With its sizzling beaches and steamy nightlife, it’s no wonder Miami is a top vacation spot for snowbirds, spring breakers, international tourists and passengers heading out on cruises from Florida ports. More than 13 million people visited the city in 2011, according to the Greater Miami Convention & Visitors Bureau.
Getting past sticker shock, though, can be difficult for anyone on a budget. Expect to pay $20 for a burger at trendy restaurants, the same for cocktails. Just getting past the velvet ropes of a popular nightclub can run $300 (see story, 1J, on getting past those ropes for less).
To avoid draining your pocketbook, enjoy Miami’s free attractions — especially now that there’s lull in the tourist invasion. In addition to beaches and people-watching, take in spectacular views from a bicycle. Become an art enthusiast — or critic — while browsing neighborhoods lined with galleries and graffiti murals. Or catch a movie outdoors on a nighttime picnic.The beaches:
Watch a movie under the stars at the free SoundScape Cinema Series on the corner of 17th Street and Washington Avenue or the North Shore Park Band Shell, 7275 Collins Ave. Movies begin at 8 p.m. (www.mbculture.com/Scroll.aspx?id232).
Information about other beaches can be found at www.miamiandbeaches.com.Art Deco buildings and Lincoln Road:
Perhaps the absolute best free thing to do in Miami Beach is to go people-watching along Lincoln Road (www.lincolnroad.org). The pedestrian mall lined with palm trees, dozens of shops, restaurants and bars is a popular tourist destination and hangout spot for locals — along with their designer dogs.Bikes and buses:
See story page 8J for Miami-Dade bike paths.
Another alternative to cars in Miami: Check out the free Metromover bus (www.miamidade.gov/transit/metromover.asp), which makes stops in tourist-friendly areas such as Downtown, Brickell and Bayside.Get artsy: Little Havana:
The last Friday evening of every month from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m., Little Havana hosts Viernes Culturales — or Cultural Fridays — including dancing, domino games, cigar rolling, and free walking tours of the neighborhood with local historian Paul George (departing at 7 p.m. from the Tower Theater, 1508 SW Eighth St.), www.viernesculturales.org.