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Insider Secrets to Save Money on Your Miami Vacation from Locals

by Roslie L.
Published: Updated:
People in front of palm shaded white building on a busy street

Miami shines as bright as a diamond — and that glitzy glow comes at a price! While its turquoise waters, neon nights, and vibrant energy have captivated hearts (and wallets) for years, paradise doesn’t have to be a splurge. Forget inflated price tags and tourist traps. Join us, on a journey to unveil the hidden gems and save money on your Miami vacation.

Think delicious eats that won’t drain your wallet, adventures that ignite your senses without burning a hole in your pocket, and experiences that reveal the city’s authentic soul. Let us be your local guides and share insider secrets that unlock a Miami as dazzling as your dreams but kind to your bank account.

Ready to ditch the tourist tax and experience the Magic City like a true local? Welcome to the affordable side of Miami.

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Score a Cheap Flight to Miami

The secret to saving money on travel starts long before you arrive. If you want to nab a vacation deal, you’ve got to be strategic and plan ahead — and, of course, it never hurts to have a few tricks up your sleeve! To find the very best Miami flight deal, let’s look at some of the tried-and-true tricks.

Aerial view of Miami Florida

Be Flexible with Your Travel Dates

A few variables are at play when you’re trying to decide on the best time to travel to Miami. First, it’s crucial to check the ​​South Florida annual events calendar. If a major event is happening nearby and you’re not attending, avoid paying the inflated prices and look to other dates.

When is the cheapest time to go to Miami? It’s a question you guys often ask, and it’s easy to see why. We’ve seen Miami flight prices range from $50 to $800 — and they can vary that much when we’re talking about flights leaving from the same city during the same week!

Generally speaking, when it comes to the least expensive time of year to visit Miami, look to summer. Miami can be seriously steamy in July and August, and many people avoid it. That means you can nab a hotel deal and find rare package deals.

Summer is also when Miami Spa Months are going; if you’re looking for affordable spas in Miami, this is your prime time. You can find deep discounts on a full range of treatments at the city’s best spas, all while staying cool indoors.

On the other end of the calendar, if you’re looking for a cheap Miami vacation, think twice about coming to soak in the winter sun. You’ll find the most expensive flights during peak travel season from November to March when the snowbirds are here.

Insider Tip: Did you know that the cheapest days to fly are Tuesday and Wednesday? If you’re planning a week-long vacation in South Florida, start and finish it during the middle of the week if you can swing it. If you want to go during the weekend, opt for Saturday when slightly fewer people are jetting off.

Consider Other Cheap Places to Go in South Florida

Fort Lauderdale Florida waterfront skyline

Finding ways to save money on Miami travel can be tricky, especially when it comes to flights and hotels. That’s why we recommend getting a bit outside of the city. When it comes to flights, that means looking to nearby airports.

For example, if you fly into Fort Lauderdale–Hollywood International Airport (FLL), you can find better airfare deals. From there, you can rent a car (which is a great idea if you’re planning on a Florida Keys road trip). If you’re planning on a Miami vacation and don’t need a car, hop on a shuttle or the Brightline to Miami/Miami Beach.

Public Transportation Options for Budget Travelers in Miami

Parking in Miami is not for the faint of heart. It is time-consuming to find a spot and usually comes at an eye-watering price. To save money in Miami and get around the city stress-free, look to public transportation.

City of Miami Trolley on the road

Before you go, download the GO Miami-Dade Transit Mobile App to navigate public transportation. Be sure to also check out the Metromover map, a free Miami transit option covering all of Downtown Miami’s key attractions.

The Miami Trolley and Miami Beach Trolley are fun, free, and oh-so-Instagramable ways to get around the city. As you plan your journey, note that there are two different trolley systems (one for Miami and one for Miami Beach).

Download the trolley apps before your trip for an easy and cheap way to get around. The routes will take you through all the core areas, including Miami Beach, Wynwood, and Downtown Miami.

Affordable Bike Rentals in Miami

Two people riding Citibike Miami in South Beach

Getting around by bicycle is a great way to see the city hassle-free. Miami-Dade County has a public bike-sharing program called Citibike with 160+ stations across Miami and Miami Beach.

These solar-powered bikes are available to rent by the hour (with options for everything from 30-minute rides to month passes). Download the Miami bike rental app before you go to find station locations and rent up to four bikes.

