Miami Beach in Florida

Ocean Drive Miami Beach in Florida

What a place for another slow budget travel vacation. Miami Beach in Florida is a hip happening place. The great thing about hip happening places is that you do not have to be hip yourself to use the facilities and amenities that permeate hip happening places. That’s what we do when we go to Miami Beach. 

We have been to Miami Beach three times for a weeklong stay and each time we were able to have a cheap budget slow travel vacation week. Even though we have been there three times, we are not close to doing all that we would like to do in Miami Beach and that doesn’t count the surrounding area that has so much more to experience.

We like April, May and November in Miami Beach. The weather is generally good and the temperatures are in the 70s and 80s with many days in the 90s. The beaches are not as crowded. This is a slower time of the year so the hotels are not full and good rates are available. Tourist sites like museums and activities are not as busy. 

January to March is expensive for accommodations with people taking Winter Vacations, Cruises and Spring Break. All the hotels are full. They are also full during the summer months from June to September. This time period is also Hurricane season until the end of October.

We have always felt very safe in Miami Beach. In the off season it is not overly busy and you don’t feel crowded. The people you meet are happy and friendly. You have to take the usual precautions you take wherever you go in the world.  Stay out of seedy neighbourhoods. Don’t walk down back alleys at night. Those common sense things.

We feel totally safe while we are in Miami Beach and would recommend Miami Beach to anyone.

What it Cost for our Week - $990

Read how we were able to live it up in Miami Beach on a cheap budget vacation for just $70 each per day.

Ultimate Guide for Miami Beach

Top Things To Do in Miami Beach

1. The Beach

Lifeguard Stand Miami Beach in Florida
Colorful Lifeguard stands line the beach

The beach is the #1 attraction in Miami Beach. With its turquoise water and soft white sand that stretches for over 20 miles there is a beach for everyone tastes. If you like busy beaches with lots of people watching then South Beach is your beach. It extends for 2 miles from the southern point of Miami Beach. 

North of South Beach is Mid and North Beaches that are quieter and with firmer sand that make it great for walking or running. Continuing North is the mile long Surfside Beach which has a small beach town vibe then Bal Harbour where you will find Haulover Beach, Florida’s oldest recognized nudist beach. 

North of here is Sunny Isles Beach which is often referred as the Florida Riviera with its string of large resorts. Most of the large hotels offer day passes starting at $25 up to $100 to use their facilities. 

 

Boardwalk Miami Beach in Florida

The Miami Beach Boardwalk extends from 5th Street to 45th Street, a stretch of 4 miles. Eventually the walk will extend to 95th Street. We like to walk the Boardwalk every day. It is scenic and wide. Miami Beach runs a free trolley and a pickup is just a few minutes from anywhere on the boardwalk. 

2. Miami Beach Architecture

Coral coloured building Miami Beach in Florida

I love architecture. Miami Beach is an architectural wonder. South Miami Beach has over 800 Art Deco buildings located between 5th and 23rd Street. 

Most of the buildings were originally painted white. The colour palate was changed during the preservation period to pastel blues and pinks with bright oranges, vibrant yellows and greens. The Art Deco buildings are embellished with porthole windows, shiny curves, glass blocks and chrome accents. Inside there are exotic flora and fauna motifs.

The buildings were built between 1923 and 1943. By the 1970s the area had fallen into disarray. It was destined to be demolished by developers for condos. Barbara Capitman spearheaded the Miami Design Preservation League to protect the Art Deco area. Through hard work the League brought the area to national attention. They attracted designers and developers who restored the national treasures.

The area is now called the Miami Beach Art Deco Historical District. The Miami Design Preservation League runs a Welcome Center with a museum and gift shop. Tours of the Art Deco Historical District start daily at 10:30 am. Tour prices are $25 for adults; $20 for seniors (65+), students and military; and free for children 12 and under. Self-guided audio tours are also available for $15 although I like actual guides because they give their own personal insights and anecdotes. 

