This is a quick guide meant for visitors to the Miami area offering tips on how to avoid and minimize the amount spent on toll roads in the Miami area. For residents of Miami, you are probably aware of most of these tips but feel free to add in the comments any I may have missed. Keep in mind the following tips will not recommend you travel on a local road in Miami for a lengthy distance as they tend to be traffic headaches, especially during rush hour in Miami.
Florida’s Turnpike Into Miami
Headed to Miami from the turnpike? I recommend you exit the turnpike at the Fort Pierce, SR 70 exit (mile marker 152) and continue into Miami on I-95 south. At this exit, the two highways are 2 blocks away and from here to West Palm Beach, the turnpike and I-95 intertwine and are relatively close to one another with traffic rarely an issue this far north of Miami. While you can drive the remainder of the way into Miami on I-95, if you are concerned about traffic I recommend exiting I-95 at Okeechobee Blvd (mile marker 70) and driving west to get back onto the turnpike which tends to have less traffic than the interstate. If you decide to drive entirely onto the interstate into Miami, you save about $7. If you re-enter the turnpike, you save about $3.90. If you are traveling northbound from Miami, simply reverse the directions in order to save a little money on tolls. And keep in mind, there are many exits south of the Okeechobee Blvd exit in the Miami metropolitan area that you can use to re-enter the turnpike from I-95.
Gratingly Expressway (State Road 924)
If you travel from the westbound side, entering from I-75 or the Palmetto Expressway (state road 826), exit the expressway at Red Road before the toll plaza to avoid paying the $1.25 toll. If you are ultimately headed for NW 199th street, or the terminus of the Gratingly Expressway, make a left on Red Road and then a right on Gratingly Parkway. Drive along the Opa Locka airport until you reach Douglas Road. Make a right on Douglas Road to re-enter the terminal portion of the expressway to reach NW 199th Street. Reverse the directions to avoid the toll if you want to travel westbound as if you enter the Gratingly Expressway from the eastbound side directly from NW 199th street, you will have to pay the $1.25 toll.
Dolphin Expressway (State Road 836) and the Airport Expressway (State Road 112)
Due to the generally bad traffic in the Miami area, this is one of the few I recommend you pay the $1.25 toll if you are traveling eastbound on either expressway into downtown Miami in order to save yourself the hassle of dealing with the infamous Miami traffic on local roads. However, if you travel eastbound on the Dolphin Expressway between I-95 and Galloway Road or eastbound on any portion of the Airport Expressway, you do not have to pay a toll.
Don Shula Expressway to the Turnpike
This tip will only save you a little bit, about $0.25 but I’ll put it here nonetheless. If you are headed to the turnpike via the Don Shula Expressway, exit at Kendall Drive and make a right to reach the turnpike and avoid the toll plaza on the expressway. You still have to pay a toll on the turnpike though, but you do save some pocket change. You can do the same if you are traveling on the Snapper Creek Expressway, which is not a toll road and often mislabeled on many maps of the Miami area. The Snapper Creek Expressway feeds into the Don Shula Expressway right before the Kendall Drive exit so you can use this tip to avoid the toll plaza as well. Once again, you can reverse these directions if you are traveling northbound.
There you have it, a few tips and tricks to avoid tolls and save money in and around the Miami area. Keep in mind, avoiding toll roads entirely is not necessarily a good idea due to the traffic in Miami. Therefore, as a final recommendation, I suggest you purchase a Sunpass Mini and activate it. Visitors to Miami can purchase these at a local Publix or even in the Turnpike service stations. They cost $4.99, but give you $4.99 in tolls when you first activate it and put $10 (minimum) into the account. Not to mention, the Sunpass Mini will also give you a discount on tolls in Miami. This discount is usually $0.25 per toll plaza in the Miami area and ~20-25% if you travel along the entire length of the turnpike ticket system.