While flashy cars like limos and Lamborghinis are synonymous with Miami, the ‘Magic City’ is surprisingly easy to get around without a vehicle. In fact, it ranks in the best 15 cities in the USA for public transportation—and what’s more, most of it is free.
When you start traveling again, why not try exploring Miami car-free. Kiss goodbye to the expenses of car rentals, parking spots, valets (and parking tickets) by trying these cheap or free-of-charge alternatives:
Freebie is a private chauffeur-driven golf buggy service founded by two University of Miami graduates. And as the name suggests, Freebie is completely free. These eco-friendly electric vehicles are only available for short rides but the network includes over a dozen different service areas across Miami, so it’s perfect for getting between your hotel and the beach or local restaurants.
Download the app, select your destination and confirm your pickup spot. Then you can track your ride in real time, just like with Uber or Lyft. You can even select your favorite music (from hip hop to jazz), so your ride has a party vibe – well, it is Miami after all. The app also offers deals and discounts on destinations including restaurants, bars and hotels across the area.
Operation hours vary by service area.
This is another totally free transport option in Miami. The Miami trolleys comprehensively cover all the major areas, including Downtown, Midtown and South Beach. Trolleys in Miami look like quaint vintage streetcars on the outside, with traditional wooden seats and leather straps inside, but they are all new vehicles and run on the road, not on rails.
You can find City of Miami or Miami Beach trolley stops every couple of blocks. There could be a 15-45 minute wait but if you keep an eye on the real-time trolley location tracker via the City of Miami Trolley app or Miami Beach Trolley app, you can plan your time better.
Take a trolley from Brickell to access the parks and beaches of Virginia Key and Key Biscayne. Or hop on the guided Homestead trolley to access the Everglades and Biscayne National Parks. The guided National Park trolley service even includes free admission to the parks and is available every weekend from January 2 to April 4 and December 26 to 31.
Free, modern and driverless; Miami’s Metromover system operates on its own independent structure elevated above the city streets. This makes it a good option for getting about when the roads are clogged with rush-hour traffic.
The network covers Downtown, Brickell, Park West and the Arts and Entertainment District. These areas include popular attractions such as the American Airlines Arena for concerts, Bayside Market Place for shopping and mojitos and Wynwood for street art, craft breweries and hip boutiques.
The Metromover also takes you to the perimeters of the Miami Design District, where you can admire the striking architecture, browse designer stores, wander around art galleries and visit the Miami Institute of Contemporary Art.
Operation hours are daily from 5 a.m. to midnight and security guards patrol the stations.
Miami’s Citi Bike rental service is quick and easy to use. You can rent a Citi Bike from a solar-powered bike station for 30 minutes, by the hour, by the day or for even longer periods.
There are dozens of bike stations all over Miami Beach, as well as across the mainland (between the I-95 and the water—pretty much every area that’s of interest to visitors).
It’s legal to ride your bike on the sidewalk in Miami but there’s also an extensive cycle lane network which includes some nice routes by the water and through several parks. You can check out a Miami cycle lane map here.
Citi Bikes come with handy baskets on the front, but as with all bike baskets, don’t place anything valuable (like your wallet) in them while you ride—a backpack is a safer bet.
Price: From $4.40 (30-minute pass) to an unlimited monthly pass for $35. It’s better to book a longer pass than to exceed your rental session—otherwise it’s $4.60 for every additional 30 minutes.
Metrorail and Brightline
Miami’s Metrorail service covers 25 miles of track, including Miami International Airport, Downtown, Coral Gables and beyond. It runs daily from 5 a.m. to midnight and has free wifi on board. The downside is it doesn’t extend to Miami Beach, but you can easily transfer to a bus or trolley from Downtown or Edgewater to get to Miami Beach.
The Metrorail also links up with the high-speed Brightline rail service, so you can zip up the coast to Fort Lauderdale in 30 minutes or West Palm Beach in just an hour for a change of scene. Eventually, the service will go all the way to Orlando in two hours, but that section is still under construction.
Price: Metrorail from $2.25. Brightline from $17 (For Lauderdale).
With 93 routes and services operating 365 days per year, you’re probably not going to have a problem finding a Miami bus to take you to any destination. All the top tourist attractions, beaches and places of interest are covered, as well as Miami International Airport (MIA)—making it probably the cheapest way to get from MIA into the city. There’s even a fleet of 33 zero-emission electric buses on the network.
Services run 24 hours a day on some routes, but times can vary, so click on each route schedule to see the service hours.
Price: From $2.25 for Metrobus fares or short Shuttle Bus fares from $0.25.
Wait, we have good reasons to include this one on the list. Let’s face it, so many American cities are a nightmare to walk around, often with inexplicable disappearing sidewalks (I’m looking at you, L.A.). But there are decent sidewalks and walking paths pretty much everywhere in Miami—and even some urban hikes.
For example, the picturesque 2.5-mile-long path along the historic Venetian Causeway takes you right over Biscayne Bay, from Edgewater to South Beach. While you enjoy this tree-lined walk, you can discreetly ogle multi-million dollar pads, but it’s the bay views that steal the show. Over at South Beach, stroll down the beachfront sidewalk on the famous Ocean Drive and admire the Art Deco architecture, which includes the club from The Birdcage (at The Carlyle hotel and restaurant).
For a longer hike, try the 10-mile Miami River Greenway, which starts at the 2,000 year-old Miami Circle at the mouth of the Miami River. Or start from Downtown Miami and walk along the Rickenbacker Causeway to the barrier islands of Virginia Key and Key Biscayne, taking in the quieter beaches and parks, ending at Bill Baggs Cape Florida State Park’s historic lighthouse.
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