2 Days In Miami, FL: What To Do, Where To Stay, Budget Activities

I visited Miami (Florida, USA) for two days in February 2024, and I was surprised to discover just how expensive everything is around there. The good news is that I managed to find the best things to do in Miami for a two-day stay that would not break the bank. 

I visited Miami (Florida, USA) for two days in February 2024, and I was surprised to discover just how expensive everything is around there. The good news is that I managed to find the best things to do in Miami for a two-day stay that would not break the bank. 

In this post, I will give you my best tips to spend 2 days in miami on a budget, including places to stay, what to visit, how to save money on transport in Miami and how to easily get around. All of this is possible even if you are a budget traveller. I have done it and so can you. Here’s my 2 day in Miami itinerary.

I have designed this itinerary exactly like I would have liked to be told to explore Miami. Considering the side of the city, staying where to stay, and what direction to explore will save you a lot of time and money. Exploring Miami using this itinerary, will allow you to fit the most in just two days. But note that these days will be rather full and you should move quite fast, and start your days at 8 AM. 

Day 1: Explore Miami Downtown

If you are visiting Miami for the first time, then on this first day of your trip, I recommend seeing downtown Miami and the surrounding areas. These places provide a good balance between the modern part of the city and the strong influences that made Miami what it is today. 

2 Days In Miami, FL: What To Do, Where To Stay, Budget Activities

Downtown Miami

Start your morning in downtown Miami. This is not just about the new shopping areas and expensive restaurants, but this is also where you will find many Latin restaurants, which are much more affordable. 

To get around downtown Miami, use the free Metromover. I’ll give you more details on how to get around Miami on a budget under the “Public Transportation” section. 

I recommend checking out the following spots in downtown Miami if you have more than two days in Miami: 

  1. Bayfront Park – Located right by the water, this large urban park hosts many cultural and musical events, and it’s a relaxing spot for a stroll or a picnic amidst the bustling city centre.
  2. Bayside Marketplace – This bustling marketplace by the waterfront offers a variety of shops, restaurants, and live entertainment. It’s a great place to soak in the local vibe and enjoy views of the bay.
  3. Kaseya Center – Catch a basketball game or a concert at this iconic venue, home to the NBA’s Miami Heat.
  4. Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts – See a Broadway play, ballet, or opera at this leading arts centre that hosts world-class performances.
  5. Jungle Island – This eco-adventure park offers close encounters with wildlife, zip lines, and escape rooms, perfect for adventure seekers and families.
  6. Pérez Art Museum Miami (PAMM) – This contemporary art museum showcases modern and contemporary art from the 20th and 21st centuries, emphasising the diverse cultures of the Americas, Western Europe, and Africa.
  7. Phillip and Patricia Frost Museum of Science – This state-of-the-art museum combines a planetarium, aquarium, and science museum in one. It’s a great spot for families and curious minds of all ages.
  8. Miami Children’s Museum – Although not directly in downtown but close enough to be a convenient visit, this museum is filled with interactive exhibits that engage young minds and encourage learning through play.
  9. HistoryMiami Museum – Dive into the rich history of Miami and South Florida at this museum that offers comprehensive exhibits and city tours.

You will not have time to visit all these places, but I think you can either choose one museum or go for a walk around Bayside Market and then walk or take the Metromover towards Downtown to explore a bit. 

2 Days In Miami, FL: What To Do, Where To Stay, Budget Activities

Little Havana in Miami

After a morning walk in Downtown Miami, take the free Miami trolley for Little Havana. 

The station is within walking distance of downtown Miami and close to the Brickell City Centre. 

Little Havana, the vibrant heart of Miami’s Cuban diaspora, is a colourful tapestry of culture and tradition, making it one of the city’s most spirited and visited neighbourhoods. This bustling area is renowned for its rich history, lively street scenes, and authentic Cuban cuisine.

You can explore Little Havana as part of a food walking tour, to immerse yourself into the local culture.

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At the core of Little Havana is Calle Ocho (SW 8th Street), the neighbourhood’s main thoroughfare, where the essence of Cuban culture is palpable. Here, you can explore a myriad of cigar shops, cafés, and vanitas serving traditional Cuban coffee and pastries

A must-visit within Calle Ocho is Domino Park (officially known as Maximo Gomez Park), where locals gather to play dominoes and chess, share stories and enjoy the shade of palm trees.

