40 Cheap Things To Do in Miami

Miami on the cheap

Let’s face it, Miami is not cheap. With year round warm weather, a stretch of coastline that makes you feel like you’re in the Caribbean, a legendary party scene and a culture that is as unique as the city’s eclectic blend of residents, there’s every reason to visit Miami. Which raises the question – how can you do Miami on the cheap?

With cheap flights from the UK to the USA, I often bounce into Miami as part of a multi-month trip. Problem is, I don’t want to spend my travel budget before I’m a week into my adventures. Yet, I also can’t bring myself to blow through this dazzling, energetic city – not with a beach that good, that close. 

40 Cheap Things To Do In Miami

Consequently, over the years, I’ve learned about the cheap things to do in Miami. And after 3 trips in 6 months to Miami this last year, it seemed like a good time to share them. What follows is my list of cheap things to do in Miami which I’ve broken down into planning a trip to Miami, getting around, sightseeing in Miami, where to eat and where to party as well as cheap hotels in Miami.

With subsequent trips likely, I’ll keep this post updated as I try new budget Miami tips.

Oi! Skim-readers! We all do it, scroll through the numbered list before skipping onto the next article. That works for some of my posts. Not this one. The headings are generic. The devil (and the best tips) are in the detail. By all means, ignore the bits you don’t care about, but you will need to read the descriptions to pick up on the real cheap tips for Miami. Sorry. Sometimes a list title can’t impart all the info you need. 

Planning a cheap trip to Miami

Miami Beach Art Deco Ocean Drive

Making sure you visit Miami on the cheap starts with the planning stage of your trip. Here are my budget Miami travel planning tips.

1. If you can, avoid Miami at the weekend

Ok, ok, I get it. If you’re trying to do a cheap weekend break or there’s an epic DJ you absolutely must see on a Saturday, then this tip won’t work for you. For everyone else, skip the weekend like your wallet depends on it. More specifically, skip Friday and Saturday nights. Miami is rammed, hotels book up quickly, accommodation prices spike, tours are oversubscribed and the beach is a bun-fight for space. Spare yourself the drama.

The Miami party scene happens all week and the sun shines just as hard on Sundays and Mondays. If you’re on a longer trip, spend your time elsewhere in Florida over the weekend.

2. Stay in Miami South Beach to save on transport costs

I may get shot down by internet trolls but Miami downtown is barren. Sure, there are pockets of things to see and do (Wynwood Walls, Little Havana) but for the most part the Miami you have come to see exists in South Beach. Yes, it’s expensive to stay there but trust me on this one – stay in South Beach; the extra you’ll pay in room rates will probably be less than you would spend in Uber fares getting around. There is public transport (more on that below) but it’s patchy and not exactly fast or frequent. 

How to do it: You can find a list of Miami South beach hotels here.

3. Consider mid-beach or north beach Miami

It’s possible to walk from mid-beach or north-beach (depending on your exact spot) into South Beach in about 30 minutes and there are bars and restaurants dotted along the way. Better yet, walk beach-front. And if you can’t or don’t want to walk that long, there are free trolleys that run through north, south and mid-beach. Yes, I did say free. More details on the Trolley below.

How to do it: You can find a list of Miami Mid-Beach beach hotels here.

And you can find Miami North Beach hotels here.

4. Skip the digs on Ocean Drive 

Ocean drive is iconic but do you really need/want to sleep in one of the hotels there? Apart from the fact that Ocean drive is an expensive place to stay, the hotels fall into that category called ’boutique’. A category that, for me, screams old buildings with inconsistent quality. And then there is the noise factor. Revving sports cars (why do people feel the need to do this?) and party bars. You might want to visit a few nightclubs in Miami but do you really want to sleep in one?

How to do it? Want to be close to Ocean drive but not on it? Look at hotels on Collins Avenue and Washington Avenue, which run parallel.

