida, it is actually very convenient to use when going anywhere downtown. It's $2 per trip and stays open later for AA Arena events - usually until about 1am. You can take the MetroRail to Government Center Station and then transfer to MetroMover's Omni Loop and get off at Park West Station. You can park in lots and garages at several stations and it's usually $4.
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