Another highlight is the historic Tower Theater, one of Miami’s oldest cultural landmarks, which now serves as a cinema showcasing both mainstream and independent films, often with Spanish subtitles. The theatre is a focal point during the annual Miami Film Festival.

For a taste of Cuban cuisine, Versailles Restaurant is an iconic spot on Calle Ocho, famous for its Cuban sandwiches and pastelitos. It’s a gathering place for both locals and tourists, offering a window into Cuban life in Miami.

Additionally, the area’s vibrant street art and murals add a visual element to the cultural experience. The Little Havana Art District, especially around SW 12th Avenue, features galleries and studios that showcase the works of local artists.

How to get to Little Havana from Downtond Miami for free

Here’s the location of the station for the free Miami Trolley to get to Little Havana. It’s on street level under The Underline. 

You’ll see there are a bunch of trolleys, each with a different name on them. Just ask the drivers for the one in Little Havana if you’re confused (it will also be written on it). When I was there, they were going every half hour or so, and I’m guessing there were about two trolleys on this route, as the entire route takes about one hour. 

However, you can take off at any station (you need to pull the stop string) and get off. If you don’t want to wander off too much from the main tourist area in Little Havana (Calle 8), then you need to get off at this stop (SW 17th Ave and 8th Street or Tamiami Trail). It will take about 30 minutes to get there. 

Eduardo Kobra's mural art, Wynwood

Wynwood Walls

Wynwood Walls is a unique and vibrant district in Miami known for its colourful street art and dynamic cultural expression. 

Established in 2009 by the late real estate developer Tony Goldman, Wynwood Walls has transformed what were once drab warehouse walls into a canvas for some of the world’s greatest artists in the street art scene. 

This open-air gallery showcases large-scale works by renowned international artists such as Shepard Fairey, Os Gemeos, and Banksy, among others.

What makes Wynwood Walls particularly interesting is its role in catalysing the transformation of the Wynwood neighbourhood into a hotspot for art, cuisine, and entertainment. 

You will find much more than stunning visual art. The entire area is a thriving neighbourhood bustling with galleries, restaurants, bars, and boutiques. The area frequently hosts art fairs, especially during Miami Art Week, making it a pivotal venue for contemporary art enthusiasts.

The Wynwood Walls area also includes the Wynwood Doors, a collection of smaller canvases that line up along a fenced lot, adding another layer of artistic expression. Art tours are available, offering insights into the stories behind the murals and the artists who created them.

I find it quite a nice and unexpected place to visit. It is an area of pedestrian-friendly streets adorned with inventive art installations and quirky shops. It’s quite an immersive experience that contrasts sharply with the more polished and upscale districts of Miami. 

Day 2: Fun day in Miami Beach + Crocodiles sightseeing 

2 Days In Miami, FL: What To Do, Where To Stay, Budget Activities

Miami South Beach

How do I get to Miami South Beach? If you are not staying in South Beach, you can reach this place by public bus (pay with a contactless card at the driver) or taxi. 

Miami South Beach, often simply called South Beach, is a quintessential Miami hotspot known for its glamorous vibe, art deco architecture, and vibrant nightlife. Located at the southern tip of Miami Beach, this neighbourhood stretches along the oceanfront, featuring soft, sandy beaches that are among the most famous in the world.

South Beach is celebrated for its iconic pastel-coloured art deco buildings, particularly along Ocean Drive, where beautifully restored hotels and restaurants boast neon signs and outdoor dining areas that come alive at night. This historic district offers not only architectural beauty but also a glimpse into the stylish 1920s and 30s era.

The beach itself is a major draw, with clear blue waters and wide, sandy shores that attract sunseekers from around the globe. You’ll find it to be a perfect place for people-watching, while many also use the nearby promenade for jogging or rollerblading. 

Lincoln Road Mall, a pedestrian-only shopping street, is another key attraction in South Beach. It features a range of retail stores, art galleries, restaurants, and bars, making it a popular destination for both locals and tourists. The area is also home to several cultural venues, including the New World Center, a state-of-the-art concert hall that hosts the New World Symphony, and the Bass Museum of Art, which offers a range of contemporary exhibitions.