5. Do NOT hire a car for your time in Miami

This might seem controversial advice given that Miami is sprawling and getting to and from places like Wynwood Walls and Coconut Grove can be a PITA (pain in the ass) via public transport but parking is expensive in Miami, particularly if you’re staying in South Beach – factor in a minimum of $15 per day. South Beach is very walkable. My advice: use the city sightseeing bus or Uber/Lyft for exploring downtown and save your car hire for when you’re exploring further afield (like the Florida Keys and the Everglades). 

How to do it: You can book tickets for the hop on hop of City Sightseeing bus here.

If you are going to the Florida Keys, you might like my post about 75 Things To Do In Key West.

And if you’re planning a trip down through the Keys, here’s my post for 21 Best Things To Do In The Florida Keys.

6. Book everything early and check for major events

I’m a Last-Minute-Larry when it comes to booking travel (I recently booked a trip to Panama, leaving in….two weeks). For some destinations, that absolutely flies. For Miami, it does not. Accommodation can be crazy expensive (the W Hotel was advertising rooms at $1600 a night last week), meaning all the cheap places get snapped up in advance. If you want to sleep somewhere that won’t require a remortgage or involve sleeping in the kind of place where even the criminals won’t go, you need to plan ahead. 

Check local events, too. Turns out the Super Bowl was happening in Miami the same week I had planned to be there. It’s not something that’s on my radar. Check events before you book your flights. 

How to do it: You can find a calendar of what’s on in Miami here

7. Don’t sweat it for low-season pricing

I’ve been in Miami at many different times of year, hitting almost every season (apart from the middle of hurricane season) and I can tell you that the prices barely change. Sure, you might find a few small discounts but most offers come in the form of extras you probably don’t need (late check out?). Given the weather in Miami can have a huge impact on your trip, I’d skip the low-season (July-October) – if the hurricane risk doesn’t ruin your trip, the heat, humidity and mosquitoes will. 

When is the best time to visit Miami: Spring time. The best weather I’ve had in Miami (blue skies, perfect temperature, clear water) has been the end of April/May. Winter is nice to escape the cold elsewhere but Miami can get cold snaps with grey skies. 

Cheap ways to get around Miami

cat on a plane art Wynwood Walls miami

Getting around Miami is as simple or complicated, cheap or expensive as you want to make it. Here are my tips for your budget Miami trip and ways to get around Miami. 

8. Download Miami maps and apps offline before you leave home

If you’re from the USA, you will probably have the luxury of taking your data with you. For everyone else (including me), you’ll be scratching around for data which usually happens when you have it least and need it the most. Download your maps while you are connected to wifi. 

I recommend you download:

9. Take the 150 Miami Beach Airport Express Bus

Miami International Airport is the only airport in Miami and is only 13 miles west from South Beach. The good news is, there are several cheap ways to get from Miami airport to South Beach.

When you land in Miami, your cheapest option for getting from the airport is to take the 150 Miami Beach Airport Express Bus. It will pick you up right outside the airport terminal (follow signs or ask for the 150 bus stop) and drop you at any one of several stops in South Beach. The bus takes about 30 minutes but factor in that the bus runs every 30 minutes and you will need to walk from the bus stop to your accommodation.

How to do it: It costs $2.65 one-way. You can check the schedule and route here (though, I find using ‘directions’ option on Google Maps to be more useful – it gives details of the next bus and an estimate of your door-to-door time).

10. Get a ride share from the airport

Can’t be arsed to take the bus but equally don’t want to throw down on a spendy cab fare? Take Uber or Lyft. Both will allow you to ride share (share the car with other passengers) to reduce the fare.

How to do it: I used up all my ‘free rides’ with Uber years ago but if you’re new to Uber, you can use my code to get a discounted ride: jof22

If you’re from outside the USA, download Lyft. As a rare user, I’m often enticed with 10% off 10 rides or similar offers. Again, I have a code for a discounted ride on Lyft. Use: JO67402

As a guide, with Uber it’s about $18-$19 a ride without a ride share or codes. In comparison, taxis are a flat rate of $35. Both prices are without tips.

