In a city that hardly sleeps and runs on daily cafecito, there’s always something to do for everyone. And yes, even for those on a budget! Although Miami is widely known as a luxury destination for socialites, celebrities and your rich friend’s bachelorette party, there’s still plenty to do around the Magic City if you don’t have an endless amount of money to spend. In fact, looking for things to do around Miami when you’re on a budget can actually inspire you to do something a little different and adventurous. Here’s how to spend a weekend in Miami without breaking the bank.
Where to Stay
By far, where you choose to stay in Miami can be the ultimate make you or break you decision–because where you really want to stay isn’t actually an option for your budget. The first and most important way to save money on your weekend in Miami is to avoid the urge to stay in a luxury hotel in Downtown or an Art Deco South Beach hotel. Airbnbs and hostels are definitely the way to go for a cheap stay in Miami.
Although some Airbnbs tend to be a little pricey, you can still find one that works with your budget if you look hard enough or if your dates are flexible! Even when you’re on a strict budget, you should still be picky about what hostel you decide to stay at because some can be a little questionable, to be honest. However, there are also some really great ones that’ll make you want to come back again ASAP! It’s all about making sure you read the reviews before you book your stay. Here are a couple hostels to consider:
- Freehand Miami
- Posh Hostel South Beach
- SoBe Hostel & Bar
- HI Miami Beach Hostel
Since most weekend trips don’t usually start until midday Friday, that’s where we’ll start. First things first: food! Head over to Steve’s Pizza, a historic Miami staple since the 70’s, who offers $2.75 NY-style pizza by the slice. Don’t let its size and graffiti-covered walls fool you, because it’s the best pizza you’ll find in our city.
After dinner, head down to Wynwood to visit the famous Wynwood Walls, where world famous artists representing 16+ countries have painted over 80,000 square feet of walls around the district. Basically, it’s a free outdoor art museum with the most unique and colorful wall murals you’ll ever see. And it’s the perfect spot for photo ops! Take some time to walk around and admire the street art and pop in to some of the cute shops before they close.
Once you’ve walked around for a while, stop for happy hour drinks at Beaker & Gray for $5 craft cocktails, beer and wine before 7 p.m. If you’re hungry, they also have delicious tapas-style plates to choose from that are also $5. It has a sophisticated vibe, and hands down one of the best Wynwood happy hours that bring everyone in–so get there a little early!
After a drink or three, and you’re feelin’ good, walk a couple blocks over to the Wood Tavern for some dancing and (more) cocktails under $10–which is a steal in Miami! Even if you’re not much of a dancer, then it’s still a super fun and casual place to hang out in a lively backyard setting with community tables and steps to sit on. After a long day of traveling and you’re first evening in Miami, this is a great spot to end your night.
Depending on where you’re staying, opt for complimentary breakfast or make your own, if you have a kitchen. If neither of these options are available to you, then you can never go wrong with any of Miami’s Cuban or other Latin bakeries for some delicious authentic pastries and some cafecito or a cafe con leche–because these are a must when you visit Miami!
When you start your morning in South Beach, Las Olas Cafe or Simple Healthy Food and Beverages are great spots for an inexpensive, yet tasty breakfast under $10. They’re actually just a couple doors down from each other, so you can check out both menus to see what you have a taste for.
After breakfast, walk just three blocks over to Ocean Drive and then about 10-12 minutes north until you reach Lummus Park. When you see a park filled with tall, lush palm trees, then you know you’re there. This is the South Beach you see in movies and tv shows. But, before running off to the sand and ocean, don’t forget to take in the view of the famous Art Deco hotels and cafes just across the street. From here, just enjoy a couple hours on the world famous South Beach, where you can people watch for hours and hear more languages then you’ve probably heard in your entire life.
If South Beach seems just a little too crowded for your liking, you can either walk just over a mile (about 20-25 minutes) south to South Pointe Park and the tip of Miami beach, or take a quick Uber ride a little further up north where the crowds get a little smaller. North Beach is a little over six miles north of Lummus Park, and is a lot more calm than the hustle and bustle of South Beach. Either way, it’s a win-win.
If you ended up at the southern tip of Miami Beach, then walk about 10 minutes to Prima Classe Italian Market & Cafe for lunch to-go. This authentic Italian cafe is the perfect spot to pick up some fresh meats and cheeses, salads, soups, or sandwiches to take for a picnic on the lawn at South Pointe Park. Spread out your beach towels on the lawn under a shady palm tree and gaze out into Biscayne Bay, watching cruise ships coming and going. Lunch in Miami definitely couldn’t get any better than this.
After spending a couple hours in the sun and the sand, you may want to go back to your place to shower and freshen up for the rest of the day. Once you’ve had a little rest, head over to the Perez Art Museum–if you’re into art and museums. But even if you’re not, admission is only $12 with a student ID ($16 otherwise, for adults), and they usually have some really unique modern exhibits to check out anyway.
The property itself is a work of art and has the best views of Biscayne Bay and Downtown that make you just want to sit back and relax for a while, which is highly encouraged there. Museum Park is right next to the museum, so take a stroll and enjoy the view!
After an hour or two at the museum, take a quick ride over to Bodega Taqueria and Tequila Bar for 6-8 p.m. happy hour. Two dollar tacos, $3 guac, $4 beer, $5 tequila shots and $6 drinks. Need I say more? Bodega is a weekend local hotspot, so get there early! It’s a taco truck on the outside, but step inside the blue porta-potty door and you’ll find yourself in a laid-back, dimly-lit sophisticated lounge that gives off major speakeasy vibes. Just go with it, and you won’t be disappointed.
Get another early start to your day by visiting Villa Vizcaya Museum and Gardens in Coconut Grove–about a 10-15 minute drive south of Downtown Miami. It’s the early 20th-century former estate of businessman James Deering that was built fully influenced by Veneto and Tuscan Italian Renaissance, and designed in the Mediterranean Revival architecture style. The villa also includes extensive Italian Renaissance gardens that call for Instagram photo ops at every corner. You could easily spend hours walking around inside the breathtaking, detailed villa or strolling through gardens, for just $10 admission with a student ID. So worth it!
Vizcaya may be one of Miami’s greatest treasures that is the perfect escape from the fast-paced city life, and will make you forget that you’re even still in Miami! Visiting this place is definitely the best way to end your weekend in Miami that didn’t break the bank.
So there you go, how to spend a weekend in Miami! Did we miss anything? Drop a comment below and let us know!
Recent Barry University graduate and Florida girl living in Dallas. If I'm not up writing or editing at 3AM, then I'm probably still up binge-watching Grey's Anatomy, again.