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
There’s no time like the present to make good on your resolution to (finally!) learn to dance—especially if lessons are free. Every Friday, head to Bluewater rooftop café at the Intercontinental Miami for a major salsa explosion, featuring professionals dancers and a roving instructor you can tap for a quick training sesh. A live band, on-site cigar roller and $7 cocktails (from 6 to 10pm) keep it festive.
Photograph: Courtesy InterContinental Miami
Every inch of this stunning piece of architecture is free to explore seven days a week. 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.
They say exercising is more fun with friends, but finding a workout buddy isn’t easy—unless you’re sweating it out with the crew at GoRun Project, which hosts weekly runs and other one-off fitness events around the city. They’re free to join and often include a free beer and other rewards at the end of each workout.
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 Biltmore Hotel’s design, culture and history during one of their weekly tours led by docents from the Dade Heritage Trust. Offered every Sunday at 1:30pm and 2:30pm, these one-hour guided visits take off from the lobby and are free to join.
Grab your fellow yogis and set out for this annual series that features a free yoga class and a one-hour happy hour immediately after. Classes are led by top instructors and take place on rooftops, in private event spaces and other cool spots around the city. Register online, bring your own mat and prepare to get Zen.
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—and educational—experiences. Browse them free every third Friday of the month (3–9pm), when 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.
Before Wynwood made local art cool, Miamians would scoff at the notion of spending Saturday night trolling galleries. But on the second Saturday of each month, when the neighborhood’s studios, galleries and showrooms open their doors to the public, perusing paintings is infinitely more fun than popping bottles. Stretching into up-and-coming areas (read: not yet safe for pedestrians), 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.
The Little Haiti Cultural Center's flagship event—a monthly party thrown on the third Friday of the month—is always a blast. 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.
Between housing a renowned restaurant (Verde), offering some of the most unobstructed views of Watson Island and the MacArthur Bridge, and providing plenty of fun, artsy seating in the form of fiberglass and polypropylene swings, the Pérez Art Museum Miami makes a strong case for its outdoor offerings. If you’re ever inclined to explore its remarkable collection of modern art, however, the time to do it is on the second Saturday of each month (1–4pm). Not only is admission waived for this monthly event, visitors also have the opportunity to enjoy hands-on activities, guided tours and guest performances, among other programming.
There’s plenty of artistic ground to cover in Wynwood, so seeing it on foot may take longer than you’ve got on a weekend afternoon. To make the most of your time (and actually learn something about what it is you’re looking at), opt for an hour-long bike tour led by Ryan the Wheelbarrow of Wynwood Mural Tours. You’ll BYO bike and meet on the sidewalk just outside Panther Coffee (2390 NW 2nd Ave). The tour is free, though Ryan’s extensive knowledge of the neighborhood’s influential pieces as well as hidden gems warrants a nice tip.
Yoga in parks and on rooftops
Like the Instagram hashtag goes, in Miami, the forecast calls for #yogaeverydamnday—well, most days. The best part? It’s often outdoors and free. On Mondays and Wednesdays at 6pm, make your way to the Tina Hills Pavilion in Bayfront Park (301 Biscayne Blvd) for Yoga in the Park, popular among locals for the unique closing prayer you’ll remember long after you’ve left—something calming along the lines of “peace to your right, peace to your left.” Tuesdays and Thursdays at 6pm, Vinyasa-based classes are held at Peacock Park in Coconut Grove, and led by Dharma Studio instructors (2820 McFarlane Rd). For a two-a-day of Zen, start at the Mayfair Hotel rooftop (3000 Florida Ave, 305-461-5506) for an 8am class and follow it up with a 9am at Tina Hills.
This monthly event, held in more than 120 places around the world, is like going back to college for an hour—in a good way! Each installment, which takes place on the second Thursday of the month, is themed (think environmental initiatives and citizen science), features an hour of fun and games and a lecture, and includes free beer for all attendees.
Coconut Grove historic bicycle tour
There’s plenty of history to discover in Coconut Grove, Miami’s oldest community, and historian Frank Schena is just the person to tell you all about it. Join him and Royal Palm Tours of Miami on the first and third Saturday of the month (9:30am–noon) for a free bicycle tour of the area, which begins at City Hall (1500 Pan-American Dr) and includes stops at Trapp Avenue, Alice Wainwright Park and other areas of North Coconut Grove. Riders must pre-register to participate (firstname.lastname@example.org, 305-461-5506).
Cyclists in Miami ride in expert mode at all times, dodging jaywalking pedestrians and bobbing and weaving through traffic. But on the last Friday of each month, Critical Mass, organized 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. Routes change monthly but always begin in Downtown Miami (Fri 7:30pm) 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.
