Located west of downtown Miami, Little Havana, Calle Ocho is well-known for its thriving Latin culture, bright colored murals and is easily one of the best places to visit in Miami for some authentic Latin food.
Only a stone’s throw from Miami Beach, this atmospheric area was once a thriving Jewish neighborhood in the 1930s. The name as we know it today, “Little Havana,” emerged in the 1960s when many Cuban immigrants settled here after fleeing the Fidel Castro regime.
Evolution of Little Havana, Miami
A few years back, a Michigan transplant friend and I were discussing friends coming into town for the weekend, and she casually mentioned she’d be taking her visitor’s sightseeing in Little Havana’s Calle Ocho. I proceeded to give her a judgmental look, followed by, you’re taking them where? Little Havana, she replied, you know, with the mojitos, the giant ceramic roosters, Cuban cigar shops, ventanitas, and Cuban food.
Oh, okay, I said, bewildered. It was then I realized a shift was taking place in – what some would call off-the-beaten-path – Little Havana neighborhood.
Witnessing the area’s evolution has been astounding. Growing up in Miami, Little Havana was a humble residential area that many pass through on the way west to Coral Gables or South Miami; nothing out of the ordinary or particularly distinct, just another Miami neighborhood – at least, I thought it was.
And now, it’s somewhat of a national treasure. I find myself frequenting the neighborhood for its restaurants, festivals, and ironically even bringing (visiting) friends and family to experience the neighborhood’s lively atmosphere. Oh, how things have changed.
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Planning a Visit to Miami’s Little Havana – Calle Ocho
Calle Ocho, or Calle 8, the stretch along Southwest 8th Street between 12th and 27th Avenues, is considered the heart and center of social life in Little Havana. Most of the neighborhood’s festivals and events occur along this main strip.
Well-known for its brightly painted roosters, colorful art-deco architecture, family-run fruit stands, and ventanitas (Cuban coffee shops), the lively strip is full of sights, sounds, and delights. Consider booking a guided Little Havana Walking tour for Cuban culture and historical insight into the area.
Getting to and Around Miami’s Little Havana Neighborhood
Little Havana’s Calle Ocho is a highly visited area with lots of vehicle traffic. Getting to and around Calle Ocho is relatively easy, and the best way to explore the neighborhood is on foot.
- Public Transportation: MetroRail does not go through Calle Ocho, but you can access the area via public transit Metrobus, the free Miami trolley, taxis, ride-sharing service, or joining a Hop-On Hop-Off Bus Tour.
- Driving: If driving, be mindful that the main strip along Little Havana’s Calle Ocho is also referred to as Southwest 8th Street, US Route 41, and the Tamiami Trail.
- Parking in Little Havana, Calle Ocho: Finding a parking lot or other options for parking off the Calle Ocho strip can be challenging, as the area mainly consists of street parking. In place of parking meters, you will find (as within most areas in South Florida) the mobile parking app Pay by Phone. You will be required to download the app onto your device to pay for parking in the designated areas.
- Citi Bike: For your convenience, there is a Citibike docking station, an hourly public bike-sharing program, located on 10th Ave & SW 8th St.
Hotels in Miami: Where to Stay Near Little Havana
Search top-rated Miami hotels and accommodations – read reviews, check rates, and availability here!
Things to Do in Miami: Little Havana, Calle Ocho
From authentic Cuban fare and numerous art galleries and exhibits to salsa dancing, there are loads to check off your Miami bucket list when visiting Little Havana’s Calle Ocho. Here are a few highlights to get you started.
1. Little Havana Visitor Center
The Little Havana Visitor Center is a great place to start one’s journey through Calle Ocho. Located in the heart of Little Havana, the welcome center offers a wealth of information about Calle Ocho’s finest restaurants, attractions, events, and cultural experiences. Stop in for a brochure, map, tour information, and event calendars to better plan your trip to Little Havana.
Address: 1442 Southwest 8th St, Miami, FL 33135
2. Little Havana Viernes Culturales – Cultural Fridays
There is no shortage of cool events in Little Havana, and Viernes Culturales (Cultural Fridays) is one of them. Held every third Friday of the month from 7 to 11 p.m., this cultural event is all about showcasing art, music, food, and all the excitement Cuban life has to offer.
