There are plenty of free things to do in MiamiWith its sizzling beaches and steamy nightlife, it’s no wonder Miami is a top vacation spot.
By: Suzette Laboy , Associated Press
MIAMI — With its sizzling beaches and steamy nightlife, it’s no wonder Miami is a top vacation spot. 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. To avoid draining your pocketbook, do as the locals do and enjoy Miami’s free attractions.
Even if you can’t afford to stay in luxury hotels with ocean views or you’re not trendy enough to get into the beachfront clubs, the sand and turquoise waters of South Beach are free, accessible and popular with visitors along Ocean Drive from about Fifth Street up to Collins Park. You’ll share the sand with locals, day-trippers and tourists staying in nearby hotels.
A popular activity in the South Beach area is a free New World Symphony concert projected onto a 7,000-square-foot wall of a building designed by renowned architect Frank Gehry at 500 17th St., during Wallcasts. Bring a blanket or picnic to enjoy the experience.
ART DECO BUILDINGS AND LINCOLN ROAD
Miami Beach is recognized by the National Register of Historic Places for having the largest concentration of 1920s and 1930s resort architecture in the U.S. The 800 buildings are known for their Mediterranean and Art Deco styles, with pastel colors, porthole windows, curved walls and distinctive lettering on historic hotel signs.
Perhaps the best free thing to do in Miami Beach is to go people-watching along Lincoln Road (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.
The Wynwood Arts District is a neighborhood with some of the best artwork to see for free: Legal outdoor murals by graffiti artists cover the walls near art galleries and restaurants. Walking tours are $15, but you can see plenty on your own.
At Maximo Gomez Park, better known as Domino Park, 801 S.W. 15th Ave., you can watch locals playing the game or catch up on Cuban politics. The neighborhood also is home to a cigar factory, Cuban cafes and other eateries, and Paseo de las Estrellas (Walk of the Stars), where celebrities from Latin America are given stars similar to those in Hollywood.
The last Friday of every month from 7-9 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 S.W. Eighth St.).