Planning a Trip to Miami on a Budget

Miami Beach. Picture of hotels with white sand beach and blue water in front.

Miami is known for its warmth, great beaches, lavish nightclubs, and “see and be seen” atmosphere. I’ll be honest; Miami wasn’t my favorite city at first—I hated the vibe and how expensive it was. I had to visit Miami a lot for business purposes for about two years. During that time, I realized that there was more to Miami than meets the eye. Beneath the lavish mask of the city is a cultural pulse—with lots of great food, art exhibitions, and more—at an affordable cost. 

I learned how to enjoy Miami on a budget during my years of traveling to the city. I’m sharing those tips with you here in hopes that you’ll be able to have a fun, and affordable time, in Florida’s best city.

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    Travel to Miami in an Affordable Way

    There are four ways to get to Miami from within the USA: car, bus, train, or plane.

    Driving to Miami is the most financially sound option. If you drive to Miami, then you’ll save on ground transportation costs to get to attractions within the city.

    If driving to Miami isn’t an option, then taking a
    flight to Miami is your best bet. Two airports that service the Miami area—Fort Lauderdale Airport (FLL) and Miami International Airport (MIA). Both airports service international flights, as well, if you’re coming from outside of the United States.

    Here are some tips that will help you nab a cheap flight to Miami:

    • Use a 3rd party website like skyscanner.com to find cheap flight deals. The site will give you a look at flight costs across several airlines, with varying cost-saving flight paths. 
    • Fly on off-peak days. The cheapest days to fly to/from Miami are Tuesdays & Wednesdays. While Miami is a top destination for a weekend trip, weekend flights (Thurs – Sunday) will cost more.

    The Cheapest Time of Year to Visit Miami

    Picture of street art in Miami. Art is of the back of a boy peeling a curtain away and viewing an art scene.

    A surefire way to cut back on costs to your trip to Miami is to visit during “off-peak season” which runs from July – October. This time of year is referred to as “hurricane season” because Miami is more likely to be hit by a hurricane during this time. It’s also very hot & humid during this time and usually rains at least once a day for a few hours.

    Tourists tend to avoid Miami during hurricane season—but if you’re attempting to visit Miami on a budget, it’s a good time of year to visit. Everything is cheaper during this time period in Miami. This includes hotels, ground transportation, tourist activities, and more. 

    Another pro-tip is to make sure you *avoid* going to Miami when big festivals are in town. Miami houses a lot of festivals and when it does, everything is more crowded and expensive. For example, Art Basel takes place in Miami every year and when it’s happening everything is completely booked and much more expensive than it would be when there’s no festival in town. Research and ensure that no festivals will take place in Miami before you plan your trip. 

    How to Find Cheap Accomodation in Miami

    Miami beach hotel. White hotel and palm trees in front of it.

    Miami is known for having some of the best hotels in the world. However, if you’re looking to visit Miami on a budget, then you’ll have to look a little bit more off the beaten path. Here are some tips for finding budget accommodation in Miami:

    • Look for accommodation that’s within short walking or driving distance from South Beach but not in South Beach. A good area to look in is North Beach Miami. North Beach is residential but on the beach. Transportation booked via a rideshare app and the Miami Beach Trolley are accessible from North Beach. 
    • Book an Airbnb! There are a lot of private rooms and apartments available on Airbnb in Miami at an affordable cost. 

    Stay in a Hostel. There are a lot of good Hostels in Miami, available at affordable prices. Hostelworld.com is a good resource for finding hostels in Miami. A favorite hostel in Miami is Generator Miami.

    Getting Around Miami on a Budget

    Picture of two yellow taxis driving down a road in Miami.
    Like everything else in Miami, ground transportation can be expensive if you don’t make a conscious effort to drive the cost down. There are a few ways to drive the cost of your ground transportation down:
     
    1. Drive to Miami: Driving to Miami in your own car is an excellent way to cut back on ground transportation costs. If driving there in your own car is an option—do it. You’ll save tons on ground transportation while there.

