Little Havana Shopping & Gifts

In the mood for shopping? Here’s my scoop on the unique (including locally made) finds can you can pick up in Little Havana. If you want recommendations on specific places where you can find these items, please take one of our Little Havana walking tours.

Shopping in Little Havana is a world away from the sterile and boring (in my opinion) environment of the shopping mall. In our mom and pop businesses, you’re likely to offered a complimentary shot of Cuban coffee. The decor might include a little altar to Chango or photos and memorabilia of a country left behind. Many business owners are very friendly, and more of them speak English than you might expect. Please patronize our small and independent businesses!

Guayaberas on display at Pepe y Berta's
Guayaberas on display

Clothing

One must-have piece of clothing (if you live in a warm climate, or for the summer if you live in a cooler locale) is a guayabera.

Nicknamed “the suit of the Tropics,” this elegant shirt was originally just for the fellas, but it is now available in styles and sizes for women and kids.

Although the classic style remains white and linen (crisply pressed), you can now find it in multiple colors; in solids, stripes or other styles; with short or long sleeves; in linen or other materials like cotton or polyester — even denim!

Its pockets are great for holding cigars, pens, business cards or a phone.

The guayabera is also considered the national shirt of Cuba. Although some from Mexico and Panama say the shirt was born on their turf, Cubans hold fast to the legend that it was invented on their island.

Little Havana has a range of other clothing styles and stores, too, from perhaps the most chic Goodwill store you could possible imagine (with lots of lightly used designer clothes) to a vintage antique clothing boutique to small shops with the latest tropical fashions from countries like Colombia and Brazil.

Moms rave about our old-school department store (La Ideal, at 1143 W. Flagler St.) because of its excellent selection of baby clothing and kidswear at low prices.

Of course cool shoes and a hat complete your look, and you can find these accessories in the neighborhood, too.

Hats

The hat collection at Maxoly
The hat collection at a local shop

Hats can make an outfit pop; they also protect your head from fiery Miami sun. The local favorite is the Panama hat, in styles ranging from the classic fedora to stingy brim. Find them in a range of colors and patterns, for men and women, and with various colored bows, some including a feather or two.

Little Havana also sells other locally favorite styles, like Kangol caps, embroidered baseball caps and even Latin-style cowboy hats, popular in our Central American community, and made from fiber or leather.

You can find hats in many of our souvenir shops and clothing stores in Calle Ocho’s main arts district. If you are a hat aficionado, and want a very good quality Panama hat, ask the owner and they may have some set aside in a separate area. Fine Panama hats can be quite expensive, but they last a long time and you can see the difference.

Shoes

Shoes for sale at Minuet Shoes
Shoes for sale

Slip on some classic footwear to go with your new guayabera. Or, try other, newer styles popular among us locals.

An enduring style that remains popular particularly in our Cuban community is the pointy-toed shoe for men. More than a few performers and celebrities can be seen sporting this distinctive look!

For ladies, I recommend purchasing sandals, which usually come in a wide array of colors. Our shops often feature hard-to-find sandals from Brazil and Colombia. Find everything from flashy, colorful high-heeled sandals to super-comfortable styles like the huarache.

Need a repair for those platform heels or two-tones? Go to our inexpensive zapaterias (shoe repair shops)!

Art & Handmade Crafts

A unique, handmade piece by a local artist or artisan makes a great gift, even if just for yourself. In addition to items made locally, our stores also sell arts and crafts imported from countries throughout Latin America and the Caribbean.

Both our monthly Little Havana Art Walk and Viernes Culturales festival (see Festivals & Events) are fun opportunities to browse the works of local artists. Find a favorite painting, wood sculpture, ceramic or mosaic piece, handmade jewelry or something else that suits your tastes. A number of the participating artists and artisans have gone on to open up galleries, so don’t underestimate the quality of the works you will find.

Venture into our galleries and studios as well. While they may sell paintings or other works of art with hefty pricetags, galleries often offer additional, lower-cost items for sale such as prints, small paintings, decorated mugs or postcards. Take a look and explore–or just ask! The price might be negotiable, too. Read more about our galleries and studios.

Another place to find locally made arts and crafts is in our souvenir and cigar shops. Ask the merchant to point out which items are made locally.

If you are interested in purchasing souvenirs and crafts made in a particular part of Latin America or the Caribbean, we recommend exploring our local restaurants. Non-Cuban restaurants outside the Calle Ocho arts district often have a section of their dining area set aside as store, with foodstuffs, candies, crafts and souvenirs from Latin America.

Antiques & Collectibles

Pre-Castro Cuban baseball memorabilia at Sentir Cubano
Pre-Castro Cuban baseball memorabilia at Sentir Cubano

For pre-Castro Cuban antiques and collectibles, Little Havana is your perfect destination. Find antique books, baseball memorabilia, vintage pieces dating back to Cuba’s war against Spain, antique silver spoons (for cafe Cubano) and much more.

