"Little HavanaAfter the Mariel..." Florida Off The Beaten Path Tip by franar

Florida Off The Beaten Path: 120 reviews and 134 photos

Little Havana
After the Mariel Boatlift, the section of town to which Cuban exiles had been gravitating for years blossomed into a distinctly Cuban neighborhood, now known as Little Havana. Spanish is the predominant language here, and you'll run into plenty of people who speak no English. The heart of Little Havana is Calle Ocho (KAH-yeh AW-cho), Spanish for SW 8th St (actually it's Spanish just for 8th St, but what the hell). The entire length of Calle Ocho is lined with Cuban shops, cafes, record stores, pharmacies, and clothing and (most amusing) bridal shops.

But while the wall-of-sound-style speakers set up outside places such as Power Records are blasting salsa and other Latin music into the street, Little Havana as a tourist attraction is elusive. It's not concentrated like a Chinatown; it's actually not really a tourist attraction at all. It's just a Cuban neighborhood, so except during the occasional street fair or celebration, you shouldn't expect Tito Puente and Celia Cruz to be leading colorfully attired, tight-trousered men and scantily-clad women in a Carnaval parade. You're more likely to see old men playing dominoes in Máximo Gómez Park.

Little Havana occupies 10 square blocks, centered on Calle Ocho, southwest of downtown Miami.

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  • Written Aug 25, 2002
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