Getting from MIA to Miami Beach

The cheapest way to get from Miami Airport to Miami Beach is the 150 Miami Beach Airport Express bus. The limited-stop express bus service runs between Miami International Airport Metrorail station to Mid Miami Beach (from 41st Street) and South Beach (South Pointe Drive).

The bus stops at the ground level of the MIA Metrorail station. You can review the route map online to get your bearings and then check out the real-time schedule and route map online.

The Airport Express bus service runs daily and costs $2.35 each way. Luggage racks are provided for convenience.

Planning Tip: If you stay in South Beach, do not rent a car. Overnight parking fees can add up quickly in Miami Beach and easily cost over $40 per night. South Beach is walkable, and you can save a bit by taking advantage of rideshares or the free trolley system, which runs through North, Mid, and South Beach.

Getting from MIA to Downtown Miami

Metromover in Downtown Miami Florida

To travel to downtown Miami from the airport, take the MIA Mover. This free automated train is located on the third level between the Dolphin and Flamingo Garages. It takes less than five minutes to reach the Miami Intermodal Center (MIC), which is the central transportation hub. You can easily access the MIA Mover station via the Skyride moving walkways on the same level.

From the MIC, you can hop on the Metrorail Orange Line. The tickets are $2.25 and are available at the MIC fare machines. Once you have your ticket, board the southbound Orange Line train towards Dadeland South. You can stop at the Government Center or Brickell stations. Download the Miami-Dade public transport app, to make it easy to plan your route.

Planning Tip: The Government Center stop will bring you to the free MetroMover, which will get you into downtown Miami.

Find the Cheapest Hotels in Miami with Good Reviews

Finding a cheap hotel in Miami is no easy task, especially if you’re looking for an affordable choice that is comfortable and centrally located. That said, there are affordable Miami hotels that will have you living a good life in the heart of the city.

Here’s a look at our favorite budget Miami accommodation picks.

Affordable Miami Hotels with Free Breakfast

croissants and breakfast pastries on display

One of the best ways to save money in Miami is with a free breakfast. Eating out isn’t cheap, so starting your day fueled and ready to go will save you some cash. Here are a few places with a great gratis breakfast:

Affordable Hotels + Best Hostels in South Beach

If you want to stay in Miami Beach, be strategic.

  1. If your hotel is located on or near the beach, expect to pay a premium.
  2. For affordable Miami Beach hotels, look for options south of 5th street, north of Lincoln Road, or Mid-Beach.
Red and white exterior of Generator Hostel building in Miami Beach Florida

Here are a couple of cheap and cheerful picks:

  • Generator Miami: Easily one of the best hostels in Miami, this low-cost but cool pick has a pool and a perfect location.
  • Viajero Miami: A five-minute walk from Ocean Drive, this affordable Miami Beach boutique hotel is perfect for a beach escape.

Camping Near Miami on a Budget

More into this gorgeous scenery than glamour? We’ve got you covered! If you want to get back to nature and save money on your Miami trip, camping is well worth considering. With lovely weather almost all year round, this is an outdoor lover’s paradise.

Here are a couple of ways to enjoy it 24/7:

Cheap Pet-Friendly Hotels in Miami

Finding a hotel that allows pets can be tricky, but there are a couple of good picks:

Best Airbnb Neighborhoods in Miami for Budget Travelers

a neighborhood view from building above

We’ve talked about the coolest neighborhoods in Miami, and while we adore hotspots like South Beach and leafy escapes like Coral Gables, they could be more budget-friendly.

You will want to explore these areas — and grab our guide to the perfect 24 hours in South Beach for inspiration — but be aware that reasonably priced accommodation isn’t always easy to come by in the trendy spots.

When it comes to slightly more affordable neighborhoods in Miami to stay during vacation, look to areas like Coconut Grove, where you’ll find an endless array of things to do and must-try restaurants, and nearby Little Havana, which has some of the best street food in Miami.

Miami on a Budget Itinerary

Now that you’ve locked down your flight and accommodation, let’s talk about some of the Miami hidden gems for budget travelers.

Budget-Friendly Restaurants in Miami with Local Flavor

Guest dinning in restaurant outdoor courtyard

While this city is famous for its world-class eats, there are plenty of cheap places to eat in Miami that can give any trendy hotspot a run for its money. Here’s a look at a few affordable eats around town

Insider Tip: Don’t miss Miami Spice Months! Every August and September, Miami’s top restaurants offer fixe prix three-course meals with lunch and dinner deals featuring signature dishes created by world-renowned chefs.

