Miami is a collection of neighborhoods representing many cultures, from Haitian to Argentine to Cuban, and beyond. Little Havana, a traditionally Cuban neighborhood, has developed into a melting pot of Latin American cultures. It still, however, keeps its Cuban vibe with cigar shops, Cuban restaurants and salsa-inspired dance clubs. Missing a tour of Little Havana would be the ice-cream sundae without the cherry on top -- it's an essential ingredient in Miami's colorful platter of experiences.
Don't Miss in Little Havana
Calle Ocho is the main drag in Little Havana, where you can find a Hollywood-esque Walk of Fame dedicated to Cuban stars like Celia Cruz. Be sure to check out Domino Park on SW 15th Ave., where locals gather to try their hand at dominos. Stroll to Memorial Boulevard on SW 13th Ave. to see the ceiba tree, a sacred symbol of life in the Santería religion. Take in a bit of history at the Bay of Pigs Museum, or enjoy a Cuban-style ice-cream at Azucar, with wild flavors like avocado, guava, or cafe con leche. Sip a mojito as you dance the night away at the historic Ball & Chain, a classic nightclub from the 1930s that has recently reinvented itself as a live music and salsa venue.
Must See/Do in Little Havana
Cultural Fridays, or Viérnes Culturales, take place the last Friday of every month from 7 p.m. until 11 p.m. Expect live music, open art galleries, and typical street food.
Parking and Transportation at Little Havana
There are several low-cost, even free, parking lots available around Calle Ocho. The bus is also an option as several lines run from Downtown to Little Havana.
Other Places to Visit Near Little Havana
No trip to Little Havana is complete without trying a cafecito, a typically strong Cuban coffee made for sharing. Jump on the Number 8 bus and head to Cafe Versailles for quite possibly the most famous cuban coffee in the city.
Insider Tip for Visitors to Little Havana
While significantly safer than in years past, it is important to be careful while wandering Little Havana, especially at night. Stay on the main drag and avoid East Little Havana, which begins east of SW 17th Ave.
Author's bio: Bethany Platanella is a freelance writer, yoga instructor and obsessive traveler based in Miami Beach. Follow her stories at www.bethanyplatanella.com.