Once upon a time, Miami's place for modern art downtown was known as the Miami Art Museum. It was a well-sized museum adjacent to the Government Center and was a mish-mash of contemporary and modern art from around the world. But in 2013, the former MAM outgrew its old home and was transported to a waterfront lot that, in conjunction with the soon-to-be-open Patricia and Phillip Frost Science Museum, would become Museum Park. What resulted is the wonderfully extravagant Perez Art Museum Miami. The museum continues to display modern and contemporary works of the 20th and 21st century, with a larger focus on Caribbean and North and South American culture. Along with its permanent collections and rotating exhibitions, the museum also educational programs for all ages, an outdoor music series, daily tours, evening artist talks and lectures, plus workshops, performances, and more.
Recommended for Free Things to Do because: Admission to one of Miami's top art museums is free every Second Saturday and First Thursday of the month.
Priscilla's expert tip: Feel free to leave your car behind and ride the metro mover, then walk right across the street to this beautiful art museum.
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.
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 (free) day of it by riding the metro mover there and visiting the 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 should be on everyone's To-Do list when in Miami. It will leave you speechless.
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.
This Homestead fruit stand, established by Robert Moehling in 1959 when he stood street-side selling cucumbers for his father, is a Miami institution. Here, you can stock up on all manner of tropical fruits� papayas, sapote, anon, jackfruit, avocado� as well as Haden, Kent and Keitt mangos (in season). In addition to offering tropical and citrus fruits and vegetables, the store stocks sweet, savory and spicy preserves and pickles as well as homemade salsas and sauces, and visitors. When you first arrive, make sure to order a key lime, guava, dragon fruit or passion fruit milkshake to sip as you roam the shelves or head outside to visit with the animals; Robert and his family keep emus, goats, geese, tortoises and donkeys, and even have a park for picnics and a splash fountain exhibit on the premises. Robert Is Here opens for the season in November and typically closes in late August.
Recommended for Free Things to Do because: Make the trip with your littles and have them enjoy the free petting zoo and splash pad outback. Milkshakes are $5 though.
Priscilla's expert tip: Stop at Robert Is Here, a tropical fruit stand with awesome milkshakes and a petting zoo in back, on the way down to or back from the Keys.
Overlooking the magnificent Biscayne Bay in downtown Miami, this vast shopping complex offers a wealth of boutiques for men, women, and children of all ages. More than 150 shops are conveniently housed in an upscale, attractive shopping environment. Favorites include Gap, Guess, and Brookstone. When your shopping is complete, entertainment, nightlife, and dining choices abound, with options such as Miami's Hard Rock Cafe, Los Ranchos, and Chilis, and a spacious international food court. Performers often take the stage in the numerous plazas built into the marketplace especially in the evenings on weekends, and you can even take a boat tour for great views of the bay.
Recommended for Free Things to Do because: You can do plenty of window-shopping and people-watching at this open-air attraction without spending a dime. The free shows at night add to the experience.
Priscilla's expert tip: If you don't feel like throwing down for a dinner here, you can always bring in your own meal and eat outside while watching a live performance on the plaza. Plenty of (free) photo ops are also available here.
This small neighborhood packs a big cultural wallop. Settled in the years following Castro's revolution, it's now home to a third of Miami's 2 million residents. Its main drag, Calle Ocho (or Southwest Eighth Street), is the heart of Little Havana, a place to indulge in authentic food, hand-rolled cigars and strong, fragrant coffee. In Maximo Gomez Park, older folks gather daily to play dominoes, talk politics, and share stories, while each March, the Calle Ocho festival celebrates Latino culture in a boisterous street party. There's the Cubaocho Museum and Gallery for those interested in learning about Cuban art and culture, nightclubs like Hoy Como Ayer to dance in at night, and plenty of delicious eateries in which to sample and savor Cuban (and Nicaraguan, Honduran, Mexican, and Salvadorean) foods. Don't leave without trying the Cuban coffee, which is said to be the lifeblood of Miamians.
Recommended for Free Things to Do because: Much of Miami's culture exists thanks to its rich Cuban population. A free trip to Little Havana can teach you all about it.
Priscilla's expert tip: Make a day of it and plan to visit on the last Friday of the month. Experience Little Havana in the day by walking along Calle Ocho, catching a ballgame at Marlins Park, and dropping into the various shops and stick around for the Viernes Culturales street party at night.
The Little Haiti Cultural Center is the only place in Miami whose primary goal is to bring Afro-Caribbean culture to the masses. The facility houses an art gallery, a black box theater, art and dance studios, plus 3 multi-purpose rooms for community enrichment programs and a sizable courtyard adorned with colorful murals, a space which often serves as the venue for events like their monthly Big Night in Little Haiti. The LHCC has several resident dance companies under their roof, including the Deloue Africa Dance Ensemble Inc. (D.A.D.E.), Haitian Arts and Culture for Children, Peter London Dance Company, the Dance NOW! Ensemble, and MAD Dance. In addition to dance performances, classes are offered in this as well as other disciplines, including capoeira, tae kwon do, yoga, screen printing, photography, French, and Creole.
Recommended for Free Things to Do because: Whether you're checking out the inspiring art gallery, perusing the handcrafted goodies from the Caribbean Marketplace, or attending Sounds of Little Haiti, it's all free!
Priscilla's expert tip: FYI the art gallery and lobby are closed on Mondays, but their kid's programs are open daily.
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.
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 viewing beautiful Art Deco buildings 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.