Miami Beach is party central, no doubt, but one of the city's best neighborhoods is across the bridge and on the mainland. Little Havana, also known as Calle Ocho (8th Street), might just be where the city’s heart beats the loudest. This Cuban neighborhood is just a 15-minute drive from the ocean and chock full of personality, live music at all hours, and some of the tastiest Latin American cuisine in town.
Little Havana is a neighborhood with something for everyone, whether you're looking to spice up your night out away from the crowds of Miami Beach or you'd like throw in some cultural activities to enhance your Miami vacation. One thing’s for sure: you won’t run out of things to do here.
Spend Friday at Viernes Culturales
Viernes Culturales, also known as Cultural Fridays, is a once-a-month event that takes over Little Havana every third Friday of the month, celebrating local art, music, and culture. Calle Ocho between 13th and 17th avenues turns into a giant pachanga, or street party, with local businesses converting into galleries featuring local and international artists. Meanwhile, food stands, craft artisans, and music stages extend across the street to round out the evening with all of the best that Little Havana has to offer.
If you happen to be in the area on the third Friday of the month, then Viernes Culturales isn't just the best place to be in Little Havana, but in all of Miami. If you want to check out Little Havana's art scene but your trip doesn't coincide with Viernes Cultural, you can still see many of Calle Ocho's art galleries at any time of the month, such as the trendy Futurama gallery.
Roll Up an Authentic Cuban Stogie
You don't need to be a smoker to visit El Titan de Bronze, one of Little Havana's best and most authentic Cuban cigar shops. It's been family-owned and operated since opening in 1995, and trained rollers who are considered masters in their craft hand roll a selection of premium cigars each day. With the mixed aroma of tobacco and coffee in the air, entering this tiny Calle Ocho shop is like stepping into an actual cigar shop. While you're exploring Little Havana, don't miss out on stopping in for a chance to see these artisans at work. If you choose to indulge, enjoy your cigar while sipping on a glass of craft rum at one of the nearby bars.
Taste Rum and Check out the Art at Cubaocho
This museum, bar, and performing arts center is said to have the largest rum collection in Miami and maybe even all of Florida. One thing's for sure, which is at Cubaocho, you’ll never experience a dull moment. Check out the events calendar for live music, salsa lessons, and bachata nights as an alternative to the overdone clubs on Miami Beach. Don’t forget your dancing shoes—and by dancing shoes, we mean the most comfortable ones you’ve got—because you’re about to burn some serious calories here. And if you don't know how to dance, don't worry. Just try the famed mojito or a sampling of the best rum in the house and you'll be loosened up and dancing in no time.
Catch a Flick at Tower Theater
One of Miami’s oldest cultural landmarks, Little Havana’s Tower Theater Miami has been open since 1926. This historic Art-Deco-style theater was closed down in 1984, but later turned over to Miami Dade College and remodeled to be much more than just a movie theater. Today, this historic cinema shows both Spanish and English-language films, hosts local exhibitions and performances, and welcomes college faculty members for free lectures on various topics open to the community. All of the English-language films are subtitled in Spanish, a nod to the diverse neighborhood where the Tower Theater is located.
Experience Delectable Flavors at Azucar Ice Cream Company
This family-owned shop, right across from Tower Theater, was founded in 2011 and offers Latin-inspired ice cream and sorbet flavors made with only the highest quality ingredients. Almost everything here is locally-sourced, from the mamey picked up down the street at the Los Pinarenos fruit stand to the sweet plantain (maduros) prepared at El Nuevo Siglo Grocery Store. Azucar Ice Cream Company also works with Florida growers in the Redlands who provide locally-grown seasonal fruits to the shop when possible. You can’t go wrong with any of the signature Miami flavors here, but a cult favorite is the Abuela Maria made up of premium vanilla ice cream mixed with ruby red guava, rich cream cheese, and crunchy Maria cookies.
Spot the Stars the Calle Ocho Walk of Fame
Also known as the Latin Walk of Fame and Hispanic Hollywood, the Calle Ocho Walk of Fame—approved by the city in 1988 as a separate walk of fame specifically recognizing Latinx celebrities—runs between 12th and 17th avenues and includes pink marble stars embedded on the sidewalk. Similar to the Hollywood Walk of Fame in Los Angeles, Calle Ocho’s Walk of Fame commemorates only Latinx artists and celebrities with ties to South Florida. Pose for pictures here and find big names that have helped shape the community, including the queen of Cuban salsa dancing and music, Celia Cruz, whose star was the first one added in 1987.
Watch Miamians Play Dominos at Maximo Gomez Park
One of the most Miami things you can do is participate or act as a spectator in an outdoor game of domino. Just around the corner from the Walk of Fame, you’ll find Maximo Gomez Park, also known as Domino Park. Here, mostly older Cubans have a blast from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily, sipping their cafecitos, engaging in good old fashioned conversation, and playing a serious domino game. For over 35 years, this has been a meeting spot for local Cubans and now all community members, a place where everyone is welcome. The park features domino-decorated tiled walkways and benches for anyone who cares to sit and watch a while.
Get Your Steps in During a Little Havana Food Tour
There’s no better way to really get a feel for the local food than trying a little something here and a little something there. Miami Culinary Tours offers a Little Havana Food & Cultural Tour that will teach participants about the neighborhood’s rich culture and history all while snacking at a handful (or more) of Calle Ocho’s greatest restaurants. Try a guava pastry or an authentic freshly-made Cuban sandwich. Empanadas are on the menu as well as exotic tropical fruit juices—always made right before your eyes.