11. Use the free local trolley to get around South Beach

There is a free trolley that runs through north, mid and south beach in Miami. Yes, it’s free. Yes, it runs every few minutes (because some of the routes overlap). Yes, it’s every bit as wonderful as it sounds.

How to do it: You can check out the map here.

12. Use the City Sightseeing Bus to explore outside South Beach

I became a big fan of the city sightseeing bus a few years ago (after injuring my knee). As well as providing a great hop-on, hop-off service, you get to know the history and facts about what you’re seeing. 

How to do it: There are two main services in Miami and it’s a bit confusing:

City Sightseeing – you might be used to City Sightseeing as a red bus but this one is actually run by the related company Big Bus and is, in fact, a brown bus. Personally, I recommend this bus.

Miami Double Deckerto confuse you, this is a red bus and, in my opinion, is not as good because it has far fewer hop-on and off stops. 

Tips for booking your sightseeing bus:

  • check the routes – they do differ so make sure they cover what you want to see.
  • check the number of hop-on, hop-off stops – the Big Bus is more of a hop-on, hop off service. The Double Decker bus is more of a tour bus with fewer chances to get off.
  • compare prices – Big Bus is more expensive but better for exploring. The Double Decker is cheaper and ideal if you just want to sail past the sights.
  • Book online – rates can be a lot cheaper than paying on the day. 
  • Book your ticket in advance to get a reserved place – the buses can sell out when several cruise ships are visiting Miami.
  • Plan your day – the buses leave to a set schedule, usually hourly.

13. Use public transport (maybe)

Miami does have an extensive public transport network but, as you can imagine, it’s designed for locals, not for sightseeing. Hence, I suggest you maybe use it. It really does depend on where you want to go.

How to do it: You can check routes using the official Miami transport page here but, again, I usually find Google maps more useful for direct route planning. 

Cheap Things To Do In Miami – Sightseeing

lifeguard station Miami Beach pink

This isn’t a post about the what to do in Miami – there are lots of those articles online and they’re all kind of the same. What I’ve included here is a budget Miami list of the top cheap things to do in Miami including cheap, good value or free sightseeing options in the city. 

14. Hit the beach

You can’t put a price on the ocean and the beach in Miami is both sprawling and absolutely free. This should definitely be at the top of your free things to do in Miami list. To access it, just take one of the many side streets from Ocean drive onto the sand. 

How to do it: 

  • the further north you head, the thinner the crowds become;
  • see if your accommodation includes access to a free beach lounger (some of them do); and
  • lie directly on the sand if you want to avoid lounger fees (around $10 per day).

14. Walk the South Beach Boardwalk

Is there anything more Miami than hitting the South Beach Boardwalk? It runs from 5th to 46th Street and you’ll be joined by runners, craft stalls, dog walkers, bikers, beach bums, surfers, skate-boarders and roller-bladers. 

How to do it: You can find out more about what to see on the Boardwalk here.

16. Take in the views from South Pointe Pier

Push on all the way to the most southern part of the Miami boardwalk and you’ll hit South Pointe Pier. With a park on one side and a pier out over the glorious ocean on the other, we’re talking views a-plenty. 

Miami Travel Tip: go for sunset.

17. Get great views of the city from Miami Beach Marina

Water, south beach as a backdrop and lots of boats, keep travelling after south pointe and you’ll end up at Miami Beach Marina. It’s definitely worth a stroll if you’re down that way. 

18. Take a free walking tour of south beach

Walking tours should be on your list of free things to do in Miami. The free walking tours scene is ever changing in Miami but there is usually something a-foot (sorry, not sorry).

How to do it: I like this website – free tours on foot – for recommended tours. Note: although free walking tours don’t have a fee, it’s good travel karma to tip your guide. 

