Miami is where everyone goes to play in Florida (and from the world too). Famous for cruises, South Beach, Cubans, beautiful people (thank you plastic surgery!), and wild clubs and parties, Miami is a wild and eclectic city. It is where you go for fun in the sun. It’s not one of the cheapest American cities but it is definitely one of the most fun. I always enjoy my time in the city (and am happy when I leave). It’s never boring!
Hostel prices – A night in a 6-bed dorm costs about $25. A private room starts around $100 per night. Most hostels include free linens, free towels, free WiFi, and many offer free breakfast. The Jazz Hostel, Freehand, and South Beach Hostel are the best three in the city.
Budget hotel prices – You can find a room in a budget hotel starting around $70 per night. Hotels at this price point typically include private bathrooms, air-conditioning, a TV and free WiFi. On Airbnb, shared rooms start around $25 per night and entire homes start around $50 per night.
Average cost of food – If you are in the South Beach area or any of the restaurants on the strip, you should expect to pay at least $20 a meal. But, go away from the main area, and you will be able to eat for half of the price. As elsewhere in America, there are a ton of fast food options for less than $7. In Little Havana, you’ll find delicious Cuban food for less than $10. If you cook your own food, expect to pay $50 per week for groceries that will include pasta, vegetables, chicken, and other basic foods.
Transportation costs – It may take a while, but Miami’s extensive public transportation system will get you to where you need to go. Both the bus and the metrorail cost $2.25 per trip. Uber operates in Miami with a base fare of about $1 and it costs $1 per mile and is way cheaper than a taxi!
Suggested daily budget – $60-90 (Note: This is a suggested budget assuming you’re staying in a hostel, eating out a little, cooking most of your meals, and using local transportation. Using the budget tips below, you can always lower this number. However, if you stay in fancier accommodation or eat out more often, expect this to be higher!)
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Money Saving Tips
- Look for package deals – Because Miami is such a tourist destination, you can often find packages for flight and hotels. Sign up for deal alerts and be flexible on your travel dates. This is one of the easiest ways to save money.
- Get the Go Miami Card – If you are going to see the sights around Miami, you should get the Go Miami Card. You can get unlimited free admission to over 25 major Miami attractions for one price. The cards are up good for up to 14 days.
- Couchsurf – Couchsurfing started in the United States, and free accommodation offered can make up for the lack of hostels. You’ll find plenty of hosts throughout the city who will show you around their town and let you stay for free. I’ve used it plenty of times and have really enjoyed it as a way to meet people.
- Go on a free walking tour – This is a great way to learn the history behind the places you are seeing and to avoid missing any must-see stops. Dr. Paul George’s Free Little Havana Walking Tour leaves daily from the Tower Theater at 7pm.
Top Things to See and Do in Miami
- People watch on South Beach – This is the major hotspot in the city. From shopping to partying, this area of Miami Beach is well known for being trendy and full of shops and bars. South Beach can be more expensive than other areas, but it’s worth checking out while you are there. Topless bathing is permitted. It is the quintessential Miami beach experience.
- Visit the Everglades – Everglades National Park has 1.5 million acres of swamps, prairies, and sub-tropical jungles. It is one of the most unique public parks in the United States. It is home to 14 rare and endangered species, including the American Crocodile, the Florida Panther, and the West Indian Manatee. Entrance costs $25 per private vehicle and $8 per pedestrian/cyclist.
- See Coral Castle – Coral Castle is a very unique attraction. This attraction was built by a Latvian-born Miami resident named Ed Leedskalnin as a monument to his lover. After 28 years of effort, he introduced his 1100-ton coral creation to the world. It’s a bit of a trip from downtown, but well worth the time. Entrance to the museum costs $15 and it’s open daily from 8am-6pm.
- Visit the Vizcaya Estate – No visit to Miami is complete without a stop at the historical 50-acre Vizcaya estate. This European-style mansion offers a glimpse at life in turn-of-the-century South Florida. It’s open daily (except Tuesdays) from 9:30am-4:30pm. Admission costs $18.
- Lounge on the beach – Besides South Beach, some additional waves to check out. Good spots include Virginia South Beach, Haulover Beach (the only legal nude beach), and Bill Baggs Cape Florida State Park.
- Visit the Ancient Spanish Monastery – Originally built in Segovia, Spain in 1141, this monastery was originally intended to be a part of William Randolph Hearst’s property in California. Because the United States would not allow the monastery to be built in California, the monastery remained in New York Harbor until 1954, when a couple of businessmen bought the property and assembled it in Miami. Today the monastery is a church as well as a popular marriage location. Visiting hours are 10am-4:30pm daily except Sundays when it opens at 11am.
- Go clubbing – There is a very active nightlife in Miami and if you like clubs, Miami is one of the best places in the world to go clubbing. There is usually a $20-30 cover to get into the clubs and most drinks are around $10 each.
- Visit Little Havana – If you’re not around in March, simply pay a visit to Little Havana, Miami’s Cuban neighborhood, which centers around “Calle Ocho” (SW 8th Street). Eat in one of the little restaurants; walk the vibrant streets, or get in some salsa dancing.
- Explore the Florida Keys – This archipelago stretches out along the south of Florida. Visit Key Biscayne, the northernmost island, for some great parks, beautiful views of Miami, and some swimming.
- Stroll the Fruit and Spice Park – This park is the only one of its kind in the country. It contains 500 species of fruit and spice plants and trees on 30 acres of land. At certain points in the year, the park also hosts festivals, so check a calendar for details when you’re in town. It’s open daily from 9am-5pm and admission costs $8.
- Check out Coral Gables – If you want a taste of the extravagant life, take a walk or drive through Coral Gables, one of the wealthiest neighborhoods in all of the United States. It was designed in the 1920s by George Merrick, and regulations ensure that all buildings in the area still adhere to the style that Merrick had envisioned for the community.