Miami gets a bad rap as an ultra-expensive city. Yes, real estate developments are over-the-top and some neighborhood enclaves cater to the rich and famous. But if high-end luxury is not your style, there’s a way to have all the fun ‘n’ sun that you want on a budget. And no, we don’t mean free.
Here are a few budget-friendly tips to make it easier to plan for that Miami vacation.
Fly into Fort Lauderdale
Many visitors to Miami choose to fly into Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport (FLL), located an hour north of Miami International Airport. It could be that it’s easier to navigate because it’s less crowded and smaller or that there are cheaper flights into FLL. Many airlines like Spirit Airlines, Allegiant Air, JetBlue Airways and Southwest Airlines maintain hubs in Fort Lauderdale and exclusively fly there instead of Miami, making it a much more affordable option for travelers.
Book boutique hotels
If you’d rather not splurge for hotel stays at swanky palatial places or uber-chic brands, then opt for boutique hotels. Boutique hotels are typically smaller and more intimate, with 10 to 100 rooms.
Hotel Breakwater is a perfect example of a boutique property located in the heart of South Beach. Superior rooms start at $129 a night and amenities include an aquarium-style pool, rooftop lounge, two restaurants and a fitness center. Other standout properties include Dream South Beach where rates start at $239 if you book 30 days in advance, The Red South Beach, The Marlin Hotel and Sense Beach House. Then, there’s the Freehand Hotel that embraces the local culture and offers an award-winning cocktail bar that’s worth the hype. Plan ahead and you can snag a king-size room for $150.
Rent a Citi Bike
Ditch the rental car and cruise down the streets of Miami Beach on a Citi Bike instead. The city is very bike-friendly so you don’t have to feel self-conscious about pedaling alongside other visitors and locals. With nearly 100 stations, renting one is convenient and available 24 hours a day year-round. Rent for the hour for a mere $4.50 for 30 minutes up to $24 for the day pass.
Last-Minute Cruise Deals
Sail away to the Bahamas on a moment's notice with Norwegian Cruise Lines last-minute deals. Norwegian Sky boasts three- and four-day excursions to the Bahamas starting at $349. Not to be left out, Carnival also offers discounts to seniors and military personnel and deals to the Caribbean, Mexico and the Bahamas for $179. Sometimes it pays to be spontaneous. You just might get lucky.
Art & Culture Promotions
Did you know that there are several opportunities to see the latest exhibitions and get cultured for free or at least significantly discounted? First, there’s the Bank of America Museums on Us program. In its 19th year, the program provides Bank of America and Merrill Lynch cardholders with free admission to art and cultural institutions nationwide the first full weekend of each month.
In Miami, you can visit: American Museum of the Cuban Diaspora, Coral Gables Museum, HistoryMiami, Miami Children’s Museum, Museum of Contemporary Art-North Miami and the Pérez Art Museum Miami. In Fort Lauderdale, you can visit the Museum of Discovery & Science with this promotion.
During the month of May, the Greater Miami Convention and Visitors Bureau promotes the city’s museums through its Miami Museum Month initiative by extending “Buy One, Get One Free Admission” and “Join One Museum, See Them All” specials. Check the website for participating institutions.
Eat Out at Food Trucks
Treat yourself to the city's best tacos, monster burgers, Mediterranean street food and desserts from Miami's top chefs at a local food truck roundup. Catch the Wheelin' Dealin' food truck event at Miami's Magic City Casino on the third Saturday of the month or the the food truck and music fest at the city of Miami Beach, the fourth Wednesday of every month for a great time and a low-cost dinner.