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soundscape cinema, soundscape, new world
Photograph: Rui Dias-Aidos

The best free things to do in Miami to treat yourself on the cheap

Put down that $18 cocktail and check out the best free things to do in Miami, from concerts to guided tours and more

By Virginia Gil and Falyn Freyman
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October 2019: The downside of free things is they tend not to last forever. Fortunately, we’re pretty good at sniffing out Miami’s freshest and most fun free stuff to do all year round. For this update, we said goodbye to the Leggings Lounge yoga pop-up and the Coconut Grove Historic Bike Tour, which no longer run. And the popular Wynwood Mural Tour, while still cool, now charges a fee (starting at $18). Formidable new additions to this list include a frisky bayfront BBQ at one of Miami Beach’s most exclusive spots, a reliably epic weekly drag night in Wynwood and a moonlit music series along Downtown Coral Gables’ charming restaurant row.

There’s so much to blow a wad on in the Magic City: prix-fixe dinners at the best Miami restaurants, bottle service at the glam-est Miami clubs, yacht rides, boutique shopping, amazing spas. The list goes on—even if your budget is finite. Luckily, there are equal amounts of fun to be had at no cost at all. Why not learn to dance? Or hit one of the city’s best museums? Or, if you’re feeling flexible, get all bendy at a free outdoor yoga class. If you’re looking to live it up in this city—without spending a damn cent—look no further than our list of the best things to do in Miami for free. 

Best free things to do in Miami

Institute of Contemporary Art, Miami
Photograph: Iwan Baan

1. Institute of Contemporary Art, Miami

Things to do Cultural centers Design District

What is it? The Miami Design District’s hip contemporary space, where every inch is free to explore seven days a week. 

Why go? Take a seat in the sculpture garden as you contemplate the wad of cash you just blew at the nearby designer shops, explore the permanent collection downstairs and keep your eyes peeled for the new works finding their way upstairs, where you’ll find ICA’s rotating exhibits.

Tacos
Photograph: Unsplash/Christine Siracusa

2. Taco Tuesday at Wood Tavern

Bars

What is it? Free tacos, that’s what. (The $5 margaritas ain’t half bad, either).

Why go? Make Wood Tavern your go-to for Taco Tuesday. That’s when the popular Wynwood bar’s expansive outdoor patio doles out gratis al pastor, pork and mushroom tacos from 6pm to 10pm. After that, tacos are just $1, which is practically free, if you ask us.

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Biltmore
Photograph: Courtesy the Biltmore

3. Biltmore Hotel tours

Hotels Boutique hotels Coral Gables

What is it? One-hour-long guided tours of the historic Biltmore Hotel led by docents from the Dade Heritage Trust.

Why go? By now you’re familiar with buzzy architecture terms associated with the grand hotel—Italian renaissance, Spanish colonial—but what do they even mean? Get the lowdown on the property’s design, culture and history for free every Sunday afternoon. 

Miami Design District Performance Series
Photograph: Sharon Levy

4. Miami Design District Performance Series

Shopping Designer Design District

What is it? Fall through spring, get out and enjoy the weather at Palm Court’s weekly outdoor concert series. Enjoy happy hour specials from Estefan Kitchen while you watch.

Why go? The free event brings Grammy-winning artists, themed nights (like November’s tribute to salsa and merengue) and special performances backed by the hugely talented Miami Symphony Orchestra. 

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Miami Children's Museum, Museums and attractions, Miami
Photograph: Courtesy Greater Miami Convention & Visitors Bureau

5. Free Friday at Miami Children’s Museum

Things to do Miami

What is it? Every third Friday of the month (4–8pm), Target picks up the tab for admission. The museum’s art studio is also open during Target Fridays, giving kids the opportunity to explore different media through frequently changing programming in the arts.

Why go? From exhibits that underscore responsibility and pet ownership to hands-on activities that teach about sustainability, to an interactive bank used to educate children on financial literacy, the Miami Children’s Museum is brimming with fun.

Wynwood Art Walk
Photograph: Courtesy Creative Commons/Flickr/>Sherwin Sucaldito

6. Wynwood Second Saturday

Museums Wynwood

What is it? On the second Saturday of each month, the neighborhood’s studios, galleries and showrooms open their doors to the public. 

