June 21, 2023

16 Things To Do in Little Havana

Welcome to Little Havana, a vibrant neighborhood nestled in the heart of Miami, bursting with Cuban culture and rich history. From its colorful streets adorned with stunning murals to its flavorful cuisine and lively entertainment scene, there are plenty of things to see and do in this lively district. Whether you're a local looking for a fun day out or a visitor seeking an authentic Miami experience, Little Havana has something for everyone. Get ready to embark on a journey through this culturally rich district, as we highlight 16 must-do activities that will make your visit unforgettable.

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The Best Restaurants in Little Havana

1) Versailles Restaurant

Hailed as the “World's Most Famous Cuban Restaurant,” Versailles has been a pillar of Cuban cuisine and culture for over 50 years. Since its establishment in 1971, Versailles has become a cherished gathering place for Miami's Cuban exiles, serving as an unofficial town square. The restaurant boasts an extensive menu that preserves the rich heritage of Cuban cuisine, making it a favorite among celebrities, politicians, and the media. In 1998, Versailles expanded to include an on-site bakery, ensuring that all pastries, breads, and desserts are freshly made from scratch. Enjoy a pastelito and a cafecito at its famous “ventanita” walk-up window.

2) El Pub

Photo courtesy of: El Pub Restaurant

Graced by an iconic six-foot rooster statue at the entrance, the menu at El Pub is a celebration of Cuban flavors from beef empanadas and ham croquettes to lechon asado and picadillo. The true star is the Cuban sandwich, and its cousin, the delicious Media Noche. Don't miss the opportunity to savor their strong and sweet Cuban coffee standing at “la ventanita” outside on the corner. Order a cortado to share with friends in thimble-sized cups, or get yourself a frothy cortadito. The restaurant's walls are adorned with memorabilia that reflects an idealized Cuba of the past, featuring laminated articles from vintage newspapers and magazines, with a particular focus on baseball, Cuba's beloved pastime.

3) Azucar Ice Cream

Azucar Ice Cream is an artisanal ice cream and sorbet boutique that draws inspiration from the diverse cultures and hot subtropical climate of South Florida. With a passion for Latin-Caribbean flavors, they craft their ice cream confections just like their abuela used to make. Azucar uses high-quality, all-natural ingredients, sourcing ruby red mamey from Los Piñarenos fruit stand across the street, and sweet platanos maduros hand-prepared from El Nuevo Siglo grocery store around the corner. They prioritize locally grown, seasonal fruits and vegetables from South Florida farmer's markets and Redland, Florida growers whenever possible. Savor unique and delightful flavors inspired by the neighborhood, such as Abuela Maria and Café con Leche.

4) Old’s Havana Cuban Bar & Cocina

Photo courtesy of: Old’s Havana Cuban Bar & Cocina

Old's Havana Cuban Bar & Cocina transports its guests back to a pre-revolutionary era with its vintage decor and live music, capturing the lighthearted spirit and passion of Cuba. As the self-proclaimed "La Casa del Mojito," it offers an exceptional mojito experience, named the city's Best Mojito by the Miami New Times. Made with freshly muddled mint and a selection of 29 aged rums, the mojitos are a true delight. The restaurant is also famous for its quintessential Cuban sandwich and succulent lechon asado, showcasing the flavors that define Cuban cuisine.

5) Party Cake Bakery

Photo courtesy of: Party Cake Bakery

For a sweet treat, head to Party Cake Bakery, a family-owned bakery where you can indulge in delectable pastelitos made by hand in their open kitchen. Located next to the Bay of Pigs Memorial and under the iconic mural dedicated to Cuban singer, Celia Cruz, Party Cake Bakery is a family-owned business started in the 1980s by Cuban exiles, Juan and Olga Montano. Still at the helm today, their bakery now has multiple locations around the city, operated by their children and grandchildren. Don’t miss trying their signature pastelitos de guyaba!

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The Best Entertainment on Calle Ocho

6) Ball & Chain

Photo courtesy of: Viernes Culturales

With a history dating back to 1935, Ball & Chain is a legendary venue that has preserved its vintage charm while evolving over the years. The original pine ceiling witnessed performances by renowned artists like Billie Holiday and Count Basie. This lively establishment features two stages that consistently offer fantastic jazz and spirited salsa music. Ball & Chain is a place of celebration, where jazz melodies fill the air, flamenco dancers captivate the crowd, and salsa dancing lessons add to the vibrant atmosphere. The Cuban theme extends to the food and drinks, with classic mojitos, bananita daiquiris, and unique concoctions like the Calle Ocho Old Fashioned and the Miami Mule, which incorporate local flavors.

7) Viernes Culturales

Viernes Culturales, Little Havana's celebrated monthly event, is a must-attend street party and gallery walk. Taking place every third Friday along Calle Ocho between 13th and 17th Avenues, it has been a cultural celebration for over 20 years. Immerse yourself in Latin-Caribbean culture with lively pachanga music, captivating art exhibits, and exhilarating live performances. This family-friendly festival showcases the talents of over 30 local artists and artisans, inviting you to explore the diverse art galleries along Calle Ocho.

