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By: Angela Caraway-Carlton

Rich history, rare art and colorful murals, live music that moves you, and authentic Cuban food abound in Miami’s Little Havana neighborhood. This always-lively hub of Hispanic culture is centered around world-famous Southwest 8th Street, Calle Ocho, where there’s a constant celebration of Cuban heritage. A cherished pastime is watching locals compete in intense domino games while debating politics at Máximo Gómez Park. Little Havana is also the place to watch vendors rolling cigars at spots like Little Havana Cigar Factory. Don’t be surprised if you feel the urge to break out in dance as music permeates from open-air restaurants and shops.

Cubaocho Bar
Cubaocho Museum is a gathering space where art, live music and dancing intermingle.

Culture and History in Little Havana

Step back in time at one of Miami’s oldest cultural landmarks, Miami Dade College’s Tower Theater. Look for the brightly lit marquee sign. Once inside, settle into a vintage seat to watch an indie film. Guests can even reserve a screening room for a private experience.

First-timers in Little Havana must visit the Cubaocho Museum & Performing Arts Center, a lauded museum and energetic gathering space where art, live music and dancing intermingle. The museum is home to a rare and stunning collection of Cuban art dating from the 1800s to 1959. Another cultural jewel is Futurama 1637, a creative workspace and art marketplace.

Cuban Coffee in Little Havana
The aroma of cuban coffee wafts out of restaurant windows in Little Havana.

Little Havana Cultural Walking Tours

For a more in-depth dive into the neighborhood, book an outing with Little Havana Cultural Walking Tours. Well-informed experts take guests on a two-hour tour exploring the area’s storied past and the traditions that make this area tick. They’ll point out important landmarks and gems that visitors may not find on their own, and they’ll introduce culinary delights such as shots of Cuban coffee.

Top Spots for Photos in Little Havana

Visitors should also pull out their cameras to capture the area’s many Instagram-worthy spots, including Little Havana’s own walk of fame, which boasts pink tiles touting the names of Latin stars such as Gloria Estefan and Celia Cruz. Strike a pose in front of the bright murals and colorful painted rooster sculptures along Calle Ocho.

Versailles cuban sandwich
Iconic Versailles Restaurant has been serving Cuban coffee and food since 1971.

Where to Eat in Little Havana

One of Little Havana’s biggest draws is the authentic Cuban food. Stop by one of the many walk-up windows called “ventanitas” to grab warm croquetas, savory pastries and the Cuban coffee that fuels Miami. One of the most iconic spots is Versailles Restaurant, serving Cuban coffee and food since 1971. It’s a prime place to mingle with locals who gather outdoors at the walk-up windows. You’ll also want to stroll through the open-air fresh fruit and juice market, Los Pinareños Fruteria, a family-run staple since the 1960s, to sample tropical treats such as ripe mangos, papaya, sugarcane, coffee and smoothies.

Azucar Ice Cream Shop in Little Havana
Azucar Ice Cream mixes Cuban flavors into its ice cream such as dulce de leche and guava.  

Little Havana is also home to chef-driven restaurants like Café La Trova by Miami’s beloved Chef Michelle Bernstein and the newly revamped Sala'o, which presents creative dishes and a killer cocktail program. Try neighborhood newcomer Casa Tiki, a tropical tiki bar with a Latin-style take on Polynesian culture. Grab a seat at the thatched-roof bar to sip exotic cocktails out of fun glasses during happy hour; check their schedule for events like comedy acts. Finish off the evening at Azucar Ice Cream Company, an artisanal shop that incorporates Cuban flavors into its sweet treats.

For a comprehensive taste of the area, book a walking tour with Miami Culinary Tours. In-the-know guides will lead you through the vibrant neighborhood, stopping for delicious bites while delivering interesting facts about cultural landmarks.