South Beach’s nightlife is legendary, with numerous high-end nightclubs, cocktail bars, and lounges that keep the area buzzing until the early hours. The neighbourhood is also a culinary hotspot, boasting a diverse array of dining options that highlight global cuisines.

2 Days In Miami, FL: What To Do, Where To Stay, Budget Activities

Everglades National Park

If you are in Miami for just two days, then a visit to the Everglades cannot be missed. 

Before explaining how to get there, I need to point a few things out. 

The Everglades is a vast, subtropical wetland ecosystem spanning the southern tip of Florida. Known as the “River of Grass,” this unique natural region covers approximately 1.5 million acres and is characterised by slow-moving water flowing out of Lake Okeechobee into Florida Bay. It’s famous for its rich biodiversity, including a wide variety of birds, reptiles, and aquatic species. Notable residents include the American alligator and the endangered Florida panther.

However, what most people want to see when visiting the Everglades are alligators

The Everglades is a critical habitat for numerous species and serves as an important environmental resource, filtering contaminants from water and supporting the water supply for South Florida. 

As a designated U.S. National Park, it offers numerous outdoor activities like airboat tours, hiking, bird watching, and fishing, providing visitors with a direct experience of a unique and vital ecological landscape. The Everglades is not just a natural treasure of Florida but also a site of international importance, recognised as both a World Heritage Site and a Wetland of International Importance.

Note that there are multiple entries to visit the park, but if you don’t have much time to spend walking around a huge wetland, then go for the Everglades HolidayPark entrance, where you can get a boat ride and an alligator show for about $40. I recommend that you book this online in advance, as there is a queue and can be a 2-hour (or longer) waiting time for the boat ride. 

How to get to Everglades? 

This National park is the furthest you will go from Miami, and to get to Everglades, you have three options:

  1. you’ll need private transport (taxi or Uber)
  2. you can drive here if you have a car (or you can rent a car for the day)
  3. Book a tour that includes private transport, a boat ride, and a wildlife show

Do note that the Everglades entrances are all very remote, and you’ll need to arrange for your taxi driver to come and pick you up; otherwise, you will be stranded there. 

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Note that Everglades Park is huge, and there are multiple agencies in different spots that offer these airboat rides, which are the most popular things to do around the city. If you have the time, you can drive to Shark Valley Visitor Center, pay for the entrance fee to the national park, and then hike around or go on a Tram tour. 

The nearby spots that offer the airboats are Everglades Safari Park and Gater Park. However, at these spots, you will need to pay for the airboat ride AND the pass to enter the Everglades Park, which will be around $60 per person (2024). If you choose the Everglades Holiday Park, you will only pay for the ride ($40), which is probably why that place is so popular. 

Where to stay in Miami?

Since you are for only 2 days in Miami, I’d recommend staying someplace close to Downtown Miami. Even if you pay a bit extra on the hotel, you will end up saving a bit on taxis and even food, given the many restaurant options around. 

Hotels in Downtown Miami:

$$$ SLS LUX Brickell

$$  citizenM Miami Worldcenter hotel (I stayed here, and it was a perfect location for this budget)

 OQP Vacations Miami

If you prefer the beachside, maybe you want to wake up early for a morning jog, so you should also consider staying in South Beach. 

Hotels in South Beach:

$$$   Hotel Victor South Beach

$$  Uma House by Yurbban South Beach

$  Riviera Suites

2 Days In Miami, FL: What To Do, Where To Stay, Budget Activities

Two days in Miami: budget tips and tricks

Miami will not be cheap, but if you stay for only two days, you can visit quite a lot and not spend too much. My best tip for a budget trip to Miami is to choose a medium-budget hotel that is well-located so that you don’t spend too much on taxis going from one place to another. 

Staying in either Miami Downtown or South Beach will give you the liberty to explore all the important attractions that I’ve mentioned in this 2-day Miami itinerary by foot or using public transport. One thing that not a lot of people know is that Miami offers a lot of free public transport methods that can help you get to many parts of Miami. 

Also, if your hotel is in one of these highly touristy areas, you’ll find plenty of restaurants around, suitable for all budgets, which will also result in some savings. 

I also recommend booking your hotel in advance, as the best-priced hotels tend to be fully booked for months in advance. 

