located on calle ocho in the heart of little havana is the art of freedom cafe and art gallery. the art of freedom is a combination cafe, nightclub, and art gallery promoting latin american art, music and culture. a very interesting place to visit in the little havana area of downtown miami.
Rumba on 6 is an event that is dedicated to preserving some of the traditional forms of Cuban music including son, guajira, rumba, and Latin jazz. Rumba on 6 features some of the best Cuban musicians in the business. Famous conguero (conga drum player) Daniel Ponce is a frequent guest along with the group Conjunto Progreso, a nine-member group that really gets the house rocking.
Many Miami visitors only get to see the Miami you read about in the tourist guides, they just pass through on their way to the Keys or spend some time here before or after a cruise. These people are missing the fun and adventure of exploring the largest Latin city in America.
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Little Habana would just not feel right if it didn't have some sort of flamboyantly anti-Castro monument. Luckily, the eternal flame commemorating the individuals who lost their lives during the Bay of Pigs invasion fulfills this requirement. The memorial stands prominently in the heart of Little Habana, with Cuban and American flags on either side of the flame. There are also statues of the men who Castro's government claimed were terrorists but the Americans recognized as failed Freedom Fighters. It's an interesting memorial to one of the few hangovers of the Cold War, one that still draws tourists and interested or curious visitors to have a closer look. The sculptures themselves are quite interesting, with one dedicated to an artist and the other, a lifesize soldier, commemorating the actual combatants who fell in action.
There's not much of a tourist draw for this one specific park, but it is nonetheless a pretty neat attraction in Little Habana. Máximo Gómez Park is also known as the Domino Park, because this is where people come to play dominoes, just as they did in Cuba. Of course, there are more than just Cubans here now, although the general rule appears to be that you must be above the age of 65 to sit at one of the tables. The park is typically Calle Ocho: there's a large mural, a bronze bust and lots of old Cubans talking loudly in Spanish and playing dominoes. It's a great introduction to Cuban-American stereotypes (of the more positive kind) and one of the most explicit and obvious displays of the preservation of Cuban culture in Miami.
I knew that Little Havana (or Pequeña Habana) was a must-see part of the city, but I didn't really know where to go or what to ask for when I hopped into a cab. My driver, a 90-year old Cuban man who was incapable of making his car go more than 50km an hour, decided that I should go to Calle Ocho and 12th, the heart of Little Havana. It was a great choice, as this is the part of the neighbourhood that is most colourful and best showcased as the heart of the Cuban Community. Contrary to what I thought, and probably the rest of the state of Florida, Calle Ocho doesn't have the feel of a tourist trap. Quite the contrary, it still feels like a colourful, vibrant neighbourhood where a group has managed to keep its collective identity strong and dynamic. The area is filled with murals and monuments commemorating the resistance to Castro's régime and the belief that Cuban-Americans will "liberate" their country. There's also ample evidence of the preservation of that other great aspect of Cuban-American culture: food. Bodeguitas and coffee shops abound, and passers-by can get cups of Cuban coffee at walk-by windows. It is nearly impossible to go hungry here, although there is obviously a distinction between the good places and the bad ones. One world of caution, of course, is that the area's likely not all that safe at night. I saw a take-down by police outside of Casa de los Trucos (House of Costumes - although truco means trick in Spanish) at 3PM.
This is your chance for tasting the diversity of Miami and gain invaluable knowledge on its culture and architecture as you stroll down the Calle Ocho (Eighth Street) while tasting some of the most delicious foods. La Calle Ocho (Eighth Street) gets its name from the bustling thoroughfare of Miami's Little Havana, where old Cuba and contemporary America coexist. Learning about Little Havana (La Calle Ocho) in Miami through tasting bits and bites of Cuban comfort foods is what the Cuba Bonita Food Tour is all about. Attendees will taste their way through the neighborhood as your local food expert bring you to seven of the locals' favorite spots to meet the people who make them.
Little Havana is located in the heart of Miami and is an ethnic enclave with many Cuban immigrant residents. Calle Ocho (8th Street) is the main street in Little Havana, and is a good place to start your tour around Little Havana…
The Maximo Gomez Park (or Domino Park) is where the older generation of Cubans meets every day to play dominoes or chess. Hollywood has their ‘Walk of Fame’, but Little Havana has the ‘Walk of the Stars’ (Paseo de las Estrellas). Here in Little Havana stars are given to Latin-American actors, writers, artists and musicians. You’ll also find many good Cuban (and other Latin-American) restaurants with great food in Little Havana.
Each year (in March - during the carnival in Miami), Calle Ocho is home to one of the largest street festivals in the World, with over one million visitors. There will be dancing, live music, costumes, street performers…
Once a year Little Havana's Calle Ocho (S.W. 8th Street) becomes one large block party!
Featuring latin flavors, music and dancing with guest appearances by local and international artists.
Dancing in the streets, taste of international latin dishes and games/prizes which last the weekend.
You can stroll through little Havana's streets, buying everything from local foods and delicacies to hand rolled cigars.
Local restaurants, vying for your business, offer up free samples or good incentives to get you in through the doors!
Don't miss it, it's one big BLAST - Latin Style!
If you carry on walking west on Calle Ocho, you will discover little parks and one of them is the famous Maximo Gomez Park aka Domino Park. It is a meeting point and a club for retirees. The parc is at a street corner and has a roof (to shelter from the sun and tropical thunderstorms). A huge fresco representing the New World' Heads of State when they met in the 1996 Summit of the Americas is the main feature of the Park. Of course, one person is missing from the miral... Fidel Castro. Here, elderly gentlemen in Panama hats come to relax and play dominos, checkers, chess, cards... under the keen eyes of younger ones. Talking with one of the players, I discovered that it is really a club and only seniors can use the park's faciltities which consist of a little buildings where the games are stocked.
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