Whether you wish to admire art, shop, or try some tasty Latin cuisine, Viernes Culturales appeals to the senses and won’t leave you disappointed. Want to dress the part? Don’t forget to pop into one of the stores to buy a breezy guayabera.
3. Little Havana Food and Cultural Tour
Another great way to experience Cuban culture is by taking the Little Havana food tour. This 2.5-hour tour will take foodies and history buffs on a journey through Calle Ocho’s finest eateries and a stop at the Havana Classic Cigar, an authentic Little Havana cigar factory, for a cigar rolling tutorial, as well as experiencing local cultural landmarks.
Tour-goers will enjoy local food at family-run establishments, a traditional bakery, and hidden ventanitas, and pass through Domino Park.
4. Life House Little Havana
Architecture enthusiasts will go crazy for this authentic, Cuban-inspired home-turned hotel. Built in the 1920s by an expeditionist whose tropical travels inspired Life House’s unique decor, visitors will experience exotic plants, Afrocuban ceramics, a library, a cocktail bar, a restaurant, and stunning rooftop views.
Address: 528 SW 9th Ave, Miami, FL 33135
MORE: Popular activities to include in your Little Havana itinerary
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5. Tower Theatre
Open since 1926, the iconic Art Deco-designed style Tower Theatre is one of Miami’s oldest cultural landmarks. Lovingly restored with its brightly-lit marquee sign and vintage seats, it’s like being back in time!
The theatre is a quirky place to grab some hot, buttery popcorn and see alternative and cultural films in both English and Spanish.
Address: 1508 SW 8th St, Miami, FL 33135
6. Dr. Paul George’s Walking Tour During Viernes Culturales
Want the real deal on Little Havana? Be sure to join Miami’s premier local historian, Dr. Paul George’s free walking tour. Meet in front of the Tower Theatre at 7 pm, during each Viernes Culturales (every third Friday of the month).
The tour will take you along Little Havana’s main drags and side streets, with Dr. Paul chatting about the architecture, history, and colorful stories that make Little Havana so special. Stops include local Little Havana restaurants and a variety of galleries along Calle Ocho.
Even if you’ve lived here for years, it’s a fascinating way to learn more about Little Havana’s history while taking in Viernes Culturales festivities.
7. Maximo Gomez Park (Domino Park)
To get a feel for the true spirit of the neighborhood, head to Máximo Gómez Park (Domino Park), and you’ll find the small area fringed by palms and quirky domino-tiled walkways.
It is a popular neighborhood gathering space, especially for older locals who can be seen having spirited games of dominoes or chess and debating politics.
Domino Park is an intriguing place to sit, sip some Cuban coffee, and watch the locals socialize. The park is open from 9 am to 6 pm daily. While you can enter, you have to be 55 and older to join a game.
Address: 801 SW 15th Ave, Miami, FL 33135
8. Calle Ocho Walk of Fame (Paseo de las Estrellas)
To get a grasp of some of the figures who have had a cultural impact on this part of Miami, make sure you take a peek at Little Havana’s walk of fame, stretching between 12th Avenue and 17th Avenues.
This segment of the strip boasts a series of pink marble stars lining the sidewalk, honoring prominent figures from the Latin community, including salsa singer Celia Cruz, boxer Roberto Duran, and singer Gloria Estefan.
Take a walk down the strip and see how many of your Latin faves you can spot.
9. Little Havana’s Calle Ocho Cigar Shops
Little Havana is famous for its cigar shops, so no trip to Little Havana is complete without the obligatory stop or two to a few Calle Ocho cigar shops.
From the Cuba Tobacco Cigar Company to the popular Little Havana Cigar Factory, where you will find premium hand-crafted cigars and a smoking lounge, to Havana Classic Cigar, a casual tobacco shop with a nice coffee bar. You can spend a whole day in Little Havana going from one cigar shop to another.
The U.S. has an ongoing trade embargo with Cuba, so while the cigars may be hand-rolled by Cubans, the tobacco used in most cases likely came from Central America or elsewhere in the Caribbean.
