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Downtown Miami view along Biscayne Bay from Brickell Key
Photograph: Shutterstock

The best free things to do in Miami to have fun on a budget

Skip the bottle service and explore a world of free things to do in Miami, from music and movies to guided tours and more

Virginia Gil
Falyn Wood
Written by
Virginia Gil
&
Falyn Wood
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Miami has quickly risen the ranks to join some of the world’s most expensive cities. But you don’t have to shell out for mega-yacht rides, designer shopping or over-the-top prix-fixe dinners at the best Miami restaurants to have a great time in the Magic City. Aside from Miami’s abundant public parks and beautiful beaches, this city is chock-full of free activities—you just have to know where to look. From free dance lessons and museum days to concerts, guided tours and more, our list of the best free things to do in Miami will help you live it up on any day of the week, without spending a damn cent.

RECOMMENDED: The best things to do in Miami

Best free things to do in Miami

  • Things to do
  • Cultural centers
  • Design District

ICA is the Miami Design District’s hip contemporary art space, where every inch 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.

  • Things to do
  • Performances

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. Performances are free, but don’t forget to tip your queens. Resident DJs Hottpants and Mystic Bill keep the bodies moving in between sets at this well-attended weekly party.

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  • Things to do
  • Downtown

Downtown’s iconic 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. 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.

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 volunteers help block major intersections for riders. Routes change monthly but typically 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.

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  • Things to do
  • Event spaces
  • North Miami

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). A beloved rain or shine event since 1999, previous acts have included the lively Batuke Samba Funk and the internationally influenced jazz group Carlos Gomez and the Jazz Leaders. Admission to the museum on jazz night is by donation (7–10pm).

Founded in 1972, Miami-Dade County’s largest preservation organization hosts free architectural walking tours of Brickell on select Saturdays. Starting at 10am, meet at Dade Heritage Trust’s centrally located offices, a historic urban paradise complete with a native garden, birds, bees and butterflies. The guided tours explore the old and new architecture of one of Miami’s earliest neighborhoods, where symbols of Miami history mix with contemporary development, Biscayne Bay and the Miami River.

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  • Things to do
  • Performances
  • South Beach

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. Watch titles such as Knives Out and The Truman Show on a 7,000-square-footwall. All screenings are free (schedule available here) and begin promptly at 8pm, rain or shine. Don’t forget your blankets, chairs, drinks and snacks.

Every third Thursday of the month from 6–9pm, the City of Miami Beach hosts a free Culture Crawl in partnership with the area’s leading institutions, including the Wolfsonian–FIU, the Bass, Oolite Arts, Miami Beach Botanical Garden and more. Hoof it or hop on a free trolley (the white ones) and choose your adventure, from site-specific art installations and live musical performances to backstage tours and poetry readings. (Check online for the latest map and offerings.)

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  • Bars
  • East Little Havana

Don’t be the person standing by the wall while the rest of your group is tearing up the dance floor. Led by a rotating team of pros, the gratis salsa or bachata lessons kick off at 9pm on most nights of the week at Little Havana hotspot Ball & Chain (be sure to check Insta for their latest offerings). Arrive early to fuel up on liquid courage in the form of two-for-one mojitos (happy hour runs from 4 to 7pm).

  • Things to do
  • Miami

The must-see museum for train enthusiasts opens its doors free of charge for patrons every first Saturday of the month. Even if you’re not nostalgic for locomotives (or count yourself as a Thomas the Tank Engine fan), you’ll agree there’s a 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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  • Things to do
  • Downtown

Miami might be a young city, but it’s already brimming with unbelievable history. Tracing the storied past of the region, from early Indians to rafting Cubans, HistoryMiami succeeds in educating while entertaining. On the second Saturday of each month from 10am to 4pm, enjoy free admission to the Downtown museum along with interactive, family-friendly activities.

  • Things to do
  • Miami

Every Saturday at 10am, this shady bayfront greenspace hosts popular free community yoga sessions which occasionally include relaxing sound bath meditations. Afterward, spend some time browsing the weekly on-site farmer’s market, featuring locally sourced produce, a plethora of prepared foods and some of the freshest and most affordable juice you’ll find in Miami. For $6, the Nature Boyz’ Energizer is made with pressed-to-order carrot, ginger and sugarcane juice.

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Viernes Culturales
Photograph: Courtesy Viernes Culturales

13. Viernes Culturales

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. 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.

Weeknight Jazz
Photograph: Unsplash/Chris Bair

14. Weeknight Jazz

An unlikely bastion of live jazz music, Miami is home to several free performances depending on the night of the week. On Wednesdays starting at 9pm, musicians play two sets from the floor at The Corner, a dimly lit Downtown refuge where you’ll find an assortment of affordable craft brews and wine bottles. On the northside, The Anderson also hosts free live jazz Wednesday nights (9pm). Thursdays are Jazz in the Garden at Little Haiti’s Center for Subtropical Affairs, where the musical offerings are eclectic and the vibe is laid back. Nightly, find free jazz performances in the lobby of The Betsy Hotel as well as the intimate interior bar at Lagniappe in Wynwood.

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