Making Miami moves: A guide to avoiding tourist traps

Miami’s weather, attractions and nightlife attract people from all over the world all year round and the city relies on tourism for billions of dollars in revenue.

While tourists may not be aware of traps set to drain their wallets, Miami locals know where to avoid and where to go for a better, less expensive experience. Here are some of the Miami tourist traps to steer clear of and their better counterparts:

Crandon Park is a more tranquil alternative to overcrowded South Beach, pictured on Aug. 20, 2022.
Crandon Park is a more tranquil alternative to overcrowded South Beach, pictured on Aug. 20, 2022. Photo credit: Michael Mok

South Beach

For those who enjoy the beach, South Beach seems like the natural place to go in Miami. After all, it is probably the most iconic burrow of Miami, frequently mentioned in popular songs and endorsed by celebrities.

However, all beaches are not created equal. Because of its popularity, South Beach is often overcrowded and filled with overpriced food, drink and souvenirs. Better options include South Pointe Park and Key Biscayne, which are more accessible and far less crowded. For a low-cost commute to Key Biscayne, utilize your UM student privileges and hop on the shuttle to the Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences.

Crowds of tourists meander down Ocean Drive on Aug. 21, 2022.
Crowds of tourists meander down Ocean Drive on Aug. 21, 2022. Photo credit: Michael Mok

Ocean Drive

Located in South Beach, Miami’s Ocean Drive is known for its Art Deco architecture, beach views, fine dining and vibrant nightlife. However, several restaurants on the street are known for scamming customers, and the area has been more recently labeled as unsafe and crime-ridden.

Other famous streets that rival Ocean Drive’s architecture and attractions include Miracle Mile, Calle Ocho and Flagler Street. Between these three and many more, there is no doubt that you’ll find something for you.

Miami Seaquarium

Animals in captivity? No thanks. Controversy over its live shows and animal encounters have people feeling sad when they leave instead of the fun experience that its website promotes.

Instead, head to the Phillip and Patricia Frost Museum of Science, which has admission of $30 compared to the Seaquarium’s $50, as well as a wide variety of attractions between its aquarium, planetarium and science exhibitions. Furthemore, its close proximity to Perez Art Museum Miami and Bayside Marketplace make the Frost Museum an ideal addition to a fun day out.

Luxury Hotels

While Miami has a plethora of high-end hotels, their price point can be far out of reach, especially for the average college student. For a luxury weekend getaway, try browsing Airbnb or an apartment rental, both of which will still offer amazing views and amenities at a much lower cost.

Bus Tours

Riding in a double decker bus does sound like fun, but taking a bus tour is unnecessary when you live here! To look like a true local and not a tourist, explore Miami using the Metrorail, a rideshare service or good, old-fashioned walking. After all, the best sightseeing won’t happen on a guided tour, but on your own personalized adventures through the city.

Bayside Marketplace

Conveniently located next to FTX Arena, the home of the Miami Heat and major concert venue, Bayside Marketplace has lured in tourists and locals alike for its parking amenities and a pre-show meal. Location is all Bayside Marketplace has going for itself however, as the restaurants are either overpriced or would be better located in a strip mall. To accompany the dull eateries and outdated storefronts is a walk of tourist shame through individual vendors selling unnecessary knick knacks. If visiting FTX, eat before making the drive over, or bite the bullet and just pay for the undeservingly expensive burger meal.