Explore Miami's Heritage Neighborhoods

Little Havana
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By: Petra Brennan

Miami is made up of so many multicultural jewels and rich diversity, it’s impossible to overlook the heritage neighborhoods that make up our city.

From the spicy streets of Little Havana, to the historic Bahamian culture of Coconut Grove, you will want to explore each flavor that makes up our cosmopolitan city. The best way to start your journey, is by multicultural heritage tour that you won’t soon forget.  Keep scrolling for a quick taste of some of our decadent flavors and remember to stop by our visitor centers – available in most neighborhoods – to pick up a copy of the Greater Miami & the Beaches Multicultural Guide. This will come in handy as you explore the cultural corridors of our vibrant city.

Club Tipico Dominicano
Visit Club Tipico Domincano for Dominican cuisine and a night of dancing

Allapatah

Locally known as Little Santo Domingo, Allapattah is one Miami’s hidden gems beaming with pride of its Latin heritage and cultural diversity. Make sure you stop by  Club Típico Dominicano, a family-owned staple in the community since 1985, for a taste of authentic Dominican cuisine and a night of dancing. Or if you’re craving something sweet, visit Nitin Bakery, famous for its traditional Dominican cakes and array of Dominican specialties, including stuffed yucca and empanadas.

Rubell Family Museum
The Rubell Family Museum is one of the largest private art collections in North America

Allapattah is also home to Jackson Memorial Hospital, the Rubell Museum – one of the biggest private contemporary art collections in North America, and Juan Pablo Duarte Park where locals can soak up the Miami sunshine while working out, walking the trails, or attending any of the events hosted on the baseball fields and basketball courts.

While Allapattah has historically been a special community for residents, the neighborhood has been blooming with new restaurants, museums, and activities welcoming locals and residents to come and explore.

Cuban Pastellitos
Cuban coffee and pastries abound at window "ventanitas" in Hialeah

Hialeah

Looking for a full Cuban American experience in Miami? Look no further than Hialeah, home to the highest percentage of Cuban Americans in the United States and plenty of Latin cuisine, bodegas and ventanitas serving delicious Cuban coffee and pastries. Get some shopping done at  Ñoo Que Barato Discount, founded by Cuban native Serafín Blanco, designed for locals to purchase inexpensive Cuban goods to send back home.

Leah Arts District wall
Leah Arts District wall mural displaying local talent

When in Hialeah make sure to stop by the Leah Arts District, the neighborhood’s art central where abandoned warehouses have been transformed into galleries, murals, local vendors, thrift shops, and block parties featuring local artists and live music.

Hialeah Racetrack
Hialeah Park Racing & Casino is on the National Register of Historic Places

Interested in Hialeah’s historic places? Then head over to the Hialeah Park Racing & Casino, a mainstay on the National Register of Historic Places, and one of the most beautiful racetracks where flamingos run wild – making flamingos the city’s mascot.

Couple by Purvis Young Mural in Historic Overtown
One of many murals painted by Purvis Young in Historic Overtown

Historic Overtown

Historic Overtown, reflects a blend of the ancestry of the Caribbean, West Indies, West Africa and the old south. The charm, energy, and history of this neighborhood would explain why it was once referred to as the “Harlem of the South” and is currently undergoing its renaissance as an exciting Arts & Entertainment district.

Lyric Theater
Historic Lyric Theater is home to Lyric Live, an Apollo style talent show

Stop by Historic Lyric Theater Cultural Arts Complex where you can appreciate one of Historic Overtown’s oldest treasured structures and learn of its importance to the community. The Lyric Theater now hosts a variety of events, including its signature Apollo style talent show called Lyric Live, which showcases local talents in a one-of-a-kind interactive performance.

Jackson Soul Food
Jacson Soul Food is one of the oldest authentic soul food restaurants in Miami

You can’t miss a stop at Jackson Soul Food, one of the oldest, authentic soul food restaurants in Miami. Other classic and delicious Historic Overtown eateries include Lil Greenhouse Grill with their edgy neo-soul cuisine and House of Wings, so don't leave without getting your fill of some authentic cooking.

Historic Overtown Black Police Precinct and Courthouse Museum
Black Police Precinct and Courthouse Museum is the only structure of its kind in the nation

Historic Overtown is also home to the Black Police Precinct and Courthouse Museum which showcases the history and legacy of the preservation of African American history and the struggles and accomplishments of Black Police Officers in Overtown, as they served during the pre-Civil Rights Movement. There is no other known structure in the nation that was designed, devoted and operated as a separate station house and municipal court for blacks during segregation.

