Just kidding. Miami is not the same thing as Little Havana, despite the record-breaking Cuban population living here! There is, however, a mini Cuba away from Cuba in Miami, a district called Little Havana, or La Pequeña Habana in Miami, which is swiftly growing in popularity for tourists and locals alike.
A few years ago, the area would have just been one of dozens of Miami neighborhoods tourists avoided on their way to South Beach. Somewhere along the line, this little district understood its appeal to foreigners wanting to delve into the real Miami – not just the stuff of terrible reality shows and crime dramas. And so now, Little Havana cultivates several tours, attracts hundreds of tourists on bikes and gets to have a prime spot on the #1 bike and Segway tour company’s blog!
Cuban influence penetrates all aspects of Miami culture, from the coffee choice to the slang — it’s completely undeniable . A lot of people recognize the massive Cuban population in Miami-Dade County thanks in large part to the infamy of Scarface, and while it’s important to know Miami is not what Miami was in that film, it is worthwhile to understand what brought the Cuban culture in the first place.
Prior to Castro’s coup d’etat, there was a negligible Cuban community in South Florida. After the rise of Castro in 1959, Cubans composed 50% of the total number of refugees. By 2014, the Cuban population in the city of Miami represents 34% of the total city-wide population, a staggering 123,000 citizens. Little by little the Cuban community amassed in the neighborhoods of Shenandoah, Riverside and what we now formally know as Little Havana.
Welcoming tourists, the area has a Walk of Fame with famous Cuban artists like Willy Chirino, Celia Cruz and Gloria Estefan. Visitors can bike to many of the cigar shops found in the area and pass by the famous Domino Mark (named for Maximo Gomez who was Cuba’s military commander) and try authentic Cuban cuisine which derives much of its ingredients from the Spaniards who simply needed to spread their influence (Florida included! We were “found” by the Spaniards in 1513). Not only that, but there is also a solemn Bay of Pigs Memorial directly situated in the heart (found on “Calle Ocho” – or Southwest Eigth Street), as well as the perhaps more memorable series of colorfully painted roosters all throughout.
The issue facing most tourists to Miami today is that Little Havana is not in South Beach! Meaning: if you’re not a local, accessing this special district full of music and culture is not as easy as it seems. Have zero worries, Bike and Roll knows this and therefore we have a solution: our Taste of Little Havana Tour can take you there! We bike on the scenic Venetian Causeway, through downtown Miami and the beautiful financial district Brickell, past the historical Roads neighborhood and finally to the destination – 8th St (or “Calle Ocho” as you will be calling it by the end of the tour!). We stop for some of the yummy Cuban food, try the pastries and the infamous Sugarcane juice. Book it today, otherwise how else will you learn what is truly part of our Miami hearts?