Bang for your buck: budget-friendly restaurants, shopping and sightseeing near campus

m01229 from USA, CC BY 2.0 , via Wikimedia Commons

While Miami is an expensive city, that does not mean that one must spend a lot of money to truly experience the city. Luckily, UM is close to several affordable options for dining, shopping and sightseeing.


When you walk into Casola’s, you know you’re going to eat good food. Although the restaurant is best known for its pizzas and subs, the menu contains several dishes at great prices, including calzones. Upon ordering, remember that the servings are generous — it would not be a bad idea to share!


Deemed “the world’s most famous Cuban restaurant,” Versailles serves excellent Cuban food at a fair price, such as the Ropa Vieja for $12.95. Whether you’re in the mood for ropa vieja or tostada with cafecito, Versailles’ menu will not disappoint.

Shake Shack Coral Gables

If you like to ride your bike outside of campus, bike to Shake Shack. Convenient, cost-effective and high-quality best describe the famous restaurant chain; they offer a variety of burgers, chicken sandwiches and tenders, fries and — of course — amazing shakes. The menu also contains vegetarian options and a non-dairy shake!

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Coyo Taco

Who says tacos are only for Tuesdays? Coyo Taco in South Miami offers customers fresh and affordable tacos. The Camaron (shrimp) Tacos are delicious, as the chipotle aioli and guacamole provide a flavorful depth. Coyo Taco also has amazing burritos and their Pico de Gallo sauce pairs well with the Pollo al Carbon. If you’re looking for quality food at a fair price, Coyo Taco is the best place for you to satisfy your taco craving!

Nordstrom Rack

Want to shop and be rewarded for finding a good deal? Nordstrom Rack in Miracle Marketplace is the perfect place for you! The store has a diverse selection of clothing, and as a Nordy Club member — the free rewards program — you can earn points from every purchase and unlock exclusive deals.

Consignment Corner Miami

The Consignment Corner Miami has been a fixture in Pinecrest for over forty years! Not just limited to clothes, the store also sells furniture and great artwork. For those who love vintage items, the Consignment Corner is the perfect place for you, as you will be able to elevate your style at a good price. Although the store does have a website for online shopping, it’s best to go in-person and scope out their collection.

Daniel Di Palma, CC BY-SA 4.0 , via Wikimedia Commons
Daniel Di Palma, CC BY-SA 4.0 <>, via Wikimedia Commons

Venetian Pool

Experience Old-World Miami luxury for a fair price. Upon entering, you will see vintage pictures of Miami residents enjoying the pool. Because Venetian Pool is a freshwater pool, it’s a nice way to escape the Miami heat. Since UM students are considered residents of Coral Gables, you will be charged at a lower rate if you bring your ‘Cane Card!

Coral Gables Museum

Visiting the Coral Gables Museum is a good way to get to know the city. The exhibit “Creating the Dream: George E. Merrick and His Vision for Coral Gables” walks visitors through the early days of Coral Gables and their original plans for the city. “Capture Coral Gables” showcases The City Beautiful today. This is another place where bringing your ‘Cane Card will get you a student discount.

If you are not ready for your time at the Coral Gables Museum to end, take a Freebee (sort of like street-legal golf carts). Freebees function similarly to Uber and are beneficial to the environment. From the Coral Gables Museum, Freebee has select locations where you can visit a handful of nearby restaurants.

David T. Kennedy Park

Located in Coconut Grove, David T. Kennedy Park is perfect for many different reasons: people can exercise, picnic, relax with friends and more. Additionally, an A.C.’s Icees truck is located in this park and their frozen lemonade has been keeping Miamians cool for many years. Your time at David T. Kennedy Park will be like a modern version of Georges Seurat’s A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte, with frozen lemonade making an appearance!

Miami is a city full of good deals — you just have to look out for them! And while it’s smart to save money, that does not mean you cannot also have fun. As the Greek philosopher, Socrates once said, “All things in moderation, including moderation.”