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Ball & Chain
Photograph: Courtesy Ball & Chain/Sean Pozin

The best things to do in Little Havana, one of Miami’s most iconic 'hoods

From dominoes and salsa dancing to Cuban food and (of course) cafecitos, these are the best things to do in Little Havana.

Falyn Wood
Virginia Gil
Written by
Falyn Wood
Contributor
Virginia Gil
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If you’re looking for some of the best Cuban food in Miami, or a night of salsa dancing at one of Miami’s top Latin music clubs, you’ll most likely be starting your search in Little Havana. A colorful pocket full of history and charm, this iconic neighborhood is a worthy stop on any tour of Miami and packs enough of a cafecito-fueled punch to revisit over and over again.

Most of the major sights—and many of Little Havana’s best restaurants and bars—are located in the historical district between SW 12th and SW 17th Avenues. The stretch of Calle Ocho from SW 12th to 16th Avenues is particularly vibrant, with the air of rich tobacco wafting from cigar shops and the clatter of dominoes never too far out of earshot. Whether you’re feasting on ropa vieja, learning how to dance bachata or catching a Spanish-language film, there’s no shortage of things to do in Little Havana.

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, and 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.

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  • Bars
  • East Little Havana
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Across from the historic Tower Theater, Ball & Chain has its own storied past filled with Jewish and Cuban community influences. The bar program, created by the top mixologists at the Regent Cocktail Club, is a smattering of classics (margaritas and mojitos) and new-wave drinks unique to Ball & Chain. Boasting a packed schedule of daily entertainment (much of which occurs inside an adorable pineapple-capped stage), 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).

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  • Restaurants
  • Cafés
  • East Little Havana
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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.

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  • Movie theaters
  • East Little Havana
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Miami-Dade College has partnered with this historic cinema in Little Havana to present new films from Cuba and other Latin American countries, as well as shorts and features by budding Miami cineastes. In Little Havana’s heyday, it was the only movie theater in Miami to show English-language films with Spanish subtitles; these days, it’s one of the few local theaters with a regular rotation of foreign language films.

  • Shopping
  • Costume shops
  • East Little Havana
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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 worth the rush.

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  • Things to do
  • Exhibitions
  • East Little Havana

Part gallery, workspace and studios, Futurama showcases mostly works by Cuban artists, many of whom have been hand-selected for temporary residency. The decade-old space houses 12 artist studios that are open to the public on weekdays and on the third Friday night of the month for Viernes Culturales, Little Havana’s popular gallery walk.

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