Good, cheap fun in Miami this weekend?
June 17, 2008 9:28 AM   Subscribe

I'm headed to the north Miami area for a long weekend, and I'm looking for fun, cheap things to do. I've been down there quite a few times, and have a family member in the area who I'll be visiting, so I'm looking for your best suggestions of the things that people never actually get around to seeing when they live in the area but that are worth playing tourist to go see.

I'm visiting a family member in Miami who has recently fallen on tough financial times, and so the usual set of things we do down there aren't feasible this time around. I want to come armed with a list of fun stuff that is not too pricey to suggest for our daytime activities. The last time I was down there I toured around Vizcaya for a few hours, which was perfect--I'm looking for things in that vein. Tours of cool buildings, fun festivals happening this weekend, anything like that. We'll have a car, and driving (even an hour or two) isn't too much of a problem. What are the hidden gems of the Miami area?
posted by iminurmefi to Travel & Transportation around Miami, FL (4 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Driving for an hour either way gets you Ft. Lauderdale/Hollywood (north) or Homestead (south) Downtown Homestead has sometimes got things going on, and is a nice strolling place with some restaurants.

Going north, there's Dania, which also has some nice antique shops and art galleries (plus some tourist trap seashell stores. There's also Dania Beach and the John U. Lloyd state park, which butt up against Port Everglades. You can have a picnic and watch the cruise ships go by. There's also some fishing off the pier, but I don't know if you need a license for that.

There's the Miami book fair, but that's not until November. Hoever, the Miami museum of science still has their Dinosaurs of China exhibit going on, which was fun and impressive.

Walking around the art deco section of South Miami Beach is fun, just don't eat at the super expensive restaurants.

Mostly when I'm in Florida I get some good books and hang out at whatever beach is nearby. The further north you go, the quieter the beaches. Delray beach is pretty nice. (keeping within that hour drive, well, plus some) Then for the drive back down, don't take the turnpike or I-95, take the A1A, which will let you see some of th really big houses and private beaches, and out of the way joints (Boca Raton has a cute little ice cream shop) and look at the water and things going on. At rush hour, you'd be going at about the same speed on I-95 anyway, but without the traffic and maniacal drivers.

But I'm easily amused.
posted by lysdexic at 10:37 AM on June 17, 2008

posted by notjustfoxybrown at 10:49 AM on June 17, 2008

Also, since you will be in north Miami, I'll second the suggestion to check out downtown Hollywood. If I ever moved back to South Florida, Hollywood would be the only place I'd live. You can have breakfast at the Coral Rose for under $8 per person and then spend the day strolling the Broadwalk (not Boardwalk) at the beach and have $1 beers.
posted by notjustfoxybrown at 10:52 AM on June 17, 2008 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: For the sake of future Miami-goers who find this:

We ended up visiting the ancient Spanish monastery in North Miami Beach, which was cool, then doing some biking (with a borrowed bike) around Greynolds Park nearby. Didn't see any alligators, but going off-trail among the mangroves was surprisingly fun, as was spotting all the different types of birds. Thunderstorms ruled out the beach, so we ended up going to a fluffy movie that evening in Aventura.

On another day, we headed down to Coral Gables and took one of the free tours of the Biltmore Hotel, which was definitely worth the drive. It reminded me quite a bit of Vizcaya, in fact. Afterwards, over to the Venetian Pool, which was hands-down maybe one of the coolest places I've ever been in Miami. It was $10 to get in, but we spent most of the (95 degree) afternoon jumping in the ice-cold water, swimming around the waterfall and into the caves. Totally, totally awesome, and now on my must-do list of things in Miami. Checking out the old entrances to Coral Gables along 8th St in Little Havana was a cool drive as we headed back north that day.

We visited Versailles down on Calle Ocho one evening; it was cool to see it in person, as it's evidently where the local news always goes to get the Cuban reaction when Castro does something, but for my money I prefer the ambiance and food of Little Havana (ironically, located nowhere near the real Little Havana area.)

If the weather had cooperated more, we would have done more beach-ing, and I was going to try to find somewhere to get cheap kayak rentals, but alas! it was rainy for 2 of the 3 days I was there. Nevertheless, it was a very fun trip.
posted by iminurmefi at 9:50 AM on June 27, 2008 [1 favorite]

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