19. Go on a self-guided walk of the Art Deco District

Art Deco hotel on ocean drive Miami south beach

For me, the combo of ambling down Ocean Drive and Collins Avenue, coupled with the city sightseeing bus, offers enough Art Deco sightseeing in Miami. If you do want more (and more in-depth info), from the same company as above, check out their free self-guided walk of Miami’s famous Art Deco District. There’s even an audio download.

Otherwise, stop into the Art Deco Welcome Centre on Ocean Drive. 

How to do it:

  • Take a stroll along Ocean Drive and see the Art Deco Buildings at night. 
  • Feeling a bit macabre? Check out where Giovanni Versace was shot, which is now a luxury hotel – The Villa Casa Casuarina
  • Check your city sightseeing bus ticket – you might have a night bus tour included.

20. Get the multi-day sightseeing bus pass for a free boat tour

With many of the City Sightseeing Bus tours, if you book a multi-day bus ticket you usually get the ‘Millionaire Row’ boat cruise thrown in for free. This boat tour takes you around Biscayne Bay and past the luxurious homes of Miami’s wealthiest residents on Millionaire’s Row and Star Island.

Being a book worm, I’m not well up on pop culture so I didn’t expect to enjoy the boat tour of Star Island as much as I did. But who doesn’t want to ogle at the houses and super-yachts of the rich and famous?

Some of the stories made me want to vomit (how can a person spend so much importing a freaking palm tree from Asia when there are palms-a-plenty in Miami and…errr….world poverty exists). But I was equally fascinated that Mr Viagra and Mr Instagram owned houses next to well-known pop stars and movie stars.

How to do it:

  • book a multi-day bus pass and you’ll usually get a boat tour thrown in. 
  • if you don’t need the multi-day bus ticket, there is also the option to purchase a half-day bus tour with the boat tour included
  • if you book the tour separately, research the companies. I didn’t (on my second visit) and ended up on a booze cruise which would have been ideal if that’s what I wanted. Instead, the noise and music was too loud to hear the commentary.
  • take a boat near sunset and you’ll get great pictures of Miami downtown at night (as well as sunset pictures over the water).

You can book the boat tours separately here on Viator or through Get Your Guide here.

If you want to take a slower visit around Star Island, you can book a Segway tour here.

21. Visit Little Havana

Little Havana is probably one of the places you will have heard of before visiting Miami. It was a lot more kitsch and touristy than I expected, but that’s ok with me. Go; drink some, dance some, eat some and enjoy the Cuban side of Miami life. This is probably one of the most fun things to do in Miami. 

How to do it

  • order a cafe con leche for some of the best coffee in Miami. Ask for no sugar if you’re not a sweet coffee person;
  • know that the Cuban sandwich is an American construction. Doesn’t make it less tasty but you won’t find one in Havana.
  • if you do want to splash out a little (money spent on food is never money wasted!), book a Little Havana walking food tour and have a local take you on a tasting tour of the area while meeting some of the restaurant owners and local artists.

Thinking of taking a trip to Cuba? Check out my posts about my trips to Cuba

22. Explore the free museum of Wynwood Walls

Hello beautiful street art miami

I’m not much into street art (I’m more of a renaissance kind of girl) but even I’m blown away by the art of Wynwood Walls. Add in a general upbeat vibe and it’s easy to spend half a day hanging out there. This should definitely be on your list of Miami activities. It’s also one of the best free things to do in Miami.

How to do it:

  • Head into Wynwood Walls to see the galleries and outdoor art – the Kobra exhibition and the cat on the airplane are my faves.
  • Be aware that there are opening times so plan your day. Details here.
  • Wander the surrounding streets – there’s more art than just within Wynwood Walls so look up, look down and look behind.
  • There are only a couple of spots where you can grift off the free wifi to order an Uber/Lyft back (if you’re not using the sightseeing bus). Wander, you will find them. 
  • For the real hardcore street art connoisseurs, you can also book a guided tour of the Wynwood Art District to learn more about the art with a knowledgeable local guide.

