Is your ESTA going to bring you to sunny Miami? Here are 9 activities that will make your vacation unforgettable without breaking the bank.
Miami is known as one of the most eclectic and entertaining cities in the world, thanks to its marvellous beaches, its trendy restaurants, its impressive architecture, and its nightlife which has little competition.
Fully engaging in Miami life can be very expensive. If Miami is your destination because of your ESTA, we will suggest some free or almost free activities.
1) Go to the beach
One of the best ways to spend time in Miami is spending a day at the beach, a totally free activity! Miami offers you the perfect beach. There are several options, notably:
- The famous and very popular South Beach on Ocean Drive, ideal for singles and young couples;
- Crandon Park Beach on Key Biscayne is a favourite for families ;
- For nudists, we recommend Haulover Beach at Bal Harbor.
2) Go on a tour
Miami is a fascinating city, young, but full of character. A tour would be a great way of discovering its beauty and history. Among possible excursions, we recommend:
- The historic Baltimore Hotel on Coral Gables: Sundays from 1:30-3:30 p.m.;
- Barnacle State Park at Coconut Grove; finished in 1981, Miami’s oldest;
- The lighthouse known as Bill Baggs Park on Key Biscayne. This park was built around one of Miami’s most beautiful beaches. You can rent a bike, a long chair, and a parasol for the beach;
- A walk along Miami Beach and in the Art Deco District will have you discover the magic of Ocean Drive, Lincoln Road, and Collins Avenue. Wandering through the crowd will have you be immersed in Miami Beach’s colours, sun, smells, and culture;
- A walk along Miami Pier. If history, shopping, art, or entertainment interest you, don’t miss out on visiting this picturesque part of the city;
- A visit to Little Havana “Calle Ocho”. Walk around Miami’s Cuban neighbourhood Discover the flavours and places that this neighbourhood has to offer;
- A walk in Wynwood, the Street Art area where local and visiting artists have created one of the city’s most vibrant zones. At Wynwood you will also find night clubs and restaurants with “happy hour” deals.
3) Visit free museums and art galleries
Miami is an international cultural centre. It’s not a coincidence that, for the past few years, an international art event, Art Basel, has taken place for four days at the beginning of December. On the other hand, for several years, important cultural centres dedicated to impressive architecture and rich collections have emerged. Some of these museums are free, or have discounts for certain occasions. You should take advantage of these offers. We especially recommend the following:
- Miami Beach’s New World Symphony offers very low rates on Saturdays and Sundays;
- PAMM, Pérez Art Museum Miami, downtown, offers free entry on the second Saturday of the month;
- Adrienne Arsht Center, offers free visits on Mondays and Saturdays;
- Art Walk in the Design District and Wynwood, where several Art Galleries offer free entry to the public on the second Saturday of the month from 7-10 p.m.;
- Cultural Fridays, Calle Ocho in Little Havana offers open air musical performances and art exhibits, every last Friday of the month at night;
4) Visit one of Miami’s numerous parks and gardens for free
Miami’s tropical climate is an ideal natural habitat for flora and fauna. The public gardens are open to the public and free all year long; others offer deals all year long on certain days of the week.
- Miami Beach Botanical Gardens, closed on Mondays. See the deals and discounts on their website;
- Crandon Park on Key Biscayne, an incredible hidden beauty. Hard to find and not well signalled, it is advisable to prepare your itinerary in advance to reach the entrance; parking will cost you $ 5;
- Ichimura Japanese Garden on Watson Island, open every day;
- South Pointe Park at Miami Beach, where the legendary beach ends. From there, on Saturday nights, you can enjoy watching the cruise ships leave Miami’s Port;
- Vizcaya Museum and Gardens, in Coconut Grove. A recommended visit by all tourist guides in Miami. Entry is free on weekends.
5) Participate in one of several free events, and in festivals
South Florida offers a temperate climate all year round. This makes Miami a favourite destination for national and international events, some of which are free:
- Miami Festival, a music festival that has taken place for over 30 years; events take place in October at the Frost Music School of the University of Miami;
- Miami International Boat Show, in February at the Miami Beach Convention Center, and in different sports ports throughout the city;
- New Year’s Eve celebration on Ocean Drive;
- Art Basel, the first week of December exhibits modern and contemporary art from all over the world; entrance costs from $5-$15.
6) Visit Miami Beach
South Beach dominates the city’s scene. There is a lot to see, people, the landscape, the architecture. Although the majority of elegant and expensive bars, restaurants, and hotels are found on South Beach, here is some wise advice that takes your budget into account:
- Take the bus to South Beach, which costs 25 cents one way, or use the Swoop, an electric golf cart that seats six, for free. Think about tipping the driver;
- Discover the Art Deco architecture by visiting Gianni Versace’s old house on Ocean Drive, walk on the pedestrian street in South Beach, or admire the Delano, National, or Raleigh hotels;
- Go to Lummus Park or to the beach;
- Go window shopping at several designer boutiques on Lincoln Road and Collins Avenue.
7) Visit Coconut Grove
It’s Miami’s most historical zone, and famous poet Robert Frost’s favourite place. In the 80s, it dominated the city’s nightlife; and it has conserved its special charm to this day:
- Barnacle State Park, finished in 1981 and Miami’s oldest;
- Peacock Park, a public 400,000 square feet urban park on the edge of the Bay of Biscayne;
- Cocowalk, a nice outdoor shopping mall at Coconut Grove’s centre;
- Mayfair buildings and roads, typical architecture.
8) Visit Bayfront in Downtown Miami
The name Miami comes from the word “Mayami”, a term used by Florida’s native Americans that means “a lot of water”. Miami actually looks a bit like a modern Venice, with canals all over the place bordered by varied architecture. Even downtown Miami has its own pier facing the bay, full of charm, and is rich in free events all year long.
- Bayfront Park: you will enjoy a walk among the city’s modern architecture and Miami’s bay, with Miami Beach as a backdrop;
- Bayside Mall, historical open air shopping mall that is very popular amongst cruise-ship passengers docked at the neighbouring port;
- Liberty Tour, where Cuban refugees were received upon arrival, is now a museum.
9) Visit Little Havana
Walk along eighth street in the Miami neighbourhood known as Little Havana. You will be immersed in a magical Caribbean environment, as if you were in Cuba.
- Domino Park where Cubans practice their favourite hobby; dominoes. Open every day, free entry;
- The Bay of Pigs Memorial Monument;
- Cultural Fridays, Calle Ocho in Little Havana offers open air musical performances and art exhibits, every last Friday of the month at night.
Whether your ESTA allows you to travel for holidays or discovery, we hope you have a safe and enjoyable trip to the United States.