Despite what the Miami hype would lead you to believe, you can visit this city on a shoestring and still have a great experience. The best way to enjoy this city on the cheap is to think like a local and seek out free and budget-friendly things to do.
It is possible to have lots of frugal fun in Miami, and here are some of the best money-saving tips and inexpensive attractions for your Florida vacation.
- Save on accommodations by visiting outside of the peak season. Winter and fall are the busiest times for tourism in Miami because it is cold elsewhere in the country, and everyone flocks to the beaches. If you can visit during the spring and summer, you will find much cheaper rates and sometimes even be able to save up to 30 percent on hotel rooms.
- If you want to enjoy the Miami nightlife on the cheap, look for bars that don’t charge a cover fee, such as the iconic Mangos and The Clevelander.
- Cool off in the Venetian Pool, which was carved from a rock quarry in 1923. It is filled with natural spring water and surrounded by several waterfalls, making it a luxurious place to swim for a small admission fee. It was designed by architect Phineas Paist and is styled after a real Venetian lagoon. Sometimes, the entire lagoon is drained so that the Miami Symphony Orchestra can perform in it and take advantage of the natural acoustic qualities.
- For a cheap lunch, head down to Bayfront Park where you’ll find food trucks that sell inexpensive and delicious eats. Purchase a tasty meal from one of the carts and then stroll up to Paul S. Walker Park to enjoy a picnic. Or, try Tobacco Road, the city’s oldest bar famous for serving $5 lunch specials.
- If you plan to visit several attractions, purchase a GO Miami card, which offers admission to dozens of South Florida attractions for a set price. You can access 35 Miami attractions with these cards. For example, the Miami Seaquarium admission price is $39.95 and for a few dollars more, you can get into that attraction and many others with the GO Miami card.
- Parking isn’t cheap in Miami, and neither are car rentals, so walk or hop on the Metromover public transit rail system. The free service stops at all major destinations in the downtown area. The system is convenient, as cars arrive as often as every 90 seconds when needed.
Free Things to Do in Miami
Looking for attractions in the city that won’t tap your travel budget? Check out these free attractions!
The Miami Art Museum is free on the second Saturday of the month from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. and offers an excellent collection of interesting exhibits. The museum has been collecting art since 1996, and the collection focuses on art from the 1930s to the present, with pieces by Marcel Duchamp, Nancy Graves, Sol LeWitt and Frank Stella.
The Bacardi Museum has free tours. You can learn all about the history of this world-famous rum, which dates back to 1862. Call in advance to book a tour.
A free walking tour with Paul George! On the last Friday evening of every month, you can take a free walking tour of the Little Havana neighborhood with Paul George, a local historian. The tours give insight into the history and culture of this beautiful part of the city, and they depart at 7 p.m. from the Tower Theater on Eighth Street. Dr. George is somewhat of a legend in Miami and is known for his wealth of knowledge of South Florida’s history.
The Biltmore Hotel offers free tours of its beautiful historical grounds every Sunday, with interesting stories about Miami’s history and the hotel’s famous guests including Ginger Rogers, Judy Garland and the Duke and Duchess of Windsor.
Admission is free at the Holocaust Memorial, which features an emotionally moving memorial wall dedicated to those who died in World War II concentration camps.
Check out the Miami Beach Botanical Garden. This beautiful tropical garden is located right in the center of South Beach. It’s a quiet and tranquil place to walk, and a cool escape from the heat. Admission is free. The gardens are also often host to live music and performing arts events.
These are just a few suggestions on ways to enjoy the great city of Miami for a lot less than you might have imagined.
Venetian Pool – Coral Gables, Florida – Wikipedia Creative Commons
Miami Art Museum - Wikipedia Public Domain
Pool At The Biltmore Hotel - Wikipedia Creative Commons
Miami Beach Botanical Garden – Wikimedia Public Domain
Guest Author Bio
Tina Martin is a freelance travel writer who focuses on budget travel in some of America’s most exciting cities. She recommends that you save on travel with Expedia when planning your next vacation.