The cultural centre of Miami
Taking its name from the capital and largest city in Cuba, Miami's Little Havana is a popular Cuban-friendly neighbourhood where many Central and South Americans reside. With such a unique mix of cultures, the area is commonly regarded as the social and cultural centre of Miami. As such, much of the city's events take place in Little Havana while the neighbourhood is also home to a range of churches, theatres and parks.
The neighbourhood's name dates back to the 1960s when a large number of Cubans escaped the rule of Fidel Castro for life in America. As the closest city to Cuba, many immigrants settled in Miami and its neighbourhood in the west of downtown Miami. The influx of immigrants created a community of Cubans, resulting in the name ‘Little Havana.'
Today, the area's Hispanic and Latino residents make up 85 percent of the neighbourhood. When visiting Little Havana, local cuisine is a particular highlight with popular Cuban dishes like empanadas easily found. One of the best restaurants to visit in the area is Versailles Restaurant. With the ability to seat 370 people, the restaurant is incredibly popular and also has a bakery, takeout area and counter window. In addition to its delicious shrimp cocktails, the restaurant is considered a hub for anti-Castro politics with many Cuban exiles gathering inside and out to discuss politics.
Shopping is also another popular attraction in Little Havana. Calle Ocho, the area's main drag, in particular is where you can find a range of Cuban stores and market stalls selling fresh produce, clothing, accessories and music. Some great souvenirs to pick up include a Latin music record from Lily's Records, or a guayabera (a loose fitting Cuban shirt) from one of the market stalls.