If you’ve never heard of the Bay of Pigs Museum, also known as the Brigade 2506 Museum and Library, you may be stunned by what you find when you arrive there. Located near Miami’s famed Calle Ocho in Little Havana, the Bay of Pigs Museum is a small, but jam-packed museum and library containing artifacts and relics from the Bay of Pigs invasion in the early 1960s.
History and Background
On Apr. 17, 1961, the U.S. sent 1,200 trained Cuban exiles back to Cuba in an attempt to overthrow the Cuban government, which was being led by Fidel Castro. They failed. In the process, nearly 100 people died, and most of the living were taken as prisoners—including the father of Cuban-American celebrity and musician, Gloria Estefan. (They were later released in exchange for $50 million worth of food and medicine).
Twenty years or so after the invasion, Miami opened the museum and library to commemorate this battle. With nearly 400 people present in 1988, the Little Havana museum, officially known as the Juan J. Peruyero Museum and Manuel F. Artime Library (it was named after two Bay of Pigs Invasion veterans), opened to the public.
What to See at the Bay of Pigs Museum
Why take an audio tour, when you can listen to the staff—most who are veterans of the Bay of Pigs war—give a recap of the invasion and a firsthand account of what went down? The museum also has a detailed video that highlights what happened on those three days in April, as well as a small collection of goods and memorabilia on display, including a Brigade 2506 flag, which was held by President John F. Kennedy in his 1962 address.
How to Visit
The Bay of Pigs Museum is currently located in Little Havana, though there have been talks of moving it to Hialeah in the somewhat near future. It's located in a seemingly residential home, so it's easy to pass right by if you're not sure where you're going.
If you’re getting around between Little Havana, Brickell, and the Midtown/Edgewater areas of Miami, hop on a free trolley. There’s a local bus nearby and, of course, the option to take a ride with Uber or Lyft, too. The Bay of Pigs Museum is open Monday through Saturday, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
What to Do Nearby
Grab a craft beer at Union Beer Store or some happy hour oysters at Ella’s Oyster Bar. Bar Nancy is a laid back option with TVs and a decent beer, wine, and cocktail list if you’re in the mood for drinks. If you’re looking to dance or sing karaoke, Ball & Chain is a great go-to. For more Latin music and lots of rum, check out Hoy Como Ayer or Cubaocho. Keep the Cuban vibe going with live music at Cafe La Trova, or if being transported to another place and time seems enticing, visit Los Altos, a Mexican speakeasy located above an authentic Mexican restaurant in the area.
No matter what you decide to do here, immersing yourself in Cuban culture is a must. Calle Ocho has its very own Walk of Fame (similar to the one in Hollywood, California) that features pink marble stars with the names of famous Cuban celebrities like salsa musician, Celia Cruz. If you happen to be in the area the third Friday of the month, make sure to participate in Viernes Culturales, a 19-year tradition, and festival that includes art exhibits, live music, dancing, and of course, food.