Despite the (mostly) beautiful weather and fast-paced lifestyle, Miami can be a rough place to live given the traffic, the parking, and the general South Florida insanity. Of course, those of us who've lived here for a while have compiled tips and tricks that make life just a little easier and more enjoyable.
Now we're passing along those vital Miami life hacks to you.
Did we leave anything off? Give us your suggestions in the comments or email them to us. If we get enough good tips, we'll be sure to share them with the rest of our readers later.
8. Get free admission to museums
It's not just books you can check out at the library, but museum passes too. Seriously, there are a limited number of passes each week at every branch that provide free admission for a family of four to HistoryMiami, Miami Children's Museum, Miami Science Museum, Pérez Art Museum Miami, Vizcaya Museum & Gardens, Deering Estate at Cutler, and Fruit & Spice Park. They're available on a first-come, first-served basis and are good for one week after checkout. Just bring your library card.
Several museums also offer free admission to residents certain days. For example, PAMM is currently free the second Saturday of every month and from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. the first Thursday. Admission to the Wolfsonian is free every Friday from 6 to 9 p.m. Check the admission and hours pages on each museum's website to find similar free days.
7. Enjoy orchestral performance Wallcasts and movies free at the New World Center
In a lot of cities, experiencing the symphony is a hoity-toity, highbrow affair. In Miami Beach, it's as easy as a picnic. During the fall season, the New World Symphony broadcasts concerts live on the wall of its Frank Gehry-designed building. Throughout the spring, the same state-of-the-art technology is used to screen movies, both recent hits and classic favorites. All showings are free and open to the public. For listings, click MBCulture.com.
6. Pay-by-phone parking is totally worth it (and sometimes cheaper for residents)
The only thing worse than having to feed a machine is wrangling with Miami's electronic meters, which seem to work about as often as the Dolphins' draft strategy. Thankfully, several cities in Miami-Dade have instituted pay-by-phone parking that lets you pay for your spot with a call and then lets you renew the spot directly from the app. It's also great when you find an open spot and every meter nearby is busted, a particularly ridiculous problem in the city of Miami.
Miami, South Miami, and Coral Gables all you use the Pay by Phone app. The app will send you a text message a few minutes before your meter expires. There's a service charge associated with the app, but city of Miami residents can get a 20 percent discount on parking while using the app within city limits.
Miami Beach, meanwhile, uses the ParkMobile app (to pay for parking) and the ParkMe app (to find available spots).
5. See the sun rise over a beach and the sun set over a beach with a quick road trip
Sure, this one is more whimsical than practical, but it's easy to forget that only residents of certain idyllic islands get to see the sun set and rise over a beach. In Miami it's not quite so easy, but much easier than most places in the world. Just wake up early and hit our beaches before the sun rises. Then after that, you've got plenty of time to hit Alligator Alley or Tamiami Trail for a two-hour drive to a place like Marco Island or Naples to set up on their beaches for the sunset. If you're stressed out or simply need a bit of a break, it's a magical experience to plan a quick weekend trip around.
4. Get free condoms
It's Miami. You never know when you might need them. Check Dade Health or Test Miami for locations where you can pick up free jimmy caps. Both sites can also direct you to other free services, but we know that can be a touchy subject. So just go explore it for yourself.
3. Avoid expensive office or group coffee runs by getting a colada
This one is not so much a secret, but it may be the single greatest life hack Miami has to offer. In most cities, if your office suddenly needs a fancy caffeine pick-me-up, it means sending some intern to Starbucks for 45 minutes with a mess of cash, credit cards, and complex orders. In Miami it's just a quick trip to your local Cuban joint, and for less than the cost of one Frappuccino, you can pick up a sharable colada and you've got enough caffeine to perk up six people.
They're also great in certain social situations. Bring a cupful of cafecito shots to your friends during some early get-together and you'll be the most popular person there.
2. Always find cheap drinks nearby with the Happy Hours app.
This app is like Tinder for drunks. Yes, it is a product of our parent company. No, we did not include it just because of that. In fact, we might well get in trouble for calling it a Tinder for alcoholics. Sorry, corporate overlords!
We all know how expensive drinks in Miami can get, but fire up this app and it will show you which bars closest to you have happy hour or happy-hour-like specials going on. It's especially useful in this town. Download it for free here for iPhone and here for Android.
1. Psst. There's free parking in South Beach
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We'd love to tell you where exactly, are but we can't -- partially because of some unspoken code of honor that the spots' whereabouts remain on a need-to-know basis, but more practically because current construction on Alton Road is always changing what spots are available. They're almost all near east-side residential areas, and you'll find them by looking for signs with blue and red lettering informing you you're about to enter a residential parking area. That means anything along that street before that sign is free game. Two lots near Flamingo Park also allow three free hours of parking during the day (including weekends). And most important, all residential parking areas are open to anyone from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. weekdays -- just don't miss the cutoff time or Miami Beach's notoriously evil tow companies will snatch you in a second.
It's also worth checking to see beforehand if businesses, especially those off the main strips, have free lots available for customers. Sometimes they're easy to miss when you're doing the South Beach parking shuffle. For example, there's free visitor parking at the Miami Beach Marina garage if you're going to one of the restaurants (i.e., Monty's). Yes, we know you know, but you'd be surprised how many people don't.