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Things to Do in Little Havana, Miami

Cuban culture has become synonymous with Miami since so many exiles have poured into the area following the 1959 revolution. Little Havana has got to be one of the most famous cultural neighborhoods in the US and it’s surprisingly accessible for visitors. 

It’s a perfect blend of a local neighborhood with attractions that draw the tourists in. And it really seems like they’ve used the tourism money to better the community. Spending a morning or afternoon in Little Havana is absolutely a don’t miss if you’re in Miami.

I experienced Little Havana as part of a walking tour with Little Havana Walking Tours. I am 100% a fan of guided tours as they give so much context that you would miss on your own. This tour is also networked super well with so many local businesses and while we could’ve done all of this on our own, it was just so seamless as part of the tour. 

We met at the Bay of Pigs Monument (not Bay of Pigs Park–that’s in a different part of the city) and our group of eight including our tour guide Christine got to know each other a bit. Let me just say, Christine was the perfect tour guide: lively and personable with a great sense of pacing and attention to detail. I hope to do another tour with her in Little Havana in the future. 

Things to Do in Little Havana, Miami

I’ll list out things to do in Little Havana in the order that we experienced them plus some things we did in the area after our tour:

Stop by Los Pinareños Fruiteria

This open air fruit market has been operating since the 1960s and it was our first stop. We tried pure sugar cane juice (made while we waited) and listened to some stories mostly about Cuba’s food and agriculture background. Any place that has baskets of guava laying around is a place I want to be. 

See the Bay of Pigs Monument

We backtracked a bit to the Bay of Pigs Monument and this is where our tour guide got into the bulk of the political background between Cuba and the US. I’m a history major (and also super obsessed with a historical fiction author who sets most of her books in Revolutionary Cuba) so I was pretty familiar with it, but you’re going to want at least some background to really appreciate Little Havana (thus why a tour is a good idea). Behind the Bay of Pigs Monument, there are some more plaques and monuments to see. 

Visit a Cigar Factory

We stopped at Havana Classic Cigar to watch a master cigar roller. Roberto has been doing this for decades and he sits near the window so people can come in and watch him roll the cigars. We learned a lot about Cuban cigars and cigar etiquette in general. I’m always pretty fascinated when I realize there’s a whole world that I know nothing about. If you come to this spot on your own and you take pictures or video, please leave something in the tip jar. Most tourists aren’t buying anything in the cigar shops and lounges (although I’m sure a lot do) so it’s a good way to support this art. 

Have Churros & Coffee

We stopped in Churromania for some churros and cafecita (tiny coffee). This is the spot where we learned about Cuban coffee. Coffee is such a big deal in Cuban culture and we learned all about the beans and roasting process as well as traditions. And the churros were amazing. 

Shop for Guayaberas & Panama Hats

We stopped in Guayabera for a little air conditioning break and to talk about traditional Cuban clothing. A Guayabera is a traditional white linen shirt that’s popular in Cuba. “Panama” hats are also popular because of the sun. Traditionally, they’re actually handmade linen in Ecuador, but when FDR wore the style when he sailed through the Panama canal, the name stuck. The shop has high end goods and also cheaper versions made in china. 

Do the “Rooster Walk”

This neighborhood art initiative started in 2002 and you’ll still find the colorful roosters all throughout Little Havana.

Check out the “Local” McDonalds

Seeing a McDonald’s right smack in the middle of Little Havana seems like a sign that the neighborhood has been invaded by corporate America, but it’s kind of a cool story. The franchise was actually opened by an immigrant family and so it’s considered a sign of prosperity. Also, the coffee that McDonald’s brews (ALL McDonald’s, not just the one in Little Havana) is actually Cuban coffee from Gavina Gourmet Coffee. The Gavina brothers moved from Spain to Cuba in 1860 and established one of the island’s finest coffee plantations. They fled Cuba in 1959 when Castro came to power and set up their operation in Southern California, but they kept their traditions. They became a supplier to local McDonald’s in the 1980s and were instrumental in helping McDonald’s establish their McCafe line in 2005 with premium roasted coffee from Cuba. 

Listen to Live Music at Ball & Chain

Considered by many to have the best live music in Miami, the Ball and Chain just recently reopened after a lengthy closure. They’re famous for their nightlife (umm, they have a midnight conga line??), but the open air club (with a full bar and restaurant) is the kind of place where you hear music spilling out all day long. Stop in for a drink and bite or just stand on the street and watch the dancers. 

Don’t miss these other posts about Miami:

Miami Art Deco Walking Tour

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Biking on Key Biscayne (Cape Florida Lighthouse)

Where to Play Tennis on Key Biscayne

Stop by Tower Theater

This art deco style theater is really something to see. I’d love to go back sometime when I can see inside. 

