Free Miami

Free and easy: cruising local galleries during Miami's monthly Art and Design Night. Photo: Ronna Gradus/ staff

Miami is no cheap date – just look around at the bevy of $20 mojitos, beaucoup Bentleys and buckets of bling.

But it’s not all about the Benjamins (at least, not all the time). South Florida boasts a plethora of free activities and attractions for everyone from the family on a budget to the penny-pinching party-hopper. These fab freebies promise maximum fun with minimal damage to your bottom line:

Museums. Several of Miami’s cultural institutions waive their regular admission fees on certain days of the week. The Jewish Museum of Florida, located in the idyllic South of the Fifth neighborhood on South Beach, is free on Saturdays. And the Miami Art Museum doesn’t charge admission on the second Saturday of each month. Thanks to the support of The Miami Herald, the Wolfsonian Museum waives its $7 admission fee Fridays after 6pm – and, in a bonus for Beach residents, anyone whose state ID shows they live on Miami Beach get in free anytime. Guess that’s one way to offset high property taxes.
Wolfsonian – FIU, 1001 Washington Avenue, South Beach; 305-531-1001
Jewish Museum of Florida, 301 Washington Ave., South Beach; 305-672-5044
Miami Art Museum, 101 West Flagler St., Downtown Miami; 305-375-3000

Yoga. What’s not to love about yoga? It’s relaxing, improves balance and posture, and can cost upwards of $20 a class. Fortunately, Lululemon Athletica feels for cash-strapped yogis and offers a free class every Sunday morning at 10:30 in their South Beach showroom. You can also head out to Miami’s Bayfront Park on Mondays and Wednesdays at 6p.m. and on Saturdays at 9 a.m. for a free class in the Tina Hills Pavilion overlooking Biscayne Bay. FYI: Bring your own mat and towel for both.
Lululemon, 826 Collins Ave, second floor, South Beach; 305-673-8496
Bayfront Park, 301 North Biscayne Blvd., Downtown Miami; 305-358-7550

Wine and cocktails. Yes! Free drinks – beer, cocktails, wine and spirits are complimentary on the second Saturday of every month at Art and Design Night in both Wynwood and the Design District. Galleries, high-end furniture showrooms and private art collections throw open their doors and welcome the crowds with art, liquor and the occasional cheese platter. Remember, the drinks are free, but it’s always polite to tip the servers.
Design District, Northeast 36th to Northeast 41st street, west of Biscayne Boulevard, Miami.
Wynwood, Northwest 20th to Northwest 36th streets, west of Biscayne Boulevard, Miami.

For information about upcoming art walks, click here.

Literary chats. Miami may not have the literary lineage of New York, but we are still an attractive stop on many authors’ book tours. Local bookselling institution Books and Books hosts regular readings of famous and lesser-known authors on a just-about-daily basis at their Coral Gables flagship and Lincoln Road and Bal Harbour branches. The readings are almost always free, but if you’re looking for the author’s autograph, you should probably buy the book.
Books and Books, 265 Aragon Avenue. Coral Gables. 305.442.4408;
933 Lincoln Road, South Beach; 305-532-3222
9700 Collins Avenue, inside Bal Harbour Shops, Bal Harbour; 305-864-4241

Jazz. On the last Friday of the month, the Museum of Contemporary Art in North Miami hosts free jazz concerts on their sprawling outdoor lawn. The concerts happen rain or shine and usually get going around 8pm. The museum galleries are also open by donation so you can catch some art before you hear the tunes.
MOCA, 770 NE 123rd St., North Miami; 305-893-6211.

The beach. Ah, yes. Last but certainly not least, we South Floridians have free access 24/7 to clear blue water, miles of sandy shoreline and excellent people-watching. Grab a towel, pack a book or a sandwich and hit Lummus Park on South Beach for a day’s worth of cheap entertainment. Best of all, that natural golden tan won’t cost you a dime.