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Cheap City, USA: Miami

Monday, February 23rd, 2015

 

Cheap City, USA is a CheapTickets blog series where we show you that any city can be enjoyed on a budget if you know where to look. In this breakdown of Cheap City, USA, we take a look at Miami.

Key Biscane

Key Biscane

Miamis most prized possession: the beach

Sun-worshipers flock to Miami’s picture-perfect white sand beaches and tranquil aquamarine waters. Not only is the beach one of Miami’s most famous attractions, it’s free — you only have to pay for parking.

Key Biscayne: This secluded island paradise is just a few miles from downtown, yet worlds apart. Check out Bill Baggs Cape Florida State Park with its historic lighthouse — it’s the oldest standing structure in Miami-Dade County. The vistas from above are simply breathtaking.

Sunny Isles Beach: With it’s laid-back casual vibe, Sunny Isles Beach is a great spot for families. Visit the Newport Fishing Pier for great fishing and spectacular water views.

Sunny Isles

Sunny Isles Beach

South Beach: Take a stroll along Ocean Drive and you’ll find Art Deco buildings with alfresco cafés on one side and the Atlantic Ocean on the other. Stretching from 1 Washington Avenue to around 21st Street, this is the party beach with the funky multi-colored lifeguard stands that you’ve seen on TV.

South Beach

South Beach

 

Go for a walk on the wild side

There’s so much to do in the 1.5 million acre Everglades National Park. Made up of warm mangrove waters and sawgrass prairies, this giant river (yes, it’s a slow-moving river not a swamp) is home to a rare community of tropical plants and animals. You might even see manatees, dolphins, sea turtles and more than 350 species of birds.

Everglades-Kara-Franker

The combination of fresh, salt and brackish waters makes Florida Bay the only place on earth where alligators and crocodiles (in this case, the rare American crocodile) live together.

Take a self-guided or ranger-led tours at the Visitor Center at the park’s southeastern entrance, or journey deeper into the Everglades for a more extensive experience in the Florida wilderness. To the north, the Shark Valley entrance to the park offers one of the best places to observe wildlife in a natural habitat. A 65-foot observation tower provides a spectacular bird’s eye view.

Everglades-Alligator-Kara-Franker

 

Local art scene

From eclectic street art to upscale contemporary art galleries, there are a number of free art walks hosted across the city.

Wynwood: Famous for it’s vibrant graffiti art painted by internationally renowned street artists, Wynwood is truly one of Miami’s most unique and artistic neighborhoods. Art walks happen every second Saturday of the month between 6 and 10 p.m.

Wynwood. Image by Greater Miami Convention and Visitors Bureau

Wynwood. Image by Greater Miami Convention and Visitors Bureau

Little Havana: Experience Miami’s rich Cuban heritage at Viernes Culturales (Cultural Fridays) in Little Havana. Enjoy live music, dancing under the stars, cigar rolling and domino games on bustling Calle Ocho. And make sure you stop by Café Versaille for Cuban coladas and pastelitos. The event is held on the last Friday of every month from 7 to 11 p.m.

Cafe Versailles. Photo by Jeremy Franker

Cafe Versailles. Photo by Jeremy Franker

Coral Gables: Head to picturesque Coral Gables with it’s tree-lined streets and elegant boutiques. Dubbed “The Great Gables Gallery Stroll,” wander through a myriad of local art galleries on the first Friday of every month from 6 to 10 p.m.

 

Free concerts and Miami’s museums

In Miami Beach is the New World Symphony Center, where the New World Symphony broadcasts free, live concerts on a soaring 7,000-square-foot “Wallcast.” Additionally, the City of Miami Beach Arts in the Parks program shows free movies on the wall on select Wednesdays at 8 p.m.

New World Symphony

New World Symphony

The Museum of Contemporary Art in North Miami (MOCA) offers free live jazz concerts on the last Friday of every month at 8 p.m.

A number of museums in Miami offer a number of free days throughout each month:

  • Peréz Art Museum Miami — free on the first Thursday and second Saturday of the month
  • Bass Museum of Art — free on the last Sunday of the month
  • Gold Coast Railroad Museum — free on the first Saturday of the month (except in March)
  • HistoryMiami — free on the second Saturday of the month
  • Jewish Museum of Florida — free every Saturday
  • Lowe Art Museum — free the first Tuesday of the month
  • Miami Children’s Museum — free the first Friday of the month
  • Museum of Contemporary Art North Miami (MOCA) — free the first Sunday of the month
  • Miami Science Museum — free the first Friday of the month
  • Wolfsonian-FIU Art Museum — free every Friday night
  • The MDC Museum and Galleries of Art & Design — always free
  • The Patricia & Phillip Frost Art Museum — always free
  • Bay of Pigs Museum — always free
Perez Art Museum. Photo by Greater Miami Convention and Visitors Bureau

Perez Art Museum. Photo by Greater Miami Convention and Visitors Bureau

 

People-watch on SoBes two best Catwalks

People-watching is hands down one of the best free activities in sun-drenched Miami. The most important thing you need is a camera. Watch people strut the catwalk known as Ocean Drive, where you’ll find bikini-clad beach bunnies, iron-pumping hunks and everyone in between.