23. Look for open air art on Lincoln Road Mall

Lincoln Road Mall is a great place for a stroll, day or night. Close to Ocean drive, it’s a street filled with cafes, bars, restaurants, shops and art galleries. I’d describe it as a more upmarket dining scene than Ocean Drive (you won’t find neon drinks here).

While the restaurants can be expensive, it’s a great place to wander with regular street performers and sometimes open air art exhibitions. I was lucky enough that there was a Botero exhibition littered up and down Lincoln Road Mall on my last trip (Botero is famous for his sculptures of bulbous humans).

How to do it: You can find out what’s on here. 

  • If there’s no art on, step into one of the many galleries for a free art fix (there is a National Geographic gallery, and the Peter Lik gallery is a personal favourite of mine). 
  • There is a farmer’s market on Lincoln Road Mall every Sunday – great if the all-American-diet has left you feeling like you need some fresh fruit. 
  • Swerve the Lincoln Road Eatery – I very rarely say don’t eat somewhere but this street-food place was overpriced and the food so bad, I asked for a refund (my pita came out black all the way through. Twice.)

If you’re thinking of taking a trip to Colombia, you can check out my posts about my trip here.

24. Take a walk down Española Way

It doesn’t merit more than a quick wander, IMO, but if you want to do some people watching, having a quick wander down Española way. It’s just up the road from Lincoln Road Mall, so it’s easy to tack on when you’re there. Beware: this is an eating street so if you are prone to getting hungry, take a slice of pizza from nearby Groovy’s pizza with you. 

25. Enjoy free beach yoga

Beer belly getting you down? Feeling a bit poisoned from all the happy hours? Check out free yoga on the beach. It’s offered by the city and happens every Saturday morning. I did one of the classes with a lovely Colombian instructor. Nothing better than doing a sun salutation right there in front of the sun, looking out over the ocean with your toes embedded in the sand. No equipment required – just turn up with a towel or sarong. 

How to do it: You can find out more here. No need to book. 

Sunset in Miami

Top Things to see in Miami – Checklist

Here’s my quick guide to the top things to see in Miami (in no particular order!) in case you’re a checklist kind of person.

  1. South Beach’s Art Deco District
  2. Wynwood Walls
  3. Bayside Market Place
  4. Star Island
  5. Little Havana
  6. Coconut Grove
  7. Coral Gables
  8. Miami Marina
  9. Lincoln Road Mall
  10. Miami Beach
  11. Southpointe Pier
  12. Espanola Way

How to party in Miami on the cheap

New Years eve fireworks over miami

The first thing to know about Miami is that the party scene is very diverse. Want glam nightclubs, you’ve got it. Prefer the craft beer scene, no problem. There for the LGTBQI nightlife, Miami’s got you covered. 

Me? I’m a dive bar kind of girl. Which dovetails very nicely into the cheap party scene in Miami. But don’t worry, I’ve got a few non-dive bar tips for you, too. Some of these tips might seem a bit more generic (because it’s hard to cover so many party types in one post). If you want to explore the different nightlife options in Miami, you can get a lot more information here

26. Research your Miami nightclub costs

If you’re going out for the night, research your club costs. Entry fees and drinks can vary wildly. After paying $20 to get into one club (which felt reasonable), my eyes nearly fell out when my gin and tonic came to $25. I didn’t order a second one. 

How to do it: Don’t forget tax and tips go on top of every drink price. Order in rounds to save on tips (solo beer – $1 tip, 2 beers – $1 tip).

27. Take a party tour bus

I’ve long been of the opinion that I don’t need a guide to take me on a night out…unless it makes it cheaper. And Miami is a city where it can make it cheaper. With negotiated discounts and the chance to see several bars and clubs in one night, if you’re going to have a big night out in Miami, but want to do it cheaply, this is a good way to do it. A bus and free shots are usually thrown in. 

How to do it: I went with South Beach Party Tours and it was pretty good as these things go. I tried to find the company online but got a weird website. You’re best booking when you get there. 