10. Exploring art on the streets of Calle Ocho
In addition to the Wynwood Arts District, Little Havana’s Calle Ocho is another area in Miami to admire fascinating street art.
Expect to see everything from rainbow-colored murals to brightly painted roosters sculptures. The restaurants, theaters, and even the ice cream shops offer exquisite art and architecture to soak in during your walkthrough of Little Havana.
11. Little Havana Miami Roosters
The rooster is an important animal in Cuban folklore, as it represents strength and power.
As you wander about, you will notice several rooster statues dotted around the neighborhood. These were part of an art installation a number of years ago and were then adopted by the local businesses.
The painted roosters throughout Calle Ocho are among the most popular attractions in Little Havana, with many stopping to pose for an obligatory selfie. The two large gallos (roosters) located right outside the El Pub restaurant are among the most popular.
12. Futurama 1637 Art Building
Check out the work of a local artist at Futurama Gallery. There’s always something going on here, whether it’s an artistic showcase or a networking event. The modern art gallery offers works by artists chosen to display their work temporarily.
Take a walk through and admire the striking and colorful work produced by the artists in residency.
Pro Tip: A terrific mural is located right outside the gallery, well worth a visit.
Address: 1637 SW 8th St, Miami, FL 33135
13. La Casa de los Trucos (House of Costumes)
Known as Miami’s oldest costume shop, La Casa de Los Trucos started almost 50 years ago as a tiny, family-owned shack in the heart of Calle Ocho. It’s expanded somewhat, and it’s worth a stop for the staggering amount of costumes and accessories, including traditional Cuban regalia.
For the young at heart, you’ll also find a wide selection of prank and gag gifts. Avoid the store like the plague during Halloween in Miami, but the shop is open year-round.
Address: 1343 SW 8th St, Miami, FL 33135
14. Cuban Memorial Boulevard
Located on 13th Avenue right off Calle Ocho, Cuban Memorial Boulevard is home to several monuments dedicated to freedom fighters from Cuba, including a bronze bust of General Antonio Maceo, Eternal Torch of Brigade 2506, and a statue of Nestor Izquierdo.
Address: 999 SW 13th Ave, Miami, FL 33135
Resources for more history on Miami’s Little Havana
Images of America Little Havana
15. The Calle Ocho Festival
For a full-fledged cultural experience, check out the Calle Ocho Festival. It is the largest Hispanic festival in the region, taking place every year in March as part of Carnaval Miami.
A celebration of Latin and Caribbean cultures, the wild and upbeat fiesta features multiple stages showcasing live music and entertainment, including salsa and folkloric dances, food, drinks, and outdoor activities for children.
It’s an all-out party along a 20-block stretch of Calle Ocho with all the dancing, eating, and socializing one can handle.
For more Miami events, here’s a round-up of South Florida’s most popular annual events.
16. Kcull Marketplace Little Havana
This cute little shop offers an assortment of distinctive pieces by local Miami artisans and creatives. You’ll find everything from jewelry to handbags, books, and contemporary art pieces. The vibe is similar to the artisan work at the Little Haiti Caribbean Marketplace.
The local feel and flavors are apparent in the variety of works and artists represented. Kcull Marketplace is the perfect place to pick up a fun and unique souvenir to mark your time in Calle Ocho.
Address: 1358 SW 8th St, Miami, FL 33135
Restaurants in Little Havana: Where to Eat in Calle Ocho Miami
As you might imagine, Latin and Cuban food is a staple in Little Havana, and you’ll certainly find your fill. From fried arepas (cornmeal patties) to sizzling short ribs and rich Cuban sandwiches, there is plenty to tease the palate. Here are a few Cuban restaurants in Little Havana worth a visit.
17. Doce Provisions
Standing out amongst the sea of incredible restaurants in Little Havana is no easy task, but Doce Provisions manages to do it quite spectacularly. We love the artsy vibe and cozy sun-filled backyard patio of this Little Havana Cafe.
This hidden gem tucked off the main strip is the perfect spot to enjoy inventive Latin-inspired meals made from local ingredients. Don’t leave without trying the coconut tres leches! Oh, and it’s also a great place to check out live local music in Miami!
