The heart of Little Havana  is Calle Ocho, the 23-block-long stretch of SW 8th Street that serves as Main Street for Miami ’s Cuban community. For a day-tripper, that may be something of an esoteric thing to try and take in, but that doesn’t stop the busloads of tourists from trying as they unload at Maximo Gomez Park (801 SW 15th Ave. at Calle Ocho) to gawk at the old-timers playing dominoes.
There are very few “sights” along Calle Ocho (or in Little Havana, for that matter), but the Cuban Memorial Plaza (Calle Ocho at 13th Ave.) is beautiful and poignant, with four blocks of various monuments to fallen heroes of Cuban history, as well as the Paseo de las Estrellas (Calle Ocho between 14th and 16th Aves.), a “walk of the stars” honoring the successes of famous Cuban actors, musicians, artists, and writers.
Despite the lack of attractions, a great way to spend your time in Little Havana is to simply park your car and take a half day to wander up and down Calle Ocho, stopping into places like Lily’s Records (1419 SW 8th St., 305/856-2281) or the dozen or so cigar shops that line the street.
The one thing you’ll quickly realize is that Calle Ocho—and, more generally, Little Havana —is not a tourist-ready trapped-in-amber recreation of a mystical Cuban homeland, but a busy communal neighborhood filled with folks shopping, running errands, and living their lives. While this may be disappointing for those seeking to fill up a camera with an unembargoed Cuba , other more relaxed visitors will likely find a visit to Calle Ocho quite enjoyable.