To the immediate west of Downtown Miami lies Little Havana: the cultural and political capital of the city’s Cuban American population. Originally established as a refuge for Cubans fleeing the Castro regime in the 1960s, the neighborhood has since grown into a vibrant Hispanic community, with Nicaraguans, Hondurans, and other Central Americans rounding out the predominantly Cuban population.
And while every neighborhood in Miami features hints of Hispanic influence, Little Havana is in a class of its own, its signature scents of freshly brewed Cafecito, smoldering cigars and fried pastries wafting through its streets. Akin to Manhattan’s Chinatown, Little Havana is a classic ethnic enclave, with a cultural air so pronounced it feels like you’ve entered a different country altogether. And that’s no more apparent than on Calle Ocho: a lively thoroughfare lined with restaurants, fruit stands, bakeries, rum bars, and art galleries that welcomes tourists and on-foot residents from morning to well into the night.
As a result, Little Havana teems with cultural encounters at every turn, including the famed Versailles Restaurant and Domino Park. There’s also the South River Drive Historic District: northeast Little Havana’s own slice of 1940s Miami. This ubiquitous sense of Hispanic history, heritage, and cuisine imbues Little Havana with a distinctly warm and familial quality; a quality further reinforced by the high concentration of schools, churches, and parks throughout the area—a welcome sign for families with young children.
In terms of living options, Little Havana is starkly different from its more eastern downtown neighbors. The area is home to a variety of older, architecturally eclectic homes, with smaller, more affordable and modern condos mixed in. And it’s that same western proximity that somewhat limits the area’s transportation options, with mainstays like the Miami Metrorail and Metromover located well to the east, although the Metrobus does service the area.
The absolute epicenter of Miami’s Cuban culture, Little Havana is a world unto its own, sporting a distinctly heightened Hispanic vibe and a rich, infectious sense of community.
Busy public square setting for competitive, lively domino play