Miami Boat Show to Bring 1,200 Boats and 100,000 Guests Over Presidents' Day Weekend

Break out your sunscreen and top-siders. The Miami Boat Show is back and hoping to be bigger than ever during Presidents' Day weekend. 

Organizers estimate 100,000 visitors will descend upon the convention for its 75th year, bringing with them a healthy $83 million injection to the local economy — and one of the grandest displays of boats you've ever seen.

Sponsored by Progressive Insurance, the Boat Show is not just for boating enthusiasts and the super rich, although it helps to be filthy with greenbacks when you're shopping for a yacht or speed boat accessories. The boat show encourages dreamers to witness the glory that is a collection of 1,200 boats, including special displays of the original Miami Vice boat and other beautiful machines. Guests can try their hand at kayaking or paddle-boating on-site. Plus, there will be opportunities for hands-on boat skill training and boat demonstrations for serious buyers.

Though the Boat Show is only now few weeks away, it was quite a journey for organizers. Back in May of last year, environmental groups petitioned for the show to not be allowed to relocate to the Miami Marine Stadium. One major complaint, according to the South Florida Business Journal, was the use of temporary docks, which can negatively impact endangered wildlife.

The permit for the show was later approved in December, and a few weeks ago Key Biscayne Mayor Mayra Peña Lindsay issued a statement: "The Miami-Dade County Commission rejected the NMMA's request for a 10-year permit and put in place over 60 conditions and restrictions that will keep the Boat Show on a very short leash, which is validation that this unnecessary and risky commercial venture requires intense scrutiny. The Army Corp of Engineers has now issued similar onerous restrictions of their own and the village of Key Biscayne will remain vigilant as the region’s environmental watchdog, even as our legal challenges remain in play."
During the media preview yesterday morning, Miami Mayor Tomás Regalado spoke about what a "historic move" this would be for the show having a new home by the Miami Marine Stadium Park & Basin on Virginia Key. He also said how the Miami Boat Show hopes to spur public interest in the revitalization of the landmark facility, left damaged and unused since Hurricane Andrew in 1992. The stadium has come a long way, and the Boat Show works closely with the Friends of the Miami Marine Stadium restoration group, but it isn't quite yet ready. It will act as a beautiful — but inaccessible — backdrop for the show's 65,000-square-foot air-conditioned tent and 200,000 square-foot open-air displays.

Half of the air-conditioned tents will house the majority of the boat displays. It could take you a couple of hours just to walk that collection, so expect plenty of Instagram photo opps. The other half will feature exhibits on engines, accessories, sport fishing, and more. You can enjoy all of this without guilt, because the Boat Show's team went to great lengths to ensure there will be no adverse environmental impact, from constructing chemical-free, floating wooden docks to hiring special manatee watch guards, because this is about celebrating Miami's ecology, not destroying it.

As if the scenery weren't delicious enough, another new addition this year will be a partnership with the Rusty Pelican and its parent group, the Specialty Restaurant Corporation. The waterfront restaurant will create seven pop-up eateries, including a kids' corner, a barbecue pit, and a fully stocked beer garden, offering everything from brews to portobello sliders to stone crabs and a whole roast pig. There will be tons of concession stands offering grab-and-go options, but really, don't you want to take advantage of first-class food and cold beer?

Complimentary water taxi and bus shuttle services will run from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily for those looking to take advantage of parking by Marlins Park, the American Airlines Arena, Bayside Marketplace, or the Coconut Grove Arts Festival (happening the same weekend). The art and boat shows have partnered on discounted bundle package tickets. They're banking on a lot of people wanting to look at boats and enjoy art.

The Miami Boat Show
10 a.m. Thursday through Monday, February 11 through 15, at Miami Marine Stadium (3501 Rickenbacker Cswy., Key Biscayne). Tickets cost $20 to $85, and kids 15 and younger get in free. Visit

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Kat Bein is a freelance writer and has been described as this publication’s "senior millennial correspondent." She has an impressive, if unhealthy, knowledge of all things pop culture.