Established in 1976, Domino Park, officially known as Maximo Gomez Park, is a cultural landmark that is located in the heart of Little Havana, Miami. The park is named after a significant Dominican military and political figure, Maximo Gomez, who was a prominent actor in the Cuban War for Independence.
The park is a unique public space and a prominent social hub where the local community comes together every day. It may be small, stretching just under an acre, but it brims with personality and activity, embodying the spirit of Little Havana's Cuban culture and heritage. One of the key elements that stand out about the ark is the traditional, open-air domino games that take place there, leading to its colloquial name, 'Domino Park.' It is a favorite local destination to relax, chat, and engage in some friendly competition under the Miami sun. When you step into Domino Park, you step into an authentic representation of Miami's Cuban culture. You'll find a colorful mural beautifully depicting scenes from Cuban history while the air often fills with the pulsating beats of Cuban music. The atmosphere here is lively and welcoming, filled with chatter, laughter, and the clattering of dominoes that capture the essence of Miami's Cuban community.
Moreover, the park enjoys an excellent location on Calle Ocho, a dynamic and bustling street known for its Latin American art galleries, cigar shops, and cafés serving traditional Cuban coffee. You can seamlessly blend a visit to Domino Park into a broader exploration of the vibrant Little Havana neighborhood.
Why visit Domino Park?
Cultural immersion. Domino Park is not a mere tourist attraction. It's a living, breathing testament to Miami's Cuban heritage. Here, you can eavesdrop on passionate debates about baseball or politics, witness intense games of dominos, and soak in the rich, authentic Cuban atmosphere. Get an opportunity to see Cuban culture in action, away from the traditional tourist traps.
The art of dominoes. In Little Havana, domino is not just a game; it's a cultural institution. Watching the residents engage in a round of dominos is like witnessing a dance, a delicate balance of strategy, competition, and camaraderie. You might even be invited to join in and use a game as a unique and engaging way to connect with the local community.
Vibrant art and history. The park features a captivating mural vividly depicting Cuba's storied past. This striking artwork by Dominican artist Oscar Thomas is not only visually stunning, but it also serves as a visual history lesson, encapsulating the complex and shared history between Miami and Havana.
Neighborhood exploration. Domino Park's location on the lively Calle Ocho makes it the perfect jump-off point for a deeper exploration of Little Havana. From here, you can explore local art galleries, indulge in a classic Cuban sandwich at a local eatery, sample hand-rolled cigars, or discover unique treasures in nearby boutiques.
Music and festivities. Time your visit with one of the many local festivals or events, such as Viernes Culturales or Cultural Fridays, and you'll experience an explosion of music, dancing, and street performances. This adds another layer to the park's vibrant ambiance, giving you a taste of Miami's Cuban celebration spirit.
Taste of Cuba. Close to the park are many restaurants where you can sample authentic Cuban cuisine and coffee. Cuban food is renowned for its flavors and diversity, and visiting Domino Park gives you a perfect chance to indulge in this cuisine. Try out the famous Cuban sandwich, savor a plate of ropa vieja (shredded beef in tomato sauce), or satisfy your sweet tooth with pastelitos de guayaba (guava pastries). Don't miss out on sipping a cafecito – a traditional, sweetened Cuban espresso, or a refreshing mojito at one of the local bars.
Best places to visit near Domino Park
Cubaocho Museum and Performing Arts Center. This is a place where you can experience the culture of Cuba through its art, music, history, and literature. You can see the artworks, sculptures, books, and souvenirs that reflect the Cuban identity, enjoy the live shows of salsa, jazz, flamenco, and more, or participate in a dance lesson or a poetry session. You don't have to pay anything to enter, but you can make a donation if you like.
The Versailles Cuban Restaurant. This landmark establishment has been serving tasty Cuban cuisine and culture to the South Florida community and tourists from around the world for five decades. Whether you want to enjoy a cafecito, a Cuban sandwich, a palomilla steak, or a guava pastry, you will find it at Versailles, along with a friendly and lively atmosphere. Versailles is also a popular place for political gatherings and events, as it reflects the voice and spirit of the Cuban-American exile community.
The Bay of Pigs Museum & Library. This is a place where you can learn about the history and legacy of Brigade 2506, a group of Cuban exiles who tried to overthrow Fidel Castro's regime in 1961. The museum, located in Little Havana, Miami, displays artifacts, documents, photos, and videos related to the failed invasion and its aftermath. The museum also hosts events and lectures to honor the veterans and educate the public about the Cuban struggle for freedom.
MDC's Tower Theater. This historical and cultural gem in the heart of Little Havana opened in 1926 as a state-of-the-art theater that hosted live performances and silent movies. In the 1960s, it became a popular destination for Cuban exiles who enjoyed Spanish-language films and English-language films with Spanish subtitles. Today, it is the year-round home of the Miami Film Festival and showcases independent and international films, as well as educational and community events.
What are the most interesting and unique facts about Domino Park?
The park has an age restriction – only those aged 50 and older can play at the domino tables, though all ages are welcome to watch the games. This tradition is over 40 years old.
You can find Little Havana Paseo de las Estrellas or Walk of the Stars near the entrance to Maximo Gómez Park. Discover the names of the most famous Latin American celebrities, from actors and musicians to artists and writers.