When someone says “Calle Ocho” what are the first words that come to mind? Music? Domino park? Cuban food? For me Calle Ocho is the heart of Miami, where many Cuban exiles made their first homes here in the states. It is a place full of culture and excitement – it is Miami.
Growing up with a father who was born in Cuba, but raised in Little Havana I not only heard many stories, but also visited this part of town many times to see his childhood home. I decided to compile some of my favorites spots I feel everyone should visit at least once when they stop by Little Havana.
Maximo Gomez Park
When you think Calle Ocho you probably think old Cubans playing in the domino park. Everyday the old men get together to play a serious game of dominos, but even though they are serious about their game they still love taking pictures!
The Cuban Memorial Plaza
This strip commemorates Cuban exiles with a string of small monuments. The seven monuments include the bust of Cuban independence fighter Antonio Maceo, statues of the Virgin Mary, anti-communist crusader Tony Izquierdo, and a 16-foot-long raised map of the island of Cuba. The map bears a weathered inscription by Cuban poet and patriot Jose Marti: "La patria es agonia y deber.”
The “Walkway of the Stars”
This is a pretty cool mural that highlights stars like Sammy Sosa, Maria Conchita Alonso, Thalia, Willy Chirino, Gloria Estefan, and, of course Celia Cruz.
La Casa De Los Trucos (The House of Costumes)
This is one of my favorites spots. This “House of Costumes” is filled from head to toe not only with costumes, but also things you can use to prank people like whoopee cushions and fake bugs.
Azucar Ice Cream
Once you finish your tour of Calle Ocho you have to stop for some delicious ice cream at Azucar. At Azucar you will have the best homemade Cuban ice cream with flavors that include Abuela Maria, Café con Leche, Mantecado, Dulce de Leche, and much more. This hits the spot on a hot Miami day. For more info on Azucar ice cream see Randomiami’s review here.