Located to the west of Downtown Miami, Little Havana, also known as the Latin Quarter, was where many of the Cuban and other Southern and Central American immigrants lived from the 1970’s up until the 1990’s. Today its main street, Calle Ocho, 8th street, is where you can experience traditional shops and restaurants, and practice your Spanish, as that’s the common language!
If you’re here on the second Sunday in March, you have to stop by and experience the annual Calle Ocho parade; said to be the largest street parade in the world. The free festival, part of the Miami Carnival, has a Caribbean atmosphere with tasty food, street stalls and some great music; dance to meringue, bachata, and salsa, or simply watch the locals. If you can’t get here for the festival, Friday nights is another wonderful time to experience a party atmosphere. Cultural Fridays on 8th Street, between 13 and 16 Avenue, is where the street comes alive with works of art, galleries, music and dancing; the best thing of all is that it’s free. The event takes place on the last Friday of each month, and is a mini festival with a stage and free walking tours with Miami historian Dr Paul George. Make sure you’re outside the Tower theatre at 7pm.
An amazing example of local music at Calle Ocho.
There are lots of interesting buildings, but these sights are of particular interest- the Cuban Memorial Boulevard, the Bay of Pigs Museum, and the Art Deco Theatre Tower. What’s really good here is the food. Try out traditional Cuban coffee at Los Pinarenos Fruteria, one of the oldest establishments where the strong syrupy coffee is addictive, they also produce an incredible fruit smoothie and sugar cane juice. Other popular haunts are La Carretta, and across the street, the Versailles Cuban Restaurant. The Versailles also has a bakery, ideal if you’re on the move, but if you want a tasty meal, go inside, the desserts are particularly mouth-watering!
So if you’re visiting Miami on a motorhome rental or campervan hire holiday, don’t forget to stop by Little Havana, and experience Cuba first hand.