28. Hit Miami’s dive bars

Now we’re talking my language. Problem is, I may have been doing some afternoon drinking before I went exploring the dive bar scene in Miami so I kind of can’t fully recall the name of the bar (at one point I wasn’t sure I could recall my own name). 

However, my point is – dive bars and therefore cheap drinks do exist in Miami.

How to do it: Here’s a list of options to check out. I think my favourite was The Deuce but my memory isn’t good enough that I’d bet my house on it. 

29. Hit the happy hour offers

You’d have to be walking around with your eyes closed to not see the happy hour options in Miami South Beach.

How to do it: Stroll along Ocean Drive, compare prices and start your party early. Otherwise, you can find a list of happy hour offers in Miami here.

30. Book a hotel that has free drinks in your resort fee

I loathe the Miami resort fee. What is it? It’s a fee you pay when you stay in most hotels in Miami. What’s it for? My answer: f*ck knows. The hotel industry answer: beach towels, beach loungers, bath, blah, bulls!t, we just want to make more money. But anyway, before this descents into total rant, many of the hotels offer either free drinks or happy hour drinks to guests as part of their resort fee.

How to do it: If drinking is high on your agenda, book a hotel that offers free drinks at happy hour. Then get there early. When the wine is out, the wine is out. 

31. Pre-game in your hotel room

First of all, pre-game is a USA phrase used for drinking before you go out and many people do this is Miami if they want to party cheaply. Unfortunately, it’s not legal to drinking outside in Miami (no beach beers, I’m afraid) but there are plenty of alcohol and liquor stores where you can buy cheap booze and have a few drinkies while you get ready for your night out. Or even when you get back (some liquor stores are open 24 hours).

Cheap places to eat in Miami

Nikki Beach brunch in Miami

Oh boy, the food scene in Miami hurts me. As a grazer (I eat very small amounts about 28 times a day), I struggle to find small meals to satisfy my annoying eating style (American portions, anyone?). Not only that, Miami hurts my pocket. Sit down for three meals, add tax and tip and taxes on top of tips and your budget can get blown pretty quickly. 

Still, I’ve figured a way around and through it. Here are my tips for eating cheap in Miami, together with some suggestions on where to eat cheaply.

32. Choose accommodation with a good breakfast

Not all hotels are created equally and hotel breakfasts certainly aren’t. Check out the detail of what your hotel breakfast includes – continental breakfast, a bit of wangy (rubbery) toast and a Nescafe or are you looking at a divine a la carte hot breakfast. Fuel yourself right in the morning and you can cut down the costs of lunch. Eating out, you’re looking at probably around $20 for a seated breakfast by the time you’ve added tax and tips. 

How to do it:

  • I’m not ashamed to say that I regularly raid a hotel breakfast for lunch – bread plus cold cuts and cheese = a very good lunch. Add fruit and a breakfast pastry and you have a full meal together with an afternoon snack. 
  • If you’re staying in a hostel or guesthouse or Airbnb, choose a place that has a kitchen so you can make your own breakfast.
  • Not got a kitchen or hotel breakfast? Walgreens, CVS and grocery stores have fresh fruit, yoghurt and pastries that can stand in for a cheap breakfast. Failing that, Starbucks (as much as I don’t like it) can offer a pretty cheap breakfast.

33. Lunch at Miami’s French bakeries

One of the greatest gifts of Miami’s food scene is the French bakeries. The sandwiches are big enough for two (people or meals) and consist of fresh bread with good quality meats, cheeses and vegetables. All for around $10. Great for taking on the go. 

Miami travel tips:

  • My favourite (and apparently everyone else’s) is Rosetta Bakery. There are often queues out the door of the branch near Lincoln Road Mall. Either go mid-morning or mid-afternoon or check out their sister branch (quite a bit) further down Collins. 
  • Bonus: everything is 50% off early evening. The sandwiches do keep overnight if there isn’t too much tomato on them. 