Purple building Miami Beach in Florida
Miami Beach in Florida things to do art deco architecture
Celebrity home Miami Beach in Florida
Many entertainment celebrities have homes along the canals
budgetslowtravel.com: Miami Beach Waldorf Towers
Waldorf Tower 860 Ocean Drive
www.budgetslowtravel.com: Beacon Hotel Miami Beach in Florida
Beacon Hotel 720 Ocean Drive
www.budgetslowtravel.com: Bentley Hotel Miami Beach in Florida
Bentley Hotel 510 Ocean Drive

3. Miami Beach Botanical Gardens

Botanical Gardens red bridge Miami Beach in Florida

Miami Beach Botanical Gardens 

Located at 2000 Convention Center Drive on Dade Blvd. just 2 blocks away from The Bass. The beautiful park is free. It has thousands of plants including many different palm trees,  wonderful orchards and a Japanese garden. There are food and beverages for sale. Click on the link for more details: Miami Beach Botanical Garden

4. The Bass Museum of Art

The Bass Museum Miami Beach in Florida

Located in Collins Park at 2100 Collins Avenue. It is a beautiful museum with large exhibit rooms. There are travelling contemporary art exhibits. The Bass family donated the old Masters and modernist works that are on permanent display. It has a small café with good food and coffee. 

Admission is $15 for adults, $8 for seniors, students and children, Free for children 6 and under. The last Sunday of each month, except December, is free admission. Click on the link for more detail: The Bass

5. Jewish Museum of Florida

Jewish Museum Miami Beach in Florida

The museum has permanent and travelling exhibits of Jewish cultural and educational programs of Jewish history, art, culture, and values.

There is a Collections and Research Center with searchable information of the 250 years that Jews have been in Florida. The museum also offers a 3-hour Jewish Food Walking Tour starting at 11 a.m.

Admission is $12 for adults, $8 for Seniors and Students, $24 for Family. Saturday is free admission. It is located at 310 Washington Avenue. Click on the website link for detailed information:  Jewish Museum Exhibits

6. New World Symphony Miami Beach

New World Center Miami Beach in Florida

The New World Center is a world class performance theatre designed by the world renowned Canadian-American architect, Frank Gehry. It is located on 2.5 acres at 500 17th Street in the heart of South Beach. 

The performance hall has 756 seats. Outside is an open air plaza lined with trees with a 7000 square-foot projection wall. The New World Symphony projects live concerts onto the wall. The projection and sound system are world class. It is an unbelievable experience.

The New World Symphony brings classical music to people who have never had a chance to go to a classical music performance. The WALLCAST Concerts are free and do not require a ticket. New World Symphony fellows hold free pre-concert talks an hour before the concert as part of their education program. The WALLCAST Concerts draw people from all over the world. 

When they are not doing WALLCAST Concerts there is a cinematic program. These happen rain or shine. Click on the website link for more detailed information: New World Symphony

7. Miami Beach Boats

Miami Beach has hundreds of fancy boats. If you love boats this is one of the best places in the world to see this many beautiful boats in one place. There is a large collection of yachts throughout the Miami-Dade area. Along canals, in front of mansions, docked at various piers and in the many marinas.

8. Miami Beach Cars

If you love exotic cars, Miami Beach is one of the best places in the world to see a huge collection of Ferraris, Lamborghinis, McLarens, Bugattis, Bentleys, Rolls Royces, Aston Martins, Maseratis, Jaguars, Porsches, Corvettes and all sorts of speciality cars.

Ocean Drive is the place to be seen cruising in your exotic car. At night it is a constant procession of fancy cars cruising the strip.In addition to seeing them on the street, there are all kinds of dealerships and display galleries where you can get up close and personal with your dream car.

There are a number of exotic car rental places with prices ranging from $399 per day for a Porsche to $1299 for a Ferrari. While these prices are not for a budget trip they are for a bucket list trip.  

Exotic cars Miami Beach in Florida

Miami Beach Restaurants

There are 7803 restaurants in the Miami area listed with the restaurant app, Open Table. That is a lot of restaurants. Some are good and some are not so good. They change all the time. 

We do not make a habit of eating out so when we do eat out we want it to be a special meal. We generally look for mid-range restaurants with a good vibe and great food. I research a place through food bloggers and review sites and I talk to local people. In a week, we might only eat one evening meal out and two or three lunches. We seldom go out for breakfast unless it is a special and reasonably priced brunch.  

