There has been an ongoing dispute about the name and extent of one of Miami’s fastest growing neighborhood—Little Haiti, or is it Lemon City?
Historic Lemon City, named after the prevalence of lemon trees that grew in the area, was one of the earliest settlements in Miami. Now known as Little Haiti it loosely spans NE Second Avenue between 52nd and 71st Streets and Interstate 95 and Biscayne Boulevard. Regardless of the name and geography, one thing is clear, the Little Haiti district has emerged as an influential part of Miami, brimming with Caribbean culture.
From the street murals and signs of Haitian-born artist Serge Toussaint to traditional wares found at the Caribbean Marketplace and monthly celebrations like Big Night in Little Haiti, many consider Little Haiti the next hot spot to explore. Here is an itinerary for how to spend a day in this vibrant, colorful place.
Begin your day at the Little Haiti Cultural Center. This cultural hub, part gallery, part community space, offers first-rate shows of contemporary art by Caribbean artists from around the world. It has exhibited the works of noted Haitian artist Edouard Duval-Carrié and photos from Pulitzer Prize-winning photographer Carl Juste.
Spend time wandering the two buildings that make up the complex. One houses the art exhibits, educational classrooms and black box theater while the other is where the administrative offices and the fabulous Magic Piano—painted by rock star artist David LeBatard (a.k.a. Lebo)—can be found. Between the two buildings is a colorful mural that depicts daily life in Port-au-Prince. The area is an art lovers paradise, home to the Yeleen Gallery, Daleus Museum and Art Gallery and the Laundromat Art Space to name a few.
After a morning of culture, head to the Caribbean Marketplace next door, for a bit of shopping. Open Thursday through Sunday, the market is designed as a replica of the Iron Market in Port-au-Price, the architecture and vibrant color is a visual marker that you are in the heart of Little Haiti. Shop for handmade goods, fine art, jewelry, collectibles and fashion apparel here.
If you are a history lover or book enthusiast, there's Librerie Mapou Bookstore. With a fine selection of French, Creole and English titles on Haiti and the Caribbean, this quaint shop has over 7,000 books to peruse and also sells Haitian art.
It’s time to throw it back to the years of vinyl records at Miami’s hippest, indie music store and vegan-friendly café, Sweat Records. Located four blocks south of the Little Haiti Cultural Center on 55th Street, it is a favorite hangout for creatives, entrepreneurs and music fans.
A large-scale mural of musical heroes on the façade welcomes you as you enter. Here you’ll find a wide variety of new and used LPs and CDs, a curated selection of magazines, books, gifts, local music, books and t-shirts, as well as a full range of delicious coffee and tea, vegan snacks and free Wi-Fi. The store boasts a long list of celebrities have visited including Iggy Pop, Matt+Kim, Fred Schneider from the B-52s and many more.
Get a taste of the Caribbean at some of Little Haiti’s top eateries. Clive’s Café is the best hole-in-the-wall for Jamaican food. Serving breakfast, lunch and dinner the specialties include curry goat, oxtail and jerk chicken. Leela’s Restaurant has been a staple in the community for over 30 years, it offers Afro-Caribbean and French inspired dishes. Order the griot (fried pork chunks) with rice and peas, fried green plantains and veggies from this family-owned local favorite.
If you are lucky enough to visit Little Haiti during the third Friday of the month for the Big Night in Little Haiti festival, organized by the Rhythm Foundation, you are in for a treat. This community celebration draws hundreds of curious revelers looking for a night of art, food, “kompa” music and dance performances. On any other night you can always head to the legendary Churchill's Pub on 55th Street to catch a concert, dance, play a game of pool, eat, drink and make new friends or hangout with old ones. You'll quickly see why the Little Haiti district is such a happening place.