Hampton House Hotel entrance
Hampton House Hotel once hosted Black entertainers like Sammy Davis Jr and Nat King Cole

Liberty City

Liberty City, a historically Black community in Miami with deep roots dating back to the first black migration in 1937 and the site of the 1980 riots, is now on the brink of an economic revitalization and continues to host the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day parade annually on Martin Luther King Boulevard which runs from Biscayne Boulevard to Hialeah. 

The Historic Hampton House, home to civil rights meetings held by Martin Luther King Jr. in 1950 and host to top Black entertainers including Sammy Davis, Jr., Sam Cooke and Nat King Cole, is still a staple in the community offering monthly live jazz events and other activities throughout the year.

Dancers at Liberty City Cultural Arts Center
The African Heritage Cultural Arts Center displays the work of local artists

For locals, the African Heritage Cultural Arts Center, opened in 1974, offers local artists and youth the opportunity to display their work and build on their creativity through after-school arts programs and unique programming within the community.

Little Haiti Cultural Center
The Little Haiti Cultural Complex offers events such as cultural dance classes 

Little Haiti

This Miami neighborhood is the cultural heart of the Haitian diaspora beating since the 1980’s when waves of Haitian immigrants sought refuge. A bustling, Creole-speaking community that celebrates all things Caribbean via galleries, museums, family-owned restaurants, and more, Little Haiti is an oasis of Haitian culture and a welcoming community where locals and visitors can find authentic experiences.  

The Caribbean Marketplace in Little Haiti provides local goods for purchase

The Little Haiti Cultural Complex serves as the epicenter for this neighborhood. It offers a series of events including cultural dance classes, theater performances and museum-quality art exhibits. It is also home to the Caribbean Marketplace, a 9,000 square foot venue space within the Little Haiti Cultural Complex and also where you can find the Little Haiti Visitor Center.

Chef Creole in Little Haiti
Visit Chef Creole in Little Haiti for an authentic Haitian experience

Little Haiti offers a great selection of dining options. For an authentic Haitian experience, try Chef Creole. This Caribbean-inspired restaurant features a charming thatched roof and open style seating that can even accommodate small groups for an interactive cooking session with the chef.

Libreri Mapou in Little Haiti
Libreri Mapou bookstore specializes in French and creole publications

The third Friday of every month features a free outdoor concert, Sounds of Little Hait, on the plaza of the Little Haiti Cultural Complex. The performance features a live Haitian band and the musical sounds of Kompa, Zouk and other Caribbean melodies. Included in the evening is a Cultural Art Walk through downtown Little Haiti where you will find Libreri Mapou, a quaint bookstore and cultural center specializing in French and creole publications. For an added treat, it offers sampling of a special Haitian liquor called Crémas.

Ball & Chain performers in Little Havana
Move to the beat of live performances at Ball & Chain in Little Havana

Little Havana

It’s impossible to explore Little Havana without swaying your hips to the lively music bustling down Calle Ocho (SW 8th Street). In this lively neighborhood, Hispanic culture permeates everything from the delicious smells of Latin cuisine throughout to the sounds of the music at Ball & Chain, Little Havana’s oldest bar and lounge. Begin your adventure by walking over to the famous Maximo Gomez Park, popularly nicknamed “Domino Park”, to enjoy the spectator sport of Dominos. A tradition for more than 35 years, the gameplay at this park is serious and exciting to watch.

El Credito Cigars in Little Havana
Cuban Cigars at El Credito in Little Havana make perfect souvenirs

You will want to pick up some souvenirs at the Little Havana To Go Marketplace where you will find a selection of handmade crafts and artisan style treasures or visit Little Havana’s cigar factories, art galleries and other cultural shops to find unique treasures as a remembrance of your experience.

Azucar Ice Cream in Little Havana
Azucar Ice Cream has flavors from Miami's locally grown seasonal fruits

Hungry for more? Cuban food is considered a staple in Miami and Little Havana is the right place to enjoy authentic Cuban cuisine with so many options to choose from. Or treat yourself to something sweet at Azucar Ice Cream Company — an ice cream and sorbet boutique, with flavors made from locally grown seasonal fruits and vegetables from South Florida farmer’s markets and Redland, Florida growers. Los Pinarenos Fruteria is also great for sampling fresh exotic fruits from the Caribbean. Whatever you do, be sure to try a traditional cafécito (shot of Cuban coffee) and a pastelito — a yummy flakey Cuban pastry filled with guava or other tasty treats. 