We sometimes use Groupon coupons for restaurants. But, you have to be careful. Some of the restaurants on Groupon are mediocre and have problems of one sort or another and they have lost their customers base that they are trying to build up again or just get some cash flow happening. And, sometimes they are new and are trying to build their customer base and it is money well spent. 

Click on the map below  to browse some of the restaurants in Miami Beach.

Versace Mansion Miami Beach in Florida
Gianni's at the Villa - Versace's Mansion. 1116 Ocean Drive. Three course lunch -$29
Funky restaurant Miami Beach in Florida
Lots of funky restaurants line Ocean Drive
A variety of restaurants for each price range. Mandatory 20% service charge.
Espanola Way Miami Beach in Florida
Española Way full of outdoor restaurants
www.budgetslowtravel.com: Lincoln Road Miami Beach in Florida
Over 80 restaurants along Lincoln Road

Check out these Miami Beach Restaurants

How to Have a Cheap Vacation in Miami Beach

Flying to Florida

This week in Miami Beach was part of a larger budget slow travel vacation. We flew into Orlando and rented a car. The flight from Calgary to Orlando was much cheaper than to Miami. The amount we saved paid for our rental car and gas for a week. 

The flight was also direct while the Miami flight changed planes in Denver adding 7 hours to the travel. The direct flight took less than 5 hours while the indirect flight took 12 hours. Cheaper and less time, it was a no-brainer decision for us. 

Budget Tip: We were able to get two tickets from Calgary to Miami return for $300 total. 

Renting A Cheap Car

We always rent a car from the cheapest car rental as part of our cheap budget vacation. This time it was Sixt Car Rental. It was the first time that we had rented from them but it won’t be the last. We were impressed with the professional service and the selection of German cars they had to offer. 

They rent Mercedes, BMWs and Audis. They gave us an Audi Q5 for $180 for 8 days. At $23 per day, it was money well spent and qualifies for cheap budget vacation thumbs up. The car was extremely luxurious and drove like a dream.

Click on the link below to reserve a car for your trip to Miami Beach.

A Week in Key Largo

We drove to Key Largo where we spent a week exploring all of the Keys and Everglades before driving to Miami Beach. 

After checking into our hotel we dropped off our rental car just around the corner. The $28 one-way drop-off fee with Sixt Car Rental was cheap compared to the other car rental companies we researched. 

Where We Stayed in Miami Beach

Riveria Suites entrance Miami Beach

Riveria Suites South Beach

I booked our hotel on Hotwire and got a great price for the week. We booked into the Riveria Suites in South Beach just a few blocks from Ocean Drive and the beach. We arrived early at noon and the front desk asked us to come back in 2 hours to check in. We went for lunch then checked in.

The hotel has 3 buildings. Our King bedroom was ready but the pool for that building was being repaired and the clerk said we could use the pool at the building across the road. I asked if we could get a room there. She said that building was all large suites and more money. 

I decided to go for it and told her it was our wedding anniversary, that we were spending a week before going on our first cruise out of Miami for our anniversary and that we planned on spending a lot of time at the pool. She told me to wait a minute and I watched her go to the wall phone and talk to someone. She came back and said that she could put us into a suite for the same price. 

We walked into our suite for the week and we were ecstatic. It had a sitting room, a galley kitchen, a large washroom and a separate bedroom with a king bed. It was gorgeous. 

We used the pool each day for several hours in the late afternoon before Happy Hour after we returned from our day outing. Most days we had the entire pool courtyard to ourselves with our own ‘private’ bartender who made delicious organic drinks.

Happy Hour was for 2 hours and the drinks flowed freely with hot appetizers that were brought out regularly. The band played a variety of Latin music including modern Cuban music. They were professional and tight. We enjoyed the whole experience. It was a fantastic week at the Riveria Suites.

