Miami's cultural life has grown enormously, but those just moving to Miami may experience a bit of sticker shock: Museum admission fees, concert tickets, restaurant meals and drinks can take a big bite out of one's entertainment budget. And, you almost always have to pay to park. But lovers of fun and culture can still find a lot of things to do in Miami that are free and cheap – especially activities in the winter, which is the season for outdoor movies, concerts and festivals. Many of these outdoor events are free.
Here are five free and cheap ways to experience Miami culture without emptying your wallet:
1. Take advantage of free museum days in Miami
Visit some of the best museums in Miami without breaking the bank. Many South Florida museums offer at least one free admission day every month, and some offer more. The new Perez Art Museum Miami, for example, offers free admission the first Thursday and second Saturday of the month. The Wolfsonian-FIU is free every Friday night.
PAMM is one of several museums that offer free activities for families at least once a month. You can participate in free family days also at History Miami, the Coral Gables Museum, the Patricia and Phillip Frost Museum of Art, the Museum of Art + Design at Miami Dade College and the Bass Museum of Art in Miami Beach.
Another way to visit museums for free is to take advantage of Bank of America's Museums on Us program, which offers free admission to Bank of America or Merrill Lynch credit or debit cards holders the first full weekend of every month. Participating South Florida museums are the Bass Museum, the Miami Children's Museum, the Patricia and Phillip Frost Museum of Science, the Museum of Contemporary Art in North Miami, PAMM, the Fort Lauderdale Museum of Discovery and Science and the Museum of Art Fort Lauderdale. Check before you go because the participating museums change from time to time.
Miami-Dade Public Library card holders can check out free passes for a family of four to the Coral Gables Museum, Deering Estate at Cutler, FIU Frost Art Museum, Fruit & Spice Park, History Miami, Jewish Museum of Florida-FIU, Lowe Art Museum, Miami Children’s Museum, PAMM, Vizcaya Museum & Gardens, and The Wolfsonian-FIU.
2. Pack a picnic and enjoy an outdoor classical music concert by the Miami symphony options
When you're looking for free things to do in Miami, consider enjoying some free classical music. Pack a picnic, bring a blanket or a lawn chair and watch the New World Symphony concert for free. Based in Miami Beach, most concerts are broadcasted live on a 7,000-foot outdoor screen. The series usually runs October through May.
Additionally, Music in Miami presents a free (donations welcome) classical music series at Trinity Cathedral in Miami, and the Alhambra Community Orchestra plays free concerts in Coconut Grove. Chopin for All puts on free classical music concerts in Coral Gables and Fort Lauderdale.
3. Watch outdoor movies in Miami for free
When the symphony isn't on the wall, your favorite movie may be there instead. The City of Miami Beach offers a free movie at Soundscape at 8 p.m. every Wednesday from October through May.
Many of the smaller Miami-Dade cities offer sporadic free outdoor movies in parks. The Miami Jazz & Film Society offers free movie screenings every Tuesday night, year-round, and Actors Playhouse in Coral Gables also has a free film series.
4. Attend an art walk
Miami's burgeoning art scene is reflected in the growing number of art walks. The events allow you to stroll from gallery to gallery, tasting wine and snacks and seeing work from local and international artists. Most Miami art walks are free of charge and operate year-round. The big art walk, which has become a spectacle itself beyond the art, is the second Saturday of every month in Wynwood. It also includes a food truck roundup. But there are also art walks in South Miami, Coral Gables, South Beach, Little Havana, Coconut Grove and Coral Gables.
5. Listen to free music
The last Friday of every month, Miami's Southwest Eighth Street in Little Havana (between 13th and 17th avenues) becomes a big street festival called Viernes Culturales (Cultural Friday). The cultural event includes music, art, food, entertainment and usually a historical walking tour. Expect mojitos, cafecitos, dominos and dancing in the street.
If your taste runs to jazz, drop by the plaza of the Museum of Contemporary Art in North Miami for Jazz at MOCA, a free jazz concert at 8 p.m. the last Friday of the month. From 7 to 10 p.m., the museum galleries are open by donation.
The third Friday of every month brings Big Night in Little Haiti at the Little Haiti Cultural Center. The event includes music, food, art and activities for kids. Admission is $5 (free for kids under 12). The fun continues at an after-party at the Caribbean Marketplace.
If you're looking for free concerts in Miami, the Miami Jazz & Film Society presents a free concert the second Wednesday of most months in downtown Miami. You'll also find free live music most nights at Bayside Marketplace and on weekends at the Dolphin Mall.