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Trip List by LittleHavanaGringo

Spring in Miami: The prices are down when the city heats up

1 May 2006  Best of Little Havana and beyond
4.5 of 5 bubbles based on 3 votes

When April ends, the hotel prices come way down in Miami. The heat is up, but is much more seasonable than July-September (no hurricanes!)

  • Category: Best of
  • Traveler type: Culture, Sightseeing
  • Appeals to: Singles, Tourists
  • 1. Rancho Luna

    Other Cuban restaurants are more famous, but this joint on SW 22nd Avenue, a few blocks north of famed Calle Ocho, has the best tostada and cafe con leche in the free world

  • 2. Bay of Pigs Museum

    A sacred place in rememberance of those who gave their lives fighting to free Cuba from Castro's Communism. A fascinating little shrine in a converted house one block south of Calle Ocho at SW 18th Ave.

  • 3. Domino Park

    Every tour bus stops at and every movie made in Miami features tiny Domino Park a on Calle Ocho at SW 15th Avenue. Don't expect to sit in at a table -- these senior citizen players are very serious about their games and their conversations. A beautiful pedestrian plaza enhances the area just outside the park.

  • 4. Tower Theater

    A wonderfully restored art deco theater in the heart of Little Havana. Its two screens play Spanish language films the building hosts several art exhibits and other cultural programs. The iconic facade is the pretties in Little Havana and can be found right on Calle Ocho at SW 15 Avenue.

  • 5. Los Pinarenos

    An open-air, Caribbean island-style fruteria. Break up the hot day with a stop by the shaded market. As for guarapo (it's pure sugar cane juice -- it will make your teeth ache and if it's your first taste, you'll not finish the whole cup -- and is a must sample. For something a little less powerful, ask for coco frio and the owners will hack a whole into an almost frozen coconut just deep enough for a straw to fit in. The coconut water is a heavenly flavor

  • 6. Cuban Memorial Boulevard

    This pedestrian plaza starts on fabled Calle Ocho (at SW 13 Ave) and meanders all the way south to Coral Way -- another beautiful old Miami street 14 blocks to the south. On a broiling day, settle for exploring the first half dozen blocks south of Calle Ocho. They are adorned with monuments to the Bay of Pigs martyrs and several other events in post-Castro Cuban-American history. The area among the giant subtropical trees is considered sacred by many.

  • 7. La Gloria Cubana Cigars

    Calle Ocho is littered by dozens of third rate, lousy cigar shops selling unsmokable brown bombs to foolsh tourists. Only a few top shelf cigar stores exist and the king of them all is La Gloria Cubana on Calle Ocho at SW 11th Ave. The place really rolls them by hand -- it's not a show. The master cigar maker is a Cuban master come to America decades ago. The smokes, especially those in the dark, rich maduro wrappers, are enough tempt an avowed non-smoker into lighting up a nice Churchill or Corona.

  • 8. I Love Calle Ocho Cafe

    Part gift shop, mostly cute little cafe, this place deftly blends Cuban traditions with 21st century culinary flare to serve locals and visitors alike. The ladies at the tiny storefront, on Calle Ocho between SW 15 & SW 16 Ave, treat you like family. Try a mini Spanish pizza with chorizo and peppers, or a Cuban tradition gone Parisian with Picadillo crepes.

  • 9. Casa Juancho

    After all that daytime walking, head back to the hotel around 4 to avoid those spring rains. Then get cleaned up and dressed up for Casa Juancho -- Calle Ocho's most formal restaurant. This cavernous place has a great bar and dozens of authentic tapas from chorizo to jamon serrano to fabada Asturiana. The dinner menu has all the right, proper dishes from espanana including marluza, cochinillo, fideua and paella.

  • 10. Miami hotels are much cheaper after April

    For a B&B Experience (and the lodging in closest proximity to Calle Ocho), try the Miami River Inn. For a splurge in the famous bayfront Brickell district (a mile from Little Havana), live lavishly at the Mandarin Oriental, Four Seasons or Conrad. For something light on the pocketbook, there are a pair of Extend Stay properties on Coral Way. Both are some of the ugliest buildings on a pretty, banyan-lined boulevard...but you can't beat the price for a family-sized room, free parking and the chance to use the kitchen for some money-saving cooking.