Exploring Miami’s Little Havana
By Viator, July 2013
Start your exploration of the neighborhood by wandering down Calle Ocho, the main street of the area with many shops, restaurants, an Arts District and museums. Make sure to also wander the side streets veering off, as there are some worthwhile attractions and monuments of Cuban patriots and freedom fighters on SW 13th street. You’ll become immersed in local culture as you pass locals hand-rolling cigars, hear Latin music filling the streets and watch as elderly men play dominoes and discuss politics. If you’re exploring on your own, opting for a Miami Hop-On Hop-Off Tour with Optional Biscayne Bay Cruise is a smart idea, as for one set price you can visit 20 different attractions without having to worry about navigating unfamiliar transport.
If you enjoy cycling, a Little Havana Bike and Food Tour is a fun option. The excursion introduces people to local Cuban culture by stopping at several family-run Cuban restaurants, sampling traditional delicacies like medianoche, a sandwich of pork, ham, mustard, Swiss cheese, and dill pickles that’s popular to eat after midnight, and croquetas, fried breadcrumbed rolls filled with ingredients like ham or chicken, butter and onion. Along with learning about local culture through food, you’ll also visit important landmarks and learn about their relevance to Cuban culture. For example, you’ll visit the El Credito Cigar Factory and watch native cigar rollers hand-rolling La Gloria Cubana cigars on original mahogany wood rolling tables. The Freedom Tower -- downtown Miami’s most enduring landmark -- is also part of the tour. Modeled after the Giralda of Seville, the tower now stands as a memorial to Cuban immigration in the United States. In total, you’ll bike eight miles (13 kilometers).
For those who would rather explore Little Havana on foot, a Little Havana Food and Walking Tour in Miami provides a similar experience, albeit with its own unique offerings. You’ll visit six family-owned restaurants and sample dishes crafted from family recipes, like mamey and flan ice cream, chicken-and picadillo-stuffed plantain cups, guava pastries (pastelito), Cuban coffee, plantain chips (mariquitas), guarapo juice and malanga frita, which is like a sweet potato chip. Along with eating culture, you’ll learn about it through meeting local artists and seeing them work in their studios, watching locals play dominoes in Domino Park, viewing cigar rollers hand-roll Cuban cigars and listening to traditional Latin music.