Explore Cuba in Miami

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This post originally appeared on Best Western’s YouMustBeTrippin.com’s blog, where I regularly contribute stories. I was compensated for this post but the opinions are mine.

My Cuban-Miami roots are unique. My Cuban family moved to the “Magic City” in 1948 and in my 46 years living in South Florida I have personally witnessed Miami transform to what is arguably one of the most dynamic, “Latino empowered” cities in the nation. The beauty of a city like <a href=”http://www.miamiandbeaches.com/target=”_blank“>Miami</a> is that you can truly feel you are in two places at once.</p>
<p>Next time you’re in Miami, venture outside the traditional tourist destinations and instead get a sense of that Cuban flare in what I consider the most “Cuban” city outside of Cuba.</p>
<p><strong>Calle Ocho/Little Havana</strong></p>
<p>Havana is an epic world capital, that even with crumbling architecture, glistens from the sea on the island of Cuba. Little Havana in Miami is a working class neighborhood that, in terms of looks and scales, pales to the real thing. The neighborhood was nicknamed “Little Havana” after Cubans clustered in the Miami neighborhood when they began descending on the city in the 1960s.</p>
<p>Little Havana offers the best Cuban food in the world (including Cuba) and displays a variety of Cuban exile landmarks depicting the culture and history of the country.</p>
<p><strong>Domino Park</strong></p>
<p>If you’ve toured Calle Ocho before, your first stop was most likely <a href=”http://www.miamiherald.com/news/local/community/miami-dade/little-havana/article28040101.htmltarget=”_blank“>Domino Park</a>. The park features a covered cabana with more than a dozen domino tables where some of the world’s best domino players routinely gather. While spectators and photos are welcome, talking during the intense domino matches of the typical middle-aged and elderly men is universally frowned upon.</p>
<p>BONUS: Only a few blocks from Domino Park you’ll find the Bay of Pigs Memorial. This memorial honors Cubans who lost their lives during the Cuban invasion.</p>
<p><strong>Versailles Restaurant </strong></p>
<p><a href=”http://www.youmustbetrippin.com/travel-my-way/mi-gente/my-favorite-latino-restaurants-in-the-u-s/target=”_blank“>Versailles</a> sits on the western edge of the world famous Calle Ocho and is arguably the best-known restaurant in all of Greater Miami – Cuban and non-Cuban. Versailles’ breakfast, lunch, dinner and bakery fare is considered the best Cuban food in the country. I’m personally partial to La Casita, another Cuban restaurant a few blocks west of Versailles, but there is no doubt Versailles is an institution. Visited by past U.S. presidents, celebrities and athletes alike, Versailles is one Miami attraction you shouldn’t skip. The bright Cuban décor and unmatched flavors really do live up to the hype.</p>
<p><strong>The Freedom Tower</strong></p>
<p>Home to Miami’s first newspaper, downtown Miami’s Freedom Tower is considered the Ellis Island of the Cuban diaspora. In the 1960s, the Freedom Tower was the first place where thousands of Cuban refugees were processed into the U.S. and gained freedom. Today, it stands as a museum of that exodus and as offices for <a href=”http://www.mdc.edu/main/target=”_blank“>Miami-Dade College</a>.</p>

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