Charity De Souza is a Florida native and travel enthusiast. Traveling to over 50 countries abroad and residing in 6, she has a passion for exploring new cultures. While Central Florida is where she calls home, her favorite travel memories include skydiving in Switzerland and watching the sunset in Morocco.
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Teeming with vibrant culture,Little Havana is a lively Cuban neighborhood in Miami, full of colorful murals, unique art galleries, and enticing restaurants. When you wander through the lively Calle Ocho strip and smell the rich tobacco wafting from the cigar shops, Little Havana will let your senses transport you to the Cuban capital. From strong cafecitos to intense games of dominoes and a thriving arts and culture scene, here are the best things to do in Little Havana, one of Miami’s top attractions.
Little Havana’s main strip, Calle Ocho is home to brightly painted roosters, local art galleries and the Walk of Fame that honors famous Cubans. It’s here you’ll see the center of local life, where local Cuban restaurants and bakeries will tempt you at every corner. Calle Ocho is also home to Cultural Fridays with the best of Cuban arts, culture and music in addition to Miami’s largest street festival, Carnival on Calle Ocho, an explosion of color with street performers and live Latin music.
Dubbed the “Worlds Most Famous Cuban Restaurant,” Versailles is a culinary landmark in Florida that offers a complete immersion into the Cuban culture. You can’t go wrong with an order of croquetas, ropa vieja, lechon asado or a Cuban sandwich. Start your morning off right with a caffeine jolt with a cafe cubano or a cortadito con leche evaporada and side of morning empanadas and guava pastries at their outdoor takeaway window.
Called Domino Park by the locals, Maximo Gomez Park in Little Havana is a lively meeting spot for Cuban retirees who like to drink coffee, smoke cigars and play ferociously competitive rounds of dominoes. A sensory overload, you’ll hear plenty of trash talking and the quick sound of slapping dominoes from the domino-decorated tile work walkways with benches made for spectators. A historic area, the park is named after a famous soldier, Maximo Gomez, who fought for Cuban independence from Spain.
You can’t go to Little Havana and not learn about Cuban cigars. Peppered throughout Calle Ocho you’ll find family-owned cigar shops, with El Titan de Bronze one of the most popular. Here you’ll find some of the most authentic Miami-rolled Cuban cigars, with age-old aficionados rolling cigars just like their fathers and grandfathers once did in Cuba. Each roller specializes in a certain kind, and El Titan de Bronze makes them in small quantities to ensure quality, even offering ultra-premium boutique cigars like Cremo Cigars.
A perfect place to beat the heat and grab a sweet treat for the entire family, Azucar Ice Cream Company features unique Cuban dessert flavors like Cafe con Leche, Plantano Maduro (Sweet Plantain) and Caramel Flan. In addition to the Signature Miami Flavors you’ll also find a range of the classics, like Mint Chocolate Chip, Strawberry and Birthday Cake, and if you time your visit right, you might be able to sample seasonal favorites like Creme de Vie (Egg Nog) and Besitos (Vanilla and Pink Meringue).
Renowned for its live concerts and performances, Cubaocho is also a community center and art gallery. Walk inside and you’ll discover an old Havana cigar bar, with its walls adorned with vibrant Cuban artwork and a fun ambiance that is a lively mix of locals and visitors. Music and dance are the premier activities found here, but you can also attend various special events that range from film screenings and drama performances to book launches.
Featured in the movie “Chef,” Hoy Como Ayer is an exclusive club that blends the past and the present beautifully. One of the best spots to experience the Cuban spirit, you can have an adults-only night of fun with perfectly mixed mojitos at this lively locale in the heart of Little Havana. Translating to “Today Like Yesterday,” this club is known for its salsa dancing and Latin funk music, with wood-paneled walls covered with photos of Latin music’s biggest names.
One of Miami’s oldest cultural landmarks, Tower Theater has been operating since 1926. Located next to Domino Park, the theater was the finest state-of-the-art theater in the American South back in its glory days. Upholding its reputation as a historic and cultural gathering place, this Art Deco-style building is now a hotspot for cultural events, Cuban exhibitions and performances, and a place to catch Indie films.
An aesthetic beauty, Marlins Park looks like a space station on the outside and is a colorful wonderland on the inside. A perfect place to take the entire family, this kid-friendly venue is unlike any other baseball stadium in the country. It’s not only a great place to watch a game, but you can also find a variety of enticing food options. From ballpark favorites at Obies to burgers and skewers at Pincho and tacos at Butterfly, you’re spoiled with culinary choices.
Quite possibly the most popular way to explore Little Havana, Miami Culinary Tours offers an immersion into Cuban cuisine through samples of picadillo-stuffed empanadas, Cuban sandwiches, guava pastelitos, mojitos and plenty more at local restaurants in the area. In addition to sampling tasty cuisine, you’ll also learn about the district and its historical significance, discovering some hidden gems along the way.
Little Havana’s monthly street party, Viernes Culturales, or “Cultural Fridays” is a nonprofit organization that coordinates the popular festival that highlights local art, music, and culture. Held on the last Friday of every month in the heart of Little Havana, come here to celebrate Latin culture at this high-energy event. You’ll find food and drink vendors set up on the sidewalk, and a stage set up for dance and music performances in addition to plenty of local arts and crafts.