Every year, one of the largest art events in the world descends upon Miami. The internationally renowned Art Basel attracts the most notable galleries and art collectores around the globe to celebrate the work of the best living artists today. While the main event takes place at the Miami Beach Convention Center, there are numerous satellite festivals all around the city, including the Contemporary Digital and Art Fair at Mana Wynwood. Additionally, Wynwood's plentiful galleries all open their doors to tourists and locals for dozens of special events. This year, for example, Wynwood Walls will be celebrating their 10th anniversary just before and during Basel. And of course, if street art is more your thing, you're in luck because some of the top talent in graffiti and street art also convene in Miami during this week. You'll find that Wynwood and surrounding areas often find themselves painted over during the week, and these works generally remain until the following Basel.
Recommended for Free Things to Do because: While the main attraction is ticketed, enjoy free galleries, live music, view world-famous artists creating street art during Basel Week in Wynwood, SoBe, and beyond.
Priscilla's expert tip: Plan your week wisely. There's no way you'll see everything but prioritize which events and fairs you'll want to attend and proceed. Also, find ways to utilize public transit and shared rides. Traffic and parking can be particularly nightmarish during Basel week!
HistoryMiami doesn't sound like the name of a historical museum, which is exactly what organizers and board members had in mind. The less-bulky name signified a new direction for what was previously called the Historical Museum of Southern Florida. Today, the museum, which actually began as a historical association in 1940 (George Merrick and Marjory Stoneman Douglas were members) continues to offer the exhibits that were developed throughout the previous decades, along with new ones. Now a Smithsonian Institution Affiliate, the facility has a newfound ability to launch its own collections and publications, as well as lend and borrow traveling exhibits. In addition, the famed Miami Circle site has been incorporated as part of the museum. City tours of the Circle are offered, as well as eco-history bus, boat and walking tours of external attractions ranging from Calle Ocho to the Everglades.
Recommended for Free Things to Do because: Second Saturdays are for free for families. Make a day of it by riding the metro mover there and visiting the downtown library afterward.
Priscilla's expert tip: If you don't ride public transit here, make sure to ask for parking validation.
Intensely moving, this memorial created by artist-architect Kenneth Treister honors victims and offers solace to survivors of the horrors of the Holocaust of the Jewish people in Europe. Included in its design is an arbor that depicts the history of the Holocaust in black granite and a tunnel that opens up to "The Sculpture of Love and Anguish." This enormous bronze arm, with its base of writhing human forms, is variously interpreted as a symbol of despair or hope. The memorial also encompasses a reflecting pool and walls inscribed with the names of thousands of victims. The overall effect is visually and emotionally stunning.
Recommended for Free Things to Do because: This haunting memorial to one of history's darkest moments should be on everyone's To-Do list when in Miami, to take in and to learn from.
Priscilla's expert tip: This experience is both chilling and uplifting. The memorial frequently hosts Holocaust survivors, who deliver speeches and personal experiences to visitors. Check the Holocaust Memorial website for the dates of special events such as these.
The renowned New World Symphony is housed in the new Frank Gehry-designed New World Center. The venue itself resembles a geode inside, with sail-like convex panels overhead. A box-like exterior has latticed glass windows and a huge projection wall. NWS is America's only full-time, post-graduate orchestral campus and laboratory. The acoustics in the semicircular concert hall are alarmingly effective so you won't miss a beat. On nights the symphony plays, concerts can be heard and seen outside via sound speakers and video projections. People bring blankets, folding chairs, and a picnic, and sit back and enjoy the show in the urban SoundScape Park.
Recommended for Free Things to Do because: NWC's SoundScape Park is an open green space where folks can congregate to watch free movies, plus free peformances by the New World Symphony.
Priscilla's expert tip: Check their website for news on upcoming events.
The streamlined buildings that comprise this district reflect the architecture of the '20s and '30s, when wealthy vacationers made Miami the resort destination of choice. The area, after its initial heyday, experienced a period of neglect, and tenants were largely retirees. Reinvigorated in recent decades, the pastel-hued neighborhood is again in vogue, mixing old and new with aplomb. The Art Deco Welcome Center provides a great introduction to the area and carries maps of notable structures. Tours of the district can be arranged through the Miami Design Preservation League.
Recommended for Free Things to Do because: This Insta-perfect neighborhood is perfect for admiring architecture, people watching, photo snapping, and seeing where the day (or night) take you–"free of charge.
Priscilla's expert tip: Research some of the local hotels and see what low-cost fun or freebies you can snag along the way, like live jazz at the lobby bar of the Betsy Hotel, cheap sandwiches at La Sandwicherie, and more.