34. Brunch at Nikki beach on Sundays

If you’re from the USA, you don’t need some Brit schooling you on the many benefits of Sunday brunch. If you’re new to the concept of the USA brunch, think lots of food at reduced prices and often bottomless booze for a not so big uplift in price. 

While probably not a budget bunch, I’m recommending the brunch at Nikki Beach because you get an all-round great experience of beach club plus an unlimited buffet of high-quality food. Add day tunes and sunshine and your Sunday is set. 

How to do it: Find out more and book in advance here. Not feeling Nikki Beach, here’s a list of alternative places to brunch in Miami.

View from south pointe pier in miami

35. Split a plate at the 11th Street Diner

Sure, the 11th Street Diner is touristy but it also serves up huge portions at a great price in a retro-style train car. The staff are fantastic (I off-menu order almost every time and they don’t blink). It’s also open 24 hours for those post-party munchies. I find the portion sizes huge so it’s very easy to split a plate. Still hungry, just add a few sides (or a slice of pie for dessert). 

How to do it: You can check out the menu hereI’ve never had to book. 

36. Grab cheap pizza at Lincoln Road Mall

Whether you split a whole pizza or just grab a slice or two, Pizza Rustica is a rare, affordable eatery on Lincoln Road Mall. You can get a huge, square slice for under $5. Order to-go for the cheapest prices. 

Another alternative for cheap pizza by the slice is Groovy’s just further up the road towards Ocean Drive.

37. Skip the spendy ice-creams

I love a gelato. (Fun fact: did you know I run wine tours in Italy’s Prosecco region? Thanks to this, I’m becoming a gelato aficionado). The problem is, I have yet to find any really good gelato, or ice-cream, in Miami. And it’s not due to lack of trying. 

I’ve thrown down close to $10 for gelato/ice-cream in some of the city’s most touted places (Stefano Versace Gelato in Wynwood Walls, self-professing the ‘best gelato in the world’ and 4D Ice Cream, which is on every blog and guidebook list). And none of them past muster, IMO.

Better: just go and grab a frozen bar in one of the freezers in CVS or Walgreens. You’ll spend half the price for about the same quality. 

Got a gelato recommendation for me? Let me know in the comments and I’ll go and do a taste test. 

38. (Forgive me but I’m recommending) Starbucks on Ocean Drive

Oh, Lordy-Lord, I’ve recommended Starbucks far too many times in this pos alreadyt. Understand: I’m not a fan of coffee chains. Except, this one on Ocean Drive gets a mention because it wins for the combo of cheap (just about drinkable) coffee in a top location. 

If you want actual good coffee, head to Panther Coffee in the Betsy Hotel on Ocean Drive and go and drink it on the beach. It’ll cost more but it definitely tastes better.

39. Hit the grocery stores for fresh salads and sandwiches

I do like to sit down for a hot meal at dinner time but I don’t need the same at lunch time. Which is how I came to discover that many of the grocery stores have a chiller counter that includes great-priced fresh salads, sandwiches and sushi. I’m talking greens and tomatoes and inch long shrimps, kind of salads. Get one and dine al-fresco at the beach. 

40. Dine on Washington Avenue

Two blocks back from Ocean drive,  you hit Washington Avenue which is awash (sorry, not sorry) with good, cheap eats. Over several trips, I’ve eaten at most of them and there isn’t one I wouldn’t recommend. Here are a few of my favourites:

  • Cream Gourmet Espresso Bar for soups and sandwiches;
  • Taco Rico, just off Washington for, errr…. tacos;
  • Moshi Moshi – not just because it’s cheap but also because the sushi here is exceptional;
  • Al Basha Grill for amazing Middle Eastern food;
  • Pane & Vino for the best, fresh pasta in Miami (IMO);
  • Juice & Java for an immune boost of goodness;
  • Burger-Fi for dirty burgers (though I believe Cheeseburger Baby is better);
  • Poseidon Greek Boutique Seafood – I had an amazing Greek salad here. I’m sure the other food is good too;

Yes, I have eaten my way down Washington. Don’t judge me. I did it all for research, alright?!