Address: 541 SW 12th Ave, Miami, FL 33130
18. Azucar Ice Cream Company
Travelers with a sweet tooth can check out the Azucar Ice Cream Company. This brightly colored ice cream parlor is a feast for the eyes and the palette.
With 24 flavors to choose from, it’s chock full of ice cream and sorbet made in-house, using fresh, mouthwatering ingredients from local fruit stands. It’s a perfect place to appreciate exotic tropical fruit flavors, like sweet, pink guava or creamy avocado.
Address: 1503 SW 8th St, Miami, FL 33135
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19. Los Pinarenos Fruteria (Fruit Market)
The Latin American-inspired smoothies are best at the Los Pinarenos Fruteria. This family-owned fruit stand is a true landmark on Calle Ocho, with crates of coconuts, papayas, bananas, and avocados stacked high and its doors rolled up to embrace the street culture.
With a cash-only policy, it’s reminiscent of a rustic island market. The fresh-pressed juice and tropical fruit shake options are endless, from cold coconut milk to creamy melon to freshly-squeezed sugar cane juice. Or you can order a café Cubano and sit at the sidewalk counter, and people watch.
Address: 1334 SW 8th St, Miami, FL 33135
20. Ventanitas (Cuban Coffee Windows)
The Cuban coffee culture in Little Havana is an experience in itself. The neighborhood is dotted with bustling sit-down cafes as well as ventanitas; walk-up coffee windows, where conversations among locals take place while they drink coffee and consume pastries.
For a good cup of Cuban coffee, every local can point you in the direction of a ventanita. Step up to a window, and order a traditional café Cubano, a small but mighty shot of coffee, usually sweetened, and it’s sure to wake up your senses.
Go ahead and try this specialty the way the locals prefer, but first, brush up on your Cuban coffee vocabulary: cafecito (café Cubano), colado, cortadito, or café con leche.
Local Tip: While there, be sure to pick up Cuban ham croquetas (croquettes)! For more on what to order in Miami, check out this post on must-try foods in Miami.
Little Havana Nightlife
The bar and nightlife scene in Little Havana is just what you would expect: vibrant, sultry, and dynamic. With patios spilling onto the sidewalk, live Latin music, and salsa dancing, not to mention some killer rum cocktails, this Miami neighborhood is a great place to dance the night away.
21. Ball & Chain
This place was a hotspot for jazz musicians like Chet Baker and Billie Holiday in the 1930s. Today, Ball & Chain is a neighborhood mainstay and one of the most popular live music venues in Little Havana for jazz and salsa, plus delicious late-night food and drinks.
The cocktails here, from the mojito criolo to canita and pastelito daiquiri, are crafted to perfection.
Address: 1513 SW 8th St., Miami, FL 33135
22. Cubaocho Museum & Performing Arts Center
If you are looking for a unique way to learn about Cuba’s rich history armed with a cocktail in hand, then a trip to CubaOcho is not to be missed.
Home to Miami’s most extensive collection of 19th-and early 20th-century Cuban art, this space’s walls are lined with both modern and pre-revolutionary work.
CubaOcho is also a live music venue with an impressive rum collection, making it an eclectic place bringing together various art expressions—with delicious cocktails! It’s one of our preferred stops for live performances in Miami, particularly on Viernes Culturales nights.
If you’re a fan of the arts, a stop at this lively art, cultural, and entertainment space is a must on Calle Ocho.
Address: 1465 SW 8th St., Miami, FL 33135
Little Havana Calle Ocho Itinerary Map
Overflowing with energy, Little Havana’s Calle Ocho offers a warm introduction to the city’s vibrant Cuban culture and community. It is the perfect place to spend some time while in South Florida.
Whether you’re visiting the Cuban cigar shops or a famous Cuban restaurant, there are always things to do in Miami. Why not start in Little Havana?
I’ve traveling to Miami for ages and thought I knew all the spots especially in Calle 8, but you’ve showed me new places I will try next time. Thanks for an excellent article.
Glad you enjoyed it!