Viernes Culturales in Little Havana
Viernes Culturales happens the third Friday of every month in Little Havana

And if you find yourself here close to the weekend, keep in mind that every third Friday of the month the streets come alive with pulsating music, arts and crafts vendors for Viernes Culturales (Cultural Fridays) that you just won't want to miss!

Miami Gardens

The third largest city in Miami, Miami Gardens is a diverse destination with fun for the whole family, delicious authentic Caribbean cuisine and live entertainment. Closed in by four state parks but still accessible via all the major Allapattah area highways in Miami, Miami Gardens is a central neighborhood yet a destination of choice for many families. Some of the well-known restaurants in the area include Shuckin & Jivin, and ode to Black American Southern culture (they also offer catering), Lorna's Caribbean & American Grill for authentic Jamaican, Bahamian, and American dishes, and Ice Cream Heaven, the only black-owned ice cream parlor in Miami Gardens.

Jazzin the Gardens at Hard Rock Stadium
Jazz in the Gardens at Hard Rock Stadium

Home to the Hard Rock Stadium which hosts large events like the Miami Open, Orange Bowl, football games for both the Miami Dolphins and University of Miami Hurricanes, annual music festivals like Jazz in the Gardens and Rolling Loud, the International Music & Food Festival, and recently host to Super Bowl LIV.

FMU Mascot
Historically Black College and University FMU Lions Mascot

Fun fact: South Florida’s only Historically Black College and University (HBCU), Florida Memorial University, is in Miami Gardens and has been part of the community for more than 140 years. Go Lions!

Opa Locka mural
The mural on the Opa Locka City Hall building is iconic

Opa-Locka

Seeking Moorish Revival architecture? Look no further than Opa-Locka, where you can find the largest collection in the Western Hemisphere. Explore the neighborhood and you will come across a train station resembling a mosque and the Turkish harem looking Chamber of Commerce. Though a predominantly Black neighborhood, Opa-Locka hosts an Arabian Nights Festival annually at the Opa-Locka City Hall.

The ARC Center, part of the Opa-Locka Community Development Organization, is home to an art gallery, recreational art space, and vast outdoor courtyard space. 

The Opa-Locka Hialeah Flea Market is open 365 days a year featuring more than 800 vendors from appliances, fresh produce, jewelry, and tons of free family-friendly events and food to make your visit last an entire afternoon. Most shops are cash only so keep that in mind when planning your visit!

Coconut Grove aerial view
Aerial view of Coconut Grove one of the oldest Miami neighborhoods

Coconut Grove

A enclave of rich Bahamian culture, West Coconut Grove is one of the oldest neighborhoods in Miami and features landmarks, monuments and institutions that tell the story of the community, first settled by Bahamian immigrants.

On Charles Avenue, you will find so many historic gems full of stories and richness. From the Colored Library, which was the area’s first black library and the focal point for community meetings and was later repurposed as a church, to the E.W.F Stirrup House, an African-Bahamian immigrant who became the largest landowner in Coconut Grove. West Grove is also the home of the first African American astronaut, Winston Elliott Scott. He was born in 1950 and lived on Frow Avenue.

Macedonia Church in Coconut Grove
Macedonia Missionary Baptist Church is the oldest African American church in Coconut Grove

West Coconut Grove is also known for its churches  –  Christ Episcopal Church located on Hibiscus Street, Macedonia Missionary Baptist, which holds the honor of being the oldest African American church in the Coconut Grove Village West Community, and Church of Christ which has been part of the West Grove community for more than 70 years. Another landmark for many “Grovites,” (nickname for Coconut Grove dwellers) is the Coconut Grove Cemetery created in 1913 by the Coconut Grove Colored Cemetery Association, which included several prominent, local, black citizens including E.W.F. Stirrup, Walker Burrows and Joseph Riddick. It is the final resting place of many influential pioneer settlers.

Nassau Daddy Peacock in Coconut Gove
Nassau Daddy Peacock celebrates Coconut Grove's first settlers

If you catch a glimpse of Nassau Daddy Peacock while exploring the area, this iconic whimsical sculpture was created by artist Rosie Brown and celebrates the rich heritage and culture of the residents.

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