Little Havana is the capital of the Cuban anti Castro exile community. This Miami neighborhood listed in all Miami Travel guides should be devoted some times, specifically for visitors fond of history. Today, Little Havana
is mostly populated by Cubans and Latinos, English is optional Spanish or rather Cuban is the national language. The area that became Little Havana was once a dynamic jewish community like most of South Florida in the beginning of the 20 th century. In the 1930's the jewish population (more on Miami history and the local jewish population
) began to leave that area and move to the beach. In 1959, Fidel Castro ousted the Cuban dictator Batista to create a communist bastion, as a result millions of people fled the country to the U.S and mainly Miami and more specifically Little Havana. The first Cuban immigrants fulfilled their American dream and started to move out of the neighborhood during the 70's and 80's. Poor immigrants from Cuba and other central American countries came in Little Havana to replace those that left. During the 80's and 90's the area deteriorated and was quite scary. Streets were dirty and the place was ridden by crime, drug and prostitution.
Even when the region deteriorated in the 1980s and 1990s, one thing never went away: Domino Park, the corner lot where old Cuban men in guayabera shirts came to play their favorite game, smoke cigars and trade gossip. And it was this corner that continued to attract tourists, even as the rest of the neighborhood decayed.
Still, Little Havana has a long way to go before it can compete with other up-and-coming Miami neighborhoods
such as South Beach or the hip Design District
. The current strip of galleries covers only a few blocks, and the area provides little nightlife. Many of the neighboring streets are zoned for low-rent apartments.
Little Havana is in the list of all Miami guides
and is certainly a Miami attractions not to be missed. Tourists and Miami visitors eager to understand the cultural diversity of Miami ought to visit Little Havana, walk its streets mingle with locals and have a drink or meal in a local restaurant such as Versailles.
Little Havana is situated west of Brickel Avenue, and was created the way it is today by immigrants from Cuba. It is said to be like a little replica of Cuban life. As you walk the streets of Little Havana, the smells, the music, the signs in Spanish, will bring you to the Cuban experience. There are fruit stands, smells of sugar cane juice, cigar factories, cafeterias selling Cuban coffee, and people sitting around and discussing politics. It is all very authentic and should be seen at all cost. We do not recommend to book a Miami hotel
in Litlle Havana but rather to devote an afternoon or an evening to explore this wonderfull Miami neigborhood.
The revival of this area of Miami started 10 years ago, the city eliminated the violence and this area became more and more popular for local as well as for visitors.
Visitors in Miami enjoy the Domino Park, where older Cuban men dressed with their traditional shirts called Guyabera, seat, play domino while they smoke cigars and exchange the latest gossips.
There are also popular cultural events such as Calle Ocho
, the celebration of Hispanic American culture, music, food and dance in March. If you enjoy art, and would like to see work from Cuban artists, there are art galleries open all year, as well as studios and theatres.
On 'Cultural Friday' every month on the last Friday called, Viernes Culturales, there are three different venues of open artists studios with shuttle buses to take you from one to the other. A good place to eat and enjoy if you would like to sample authentic Cuban Cuisine is El Esquito on Calle Ocho. For those of you who would like to experience Cuba in a nutshell, Little Havana is the place.
Little Havana, despite the numerous improvements, has a long way to be able to compete with other trendy Miami neighborhoods such as South Beach or the Design District
. Art galleries stretched only on a few blocks. The "nightlife" has not much to offer for tourists unless you are truly craving or want to experience rich Cuban dinner. Dining in Miam requires Miami visitors to try the traditional Cuban cuisine.