Final cheap food tip for Miami: I couldn’t really find a place for this so I’m popping it here. I had an amazing, very fancy dining experience at Meat Market on Lincoln Road Mall. Usually the prices are prohibitive if you’re trying to do Miami on a budget but they do a great fixed-price set lunch. I had two course, including a delicious piece of salmon for just $33 (including the taxes and tip).

Cheap hotels in Miami on a budget

Generator hostel lobby in Miami

Finding cheap hotels in South Beach Miami is a bit like searching for a pink and lemon stripy unicorn riding a moped through a field of sunflowers.

In fact, Miami is so expensive for this solo traveller that I mostly stay hostels in Miami and this is the best way to do Miami on a budget. I get that communal sleeping is not for everyone but most hostels also offer private rooms. The upside of having visited Miami many times is that I’ve stayed in most of the hostels at some point.  Below is a run down of the various hostels and what I like about each one.

Miami International Beach Hostel

Best for: partying – I’ve had some wild nights out with some good people in this hostel. It’s in a prime location in South Beach, a block from Ocean Drive.

Bonus: the price includes three meals a day. Yes, you read that right. 

Generator 

Best for: hotel quality beds and service at a budget price. This hostel is a newbie in Miami and still has the sparkly clean feel. There is a beautiful pool with loungers out the back. Also, the location makes it better for non-party animals. 

Downsides: it’s in north beach, a 30 minute walk to South Beach (or 5 mins by free Trolley). Don’t buy anything here – tea and coffee is $7 a cup and a beer will fleece you $10. I’ve no idea who they’re catering to, but it ain’t budget travellers. 

Freehand

Best for – access to a kitchen while you’re in Miami. A few blocks closer to South Beach than Generator (but still a 25 min walk), Freehand is a solid choice. 

Downsides: the hostel is looking a little tired. But, Generator have recently bought the chain of hostels and, though the brand name will stay the same, a refresh is imminent. Same deal as Generator – the on-site menu/bar is not cheap. 

Orange sunset over miami

Beds’n’ Drinks

Also a winner for location, I really enjoyed the patios (front and back) at this hostel and although the name suggests it is party-central, the vibe was actually more low key.

Do check – I haven’t stayed here for a while and the reviews suggest it might have taken a turn downhill. 

Rock Hostel – this was on my list of places to try during this trip but Last-Minute-Larry here didn’t get her arse into gear in time to book it. I’ve walked past and it looks good as a South Beach hostel option. 

For hotels:

I’ve stayed in San Juan, which I really liked and wish my budget extended to it every time. For me, this is the best place to stay in Miami for it’s combo of affordable price, good location and good breakfast (loungers and beach towels are included).

Most recently I stayed at The Julia Boutique hotel which was a lot closer to South Pointe pier and had a much swankier interior than San Juan if you don’t mind a 5-minute walk to get closer to the South Beach action. It’s also another of the best places to stay in Miami if you’re looking for cheap hotels in Miami.

I’ve yet to try out an airport hotel but this would be my pick – Hilton Miami Airport Blue Lagoon. It’s not the cheapest airport option but by spending a bit more, you get a great resort/pool feel if you can’t make it into the city or want to eek one more day out of your trip before flying home.

And if, on the off-chance you want to spend big, go and stay at Loews for me and let me know how it is. This would be my luxury pick in Miami South Beach. Brilliant brand with the perfect location.

I’ll add in a few more hotels as I investigate the hotel scene in a bit more detail. 

So, that’s my guide to cheap things to do in Miami. Got any questions or other suggestions, let me know in the comments below. 

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Cheap things to do in Miami

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Jo Fitzsimons is a freelance travel writer who has visited over 60 countries. www.indianajo.com is the place where she shares destination details, travel itineraries, planning and booking tips and trip tales. Her aim: to help you plan your travel adventure on your terms and to your budget.

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