Smaller, unique spots help make South Florida appealing

School of Communication
University of Miami

Miami and the rest of South Florida, over time, have become as a must-see vacation spots.

Complete with sultry beaches, vivid nightlife, fantastic shopping and delicious dining, it becomes easy to overlook the smaller, but extremely unique, attractions of this region.

As many college students are looking to get the most out of life while advancing their education, the University of Miami undoubtedly stands out from its competition because of its location.

Although it may not be a sole deciding factor, the reputation of Miami is instantly intriguing.

“After traveling down South a few times to see family when I was younger, I knew that Miami was a place I wanted to experience and made it my goal to go to UM,” said Jenna Perez, a senior at the University of Miami.

Although the social scene in Miami is enough to draw a great deal of young adults in college, this aspect is not always the most feasible to enjoy. With the independence of moving away from home comes the responsibility of bills on top of a steep tuition.

Luckily, Miami offers much more to do and see that what is often advertised and many of these one-of-a-kind attractions are ones that work well with the budget of a college student.

Looking for something new to do one Friday night, Perez and her friends decided to check out an art show they heard about in Miami Beach.

“The art galleries were amazing. All we could talk about afterward was how we wished we had known about Art Basel earlier,” said Perez about last year’s event.

An exhibit during Art Basel. Source: Kelsey Pinault.

Established in Basel, Switzerland, in 1970, Art Basel is now considered to be one of the most prestigious art shows worldwide. After 32 years of Art Basel being exclusive to Switzerland, Miami Beach became the location for another, and is still the only state in the U.S. with this honor.

“Art Basel brings work from over 2,000 artists from all around the world right to the Art Deco District in Miami Beach. As one of the top art shows in the United States, everyone in the area should take advantage of all that Art Basel Miami has to offer,” said Stefanie Reed, director of VIP Relations for the Art Basel in the U.S.

Seeing great art usually comes with a price, and Art Basel is no exception. Students can get a day pass to the exhibition for $20. However, the event also has a strip of galleries open to the public for free at night when the rest are closed.

Around the corner from the main attraction in the Miami Beach Convention Center, as the sun goes down, an event free to the public begins to come to life with street performers, art on canvases as well as street corners, and a perfect complement of happy hour and local food trucks. This Art Basel event known as Oceanfront Nights, is located in Collins Park, in between 21st and 22nd Streets near Miami Beach Drive.

“Although the main display is definitely worth seeing, the public art is more geared towards college students because we’re able to enjoy the art with some drinks and friends for free,” said David Broadstone, a senior at the University of Miami who has been to two Art Basel Miami events.

Although this unique experience only lasts five days a year, Miami has many others just waiting to be discovered by more students. Many students outside of the UM School of Architecture might not have the slightest inclination of the existence of Vizcaya.

“The first time I went was to work on an architecture project, but I ended up going back because it’s so relaxing and has some of the best scenic views in Miami,” said Bobby Bass, senior at UM.

As an escape from the classroom and fresh prospective, many professors will take their students to this historical landmark. Upon arrival to Vizcaya Museum and Gardens, it becomes instantly clear that this is far from your typical museum.

“Vizcaya Museum and Gardens welcomes students with a discounted admission price (with student ID) to explore the property learn its history. Many students often return to the museum and last fiscal year we welcomed over 800 college students on guided tours,” said Wendy Wolf, School, Youth and Family Programs manager at Vizcaya Museum and Gardens.

Vizcaya Museum in Miami. Source: Kelsey Pinault.

Built in 1916 as a home to James Deering, Vizcaya takes up 180 acres on both sides of South Miami Avenue, just 10 minutes from the University of Miami.

For just $10, students are free to wander around the estate and it is a good source of inspiration to students who are pursuing a career in photography, architecture, interior design, history, agriculture, and even to those who are still trying to figure out what they’re pursuing.

“Vizcaya is actually the reason I’m at this school today. While I was still in high school, I came to Florida on vacation and my mom really wanted to see this mansion turned museum that I’d never heard of so we went. When we got there we saw a class sketching and I thought it was amazing that you could go to a place like that to learn,” said Adrianne DeAngelo a sophomore at UM.

Perhaps one of the most well-known natural wonders of South Florida, Everglades National Park is still often disregarded when searching for adventure.

At the Ernest Coe Visitor Center near Florida City (closest to the University of Miami), only $10 per car gives students the opportunity to experience a mix of wildlife (many of which are endangered or threatened) and a unique atmosphere that cannot be found anywhere else.

“I was surprised how much I learned there because it was still fun,” said Briana Bednarski, a junior at UM who randomly decided to take a visit with her boyfriend to the national park just a few weeks ago.

The list of hidden wonders in the dynamic city of Miami goes on and on. Constantly looking for new and interesting things to experience, this city is perfect to college students busy while not robbing them.

Unique Miami Attractions for Less

Art Basel
Five-day period in December
Art Deco District in Miami Beach – 25 minutes from UM

Vizcaya Museum and Gardens
Everyday (except Christmas), 9:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m.
3251 S. Miami Ave. – 10 minutes from UM

Everglades National Park
$10 per car  or $25 annual pass
Ernest Coe Visitor Center (closest of five) 40001 State Road 9336, Florida City – 45 minutes from UM

Coral Castle
Everyday, 8 a.m.-6 p.m.
28655 S. Dixie Hwy., Homestead – 30 minutes from UM

Bill Baggs Cape Florida State Park
$4 per car
Everyday, 8 a.m. – sundown
1200 S. Crandon Blvd., Key Biscayne – 20 minutes from UM

Miami Art Museum
Weekdays (closed Monday): 10 a.m.-5 p.m., Weekends: 12 p.m.-5 p.m.
101 W. Flagler St. – 15 minutes from UM

Wings Over Miami Air Museum
Wednesday-Sunday 10 a.m.-5 p.m.
14710 SW 128th St. – 25 minutes from UM.

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