For additional savings, choose budget-option eateries instead of fancy restaurants. It’s true that Miami is expensive, but you can find places to eat for under $15. However, if you choose a restaurant with service, the sales tax and the tips will quickly add to your budget. 

If you’re not from the U.S. (I’m not), you must be aware of the fact that prices you see on menus, in stores, and basically everywhere do not include the sales tax. In Florida, the sales tax is 7%, and it is added to your bill but not on the menu. 

Many restaurants will also automatically add a 15-20% tip to the bill. So, in this case, what appears to be a $40 restaurant bill ends up being $70. And that’s how you learn that Miami is expensive. Been there, done that. But at least now I know of a nice brunch place in Downtown Miami. It’s called Café Bastille Downtown, and it is inspired by European cafes, but the price is very much American. 

2 Days In Miami, FL: What To Do, Where To Stay, Budget Activities

2 days in Miami: Public transport in Miami

Miami does offer public transport – bus, trolleys, metro, Metromover. These are more than enough to get around Miami and reach almost all parts of it. 

The only part of Miami that is not reachable by public transport is the Everglades, but that is pretty much outside the city, and you will need to rent a car to get there. However, I mentioned it on this 2-day itinerary for Miami because it is a top attraction in Miami, and you can find ways to get there if you make a bit of an effort (arrange with a taxi driver or book a trip with an agency). 

The public bus in Miami is very useful, and you can check Google Maps to see the stops and routes. To pay for the ticket, simply tap your contactless card when you get on. If you are travelling in a group, you’ll need a separate card for each group member. 

The Miami Trolleys are free public transport running as a loop, and there are different routes in different parts of Miami. For instance, in Miami Beach, there are three different routes, and using the Miami Trolley, you can see the entire Miami Beach if you have the time. You can use this as a free, hop-on, hop-off bus. I guess many people do not know about this, and that’s why they don’t use it. Or maybe most people don’t have the time to wait for it. If you are short on time, you will probably not wait half an hour or more for a free ride. But many locals use it too because it’s free. I used it to get to Little Havana from Miami Downtown, and it was just great. 

The Metromover is a suspended metro that operates automatically (no driver) and is free. Two main routes intertwine at some point, so check the map to understand which is going where. The Miami Metromover is the best way to explore Downtown Miami. 

The metro is paid, as it is everywhere else in the world. You can pay at the machine or tap your card at the entrance. It is also called The Underline, and it is the best (and cheapest) way to get from Downtown Miami to Miami International Airport. 

2 days in Miami: Personal opinion on Miami

Miami is a dream destination and I get it why everyone wants to retire in Florida. The weather is great and it’s a tropical paradise right in the United States.

I was really impressed with the size of the city and the public transport, which is usually lacking in other American cities. I also was impressed by the fact that Miami is literally right next to Fort Lauderdale, and each has its own international airport.

The traffic hours are insane, just like you see in the movies. The restaurant prices are also astronomical and most of the food isn’t that healthy.

Overall, Miami is a lovely place, highly expensive, but a smart budget traveller could take advantage of this 2 days in Miami itinerary to see the most important places in the city. If you only plan for a couple of days in the city, and plan smart for it, then it doesn’t have to be super expensive, but the places you’ll see are really iconic.

As someone who loves movies and pop-culture, I would say that Little Havana and South Beach were my favourites, and if I were to go back, I would choose to stay somewhere in South Beach, at a nice apartment, where I can cook my own food and just enjoy all the nice areas around Ocean Drive on foot (because that’s what Europeans do).

This was my first time in Miami, but not my first time in the U.S. I was in New York twice before in 2019. If you’re interested in visiting New York City, I have some cool blogs about it, such as Mistakes to avoid when travelling to New York City for the first time and What New York City is Famous for.

I have also made a vlog from my trip to Miami, to show you a bit more of what it feels like to visit Miami as a European.

Day trips from Miami

If you have more time in Miami, then I recommend checking out these cool day trips you can book right from Miami:

Iulia Vasile

Iulia is a travel expert, blogger, engineer, freelance copywriter, and a curiosity-driven personality. She sees travel as the ultimate tool for self-improvement and personal growth, and that's the main topic of her blog, Juliasomething.com.

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