Get your Dolphins tailgate timing down (Credit, Niema Hulin)

Let’s face it. Miami traffic is the worst and the last thing you want to do is get trapped in it. The best way to avoid this is to get your timing down. So set your watch and follow these simple rules and you’ll beat the Miami traffic in no time.

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When To Arrive At Sun Life Stadium

Early arrival breaks down into two groups: tailgaters and non-tailgaters. If you plan to throw some shrimps on the barbie then you need to arrive to Sun Life Stadium three hours early, but if you just want to watch the game, you’ll only need one hour.

Tailgaters like to have plenty of time. They need to arrive, pay for their tolls/parking, set up their crazy displays, cook a meal and have time to eat as passersby comment on how great their display and food looks. Non-tailgaters are the opposite. They just want to find their parking spot and go into the game. If they park in the Orange cash lots across from the stadium, they have a little leeway because tailgaters do not frequent that area. The only problem here is that the lines to the cash lots become longer the closer you get to game time and then there’s that long walk to the stadium. If their spot is in the Orange, Blue, Maroon or Purple lots located inside the stadium gates, they need time to find their parking spot and wade through tailgating displays. These lots are frequented by tailgaters and finding a parking spot without knocking over the massive setups can be messy. Whatever the case, it’s best to arrive early.

When To Head Into The Stadium

So you’ve braved long parking lines and devoted tailgaters and found the perfect spot. Now it’s time to watch the ‘Fins. Chances are that since you paid a pretty penny for the privilege of attending a Dolphins game, you won’t want to miss a minute. So both tailgaters and non-tailgaters need to arrive at the stadium 30-45 minutes before kickoff. Tailgaters need this additional time to break down the displays and store them in their vehicles in addition to the time they need to turn in their tickets and find their seats. Non-tailgaters need this time to turn in their tickets, find their seats and raid the concession stands. This will ensure that you’re not waiting in line for food and watching the game on the monitors above the concession stands. You could have done that at home for free.

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How To Plan Your Escape

While tailgating and attending a Dolphins game may be the most fun, leaving a Dolphins game is the worst. No matter what route you take, the road is crowded and you don’t want to waste the few precious hours you have before Monday morning mania returns. So save you’re Sunday by trying one of these methods:

  1. Wait for the lot to clear before leaving – This tried-and-true method works for those who have patience. Simply wait for people to leave. It gives you time to slowly meander to your car. You can even watch half of the first quarter of another football game on a portable TV in your car and then leave. This will guarantee that you miss game-time traffic.
  2. Wait for others to leave the game – Many times, fans will give up on the game when the score isn’t close and leave. Wait for them to leave and then find a better seat closer to the the exit. This way you won’t miss a minute of the game and you can get to your car before everyone else exits.
  3. Be a bad Dol-fan and leave the game early – This is not recommended but it’s still an option. If getting home fast is more important than watching your Miami Dolphins finish a hard fought game, then you could always leave midway through the 4th quarter and make it to your car. There will hardly be any traffic but getting home faster will not wash off the stink of being a traitor. Remember there are many games where fans gave up on their team only to arrive home and discover that they pulled out a miraculous victory. Don’t let that be you.

Now that you’ve got the timing down, you’re ready for any game.

Check out Tailgate Fan to keep the party going at

Niema Hulin was born in Newark, NJ but raised in Lexington, South Carolina for the bulk of her formative years. In 2002, she moved to Miami after graduating from the University of Florida and has been here ever since. Her work can be found at

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