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Ball & Chain
Photograph: Gil BittonBall & Chain

The best things to do in Little Havana, Miami’s colorful enclave full of history

The best things to do in Little Havana include dominos, salsa dancing, Cuban cigars and (of course) cafecitos.

Written by
Micah Johnson
Virginia Gil
Falyn Wood

Miami’s Little Havana is a vibrant neighborhood rich in cultural influence, an integral slice of this city’s legacy. Stroll its iconic Calle Ocho and behold longtime locals literally creating the sights, sounds and flavors Miami is famous for. Colorful murals mix with the area’s rhythmic music scene, savory cuisine and yes, lively domino games for an experience that will seduce you into leaving with a guayabera and a box of expertly rolled cigars.

Beyond being an epicenter of Miami’s Cuban-American community since the 1960s, it’s also a solid destination to experience a wide breadth of Cuban culture and some of the best Cuban food in Miami without leaving the United States. Sip cafecito all day long and learn to salsa dance the night away at one of Miami’s top Latin Nightclubs. Loving Little Havana is easy, especially when you’re exploring these top things to do and see. 

RECOMMENDED: Full Guide to Little Havana

Best things to do in Little Havana

Calle Ocho Walk of Fame
Photograph: Courtesy CC/Flickr/Willy Gobetz

1. Calle Ocho Walk of Fame

As you walk up and down SW 8th Street (between SW 17th and SW 12th Avenues), you’ll notice that the sidewalk is marked with pink marble stars, making up the Calle Ocho Walk of Fame. This Little Havana version of the Hollywood attraction began as a way to recognize Cuban celebrities. Cuba’s most famous salsa singer, Celia Cruz (who died in 2003), was the first to be immortalized in 1987. Since then, singers and soap stars from all over Latin America have been honored.

  • Restaurants
  • Ice cream parlors
  • East Little Havana

The neighborhood’s most famous ice cream shop showcases an impressive variety of Cuban-inspired flavors. Have you ever had rum-spiked flan ice cream? How about an addictive treat that mixes guava, cream cheese and Maria crackers? If you answered no to either, well, it’s high time you did.

  • Bars
  • East Little Havana
  • price 2 of 4

Today’s Ball & Chain is a recreation of a 1930s hotspot that once occupied the same space and welcomed jazz superstars like Billie Holiday, Count Basie and Chet Baker to its stage. The bar program is a smattering of classics and new-wave drinks unique to Ball & Chain. Boasting a packed schedule of daily entertainment, plus free salsa and bachata lessons, Ball & Chain is also Little Havana’s premier spot for live music.

Taste Miami’s rich Cuban history during a guided, edible journey through Little Havana’s Calle Ocho. Food-centric stops along the half-mile, 2.5-hour Little Havana Food & Cultural Tour include a traditional bakery, an open-air market, a churreria and more, plus educational highlights like visits to an authentic cigar factory and the famous Damas De Blanco mural. Little Havana, meeting point disclosed with ticket purchase (303-578-6877). Daily at various times; $69, children $59 (includes food).

  • Restaurants
  • Cafés
  • East Little Havana

La Trova is a fantastic Cuban triple-threat from James Beard Award-winning chef Michelle Bernstein, her chef/restaurateur husband David Martinez and nationally acclaimed cantinero Julio Cabrera, where you can score an authentic meal and a classic mojito, plus dance ’til late to live music. Bernstein’s croquetas aren’t traditional (you can try La Carreta or Versailles for that), but they will blow your mind.

Viernes Culturales
Photograph: Courtesy Viernes Culturales

6. Viernes Culturales

Little Havana’s free street party and gallery walk, Viernes Culturales, happens every third Friday of the month along Calle Ocho between 13th and 17th Avenues. Running strong for more than 20 years, it celebrates Latin culture with an old-school pachanga, featuring art exhibits, live music and dancing in one of Miami’s most famous cultural hubs.

  • Shopping
  • Costume shops
  • East Little Havana
  • price 2 of 4

At half a century old, La Casa de los Trucos is Miami's O.G. costume shop. The family-owned and run business has evolved from a tiny shack on Calle Ocho to a large building adjacent to its original location, which today houses thousands of costumes, regional regalia and all sorts of makeup and accessories to create your own custom getup. As it did when it first opened, the shop carries a wide selection of jokes and gags, from fart machines and smelly perfumes to exploding gifts that wow kids of all ages. The place is a madhouse come Halloween but every bit is worth the rush.

  • Things to do
  • Performances
  • East Little Havana

Referred to as the largest of the small theaters in town, it was formerly the Riverside Baptist Church before being purchased by the City of Miami in 1975 and renamed as the Manuel Artime Community Center in 1982, in recognition of a Cuban war hero. Shows at this elegant 839-seat theater range from the Miami Lyric Opera to Latin stars such as Maria Creuza, the Brazilian bossa nova diva and José González, the Swedish-Argentinian folkie.

Roosters on Calle Ocho
Photograph: Shutterstock

10. Roosters on Calle Ocho

Yes, selfies with the gallos are a must. The first of them arrived in 2002, when the Miami-Dade Empowerment Trust purchased eight five-foot rooster sculptures based on a model designed by the late, legendary local sculptor Tony Lopez. Since then, more than 70 similar roosters have been created, all inspired by the original design.

You can find these funky, often themed Calle Ocho Roosters at the entrance of Little Havana (at Calle Ocho and 27th Avenue), the beginning of the heritage district (Calle Ocho and 17th Avenue), several at 16th Avenue, and many more scattered along Calle Ocho and Flagler Street.

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