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Miami Travel Guide

Explore Miami: Little Havana

The impact on Miami of Cubans , unquestionably the largest and most visible ethnic group in the city, has been incalculable. Unlike most Hispanic immigrants to the US, who trade one form of poverty for another, Miami's first Cubans had already tasted the good life when they arrived during the late Fifties and were soon enjoying more of the same here. Some now wield considerable clout in the running of the city.

The initial home of the Miami Cubans was a few miles west of downtown in what became LITTLE HAVANA , whose streets, if the tourist brochures are to be believed, are filled by old men playing dominoes while puffing on fat, fragrant cigars, and exotic restaurants whose walls vibrate to the pulsating rhythms of the homeland. Naturally, the reality is quite different. Little Havana's parks, memorials, shops and food stands all reflect the Cuban experience but the streets are quieter than those of downtown Miami (except during the Little Havana Festival in early March). Many successful Cuban-Americans have moved to Coral Gables or elsewhere in the city, to be replaced by immigrants from elsewhere in Central America, especially Nicaragua. By all means make a beeline here for lunch at one of the many small restaurants on SW 8th Street, or Calle Ocho (its main drag), but don't expect monuments and museums - Little Havana's a neighborhood geared toward those who live and work, rather than visit, there.

There is, however, a cluster of memorials between 12th and 13th avenues along Calle Ocho that underscores the Cuban-American experience in Miami. Here, the simple stone Brigade 2506 Memorial remembers those who died at the Bay of Pigs on April 17, 1961, during the abortive invasion of Cuba by US-trained Cuban exiles. Veterans of the landing, aging men dressed in combat fatigues, gather here for each anniversary and make all-night-long pledges of patriotism.

Explore Miami

    Miami Coconut Grove
    Miami Coral Gables
    Downtown Miami
    Miami Key Biscayne
    Miami Little Havana

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