The Bass Museum of Art first opened its doors in 1964 and has been a popular attraction on South Beach ever since. Located right on Collins Ave and just a hop, skip, and jump away from the sparkling Atlantic ocean, the Bass' collection started out with a generous donation of Renaissance and Baroque artwork. It has since expanded, and its rotating exhibitions focus mainly on international contemporary art. The Bass proudly hosts a number of excellent community outreach programs, as well as classes and workshops for adults and educators. They also feature art camps and portfolio classes to inspire a love of art in children.
Recommended for Free Things to Do because: Families with children of all ages can explore the Bass on the last Sunday of the month, then get inspired and make art on site.
Priscilla's expert tip: While the Bass is closed temporarily for renovations, check out their temporary bassX gallery at the nearby Miami Beach Regional Library.
Tracey Emin. Gabriel Orozco. Raymond Pettibon. Melanie Schiff. James Turrell. These are just some of the artists whose work can be found in the impressive collection at the Institute of Contemporary Art–"a space committed to the advancement of 20th and 21st-century art in Miami and beyond. The ICA three-story building features numerous rotating exhibitions, complete with an outdoor sculpture garden. But what sets the ICA apart (aside from their free admission, which is huge for a Miami museum to offer) are their public programs–"which are also free to the community. From lectures to symposiums, panel discussions to film screenings, plus multiple educational youth programs, the ICA truly is a space where all artistic thought is welcomed and nurtured.
Recommended for Free Things to Do because: Free museum tours are held on Sundays and are the perfect way to spend an afternoon learning about history and architecture.
Priscilla's expert tip: Check out their calendar and sign up for their newsletter to stay on top of everything they've got coming up. Sign up for a class or a lecture, volunteer, and more to keep this important community space running.
In addition to 30 acres of green space, Bayfront Park has an amphitheater that has hosted a variety of concerts, from Elton John to Rob Zombie. The park features several memorials, including one to the crew of the Challenger space shuttle. It's also a great place for a stroll or a picnic, so don't forget to bring your camera for the outstanding views of Biscayne Bay and the Port of Miami. Bayfront Park also hosts free yoga classes on Monday and Wednesday nights, as well as Saturday mornings. Participants are encouraged to bring their own mats and water. Bayfront is also home to The Flying Trapeze School.
Recommended for Free Things to Do because: Open green space (for picnics, walks), beautiful bay views, easy access to public transit, and free yoga classes make Bayfront a penny pincher's dream spot.
Priscilla's expert tip: Check the weather report beforehand, especially during the rainy summer months, before coming here. Also, feel free to ride the free Metro Mover and get off at the Bayfront stop for a frugal, fun time.
Once upon a time, FIU's art museum wasn't much more than two small open spaces held within the same building as a number of classrooms and offices. In recent years, though, it has been moved into its own free-standing building right on the Modesto A. Maidique campus in Sweetwater, boasting over 40,000 visitors annually. Designed by Yann Weymouth, the 46,000 square foot exhibition space is impressive outside and in. Among its permanent collection, you'll find pre-Colombian objects, African art, photography, and printmaking from the 60s and 70s. Considering its proximity to the Caribbean and the Americas, they've also got a growing number of pieces from these countries as well. Visitors will also find a sculpture garden on the outside, available for viewing 24 hours a day.
Recommended for Free Things to Do because: FIU's Frost Art Museum is free for all year-round, with rotating exhibitions and special events , plus an outdoor sculpture park not to be missed.
Priscilla's expert tip: Make a day of it by visiting the museum and then dining on campus, attending a lecture, or checking out the library or school book store (which is actually a Barnes & Noble with plenty of comfortable seating).
Because South Beach is such a broad description, and the varying beaches here go on for miles, we thought we'd narrow it down. Lummus Park, the area of the beach located along Ocean Drive from 5th to 15th Street, is the all-encompassing South Beach experience. This is the strip of sand that is always the most crowded, which makes for excellent people watching. There is a mini playground before the entrance to the beach for children ages two through 5, however, the kids will generally tire out playing in the water all day. With Brazilian bikinis and fluorescent tans as far as the eye can see, adults will likely tire their necks from spinning around doing a double-take at colorful locals. Once you've soaked up all of the sun you can possibly fit into one day, the strip of restaurants and bars lining Ocean Drive are close at hand.
Recommended for Free Things to Do because: A day at Miami's most famous strip of beach may include tanning, volleyball, swimming, people-watching, and picnicking free of charge.
Priscilla's expert tip: If you're already staying on the beach, you can always walk or ride a (cheap) Deco Bike on over to Lummus to avoid the parking fees in the area.