8) Cubaocho Museum & Performing Arts Center

Cubaocho Museum and Performing Arts Center in Little Havana is a cultural gem, embodying the neighborhood's arts renaissance. This vibrant space brings together art, music, dance, cigars, and mojitos. Explore the museum's extensive collection of pre-revolution 19th and early- to mid-20th century Cuban art while enjoying a cocktail. The venue also features a research library, a café bar with an impressive selection of rums, and live entertainment that ranges from salsa bands to Latin jam sessions and Cuban jazz legends. With the option to purchase artwork, indulge in a drink, and experience captivating live music, Cubaocho is a must-visit destination.

Activities & Attractions in Little Havana

9) Cuba Tobacco Cigar Co.

Cuba Tobacco Cigar Co., a family-owned and operated business, carries on the rich tradition of Cuban cigar-making. After the nationalization of their tobacco fields and factories in Cuba, the Bello family immigrated to Miami, where they revived their cigar heritage. Since 1994, they have been crafting cigars in Little Havana using the finest tobacco and traditional techniques. With five generations of experience, Cuba Tobacco Cigar Co. maintains their commitment to producing some of the world's finest cigars, upholding their old standards and preserving their Cuban cigar-making legacy.

10) Futurama 1637 Art Building 

Photo courtesy of: Greater Miami Convention & Visitors Bureau

Located on Calle Ocho in Miami's Little Havana, the Futurama 1637 Art Building is not your typical gallery. Established in 2011, it serves as a hub for over 42 local and international artists from places like Argentina, France, Peru, and Ecuador. With twelve artists having their studios on-site, visitors can witness the creative process firsthand. The gallery offers an immersive experience, showcasing unique and original artworks. Additionally, Futurama actively engages with the community through events like free art classes, the Umbrellas of Little Havana festival, and the Cafe con Arte collective exhibit.

11) Rooster Statues

When exploring Little Havana, be sure to get your selfies with the iconic rooster statues that have become a beloved symbol of the neighborhood. Based on the late sculptor, Tony Lopez’s design, these funky and often themed Calle Ocho Roosters first arrived in 2002, and since then, over 70 similar sculptures have been scattered along Calle Ocho and Flagler Street. As you stroll through the area, you may also encounter live roosters, or gallos, crowing atop the sprawling roots of the ceiba tree.

12) Little Havana Food & Cultural Tour

Experience the renowned [Little Havana Food & Cultural Tour] by Miami Culinary Tours, where you'll delight in famous Cuban delicacies and discover the cultural history of Cuban exiles. Sip authentic Cuban coffee at a walk-up ventanita, witness the art of expert cigar rolling, and indulge in the best homemade Cuban sandwich around. Taste the flavors of Calle Ocho as you savor the finest Cuban cuisine, including pastelitos de guayaba and fresh-pressed tropical juices from a generations-old frutería. Immerse yourself in the vibrant art, history, and culture of Miami's beloved Cuban community. With accolades like being named the #1 food tour in Miami and making TripAdvisor's Top 10 Experiences in the World for four consecutive years, this tour is not to be missed.

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History of Little Havana

13) Bay of Pigs Monument

Tamanoeconomico, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Located on Cuban Memorial Boulevard and Calle Ocho, the Bay of Pigs Monument is a historic site that pays tribute to Cuban freedom fighters. One of its most iconic features is the Eternal Torch of Brigade 2506, honoring the soldiers who bravely fought during the Bay of Pigs Invasion. The monument also showcases the Virgin Mary statue, Nestor "Tony" Izquierdo, a Cuban map, and a bust of General Antonio Maceo. Additionally, the boulevard recognizes courageous journalists who openly criticized Castro's regime. While exploring, you'll come across a majestic Ceiba tree adorned with candles placed by followers of Santeria.

14) Domino Park

Photo courtesy of: Greater Miami Convention & Visitors Bureau

Nestled on the corner of SW 14th Avenue, Máximo Gómez Park, affectionately known as Domino Park, is a hidden gem on Calle Ocho. Cuban retirees gather here to play dominoes, sip Cuban coffee, and engage in lively conversations. With its domino-decorated walkways, benches for spectators, and a vibrant mural by artist Oscar Thomas, this park exudes a true sense of Latin energy and camaraderie.

15) Los Pinareños Fruteria

Photo courtesy of: History Miami Museum

For over 60 years, Los Pinareños Fruteria has been a beloved open-air fruit market in Little Havana. This family-run mom-and-pop shop, founded by Guillermina Hernandez and her late husband from Pinar del Rio, Cuba, offers fresh fruits, coconuts, sugarcane, coffee, juices, and fresh tropical fruit smoothies, like the famous batido de mamey. It's a place where you can experience the authentic flavors of Little Havana and be greeted by "la abuela de Pequeña Habana" herself. Don't forget to say hello to Chucha, the adorable Vietnamese pot-bellied pig who resides behind the market!

16) Bay of Pigs Museum & Library

Photo courtesy of: Miami Herald

The Bay of Pigs Museum & Library, also referred to as the Brigade 2506 Museum, is a significant memorial dedicated to the veterans of the Bay of Pigs Invasion. The museum houses a small yet captivating collection, and visitors are guided by the actual veterans who participated in the failed CIA-led operation. It offers a unique opportunity to learn about this historic event from those who experienced it firsthand.

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