Are you obsessed with the USA? Then you definitely cannot miss Miami and its unique vibes. Yes, we know, Miami is not among the first destinations that come to mind when on a budget, but don’t worry, the #HostelworldInsider team went on a mission to find free things to do in Miami, so even the “brokest” backpacker can enjoy the dazzling glamour of this American city.
Miami is one of the most famous cities in Florida, with its chilled atmosphere, Instagram-worthy architecture, stunning long beaches, awesome street art, and Cuban vibes! The city itself is quite chilled during the day: people riding bikes (or massive cars!) to the beach, walking in the Art Deco District before taking a swim in the ocean, enjoying a Mojito or two under the palm trees; at night, as we all know, Miami turns into one of the best places to party. So, whether you are here for a layover or for an epic Miami trip, this city is more than glitz and glamour.
Before we start with our list of free things to do in Miami we want to give you a little heads up: a very good place where to stay during your trip, is Generator Miami, the first Generator hostel in the US! The hostel is VERY good looking, with amazing common areas, a swimming pool surrounded by palm trees, walls adorned with elegant street art, free breakfast, and expert bartenders for your nightly cocktails. Generator Miami is the perfect location for the beach lovers, it’s literally 2 minutes’ walk!
Read on for our top 14 free things to do in Miami:
1. Cruise down the famous Ocean Drive
One of the most iconic streets in Miami, Ocean Drive has a gorgeous and Insta-worthy seafront, studded with palm trees, relaxed vibes and of course, an incredible beach filled with the colourful Baywatch Stations. Along Ocean Drive you’ll also find some free gyms on the beach, where you can show off your pull ups – careful though – these gyms are filled with tanned body builders! Fun fact about Ocean Drive is that before becoming this iconic street, it was a maze of mangroves. During the ‘20s, thanks to the contributions of the American entrepreneur Carl Fisher, Ocean Drive became one of the coolest places across the US, home of the largest concentration of Art Deco architecture inspired by the Paris Exposition des Arts Decoratifs et Industriels Modernes, the Paris design fair.
2. Get the perfect pic at the iconic Art Deco District
Get all your cameras ready for one of the most Instagrammable places on earth and one of the most exciting free things to do in Miami. Located on Ocean Drive, this is the largest collection of Art Deco buildings and it’s just the perfect place to get lost in. The Art Deco District is filled with pastel hotels and mansions (including Versace’s The Villa Casa Casuarina). You’ll also be able to spot some very cool cars, from brand new ones to real antiques. Be ready for some shiny Cadillacs!
3. Enjoy Miami skyline from South Pointe Park
As you continue south on Ocean Drive, after feasting your eyes on the Art Deco District, you’ll end up in one of the best places to enjoy Miami’s skyline: South Pointe Park. Here, people come to go jogging, fishing… it’s just the perfect place for people watching. Make sure to come when the sun is about to set and enjoy Miami all fired up by the orange-painted sky!
4. Wake up to some free yoga classes at Bayfront Park
One of the best the free things to do in Miami is to join the locals at Bayfront Park for some free yoga! So, grab your mat, a bottle of water and get ready to get deep into those poses. Bayfront Park is not the only location for free morning yoga, you can also check out the classes every Sunday morning at the Mondrian in South Beach, at Kennedy Park on Saturdays and at Margaret Pace Park in Downtown Miami.
5. Browse around Lincoln Road
Lincoln Road is another iconic part of Miami. It’s well known as the shopping hub of the city, and something that I personally love to do is to see how different are shops compared to Europe. They often have the same shops, but with different collections, adjusted to their customers and of course the weather! Lincoln Road is very beautiful and buzzy, you’ll hear people speak English or Spanish, and sometimes Spanglish! In case you’ve left your flip flops at home, no worries, on Lincoln Road you’ll find many options that will suit you and your pockets!
6. Ride the Metromover
Fancy whizzing through Miami’s skyscrapers on the Metromover? This shuttle train runs on a track that sits up high and twists and turns throughout the city’s architecture. The best bit is that it’s totally FREE! Take this train-like shuttle through downtown and stop and explore Bayside Marketplace for the free live music every day.
7. Catch Cuban vibes (and cheap food & drinks) at Little Havana
This Cuban community, in Downtown Miami, will catapult you into another world. Expect South American music, empanadas, and some of the best Mojitos you’ll ever try (sadly not free)! Start your walk at the famous Calle Ocho with Little Havana’s version of the Hollywood Walk of Fame, recognising some of the most amazing Cuban celebrities.
Soak up the Cuban culture at Ball & Chain bar – opened in the early 1930s – with its iconic pineapple-shaped stage, you’ll be able to enjoy some Cuban live music while sipping local beers and munching on some Mariquitas de Madura!
Little Havana is also one of the cheapest areas in Miami, and the food here is simply amazing. Make sure to check out the ventanitas like Yisell Bakery on SW 8th Street where you can grab an empanada for as little as $1,50!
8. Challenge a local at Domino Park
If you love mixing with the locals, you cannot miss Domino Park where the elderly community of Little Havana gathers for some intense Domino games. Watch some tense and animated games, and if you feel brave enough, you can always challenge one of them.