    2. Cut Down on Costs from the Airport to Your Accommodation: If flying into Miami International Airport (MIA), take the Airport Flyer Bus to your accommodation. Each ticket costs less than $3. If you don’t take the bus, you can explore other shuttle options that costs approx. $19/pp or a private taxi which will run you around $30/minimum, depending on where you’re headed.

    3. Stay near the Miami Beach Trolley: This is a free service that drives up & down Collins Avenue—which is the main avenue that lines the beach in Miami. To take the trolley, simply look for the signs all over Collins Avenue and wait for it to stop by. I recommend checking out the route here so that you understand exactly where it will stop while planning your trip. If in the Downtown area, the Metromover is another free public transport service that you can use to get around.

    4. Sign Up for a City Bike Membership: City Bike Miami is a public bike share program. Renting a bike and riding one around town is an excellent way to drive costs down and see the city a little better.

    5. Use Ride Share App Pool Options: At times, walking or taking the Miami Beach Trolley won’t be an option. You’ll have to use a taxi or rideshare app. When this happens; always use the pool feature or the equivalent. This means that you’ll share a car with someone else, and your trip may take a little longer to complete, but it’ll save you a little extra cash.

    Budget-Friendly Things to Do in Miami

    Picture of Miami beach. White sand and ocean.
    It’s easy to blow through a lot of cash when participating in activities in Miami. Everywhere you go can be a potential money-suck. The trick is to do your research ahead of time so that you know when & where affordable offerings are available. Below is a list of some of my favorite cheap & free things to do in Miami.
     
    1. Go to the Beach: This is the most obvious free thing to do in Miami. The beaches in Miami are incredible and free. When you go, bring your own blanket and lay down on the sand. Umbrella and lounge chair rentals are over-priced in Miami, so try not to rent those if you can help it. Also, pack your own snacks and drinks so that you don’t have to buy any while there.

    2. Check out Wynwood Walls: Wynwood is a district in Miami that’s full of colorful street art. Walking around the neighborhood and checking out the art is free. There are also a lot of restaurants, cafes, and bars in the district that are awesome and more affordable than those in the South Beach area.

    3. Gain Free Access to a Museum: Many of Miami’s museums grant free access to visitors on certain days. Choose a museum that you’d like to see, then head over to their website to see if/when they offer free access. For example, the Perez Art Museum offers free access on the first Thursday and second Saturday of each month.

    4. Take a Free Yoga Class: Workout classes in Miami are notoriously expensive, but there are free ways to do it too. The most popular one is free yoga at Bayfront Park.

    5. Take in Cuban Culture in Little Havana: Experience the Cuban cultural influence of Miami at Calle Ocho in Little Havana. Walk around the area and stop in a Cuban restaurant. I recommend trying a Cuban coffee—they’re delicious, strong, and very popular in Miami. There are also festivals every Friday in Little Havana called Viernes Culturales, which transforms the streets into a giant party.

    6. Visit Everglades National Park When It’s Free: National Parks in Florida offer free admission on a select few days per year. Check out their website to see if a free entrance day falls during your trip.

    7. Walk Through the Grounds of Miami’s Iconic Hotels: The hotel scene in Miami is incredible. Some of the hotels offer free walking tours. For example, the historic & infamously haunted Biltmore Hotel offers a free walking tour of its grounds.

    8. Check Out a Free Event at Bayside Marketplace: The area offers up great views of Miami and cheap eats. In addition, there are also often concerts and other free live events that you can check out. Look at their website to see their updated schedule when planning your trip to Miami.

    9. Hike Through Bear Cut Nature Preserve: Located in Key Biscayne, the hike is one of the most scenic in Florida.

    10. Go Salsa Dancing: Free Salsa classes are offered in Miami at various locations. You can also check out bars like Ball & Chain, which often erupt into salsa dancing parties.