Our Awesome Suite

www.budgetslowtravel.com: Riveria Suites Pantry, Miami Beach
Riveria Suites bedroom Miami Beach in Florida
Riveria Suites washroom Miami Beach in Florida

How we spent our time in Miami Beach

Morning

Our day would start with coffee and breakfast in our suite. We would be ready to go by about 10 a.m. Most days we would go for a walk or bike ride for a couple of hours. There are lots of places to walk in Miami Beach. The one that feels most like a dedicated exercise is along the boardwalk. You pass numerous people out walking and biking as well. The beaches to the North have hard sand and are also great places for your morning walk.

After a walk we would stop at a sidewalk restaurant patio for a hot beverage, a pastry and to people watch.

Afternoon

The afternoon we might do some shopping along Lincoln Road or an activity like going to one of the Museums or a special cultural, food or music event that might be going on that day.

I always make sure that we pick up the local paper and ‘What’s Happening’ flyer. We use these and what’s on-line to find special events. We also keep a look-out for posters in windows and on poles. These are often the best way to find local things that going on.

We really enjoy going to local events. It gives you a good feel for what the community is about. How local people entertain themselves in their pursuit of happiness.

We would finish our afternoon activities by 3 or 4 p.m. and spend a couple of hours around the pool. The hotel pool was a nice size for cooling off. Most days we were the only people. It was like having our own private pool with our own bartender. There were nice secluded day beds that we could lounge on and relax. 

Evening

Happy Hour at Riveria Suites is from 6pm to 8pm. We went every night for free drinks and hot appetizers. The hotel also supplied live music every night. On the wall, old black and white movies were projected. It was a hip place to spend 2 hours. We enjoyed it a lot.

A Cheap Dinner at the Shore Club

Two nights we used Groupon coupons for dinner after the Happy Hour. One night we went to the Shore Club with a two-for-one coupon. The dinner was very romantic with the ambient candle light and the pool and plants all glowing with soft mood lights. The food was very good and the service was professional. It was money well spent. The other night the restaurant was on Ocean Drive. Not a memorial experience but the food was good and the two of us ate full dinners with wine for under $50. 

One of the evenings after Happy Hour we went to a local play. While another night we went to a music in the park event. We spent one evening walking along Ocean Drive popping into different bars listening to the live music being played.

Each day was full of activities, from the time we got up to the time we went to bed, exploring and taking in Miami Beach. A week at a time in Miami Beach is wonderful.

Two weeks would be even better because there is so much art, music, culture and events going on all the time. A month would be even cheaper if you can find an apartment to rent for the month. Spending a month in Miami Beach is on my list of things to do.

Travel Gear You Might Need for Your Trip to Miami Beach

I always need some new gear to replace worn out and broken gear. How many sunglasses have you lost or broken over the years? I love a beach bag to carry all my stuff to the beach. That includes my insulated metal bottle that keeps water or other liquid beverages cold for hours. I carry one everywhere I go. It is better for the environment with less plastic water bottles and cheaper than buying water in bottles. 

Click on any of the items below and it will take you to Amazon where you can browse and buy all the things you need for your trip to Miami Beach. Thank you for supporting this website. You get terrific prices and convenience of on-line shopping and we get a small commission that supports this website. Thank you!

 

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Cheap Flights to Miami Beach

Miami Beach Accommodations

Hotwire Will Find Your Perfect Accommodation

There are hundreds of places to stay in Miami Beach. I find the best prices through Hotwire. We have been using them for years and have saved $1000s of dollars.  I like that you can choose how many stars you want your hotel to have – we always pick 4 and 5 star hotels; and you pick the area that you want. We have always been more than pleased with the hotel that we get from Hotwire. Just click on the Hotwire logo below to get up to 60% off 4 and 5 Star hotels. You will be pleasantly surprised at the prices.

Search All Booking Sites For The Best Rates

Vacation Rentals and Booking.com

Travel Insurance

World Nomad Insurance 

We never leave home without travel insurance. We want travel insurance from a company that is experienced with local and world travel and gives us the best rates possible. For budget travellers it is important to get the best rates possible and we have found World Nomad Insurance the best in the industry. Click on the blue heading. 

Personal Tours

Tours by Locals 

For those of you who prefer personal tours with a driver and a guide, we highly recommend Tours by Locals. There are over 70 personal tours for Miami Beach and area. Click on the link to see the variety of tours and choose the one that best fits your needs.

Miami Beach Resources

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