Why go? Stretching into up-and-coming areas, Wynwood Second Saturday happenings converge between Miami Avenue and Northwest Second Avenue, where you’ll also find pop-up shops from local artisans and a battery of food trucks swarmed by crowds of all ages. Traffic moves at a snail’s pace but the range of street art is enough to keep you entertained.

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Sounds of Little Haiti
Photograph: Courtesy CC/Flickr/Knight Foundation

7. Sounds of Little Haiti

Things to do Cultural centers Little Haiti / Lemon City

What is it? The Little Haiti Cultural Center's flagship event—a monthly party thrown on the third Friday of the month—is always a blast.

Why go? Music, dancing and delicious food all combine for one killer block party. Previous acts have included Wyclef Jean (as in the former Fugees singer) and Haitian supergroup KLASS. Performances typically begin at 7pm and go late at the free event. Donations are welcome.

Giralda Under the Stars
Photograph: Courtesy Business Improvement District (BID) of Coral Gables

8. Giralda Under the Stars

Restaurants Mexican Coral Gables

What is it? Celebrating 10 years of curated live performances and al fresco dining along the charming Downtown Coral Gables restaurant row, this free monthly event goes down every first Friday of the month November through April.

Why go? To enjoy the local bands, cocktails courtesy of Diageo spirits and yummy eats in a twinkling, family-friendly environment that won't break the bank.

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PAMM
Photograph: World Red Eye/Jon Thaler

9. Second Saturdays at Pérez Art Museum Miami (PAMM)

Things to do Downtown

What is it? Downtown’s contemporary art museum waives admission on the second Saturday of each month, and gives visitors access to hands-on activities, guided tours and guest performances from 1 to 4pm.

Why go? While it’s nice to support the arts, it’s also nice to get free access to world-class exhibitions every once in a while. After browsing the collections inside, head to the PAMM’s back steps to enjoy the breeze and 180-degree views of Biscayne Bay. 

Gramps
Photograph: Courtesy Gramps

10. Double Stubble

Things to do Performances

What is it? Laidback Wynwood watering hole Gramps keeps programming fresh and eclectic every day of the week. On Thursdays, the spotlight turns to some of Miami’s fiercest drag performers, from well-seasoned mainstays to emerging talent and more experimental characters.

Why go? The well attended and free weekly recently celebrated its fifth birthday and continues to turn out one of the city’s most consistently on-point live shows, drag or otherwise. Resident DJs Hottpants and Mystic Bill keep the bodies moving in between sets.

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Critical Mass
Photograph: Courtesy CC/Flickr/Tropical Pedicabs

11. Critical Mass

What is it? On the last Friday of each month, this organized ride led by the Miami Bike Scene gives novices and experienced riders the opportunity to explore different parts of town unencumbered, as roads are blocked and volunteers help block major intersections for riders.

Why go? Routes change monthly but always begin in Downtown Miami (Fri 6:30pm) and range from 10 to 20 miles, taking riders through Coral Gables, Little Havana and Coconut Grove, among other neighborhoods. Participants must bring their own bikes, and helmets and lights are recommended.

Museum of Contemporary Art in North Miami
Photograph: Courtesy Museum of Contemporary Art

12. Jazz at MOCA

Things to do Event spaces North Miami

What is it? Double your dose of culture on the last Friday of the month, when the Museum of Contemporary Art, North Miami hosts free outdoor concerts (Fri 8pm).

Why go? Previous acts have included the lively Batuke Samba Funk and the internationally influenced jazz group Carlos Gomez and the Jazz Leaders, blending Cuban Son with traditional jazz. Admission to the museum on jazz night is by donation (7–10pm).

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Soundscape Park
Photograph: Courtesy CC/Flickr/paniko.cl

13. SoundScape Cinema Series

Things to do Performances South Beach

What is it? From October through May, the façade of the Frank Gehry-designed New World Center doubles as a movie screen, while adjacent Soundscape Park, a 2.5-acre public space, serves as its alfresco theater.

Why go? Watch titles such as Won’t You Be My Neighbor? and Rebel Without a Cause projected on a 7,000-square-foot wall. All screenings are free (schedule available here) and begin promptly at 8pm, rain or shine. Don’t forget your blankets, chairs, drinks and snacks.