    Cheap Places to Eat in Miami

    Picture of two tacos that can be eaten in Miami Beach
    Some of the best restaurants I’ve ever been to have been in Miami. I’ve also had some of the priciest meals of my life in Miami. Having an excellent meal does not mean that you have to pay a hefty price, though. There are tons of great, and affordable restaurants in Miami. Here’s a list of some of the best ways to find an affordable meal in Miami:
     
    1. Have a Cuban Meal in North Miami Beach: This area is a little more local, and there are tons of great Cuban restaurants in the area. Two of my favorites are Little Havana Restaurant and Abuela’s Kitchen Latin America.

    2. Eat Tacos! Tacos are good, tacos are affordable. There are some excellent taco restaurants in Miami. My favorite spots for affordable tacos in Miami are Taquiza and The Taco Stand.

    3. Try a Poki Bowl: I love Poki Bowl’s—they’re cheap and delicious. There are lots of Poki spots in Miami that serve up fresh ingredients at low prices. Crazy Poki Wynwood is one of my faves. They’ve also got sushi burritos which are excellent.

    4. Eat Vietnamese Cuisine at Tran An: Miami serves up a culturally diverse selection of cuisine. Try Vietnamese food at Tran An—the restaurant is both good and reasonably priced.

    5. Visit Caja Caliente in Coral Gables: This restaurant is affordable and delicious—my favorite combination. Caja Caliente serves tacos, burritos, bowls, and more.

    6. Enjoy Bottomless Brunch with Drag Queens at Palace South Beach: If you’re going to splurge on anything in Miami, let it be this. Palace South Beach offers a bottomless brunch with a drag queen show. For a fixed fee you’ll get: unlimited mimosas, brunch, and a fun drag show with beach-side views.

    7. Have a Sandwich at La Sandwicherie: This is one of the best food spots in Miami. La Sandwicherie has locations all over Miami and is a great spot for a tasty & affordable meal.

    8. Visit La Camaronera Seafood Joint: This spot offers seafood at its best — simple, fresh, and cheap. La Camaronera is a restaurant that locals and tourists have gone to and raved about for years.

    9. Pizza, Pizza, Pizza!: I’ll always try to squeeze Pizza into my blog posts. It’s my favorite food, and it’s a great solution for a cheap and filling meal. You can grab a slice all over Miami. Some favorite Pizza places are Stanzione 87 & Frankie’s Pizza.

    10. Cook at Your Accommodation: You should definitely budget eating at a restaurant into your trip to Miami. That said, a great way to cut down on costs during a trip to Miami on a budget is to cook at home. If you book an accommodation with a kitchen, try to have at least 1 meal per day at home. If no accommodation, buy some non-perishable foods to snack on throughout the day and offset costs.

    Affordable Miami Night Life

    Miami Beers lined up. Picture shows 4 beers.
    You don’t have to spend a fortune to have fun at night in Miami. Here are some ways to save on nightlife costs when visiting Miami on a budget:
     
    1. Take advantage of Happy Hours: There are happy hours all over Miami. Explore menus at restaurants and bars like Beaker & Gray, Sugar Cane, and Doraku for cheap drinks during happy hour.

    2. Go to a Dive Bar: Miami nightlife is synonymous with posh nightclubs, but that’s not your only option. There are dive-bars, too. Check out places like Teds Hideaway and Barracuda.

    3. Get a Free Cocktail at Blackbird Ordinary: Go to Blackbird Ordinary for free drinks. Check out their website to see when they’re offered.

    4. Have a Cheap Mojito at The Wetlab: Check out the Wetlab for cheap drinks, good views, and great fun. Visit their website to know when the drink deals are offered.

    5. Try a $3 Drink at The Scape Goat: The Scape Goat offers drink deals all day long. Check out their menu for dates/times that their deals are offered when planning your trip.

    Enjoy Your Trip to Miami on a Budget

    As you can see, it is more than possible to enjoy a trip to Miami on a budget. The key to visiting Miami in an affordable way is to research and plan ahead of time. It’s easy to go to Miami and spend a fortune, but with discipline, you can save a bundle during your trip. 

    Here’s a summary of these tips on how to take a cheap trip to Miami in a Google Web Story.

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