Shopping Miami's Cultural Treasures
By: Shayne Benowitz
Miami’s position at the southern tip of Florida has made it a beacon for Caribbean immigration throughout its history.
If you’ve come to Miami for Shop Miami Month, discover the sights, sounds and flavors of these diverse cultures through a shopping outing in one of Miami’s rich heritage neighborhoods.
Start your outing at iconic Domino Park where the colorful tile mural illustrates symbols at the heart of the Cuban culture: tropical fruit, musical instruments and cigars.
For an authentic, hand-rolled Cuban cigar, make your way to El Credito Cigar Factory or Little Havana Cigar Factory where you can meet the cigar roller and watch the process firsthand.
Next, head to The Conch Hill Market, which occupies the former Capo Furniture Store and is home to more than 100 antique vendors.
Another bastion of antique furniture and Cuban flavor is the Cuba Ocho Art and Research Center, which also doubles as a rum bar and houses pieces once owned by Frank Sinatra.
While you’re in the neighborhood, gallery hop at the Futurama Building, Obrapia Fine Arts, Molina Fine Art Gallery and others, to find a one-of-a-kind gift by a Cuban artist.
Finally, duck into Little Havana To Go for fun souvenir shopping — you’ll find something for everyone on your list there.
The heart of Little Haiti can be found at the Little Haiti Cultural Center where you can learn about Haitian history, art, music and literature.
The Libreri Mapou Bookstore, owned by Jan Mapou, is found inside a pink stucco façade where you can buy books in Creole, French and English. While there, be sure to take in the sites of the nearby Little Haiti’s Caribbean Marketplace, an icon of Haitian culture in Miami.
For a taste of Miami’s indie music scene, head to Sweat Records for a vast array of LPs, CDs, books and gifts. They also boast a coffee shop and vegan café encouraging guests to linger over their discoveries.
Take in the sights of the Purvis Young Murals at the entrance of Historic Overtown. You’ll also find the works of this self-taught painter and artist of the streets on the wall of the Culmer/Overtown Public Library branch as you make your way to the Historic Overtown Shopping Plaza.
This business corridor along NW 3rd Avenue is steeped in the neighborhood’s history and it’s the perfect place for a shopping outing. For clothing finds, head to Moselle’s Boutique, Remix Apparel and Suited for Success.
A day in Historic Overtown isn’t complete without a meal at Jackson Soul Food, one of the oldest establishments for authentic soul food in the neighborhood.
Coconut Grove, first settled in 1825 and later annexed into the City of Miami in 1925, is the oldest continually-inhabited neighborhood in Miami. When the Peacock Inn, Miami’s first hotel, was being built in the 1880s, a wave of Bahamian immigrants settled here to work. Today, the Bahamian culture continues to thrive, especially when it comes to food.
The West Grove Food Zone and Fritter Critter are amongst the most popular restaurants for soul food with a Bahamian flair.
Additionally, the Coconut Grove Organic Farmers Market hosted by Glaser Organic Farms sets up at 3300 Grand Avenue every Saturday where locals flock to buy fresh tropical fruit, vegetables, exotic rarities and delicious dishes.
Grand Avenue is the main hub of this historic district where the sounds and colors of the Caribbean permeate. Stop into Mr. Walt’s Alterations & Shoe Repair to visit a longstanding business that specializes in not only tailoring, but also haircuts.
No matter which heritage neighborhood you choose to explore, there’s so much more than meets the eye in Miami during Shop Miami Month—and all year round.
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