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By: Shayne Benowitz

Set inland near the airport area, Miami’s Hialeah makes for a fascinating place to explore. Immerse yourself in this neighborhood where you’ll find a historic horseracing track, a discount department store designed for the Cuban diaspora, a thriving flea market and the city’s next hot arts district. You’ll also find some one-of-a-kind dining experiences with restaurants and bakeries founded by creative, pioneering locals. Look no further, here’s your insider’s guide to Hialeah.

Explore the murals in Leah Arts District

Leah Arts District

With its epicenter at East 15th Street and East 10th Avenue, the Leah Arts District has transformed Hialeah’s defunct warehouse district into a thriving destination for artists and creatives with live-work spaces. In a similar vein to the nearby Wynwood Arts District, Hialeah’s Leah Arts District is mural-splashed and filled with galleries, food trucks, local boutiques, hip thrift shops and antique stores. The district often hosts block parties with live music that bring the community together.

A fusion of flavors with La Fresa Francesa's Cubano in Paris sandwich

La Fresa Francesca

La Fresa Francesa is the labor of love of Hialeah native Sandy Sanchez and Parisian-born Benoit Rablat. The couple met while working in the restaurant industry in LA, fell in love and returned to Miami to create one of the area’s most beloved French bistros—with a Cuban twist, of course. Expect classic items on the menu like croque madams, escargots and savory ham and cheese crepes, but there’s also creative hits of Miami’s Cuban flavor with items like the Cubano in Paris sandwich, made with overnight marinated braised pulled pork, melted gruyere cheese, pickled and caramelized onions and a smear of Dijon mustard. For dessert? A guava crème crepe, bien sur! Dale!

Catch live horse racing at Hialeah Park Racing & Casino

Hialeah Park Racing & Casino

Head to the racetracks for an afternoon of fun and gaming at Hialeah Park Racing & Casino. Set on 200 acres of landscaped gardens with architecture inspired by the 16th Century French Mediterranean movement, Hialeah Park Racing & Casino has been a mainstay for nearly a century with a National Register of Historic Places distinction. It’s also an Audubon Bird Sanctuary where flamingos roam wild. The casino boasts a 33-table poker room and nearly 900 slot machines. Considered one of the most beautiful racetracks, you can catch live horse racing throughout the year, as well as simulcasting of important racing events from around the globe. While you’re there, grab a meal at Havana Café or a drink from one of their bars and lounges.

So much to do at Amelia Earhart Park

Amelia Earhart Park

Spanning 515 acres, Amelia Earhart Park is a true oasis for recreation in the northern stretch of Hialeah. You’ll find a wakeboarding cable complex, as well as wakeboarding from behind a Super Air Nautique G23 boat at the 90-acre freshwater lake. If you’re new to the sport, book lessons or simply rent equipment from the watersports complex. There’s also an area for paddleboarding. Beyond water sports, Amelia Earhart boasts soccer fields, sand volleyball courts, mountain biking trails with onsite rentals available and an enclosed bark park. There’s even a playground and a petting zoo for the little ones.

Opa-Locka Hialeah Flea Market

When you’re after the unexpected, look no further than the Opa-Locka Hialeah Flea Market. Home to more than 800 vendors, this sprawling market is packed with stalls filled with athletic equipment, car stereos, discontinued beauty products, dance leotards, appliances, flowers, disposable cell phones, jewelry, you name it! Enjoy free events while you shop that often include live music and family-friendly activities like face painting. You’ll also find a variety of food vendors onsite. Most shops are cash only, so prepare accordingly for when you happen upon that incredible find!

Creative twists on Cuban pastries at Breadman Bakery

Breadman Miami

Breadman Bakery, run by a husband-wife duo, recently made waves with an unusual pastry invention: the croqueta cake! To the uninitiated, that’s a Cuban vanilla buttercream cake with guava filling lined with ham and potato croquetas. The unusual mix of savory and sweet Cuban flavors became an instant hit. The bakery opens early every day and serves a wide range of freshly baked pastries, as well as sandwiches, burgers and other brunch and breakfast items. It’s a modern day, creative twist on the classic Cuban bakery and they’ve developed a loyal following in just a few short years.

Nooo Que Barato Discount

Founded by Cuban native Serafín Blanco, Hialeah’s most popular department store, Nooo Que Barato Discount, sells definitively inexpensive goods designed for Miami’s vast Cuban diaspora to buy for friends and family back in Cuba that may not otherwise have reliable access to the store’s inventory. You’ll find official Cuban government school uniforms, mosquito netting, Bic lighters, pre-paid cell phones, white blouses and skirts for Las Damas de Blanco (Cuba’s anti-government protesters) and much more. It’s also a discount grocery and home goods store where you can buy textiles, home décor, tropical fruit and vegetables—pretty much anything you need to prepare a traditional Cuban dish.

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