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The Best Free Things to Do in Miami’s Little Havana

Annie Gabillet

If you want to escape to a different world without leaving the United States, look no further than Miami’s Little Havana, and more specifically Life House hotel. Situated right in the heart of the colorful Latin-influenced neighborhood, Life House can be your tropical mansion away from home. The hotel is filled with curated textiles and art and will help you immerse yourself in the vibrant culture of the area, where there are plenty of exciting — and free — cultural experiences to be had.

Image Courtesy of Life House

Since the Little Havana neighborhood is an indelible part of the hotel’s character, we caught up with Life House’s general manager, Vana Chinasamy, to get her insider tips on what to do and see. She filled us in on all the amazing free things to do in Miami’s Little Havana. These memorable experiences include music, dancing, and even some sweet hotel perks for Life House guests. And they won’t cost you a penny. Start planning your getaway now. You already know where to stay.

Free Experiences in Little Havana

 Walk Calle Ocho (8th Street)

Calle Ocho (8th Street) between 12th and 27th Avenues is the heart of Little Havana, where Cuban exiles settled after Fidel Castro came to power in the 1960s. Stroll along Calle Ocho and you’ll hear the vibrant music from the shops and surrounding households. It’s like a dynamic open-air museum. “I feel like I am part of a neighborhood that has so much history and culture to absorb,” Vana told us. “I never feel like a tourist here, but rather that I am myself a local.” 

 

Check Out Domino Park

Once you’re walking down Calle Ocho, Vana recommends stopping by Maximo Gomez Park, or as the locals know it: Domino Park. “You can find groups of locals gathered together over a game of dominos,” she said. Members of this older generation of Cuban Americans might also be sipping a cortado, a smooth coffee drink made up of equal parts espresso and warm milk. (Note to self: try that!) While you’re there, look out for the nearby Little Havana Paseo de las Estrellas or Walk of Stars, where Latin celebrities are honored with floor plaques, just like the Walk of Fame in Hollywood.

Explore the Cubaocho Museum

The Cubaocho Museum and Performing Art Center has been designated as a free museum by the city of Miami and contains an extensive collection of pre-revolutionary Cuban art from the 1800 to the 1960s, in addition to hosting live performances. It’s a must-visit, according to Vana. “It​ brings some of the best of performance art and sounds of Cuba, plus it has five hundred rums including some rarities,” she explained. Yes, please! 

 

Image Courtesy of Flickr // Phillip Pessar

Enjoy a Street Festival

​On the third Friday of the month, Little Havana hosts Viernes Culturales, a street festival filled with live music, dancing, art galleries, domino games, cigar rollers, and more. “If you’re in the neighborhood it’s not one to miss,” Vana said. You can find the party on Calle Ocho, between 13th and 17th Avenues from 7 to 11 pm.

Take Advantage of Hotel Perks

Since we’re talking free, let’s not forget the lovely hotel perks that come with a stay at Life House. “We offer complimentary breakfast served right to your room each morning with house-made parfaits, fresh fruit, coffee and juices,” Vana told us, sharing the perfect way to start a day of exploring Little Havana. If you want to chat with fellow visitors and locals alike, they also have a daily social hour between 5 and 7 pm so you can mingle with guests and staff over snacks, wines, and cocktails. If that wasn’t enough, every weekend they host yoga in they courtyard, offering a mix of movement, meditation, sound healing, and topped off with a complimentary snack. There’s nothing like some authentic local hospitality. 

Are you ready to start exploring?

Top Image Courtesy of Flickr / Phillip Pessar

Calle Ocho Image Courtesy of Flickr // Wally Gobetz