Best Cheap Cuban Food in Miami

Cuban Foods on Colorful Table Setting

It’s all about the Caribbean food here! One of the best and most cost-effective ways to sample the best Cuban food in Miami is on the Little Havana Food and Walking Tour. This tour will take you around historic spots, cultural centers, and hidden gems while getting the chance to sample the best food in Little Havana for the price of a meal at one restaurant.

Planning Tip: Would you prefer to go the DIY route? Plan your route and explore Little Havana with our 20+ Must-Visit Spots in Little Havana Miami, Calle Ocho, for a True Cultural Experience.

Explore the Miami Street Food Scene

People ordering at the La Esquina de La Fama restaurant coffee window and the mural wall in Little Havana, Miami Florida Calle Ocho

Ventanitas (Cuban coffee takeaway windows) are legendary in the Miami food scene. Order a Cuban coffee and a ham croqueta (croquette) from any one of the iconic Little Havana restaurants for an unforgettable experience. Before you go, grab our guide to the best foods in Miami to help you decode the menus and find the best local eats.

Insider Tip: Ocean Drive is a beautiful place to enjoy the sights, beaches, and people-watching; however, be mindful when choosing a restaurant. Although there are some great restaurants, most are overpriced tourist traps. And be wary of restaurants that offer 2-for-1 happy hour specials; they are often less of a deal than they seem.

Best Food Trucks in Miami

If you’re searching for cheap places to eat in Miami, look to the local food truck scene. Here’s a rundown of some of our favorites:

  • Best Colombian Food in Miami: Mr. Pepito at 2731 NE 2nd Ave, Miami
  • Best Sandwich in Miami: Piadina 305 at 261 NW 36th St., Midtown, Miami
  • Best Puerto Rican Food in Miami: El Bori at 261 NW 36th St., Midtown, Miami
  • Best Taco Truck in Miami: El Machine Gon at 2590 NE 186th St, Miami

Feeling spoiled for choice? Go to a food truck rally!

For more info on the best food trucks in Miami, hop over to the official events page.

Street Food Markets in Miami for Budget Travelers

people sitting at table at multi-level food hall

When it comes to cheap eats in Miami, we love the local food halls. They have options at every price point, and there is something for everyone, whether you’re after spicy treats, vegan menus, or greasy indulgences.

Here’s our rundown of the top picks:

Find the Best Cheap Bars in Miami

Feeling sticker shock at the price of drinks in Miami? We hear you! If your check makes you feel dizzier than your drinks, here are a few places to check out. 

three cocktails on a table in an outdoor setting

Miami Happy Hour Deals

Rather than ordering watered-down drinks at a dive bar, hit up the best bars in Miami for happy hour to nab a bargain.

Here are a few of the best happy hour specials in Miami:

On the hunt for the best bar in the city? Bring along our guide 25 Awesome Bars in Miami for Your Next Signature Cocktail to explore the unmissable spots.

Cheap Nightlife in Miami

The best way to save money in Miami is by arriving at your bar or club of choice before they begin charging a cover or raising the price. Most venues will have a time listed on their site so, plan accordingly.

A low shot of people dancing on the dance floor under the colorful lights

Searching for the best nightclubs in the city? Take your pick from our guide party on at the best nightclubs in Miami for hot, sizzling nights out.

Planning Tip: If you want an unforgettable nightlife experience, check out Miami Night: the Ultimate Nightclub Experience. It includes an open bar meetup, VIP party bus, skip-the-line entry, and, most importantly, a local guide who will keep you out of the tourist traps. And, while it’s more expensive than splitting a beer in the hotel room, it’s a great value for a full night out on the town.

Save Cash at BYOB Miami Restaurants

The best BYOB restaurants in Miami are the perfect place to wine and dine without breaking the bank. Here are a few BYO wine spots to try:

glass of red wine and braised short rib and mash potatoes on white dish

Love wine and traveling in South Florida? Save the complete guide to bring-your-own-wine restaurants in FL, featuring a full list of corkage fees!

