Exploring the historical and cultural districts of Miami:
Little Havana & Little Haiti
One of Florida’s most popular seaport cities, Miami, is one of the top travel destinations across the nation. Miami is known for its world-famous beaches, wildly hot nightlife, and brilliant art deco architecture. Miami bridges Latin and Carribean influence, five-star dining and accommodations, live entertainment venues, and top-notch attractions, so it’s no wonder why Miami continues to thrill the masses. Miami is an epicenter for history, culture, and tourism.
Miami’s vibrant art and cultural district, Little Havana, is home to many immigrants from the Caribbean islands, namely Cuba, as well as Central America and South American countries. Calle Ocho is the festive and lively 8th street which is the cultural heart of Miami’s Little Havana neighborhood. Little Havana celebrates the heritage of all of the Latin cultures with food, music, and dance and is where the famous multi-cultural Calle Ocho street festival is held.
Little Havana Visitors Center offers visitors a taste of Miami’s Little Havana. The visitors center is a great stop to get acquainted with the area. They have tons of fun souvenirs and colorful, quirky merchandise.
The Little Havana Visitors Center, located on 8th and 16th street, is the hub for entertainment and sightseeing. I loved the lively Spanish music coming down the sidewalks and flowing out of restaurants and live music venues. I was greeted by many smiling, eager faces.
Little Havana is an international melting pot of customs and history. On the eighth street, the music, art, food are all the rage. I enjoyed walking the strip and checking out the sights and sounds of this vibrant and cultural part of the city. The Spanish architecture is tremendous. I also saw so many statues of colorful chickens and roosters everywhere which is perfect for photo-ops.
There is an abundance of hand-rolled Cuban cigar smoke shops, Cuban coffee, Cuban cantinas and authentic Cuban restaurants. There are open-air fruit stands selling fresh pineapples, mangos, and coconuts. The shops are plentiful for novelty and specialty jewelry, art and apparel.
Fruitique Ice Cream is where fruit and happiness meet! In the visitors center, I found this colorful freezer filled with all sorts of pops. Fruitique is a really popular ice cream in Miami. I went with the coconut fruit pop and it was divine. The pops are rich and cold. They have many flavors including Passion Fruit, Dulce de Leche, Cheese and Guava and many more.
The cigars and coffee are synonymous with Little Havana. From cigar factories and cigar rollers to Cuban coffee shops and coffee stands you will find one or the other every few feet. I was completely enthralled with watching the older gentlemen play the guitar and sing Spanish songs and puff on huge cigars.
Máximo Gomez Domino Park is widely popular for the many older gentlemen who gather to socialize and intensely play dominoes and card games while furiously puffing on cigars. I enjoyed watching how they take their domino competitions very seriously. The atmosphere was unique and interesting.
Domino Park is centrally located in Little Havana/Calle Ocho so you can’t miss it. I stumbled upon it just walking down the main strip of 8th street. You’ll definitely want to get you a cup of Cuban coffee or a Cuban ice cream fruit pops and join in on the fun!
El Exquisito was my first stop for an official cup of Cuban coffee. I like that you are able to walk up to the little window outside and place your order. I was pleasantly surprised that a little cup of coffee was only .75 cents. You can’t beat that price.
The Cafe Con Leche, or coffee milk, is very strong, but it was an experience I was pleased to have! Aside from coffee, El Exquisito is also a local favorite for their Cuban sandwiches.
Little Haiti, also known as Lemon City, is one of the oldest neighborhoods in Miami and is an immersive experience of art, food, music and Haitian culture. I love the island music rolling through the streets. There are various eateries, record stores, and local bars. There is a multitude of wall murals and street art celebrating all things Haiti.
Little Haiti is home to many immigrants from Haiti and the Caribean islands. There is an interesting mix of people and places tucked away within the Little Haiti neighborhoods. I love the eclectic mix of the Caribbean and French-Creole culture.
The Little Haiti Cultural Center is a Caribbean marketplace that offers authentic Haitian food, music, natural products and handmade jewelry and arts and crafts. The cultural center showcases an art gallery and holds art classes here.
The Little Haiti Cultural Center is both the welcome center, museum, marketplace and event space. Many Caribbean cultures and crafts are celebrated here including The U.S. Virgin Islands, Bahamas, Jamaica and more.
And my bucket list dreams just keep coming true!
With All My Love,
The Vintage Gypsy
“Wherever you go becomes a part of you somehow.”