Maximum Fun at Minimal Cost With These Five Free Attractions
You day dream of packing up the swimsuits, sunscreen and kids and heading for a Miami getaway, but what about the reputation that Florida's Magic City is hard on the vacation budget? With a bit of advance planning—and as a working mom, you know all about that – you can time your escape to take advantage of some free Miami attractions the entire crew will love.
Forget the parking fees: Miami's free public transport absolutely shines. Through the windows of the Metromover, kids gawk at Miami’s impressive skyscrapers. Three Metromover loops cover downtown’s high points with a train arriving at each of the 19 stations every three minutes. The trains run:
- Monday to Thursday, 5 a.m. to 11 p.m.
- Friday, 5 a.m. to midnight
- Saturday, 6 a.m. to midnight
- Sunday, 6 a.m. to 11 p.m.
To go further afield, hop one of the Miami area trolleys. Equipped with air conditioning and free Wi-Fi, these streetcar replicas cover most of the city and its suburbs. The trolleys run on a roughly 20-minute schedule, with 10 routes operating from 6:30 a.m. to 11 p.m., Monday through Friday. Check your individual route for weekend hours.
Expert traveler's tip: If they’re not blocking the doors or aisles, little ones can ride the Metromover trains in carriages or strollers.
Admission to the Miami Children's Museum (980 MacArthur Causeway., Watson Island, Miami FL) is free on the third Friday of the month between 3 p.m. and 9 p.m. This interactive playground has something for every child; even infants enjoy The Sea and Me exhibit aimed at the 5-and-under set. Other highlights: a two-story mosaic castle with interior slide, a kid-sized cruise ship and a grocery with shopping carts and checkouts. In the virtual aquarium, your little one's artwork becomes part of the undersea animation. Everyone leaves tired and happy.
Expert traveler's tip: On free Fridays, it's best to visit the museum without strollers.
Saturday History Lesson
On the second Saturday of the month, it's free Family Fun Day at the HistoryMiami Museum (101 West Flagler St., Miami FL). For each Family Fun Day, the Museum presents a different facet of Miami's history and culture. Enjoy the storytelling, crafts and interactive building stations that encourage creative cooperation. You might also be treated to a museum tour. The doors open at 10 a.m., with the activities scheduled from noon to 4 p.m.
Moon Over Miami
Stargaze every Saturday night at Bill Sadowski Park (17555 SW 79th Ave., Palmetto Bay, FL), where members of the Southern Cross Astronomical Society wait between 8 p.m. and 10 p.m. to share their passion, knowledge and telescopes. Name a star, planet or any other celestial bodies you'd like to see. If they're in viewing range, a Society member will find them. Step stools let the littlest astronomers peer through the telescopes, and the entire experience is free.
At Kendall Rocks, come to hands-on grips with minerals, gemstones, rocks, fossils, archaeological artifacts and other rarities that are off-limits almost anywhere else ... except at the Miami-Dade College Kendall Campus Earth Science Museum (MDC Kendall Campus, Building 5, Rooms 5130 and 3167, 11011 SW 104th St., Miami FL). Kendall Rocks' two aquariums display colorful tropical fish, and its fluorescent rocks glow eerily under ultraviolet black lights. Admission is free.
Know before you go: The museum's hours vary, so call ahead to schedule a visit.
- Miami-Dade.Gov: Metromover
- Miami-Dade.Gov: Metromover Stations
- The New Tropic Live Like You Live Here: Trolleys: The Free Transit Option You're Probably Not Using
- City of Miami: MIami Trolley Information
- Miami-Dade.Gov: Passenger Safety
- Miami Children's Museum: Exhibits
- Miami Children's Museum: Events
- HistoryMiami Museum: Family Fun Day
- Southern Cross Astronomical Society: Stargazing at Bill Sadowski Park
- Yelp: Bill Sadowski Park
- Miami-Dade College MDC News Bytes: A Kendall Campus Gem
- Miam=Dade College: Kendall Campus
- Miami New Times: 14 Ways to Keep Your Kids Busy This Summer, According to Three Miami Moms
Passionate for travel and the well-written word, Judy Wolfe is a professional writer with a Bachelor of Arts in English literature from Cal Poly Pomona and a certificate in advanced floral design. Her thousands of published articles cover topics from travel and gardening to pet care and technology.