9. Fall in love with the street art in Wynwood
This list of free things to do in Miami wouldn’t be complete without mentioning, what is set to become one of the coolest areas: Wynwood District, the graffiti area of the city. Wynwood was a pretty neglected area during the 1970s but has been recently transformed into one of the hotspots for travellers and locals, with not only some of the greatest street art but also a lively nightlife!
10. Free art in the Design District
Explore Miami’s free art galleries, such as the Institute of Contemporary Art and De La Cruz Collection, where you’ll find some interesting and mesmerising pieces from international contemporary artists. The district itself is pretty iconic too, with lots of sculptured-filled squares and striking architecture everywhere you turn.
11. Enjoy the live music at Bayside Marketplace
After a day on the beach, one of the coolest things to do in Miami is to wander around Bayside Marketplace, an outdoor shopping centre in the heart of Downtown Miami. What’s special about a shopping centre, you might ask? Well, the waterfront here is incredible! You’ll be able to stroll around with live music in the background. Bayside Marketplace is one of the most touristic sites in Miami, but it’s still worth a visit!
12. Be mesmerised at the-not-so-free Everglades National Park
One hour drive from Miami, you’ll find the amazing Everglades National Park. This HUGE park is a unique habitat where crocodiles and alligators co-exist. Given that crocodiles tend to live in saltwater habitats, while alligators hang out in freshwater, it’s pretty weird, right? Well, the Everglades National Park is a subtropical wetland and it’s the only ecosystem in the world able to host both crocodiles and alligators!
Everglades National Park is not only about our sharped-toothed friends, but here you can find some of the most breath-taking landscapes filled with loads of rare and endangered species. The entrance is 15$ but once inside you can have free tours such as the one aboard the Homestead National Parks Trolley during weekends.
13. Catch the sunrise on the beach
If you decide to stay – like we did – at Generator Miami, you’ll be able to roll out of your bunkbed at 6:30am, sit on the beach and enjoy the sun rising above the ocean. Such a breathtaking view, with seagulls fishing and the sound of the waves crashing on the shore.
14. Watch a movie on South Beach
This is one of those bucket list experiences, and here in Miami, you will be able to tick it off for free! South Beach or ‘SoBe’ in local speak is the perfect place to chill by the ocean waves and catch a movie in the open air. Check out the screening programmes on SoundScape. Sobe is also Miami’s LGBTQ hub and where the Miami Pride celebrations take place.
Cheap places in Miami for food and drinks
Miami’s nightlife is well known worldwide for its wild pool parties, clubs and bars scattered around the city. We are wild but we’re still on a budget, so here’s our list of night-time venues to explore on a budget.
1. Mama Tried
Mama Tried is an awesome bar located in Downtown Miami, it has a fun atmosphere and a stylish interior. Here you can join the Trivia Nights, or you could always challenge a local to a game of pool while you sip some cocktails. Make sure you’re there for happy ‘hour’ (3pm-8pm every day), with cocktails for $7 and snacks for $2… pretty cheap for Miami!
Address: 207 NE 1st St, Miami, FL 33132
2. Bodega Taqueria y Tequila
If you are down for some amazing Mexican food, DJs and live music… you cannot miss Bodega, located on Alton St. The place itself is super cool, with sofas and small tables, and a long counter in that typical US style. Here you can have tacos for $3.50!
Address: 1220 16th St, Miami Beach, FL 33139
1-800-Lucky, in the Wynwood District, is everything you need. Challenge your friends to a karaoke battle, while you munch on some Asian delicacies. Karaoke tables start from $7 per person, but you should definitely check out the 1-800- Lucky before going!
Address: 143 NW 23rd St, Miami, FL 33127
4. Wood Tavern
Another super cool place in Wynwood, Wood Tavern is a hipster dream come true. Home of the most interesting graffiti, no dress code, and all the artsy and authentic vibes you need! There’s a large craft beer selection and their clientele is made up of artists, musicians, and bartenders… It’s a pretty stimulating place to be!
Address: 2531 NW 2nd Ave, Miami, FL 33127
5. Big Pink – Our fave place to eat in Miami!
If like us, you are on a budget, but you still want to eat good food, then make sure to stop by Big Pink with a menu that features more than 200 dishes and is very good value for money. The food is tasty and comes in very large portions, so be careful how much you order! The staff are menu-experts and will be able to guide you through the multitude of options. We had some amazing salmon wraps, burgers and the famous chicken waffle.
Address: 157 Collins Ave, Miami Beach, FL 33139
Generator Miami: where we stayed and why we loved it
For our Miami trip, we stayed in this fabulous hostel located in the heart of Miami Beach. Generator has an eye for details, with show-stopping interior design, in fact, everywhere you look, you’ll find something that’s picture worthy! Generator Miami is literally 2 minutes away from the beach where we enjoyed one of the most amazing sunrises, and they also have a stunning outdoor area, with swimming pool, palm trees, a bar and a restaurant. Both dorms and private rooms are available, and there’s even a suite! Just make sure you actually leave this fabulous hostel at some point on your trip!Book your stay at Generator Miami now!
Street artist in the cover pic: @okudart
Have you ever considered going to Miami? Have you already been? If you have any other tips for our backpacker community, please leave it in the comments below!
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