Insider Tip: When dining out in Miami and Miami Beach, it’s common for bars and restaurants to add a 15% or more service charge to the bill. It’s important to double-check if the gratuity has already been included before paying. Although some servers may inform you that the gratuity has been added, it’s not always the case. Therefore, it’s recommended to keep an eye out for it.

Things to Do in Miami on a Budget

While it seems like a pricey destination at first glance, there are countless budget-friendly spots and free things to do in Miami. Let’s explore some of the essential excursions that are shockingly affordable.

Free Things to Do in Miami

From open days at museums to free walking tours in Miami, it’s easy to enjoy the Magic City without breaking out your credit card.

Two bike riders at Lummus Park on the Miami Beach Boardwalk in South Beach Florida

We’ve been so impressed with the budget-friendly offerings that we are constantly working on our guide to local freebies — check it out at 60+ FREE Things to Do in Miami That Won’t Cost You a Thing! We cover all of the Miami museums with free admission, walking tours, cultural hotspots, and free events, along with the best beaches and parks.

Of course, when it comes to cheap things to do in Miami, the easiest way to steal a bargain is to enjoy the great outdoors. Miami parks and trails are ripe for exploration, while exploring the best beaches should be at the top of every itinerary.

And be sure to try free yoga classes in those Miami parks and beaches!

Go Miami Discounts

To save money in Miami at all of the top attractions, get a Go Miami Card. With the All-Inclusive Pass, you get unlimited free admission anywhere from one to five days. With the Explorer Pass discount card, you can pick two attractions and go anytime during a two-month period (which is excellent for locals!).

Duck tours vehicle on street

All Go Miami discount passes include the following:

  • Big Bus Miami Hop-On, Hop-Off Discover Tour
  • Island Queen Millionaire’s Row Sightseeing Cruise
  • Everglades Alligator Farm and Airboat Ride
  • Zoo Miami
  • Duck Tours South Beach
  • Big Bus Miami: Night Tour
  • Sawgrass Recreation Park Everglades Airboat Adventures (Booking required)
  • The Official Art Deco Walking Tour (Booking required)
  • Thriller Miami Speedboat Adventures
  • Bike and Roll: Four-Hour Bike Rental
  • Miami Beach Full Day Bike Rental or 2-hour e-Bike Rental (new)
  • Miami Beach Highlights Bike Tour

The All-Inclusive Pass includes:

  • Gray Line Miami: Everglades Airboat Adventure Tour (Booking required)
  • Big Bus Miami: Everglades airboat tour
  • Gray Line Miami: Key West Day Trip (From Miami) (Booking required)
  • Miami Children’s Museum
  • Salsa Night! Lessons, Mojitos & Dancing (Booking required)
  • Ft. Lauderdale Glass Bottom Boat and Snorkeling Trip (Booking required)
  • Gator Park Airboat Tour
  • Key Largo Princess Glass Bottom Boat Cruise (Booking required)
  • Pérez Art Museum Miami (PAMM)
  • Superblue Miami Immersive Art Experience
  • Paradox Museum Miami (Booking required, Special offer!)

If you opt for the Explorer Pass Miami discount card, you can choose two of the following:

  • Sunset Watersports Key West 2-Hour Kayak Rental (Booking required)
  • Harry S. Truman Little White House
  • Sunset Watersports Paddle Board Rental (Booking required)
  • Island Safari Bike Rental (Booking required)
  • Key West Conch Tour Train
  • Rise and Reef Morning Snorkel (Booking required)
  • Key West Shipwreck Treasure Museum
  • Key West Aquarium

How to Save Money on Your Miami Vacation: Final Thoughts

Miami’s glitz and glamor don’t have to break the bank! Forget tourist traps and inflated prices. Now you know the secrets to unlocking a more affordable Miami full of hidden gems, delicious eats on a dime, and budget-friendly adventures.

Remember that it’s all about being flexible with your travel dates, exploring affordable neighborhoods, and embracing public transportation. You can enjoy free parks, beaches, museums, and cultural events without fear of missing out on anything! Savor gourmet eats from food trucks to BYOB restaurants. Just be sure to plan in advance, embrace local experiences, and consider discount passes for top attractions.

With these tips, you’re ready to experience Miami like a true local, savoring its magic without the hefty price tag. So, pack your bags, embrace adventure, and discover Miami on a budget!

👉 Planning a trip to Miami? Here are some other posts you might find helpful.

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