Wolfsonian-FIU, Museums and attractions, Miami
Photograph: Courtesy Wolfsonian-FIU

14. Friday Nights at The Wolfsonian-FIU

Things to do Cultural centers South Beach

What is it? Each week, the museum waives admission to patrons between the hours of 6pm and 9pm and offers free, guided tours that vary in theme.

Why go? For a different kind of Friday-night happy hour, where access to art, music and revelry are free of charge. The Wolfsonian Café sweetens the deal with half-price beer and wine from 4pm to 9pm and live music on the third Friday of each month.

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Ball & Chain
Photograph: Michael Strader Marko

15. Bachata lessons at Ball & Chain

Bars East Little Havana

What is it? The Little Havana jazz club throws Bachatuesdays, featuring complimentary bachata (like a slower and more sensual version of salsa) lessons dance taught by their talented in-house dancers.

Why go? Don’t be the person standing by the wall while the rest of your group is tearing up the dance floor. Class starts at 9pm and the hour-long session is totally free. However, the cocktails you’ll need to build up the courage are on you.

Gold Coast Railroad Museum, Museums and attractions, Miami
Photograph: Courtesy Gold Coast Railroad Museum

16. Gold Coast Railroad Museum

Things to do Miami

What is it? The must-see museum for train enthusiasts opens its doors free of charge for patrons every first Saturday of the month.

Why go? Even if you’re not nostalgic for locomotives (or count yourself as a Thomas the Tank Engine fan), you’ll agree there’s certain magic surrounding trains. There are cars to explore, Thomas the Tank Engine tables to play on and model exhibits and rare collection pieces to admire, including “Ferdinand Magellan,” the private railroad car built for President Franklin Roosevelt.

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Barnacle Historic State Park
Photograph: Courtesy CC/Flickr/Context Travel

17. Free movies at Barnacle Historic State Park

Things to do Coconut Grove

What is it? Coconut Grove’s monthly outdoor movie series, which takes place at the waterfront Barnacle Park sure beats a dark, cold theater.

Why go? Recent flicks, newer films and other cinema favorites start promptly at 8:30pm on select Fridays throughout the year. Bring a chair, pack a picnic and enjoy the show. 

Miami City Ballet, Performing Arts, Miami
Photograph: Courtesy Miami City Ballet

18. Backstage tours of the Adrienne Arsht Center

Things to do Performances Omni

What is it? Guided tours that take you behind the scenes of Miami’s most popular stages at the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts every Monday and Saturday at noon.

Why go? The hour-long tour begins in the lobby of the Sanford and Dolores Ziff Ballet Opera House and takes patrons through various lobbies, theaters and private meeting rooms, as they learn about the building’s architecture, history and past performers.

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Knitting
Photograph: Shutterstock

19. Stitch N Bitch at Freehand Miami

Restaurants Contemporary American Miami Beach

What is it? Perfect your needlework at this monthly crochet gathering, which takes place every second Wednesday of the month and is led by local knitwear queen Karelle Levy, the designer behind KRELwear.

Why go? All crochet supplies are provided, as well as a round of complimentary cocktails to keep you feeling inspired. Dates are subject to change but updated information is available on 27’s Facebook page.

Viernes Culturales
Photograph: Courtesy Viernes Culturales

20. Viernes Culturales

What is it? On the third Friday of the month, Little Havana opens its doors for the monthly block party known as Viernes Culturales. From 7–11pm, between 13th and 17th Avenues, Calle Ocho is bursting with live music, local vendors and plenty of incredible Cuban food.

Why go? It’s a way to experience the neighborhood the way it is meant to be seen: alive and moving. Use it as an excuse to bar hop from Ball & Chain to Hoy Como Ayer to Bar Nancy. Or just find a bench, grab a cafecito and people watch.

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Infinity Pool at The Standard
Photograph: Courtesy Standard Spa, Miami Beach

21. Lazy Sunday BBQ at The Standard

Hotels Spa hotels Belle Isle

What is it? A monthly BBQ and sunset dance party with dreamy views of Biscayne Bay at one of the trendiest hotels in Miami Beach.

Why go? Its adults-only policy means you can get as weird as you want to, or just sit back and enjoy the people-watching. When the sun goes down, head to the lobby for another super-fun (and free!) event: Not Your Standard Bingo, featuring prizes like spa treatments and hotel stays. 

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