Only 90 miles from coast-to-coast, Florida and Cuba’s close relationship extends far beyond its distance. Almost 30% of Florida’s population is Cuban, and 70% of Cuban Americans live in Florida, making it as close you can get to a Cuban experience, outside of Cuba.
In Miami, they have a whole neighborhood dubbed “Little Havana,” that celebrates Cuba’s rich culture through food, music, and art. It’s easy to spend days wandering through this vibrant community, discovering your own hidden gems. See how traditional cigars are rolled, taste Abuela’s favorite dishes at authentic Cuban restaurants, talk to the latest emerging artists and get the rhythm of salsa flowing through your veins. It’s all here, in the heart of Miami.
During a typical night wandering around Little Havana, you’re sure to hear salsa emanating through the streets, inviting you to whip out your best Dirty Dancing moves. Cubaocho Museum & Performing Arts Center is one of our top picks on where to start the night. With an extensive rum menu to get your salsa juices flowing, you’ll be on the dancefloor in no time. Thursday nights are salsa nights, so if you want to learn the basics or finetune your style, be sure to hop in for a lesson. Another top spot for dancing is Ball & Chain, a famous live music locale that has seen the likes of Billie Holiday and Count Bassie. With live music every day and a tasty tapas menu, you can easily spend an entire day and evening here.
A Taste of Havana
There’s no visiting Little Havana without taking a Little Havana Food Tour, an activity that TripAdvisor named the #5 Food Experience in the World! Not only will you visit and taste at 8 different restaurants and bars on tour, but you’ll also see some historical locations throughout the barrio, including Domino Park and a cigar factory. Try a picadillo-stuffed empanada at one of the oldest restaurants in the area. Those with a sweet tooth will delight in the flavors of a Cuban guava cream cheese pastry at Yisil Bakery and the mantecado ice cream at Azuar Ice Cream Company.
If you don’t have too much time to spare, you can also check out the 1.5-hour Little Havana Culture & Bites tour which will give you a more condensed version of the above. This one starts with a traditional cafecito to fuel your walking adventure. Check out all of Miami Culinary Tours to see all the food tours they have to offer throughout the area.
Every third Friday of the month the streets between 13th and 17th of Calle Ocho transform into an open-air art party for Viernes Culturales. Galleries extend their hours, and visitors get the opportunity to speak to the artists as they debut their new masterpieces. This street festival brings together all that is iconic about Little Havana, including live music, dancing, cigar rolling, and domino games. Apart from the 20+ galleries that have their doors open, the streets are filled with local exhibitors showcasing sculpture, jewelry, paintings, and more.
An Art Deco Gem
Cardozo South Beach is a Florida icon. With glitzy art deco architecture on the exterior, the hotel’s neon lights act as a welcoming beacon to visitors from all over the world. The Cardozo South Beach first made its mark on the Miami Art Deco District when it was built in 1939. Since then it has been a featured backdrop for films like A Hole in the Head, Something About Mary, and Any Given Sunday.
Today it is owned by the famous couple, Gloria and Emilio Estefan, who have brought their glam chic design style to the interior of the hotel. Rooms embrace minimalist tones, with pops of shimmer through opalescent tiles and metallic end tables. This is the place to stay if you want to feel like a star. Located directly on Ocean Drive, only 20 minutes from Little Havana, the hotel offers magnificent ocean views and direct access to the best nightlife in Miami.