Attractions to See That Won’t Cost a Thing
Miami has a reputation for being expensive, but these attractions are fun and free.
The best way to stretch any travel budget is to pad it with free and cheap attractions. But in a city like Miami, Florida, home to mega-wealthy celebrities, you might think finding something free to do might be difficult. However, due to the city’s multicultural population, there is a multitude of attractions, events, and activities that are friendly to a visitor’s budget.
Here are some free things to do while in Miami that are not only fun but will add to the flavor and memories of a visit to the city.
People Watching on Ocean Drive
Ocean Drive is often considered the heart of South Beach nightlife and it is often congested with people. But it is also free to visit and offers great opportunities to people watch. During the day, you can take in the hardbodies at the beach. At night, you’ll see everyone from college students on vacation to celebrities cruising the beachside road or trying to get into the latest and hottest clubs. Either way, you’re guaranteed to see things that will make your visit memorable.
Lincoln Road Mall
This outdoor mall is situated along a 7-block stretch of Lincoln Rd that stretches from Bay Rd. east to Collins Ave. in Miami Beach. It features a mixture of upscale boutiques and chain stores, along with a sampling of restaurants and nightlife.
During weekends, the pedestrian mall (meaning the street itself is closed to vehicles) is also home to street performers who put on free shows in exchange for donations at night. On Sundays, the mall is home to the Lincoln Road Farmers Market, which is popular with South Beach locals.
The Coral Gables Museum
Learn the history of one of Miami’s oldest areas at this museum that features never-before-seen early Gables memorabilia and photographs detailing the development of the city of Coral Gables from the 1920s on. Staffed by volunteers, the museum is open for free on Wednesdays and Sundays from 1pm to 4pm.
There are also free lectures on architecture and design on the first Friday of each month. The museum, which includes the city’s original police and fire station buildings, is located at 2901 Ponce de Leon Blvd in Coral Gables. Call 305.910.3996 for more information or visit the Coral Gables Museum online.
Miami Art Museum
This is one of the most popular museums in Miami and for good reason. Its collection of art encompasses a variety of mediums and artists from around the world, as well as showcasing locally-based artists. Normally, admission is $8 for adults, but every second Saturday of the month, everyone gets in free.
Second Saturdays also regularly include live music, storytelling, guided tours, gallery games, and dance performances, along with fun hands-on activities for both children and adults. The Miami Art Museum is located at 101 West Flagler Street and can be reached by phone at 305.375.3000.
Jazz at the MOCA
The last Friday of every month, Miami’s Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA) presents outdoor jazz concerts featuring outstanding musical talent. Best of all, the concerts are free to attend. Simply bring a blanket or lawn chair, find a spot, and enjoy the show. Make an evening of it by picking up some take-out food and a bottle of wine en route.
The museum itself is also open during the concerts by donation, meaning you pay as little or as much as you want for entrance. MOCA is located at 770 NE 125 St, in North Miami, and can be reached by phone at 305.893.6211. You can find a complete list of upcoming performers at the MOCA website.
Art Deco Welcome Center
South Beach is complete eye candy for anyone with an interest in Art Deco architecture. If that includes you, a stop at this welcome center is a must. Learn more about the history of the area, get information on the various Art Deco buildings, and pick up free maps to help guide you around. The Art Deco Welcome Center is located at 1001 Ocean Dr, in South Beach, and is open from 10am to 6pm year-round except national holidays.
Jewish Museum of Florida
The museum is comprised of two restored former historic synagogues. The first was built in an Art Deco style in 1936, the second was Miami Beach’s first synagogue, built in 1929. Together, they house exhibits of Jewish life in Florida since 1763, as well as a timeline wall of Jewish history worldwide.
Normal admission is only $6, but is free to all every Saturday from 10am until 5pm. The Jewish Museum of Florida is located at 301 Washington Ave in Miami Beach and can be reached by phone at 305.672.5044.
Even if you have no interest in the Jewish Museum above, the Holocaust Memorial in Miami Beach will still take your breath away. Built of Jerusalem stone, the memorial begins with a curved walkway, furnished with an eternal light that leads to a 42-foot bronze arm sticking out of the ground. This arm is tattooed with a serial number, similar to those applied in concentration camps by the Nazis, and is covered in about 100 bronze bodies climbing it.
The walkways around the arm are inscribed with the names of Holocaust victims. You’ll find the memorial just north of Lincoln Mall, at 1933 Meridian Ave in Miami Beach. Admission is free year-round from 9am to 9pm daily. For more information, phone 305.538.1663.
With its location at the tip of Florida, Miami is home to one of the largest populations of Cuban immigrants in the US. Most of these people are concentrated in an area of town known as Little Havana. For a small taste of the Cuban lifestyle, from stores to cafes, take a stroll down Calle Ocho – also known as 8th Street – between 12th and 27th Avenues, just south of downtown Miami.
Visit during mid-March for the free Calle Ocho festival, which brings in over 1 million people to this single day street party full of music, costumes, street performers, and food samples from local merchants.
Best known for its Bayside Marketplace, which includes everything from independent vendor kiosks to more touristy fare like the Hard Rock Café, it is also home to memorials for the astronauts who perished in the Challenger spaceship accident, another to former president John F. Kennedy (the JFK Torch of Friendship), the city’s Veterans’ Memorial and a fountain dedicated to Claude Pepper, a distinguished US congressman.
It also offers free yoga classes outdoors by the bay three times a week, as well as 32 acres of lush greenery, with a small sand beach, a tropical rock garden, and waterfall (dating back to 1926). The view of the city skyline against the ocean is quite spectacular, as well. You’ll find Bayfront Park at 301 N. Biscayne Blvd.