No trip to Miami is complete without a drive down the famed Calle Ocho to Little Havana. Here you can live contentedly on a bounty of Cuban food, coffee, and cigars while salsa music streams from the open-air bars. Take a cultural or culinary tour or venture alone and explore the area’s vibrant treasures on your own time. If you are up for a little more excitement, come on the last Friday of the month for Viernes Cultural (“Cultural Fridays”) for free outdoor concerts, art exhibits, and tastings from some of the local restaurants.
When visiting, we recommend a meal at Versailles, located at 3555 SW 8th Street. This classic Cuban restaurant has been the epicenter of Miami’s Cuban exile community since its founding in 1971. If you aren’t up for a full meal, drop by their ventanita (or “little window”), where you can pick up a quick Cuban coffee and a snack. Alternatively, visit La Carreta, Miami’s other big Cuban restaurant, which is conveniently located across the street from Versailles.
After eating drive east on Calle Ocho until you reach the area between SW 17th Street and SW 13th Street. This is the heart of Little Havana. Park along the road or in one of many parking lots nearby. As you walk note the many colorful murals by Miami artists decorating the buildings. Don’t forget to look down though, as you can see Little Havana’s own version of the Walk of Fame (memorializing contributions to Latin culture, community, and traditions).
As you walk, you’ll see a number of cigar factories. Here you can watch the experts roll individual cigars just as they were trained to do in Cuba. There are a number of different options, but we recommend the Little Havana Cigar Factory or the Cuba Tobacco Cigar Company. If coffee is more of your thing, stop by any of the ventanitas along the way for a quick cortadito. We recommend stopping at the ventanita at Los Pinareños Frutería where you can combine your coffee with the tastes and smells of beautiful fresh fruit. Another good option is La Esquina De La Fama.
Not far from La Equina De La Fama, on the corner of Calle Ocho and SW 15th St., is the famous Domino Park (also known as Maximo Gomez Park). Domino aficionados have been playing here for decades. Come see the action and then head east on Calle Ocho to the Cuban Memorial Boulevard Park. This small park is dedicated to those who fought for Cuban freedom and contains a number of statues dedicated to the cause.
To end your trip to Little Havana we recommend that you head back to the corner of Calle Ocho and SW 15th St. On most days you’ll hear a live band playing at the Ball and Chain, an open-air bar and lounge. Walk in and have a cocktail then head next door to Azucar for the best ice cream in Miami. Be sure to try a scoop of the Abuela Maria, a distinctly Miami combination of vanilla ice cream, guava, cream cheese, and galletas Maria.
If you liked this post, check out our article on Cuban coffee where we review the four main options and discuss how to order.