Visit Domino Park

This has got to be one of the coolest Little Havana traditions. Domino Parks aren’t terribly uncommon in tight knit communities with older populations, but I’ve never seen one quite like this. You have to be a resident to play (it’s free) and as you have a regular partner, it’s used as a wellness center. If you don’t show up to play dominoes, someone will go to your home to do a wellness check. It’s a popular spot that the tourists want to see, but be respectful/low key when taking photos because it’s just their life. 

Everything after this point we did on our own:

Have Lunch at Old’s Havana

According to our tour guide, THIS is the best spot to eat in Little Havana. Versailles has the reputation for being the best spot, but according to our tour guide, Versailles became popular because its central location made it a good meeting place to sit around and talk politics. But if you want the best FOOD, go to Old’s Havana (I mean really do both ; ) Old’s could not be more picturesque and the patio in the back is so cute. Mojitos fly off the bar here and we were blown away by the empanadas. Honestly everything we had was spectacular. We had some recommendations from our tour guide (she recommended the beef over the pork), but if the menu is overwhelming they’re more than happy to make suggestions. When we left lunch, the band was in full swing and there were a few people dancing on the sidewalk. 

Have Ice Cream at Azucar

This place wasn’t mentioned on our tour even though we walked right by it, but I had seen it recommended a lot on “the blogs” and I’m never one to walk past ice cream. I tried the “Abuela Maria” (#1 best seller) which had guava chunks, cream cheese, and Maria cookies. 10/10 would recommend. 

Do Some Shopping

Calle Ocho is lined with shops. Some are more local and some cater to tourists. We had a good time looking around and we went back to Guayabera for a closer look at the hats. 

Mural Spotting

I love me some murals and one of my favorite thing about walking through local neighborhoods is seeing the street art. The Celia Cruz mural was my favorite. 

Tips for Visiting Little Havana

Well, my first tip is to book a tour with Little Havana Walking Tours ; )

Do a little reading before you go. You don’t need to be a walking encyclopedia, but knowing why there’s such a large Cuban population in Miami is pretty crucial to appreciating Little Havana. The author I mentioned earlier whose historical fiction is set in Revolutionary Cuba is Chanel Cleeton. I loved When We Left Cuba and Last Year in Havana as well as Last Train to Key West. They’re not history books, but they give some background in a fun way. 

If you’re going on your own, go earlier in the day as it gets crowded come afternoon. 

Be respectful and aware of your surroundings. Yes, Little Havana is a huge tourist attraction and the neighborhood is set up pretty well to accommodate visitors, but remember it’s still a local neighborhood and people are just living their lives. If you’re taking pictures of the cigar rollers working (or anyone else), put some money in their tip jar. If you’re walking around Domino Park, be discreet. 

Other Tours with Little Havana Walking Tours

I took the 2 hour Little Havana Cultural Walking Tour. It’s $35/adult and $20/child. We did the 10AM which was perfect because it wasn’t very crowded and it dovetailed nicely with lunch. It is a walking tour, but we didn’t walk more than 5 blocks or so. It included fruit juice, churros, and coffee. Make sure you have cash on hand to tip your guide at least $10/person. They do so good!

Little Havana Cultural Walking & Food Tour: This tour is three hours and is the tour above plus lunch. $63/adult and $40/child. 

Little Havana Food Tour: I think this is the tour I would do next. It’s 3 hours and you’re basically food hopping through Little Havana. $70/adult and $40/child. It doesn’t include the cultural stops like the cigar roller, domino park, etc. 

You can book these cultural tours here

Specialty Tours

These tours aren’t offered as frequently, but can be arranged privately as well. 

Rooster Tour: Explore the cultures from other countries beyond Cuba like Nicaragua, El Salvador, and Ecuador. Snacks and culture stops. 3 hours. $75/adult and $40/child.

Rum Tasting Experience: 3 hours, $75/adult. 

Cigar and Rum Tasting Experience: Our guide told us about this tour and it sounded really interesting. And she mentioned that you don’t have to smoke to take the tour. 3 hours, $120/adult. 

Cuban Art & Cocktails: 3 hours, $80/person

Wine & Chocolate Experience: 3 hours, $90/person

You can book these specialty tours here

Posts about where to stay in Miami:

Where to Stay in Miami (Besides Miami Beach)

Miami Beach! Mid Beach vs South Beach (+My Favorite Hotels)

Miami Beach vs South Beach: Is South Beach Really the Best Place to Stay in Miami?

Downtown Miami vs South Beach: Brickell is the REAL Star in Miami

Key Biscayne vs South Beach: As Different As It Gets in Miami

The EDITION Miami Beach Review (Marriott Bonvoy)

Ritz Carlton Key Biscayne Review

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