Great places for antiques in Little Havana include Sentir Cubano, 3100 SW 8th St., 305-644-8870 and Habana 1950, an appointment-only antique store at 1331 SW 8th St. (786) 223-6510.

Most items are for sale, although we also have a library with antique documents in addition to historic works available for perusal at the Hispanic Branch of the Miami-Dade County Library.

Books, Magazines & DVDs

In Little Havana, find books, magazines and DVDs in both English and Spanish at bookstores, DVD stores, botanicas, gift shops and our beautiful new Hispanic Branch of the Miami-Dade Public Library, which also offers free wireless and free parking.

Sadly, the oldest Spanish-language bookstore in Little Havana closed its doors. Librería Universal/Ediciones Universal was also a publisher of Cuban literature and works on Cuban arts, culture, history or politics.

Books on Cuban cuisine
Books on Cuban cuisine

To purchase books in both English and Spanish, the best places to visit are our souvenir shops, which offer a good selection of books on topics such as Latin music, Latin cuisine, local history and the history of Cuba. Some local shops also sell antique books from Cuba, most of them dating back to pre-Castro years (and in Spanish).

Spiritual and esotoric works (most in Spanish) are tucked in corners of local botanicas (spiritual shops). In Little Havana we also have a number of Christian bookstores, most of which also sell non-religious literary works.

Looking for DVDs? Little Havana has a wide variety of video stores and music stores that sell Spanish-language DVDs. In addition to films and documentaries, find videos of music and dance performances as well as instructional titles from Cuba and other parts of Latin America. Some videos are available in English or with English subtitles.

Candles & Charms

Candles for sale at a local botanica
Candles for sale at a local botanica

Little Havana residents have any number of ways to secure spiritual protection from the Evil Eye, jealous ex-boyfriends, or scheming competitors. Many have also heard of various folk and spiritual methods for attracting money, a new job or a new lover. And still others like things like colored candles and special perfumes or incense simply because they look or smell good!

Perhaps the best place to find candles in many different colors, each with its own symbolic meaning, is at our botanicas (shops selling spiritual merchandise), although you can also find these at corner markets, drugstores and supermarkets.

One popular type of candle found in Little Havana is the glass jar candle (for example, the 7-day candle: vela de siete dias). This type of candle burns inside an open glass container that is discarded after use.

Many Little Havana residents can be found wearing charms, or using charms and other objects in their homes or businesses in order to ensure spiritual protection, regardless of their faith.

Popular good luck charms in Little Havana
Popular good luck charms in Little Havana

Some amulets are intended for religious use and may require a form of ritual in order to be spiritually consecrated. Other types of charms, like those that protect against the “evil eye,” are purchased by people from a variety of different faiths. These charms are very inexpensive and are sold in botanicas, jewelry stores and markets. Some charms are worn as a bracelet or necklace and others are hung on doors, windows or even the rear view mirror of a car.

Local jewelry stores sell a wide variety of gold and silver charms, and it is quite common to see locals wearing gold necklaces adorned with particular iconic images. A favorite jewelry charm is the image of San Lazaro, his arms in crutches and two dogs at his feet. San Lazaro is the protector of good health.

Objects associated with Feng Shui and other Asian traditions are also popular in Little Havana, such as Buddha statues and delightfully tacky mini-fountains (some with lots of little lights).

Cigars

Stay tuned for an entire page just on cigars …

Music & Musical Instruments

Checkeres made by Ezequiel Torres
Checkeres made by Ezequiel Torres

Little Havana is rich with musical culture, so here you’ll find rare and difficult-to-find CDs as well as musical instruments representing its diverse traditions.

We have several CD stores where you can find songs that are simply not available in mp3 form. Many of the stores also sell musical instruments.

Little Havana is also the home of my friend Ezequiel Torres, a maker and player of Afro-Cuban percussion instruments who in 2010 won the highest honor given to traditional artists in the U.S. He was named a National Heritage Fellow by the National Endowment of the Arts. In 2008 he won the Florida Folk Heritage Award, and in 2012 was the South Florida Folklife Center’s first Artist in Residence.

At local events, bands typically have their own CDs to sell. Just ask! Get it signed, too. You’ll be supporting the band and have a personalized momento you can continue to enjoy. Some bands also sell T-shirts and other paraphernalia — these make great gifts.

Furniture

It also happens that Little Havana has a long history of being a destination for furniture, although a number of its older furniture stores have closed. We have one of the best stores for baby and children’s furniture (La Ideal, 1143 W. Flagler St.), plus a highly rated luxury mattress shop (Brickell Mattress, at 1030 SW 8th St.). Plus, you can also find places for furniture design and repair.

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