Photograph: Courtesy Creative Commons/Flickr/Christopher Neetz
Art Deco District walking tour
There’s more to South Beach than clubs and beaches, like its historic Art Deco District, recognized by the National Register of Historic Places. There are approximately 800 structures with historical importance all along Collins Avenue and other neighboring streets. You may not immediately understand the significance of pastel facades, neon signage and sleek curves, so you’ll need to visit Greater Miami Convention & Visitors Bureau for info before heading out from Ocean Drive and 5th Street.
Photograph: Courtesy Creative Commons/Flickr/Alfredo Aponte
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). Previous acts have included the lively Batuke Samba Funk, mixing Brazilian rhythms with soul and 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) but North Miami residents, city employees, veterans and children under the age of 12 are always free.
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. While the 2017/18 has yet to be announced, previous films have included popular titles like Back to the Future and Brooklyn, as well as special New World Symphony performances, which are also projected on the 7,000-square-foot wall in the off season. All screenings are free (schedule available here) and begin promptly at 8pm, rain or shine, and patrons are encouraged to bring blankets, chairs and refreshments.
Photograph: Courtesy CC/Flickr/paniko.cl
For a different kind of Friday-night happy hour, head to the Woflsonian-FIU, where access to art, music and revelry are free of charge. Each week, the museum waives admission to patrons between the hours of 6pm and 9pm and offers free, guided tours that vary in theme (Halloween is on the docket for October). 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.
Don’t be the person standing by the wall while the rest of your group is tearing up the dance floor. For a crash course in salsa dancing, head to Ball & Chain on Thursday nights at 9pm for a free hour-long class led by professional dancers. Once you’ve brushed up on traditional Son and cha-cha moves, stay and show off your newfound talents at the club’s weekly salsa party, featuring live music.
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. You’ll have the opportunity to judge for yourself on the first Saturday of every month (save for March) when admission is free to the Gold Coast Railroad Museum, a must-see for train enthusiasts. There are trains 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.
Miami’s oldest museum, located on the University of Miami campus, is home to a vast collection of notable Egyptian, Greek and Roman antiquities and on the first Tuesday of the month, you’re able to explore them free of charge. Explore the Lowe Art Museum (1301 Stanford Dr, 305-284-3535) at your leisure or stop by at 1pm for a free gallery tour and learn about the various temporary and permanent exhibits that make the art museum a favorite among coeds and Coral Gables locals.
It used to be that food trucks were a way to grab a bite on the go, but Food Truck & Music Night (Wed 6–9pm), held on the fourth Wednesday of the month at North Beach Bandshell, proves there’s more to the roving restaurants. The family-friendly event features a restaurant lineup of Miami’s best movable eats—Arepa Box, Gastropod, Ms. Cheezious, among others—and performances by local bands like Los Damn Ramblers and Front Yard Theatre Collective. Even if you skip the grub, the sites, the live music and the sound of the ocean just steps away are free to enjoy. Just BYO chair and make a night out of it.
Photograph: Courtesy Yelp/Joe G.
Fashion, Art + Music Night in Coconut Grove
There’s more to do in Coconut Grove than eat (although you’d be remiss to skip dinner in the area). Visit on the first Saturday of the month (beginning at 6pm), when the streets of the Grove come alive with street performers, sidewalk exhibits and pop-up shops. The popular art walk also features rotating community programming (including some for kids), plus live music and a style market at CocoWalk. (The program is on hiatus through the fall.)
Adults looking to cultivate their creativity should consider the Bass’s rotating series of adult programming. Activities vary for these 90-minute sessions—ranging from lectures and guided tours of the museum to drawing classes or art film screenings—which are aimed at furthering conversations about art in the community. A schedule of upcoming events is available on the museum’s website.
Curious about what happens before and after curtain call? Go behind the scenes of Miami’s most popular stages at the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts every Monday and Saturday at noon. 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.
An Evening at the Arts + Entertainment District
Downtown Miami’s cultural hub, the Arts + Entertainment District, hosts a number of free events every month—including Rooftop Unplugged, an outdoor concert series on the roof of Filling Station Lofts (1657 N Miami Ave) that features local acts such as Suénalo and the Magic City Hippies, and monthly pop-up market the Miami Flea. Programming and locations change often but most events take place at CANVAS (90 NE 17th St), located within the District (roughly bounded by 21st St, Interstate 395, Biscayne Bay and North Miami Ave).
Photograph: Courtesy Arts + Entertainment District/Jason Koerner
Perfect your needlework and sip complimentary Stolen Rum cocktails 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. All crochet supplies are provided.
On the last 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. 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.