Or visit pedestrian-friendly Lincoln Road, lined with alfresco cafés and trendy boutiques. This lively magnet for entertainment and shopping is another great place to people watch, especially if you want to mingle with the locals.

Ocean Drive. Photo by Greater Miami Convention and Visitors Bureau

Ocean Drive. Photo by Greater Miami Convention and Visitors Bureau

 

Story by Kara FrankerA purveyor of the coastal life and a self-admitted beach addict, Kara is a travel writer based in Miami. Follow her on Twitter @KaraFranker.

20 travel resolutions you can actually achieve this year

Wednesday, January 7th, 2015

Sure you could make a resolution to stop falling asleep while streaming Netflix shows, but let’s dream bigger. Here are 20 cheap-inspired New Year’s resolutions to make you a better-traveled person.

CTIX travel resolutions 1.7.14

Story and graphic by Kelsie Ozamiz

Beignets to churros: The best bites at Disneyland

Tuesday, May 29th, 2012

Top dogs: Get your hand-dipped, golden-brown corn dogs at several stands around Disneyland.

By Amanda Ficili

Snacking your way around the Disneyland Resort is an attraction all its own, and with so many deliciously tasty opportunities, it’s easy to see why. Sure, the spot is home to a multitude of fabulous restaurants and eateries, but sometimes you just need a little pick me up in between, especially after a few hours of adventurous park hopping at the Disneyland Resort. (more…)

For the frugal foodie: Restaurant Week in NYC

Thursday, January 12th, 2012

Bar Boulud is just one of the 300-plus restaurants participating in NYC's Restaurant Week. Credit: ZagatBuzz.

By Erin Behan

January is a great time of year to visit New York–if you don’t mind the cold, that is. Hotel rooms are generally discounted, Broadway plays often have open seats and—of course—the post holiday sales are in full force. There’s one more reason to visit New York in January, and it has to do with a famous New York City pastime: eating out. The city’s twice-annual Restaurant Week runs Monday through Friday from Jan. 16 through Feb. 10, and 2012 is the 20-year celebration of the event that gives discounted prix fixe meals for lunch ($24.07) and dinner ($35) at more than 300 of the city’s top restaurants. (more…)

Free local flair and cheap eats at Wailuku’s First Fridays

Thursday, December 29th, 2011

Local restaurants cook up specials for Wailuku's monthly street party.

By Erin Behan

There’s nothing wrong with feeling like a tourist in Hawaii, but every once in a while it’s nice experience something like a kama’aina or local, and Wailuku First Friday fits the bill with plenty of local flair. (more…)

Beignets, bars and barbecue: New Orleans on a dime

Thursday, November 17th, 2011

The line snakes out the door of Cafe Du Monde for the signature beignets, a mere $5. Credit: brad.coy.

By Nancy Buczkiewicz

Looking for a getaway that’s easy on your wallet but big on the scene?  Head south to the lively, history-laden streets of New Orleans.  There’s nothing quite like perusing the antique shops on Royal Street or enjoying French cuisine to feed your soul. (more…)

Pastoral and perfect: Family vacations in Northern California

Thursday, October 27th, 2011

Minutes from Monterey, the Carmel Valley Ranch plays host to all ages with pools, golf, hiking trails & more.

By David Escobar

When it comes to family vacations, Northern California’s wine country may not be the first place you consider. But when I planned a trip to Monterey/Carmel with two of the toughest travel critics I know – my children, ages 8 and 11 – we wound up discovering a family favorite. From a castle in Calistoga to burgers and shakes in Napa Valley, consider these family-friendly spots on your California vacation. (more…)

Fall into Orlando: Festivals, food and sports

Thursday, August 4th, 2011

Crowds at the Mt. Dora Craft Festival. Credit: mountdoracraftfair.com.

By Derek Brown

Professional golf, a juried craft show and master winemakers aren’t normally what come to mind when people think of going on a cheap Florida vacation.  However, fall’s an excellent time to discover a grown-up Orlando. October 21-23 will bring all of the above to The City Beautiful, Orlando. (more…)

Foodie finds: 3 stellar New York City organic eateries

Tuesday, July 12th, 2011

Farm fresh produce for a healthy summer meal. Credit: NatalieMaynor.

By Derek Brown

I can still smell the fresh street fair food from my weekend trip to New York City.  Grilled summer corn, fresh fruit carts and lots of greasy deliciousness are summer scents that are hard to resist, but I managed to just enjoy the aroma.  It’s a good thing, too.  There are so many chefs creating amazing meals with the freshest ingredients right from the farm.  Here are 3 New York City restaurants where the focus is on healthy, sustainable and delicious dining. (more…)

3 boutique chic San Diego hotels in the Gaslamp Quarter

Tuesday, June 14th, 2011

In San Diego, the only way to cocktail is by rooftop at the Solamar's LOUNGEsix.


By Valerie Moloney

San Diego, once defined by Shamu and sailors, won’t be upstaged by its camera-ready SoCal sister, Los Angeles. A look inside three cheap San Diego hotels in the reigning neighborhood of hip — the Gaslamp Quarter — reveals big-city swagger with VIPs, stylish restaurants and look-at-me spaces to boot. (more…)