Lonely Planet Writer

Miami's Little Havana neighbourhood is getting its very own museum

If you’re not able to be one of the lucky American travellers grabbing a flight to Cuba this year, you can head to Miami’s vibrant neighbourhood of Little Havana for a taste of the lifestyle. History buffs will soon have an added treat when the area’s first museum will open at the end of 2017.

A wall mural welcomes you to Little Havana, Miami, Florida, USA
Little Havana’s historical neighbourhood is getting its own museum. Image by Justin Foulkes/Lonely Planet

Little Havana is a small neighbourhood about three square miles in western Miami that is home to many of the Cuban exiles who decided to leave Cuba after Fidel Castro and his communist government came to power in 1959. As a result, visitors can wander the streets enjoying Latin-style architecture, restaurants and music.

El Museo de Little Havana will be designed to complement the historical and cultural activities already taking place all over the neighbourhood, including detailed tours of the area. The project has been undertaken as a partnership between the HistoryMiami Museum and the Barlington Group, a development company who have already brought new businesses to the neighbourhood. The museum will focus on the history of the neighbourhood from its inception and will include more than just the history of Cuban immigrants.

With the neighbourhood sprang up more than 100 years ago, it was essentially Miami’s first suburb. There was a large number of immigrants from the Bahamas while in the period from the 1920s to 1950s it was home a large Jewish community. Now the neighbourhood is estimated at being 98% Hispanic and there is a sizeable presence from immigrants from Honduras and Nicaragua, as well as Cuban origin.

domino players in Calle Ocho, Little Havana, Miami
Cuban culture is everywhere on the streets of Little Havana. Image by Walter Bibikow

Earlier this year, the Little Havana neighbourhood was named a national treasure by the National Trust for Historical Preservation and the new museum will be on the main drag of the neighbourhood, Calle Ocho. The neighbourhood has also seen a host of new restaurants opening in the last couple of years. It’s expected the museum will be open by late 2017 and admission will be free.