The Ten Best Things to Do in Hialeah

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Let’s be honest — Hialeah is the butt of Miami’s jokes. But there’s more to the City of Progress than agua, fango y factoría. In fact, Hialeah is rich in history. It was the place to be in the Roaring Twenties and attracted the likes of Harry S Truman, the Kennedys, and Winston Churchill. Now it’s becoming a draw for the arts.

Not only is Hialeah home to Telemundo — the second-largest Spanish television network — and the birthplace of KC & the Sunshine Band, among other greats, but in the past year or so, the city has also experienced a cultural renaissance that has brought life to the community. Though the new definitely appeals to a younger crowd, there’s the old too — things and places that capture the true essence of Hialeah.

So grab your GPS (you’ll need it to navigate the street grid) and check out the ten best things to do in Hialeah.

10. Shop at Ñooo! ¡Que Barato! 
You truly haven’t experienced Hialeah until you’ve entered Ñooo! ¡Que Barato! Located on the corner of Okeechobee Road and West 12th Avenue, this giant yellow building is a mecca of cheap Cuban goods (hence the name, which translates to, “Damn, That’s Cheap”). Here, you can find everything from batas de casavioletas perfume, and guayaberas to a life-size statue of San Lazaro, skinny jeans, and even Communion dresses. Catering to Miami’s Cuban-exile community, Serafín Blanco opened his store in 1996 as a way to provide Cubans with a place they can shop for things they’d typically find on the island and purchase items they can afford to send back home. As the store’s popularity grew, Blanco opened Que Caché, El Dollarazo, and Baby Caché, but Ñooo! ¡Que Barato! remains the essential spot for all your Cuban needs. As one Yelp reviewer put is, it’s like walking into your abuela‘s closet.
Ñooo! ¡Que Barato! 1198 W. 23rd St., Hialeah; 305-884-8000;

9. Explore the Garden of the Arts 
Truly a hidden gem (it’s located in the middle of warehouses and residences, in the shadow of the Palmetto Expressway), Garden of the Arts is a breath of fresh air. One of the first of its kind in La Ciudad Que Progresa, here you’ll find murals and sculptures by Xavier Cortada, Alexander Mijares, Antonio Fortuna, and other renowned artists. Masterpieces aside, you’ll also find paved walking trails and benches, a mini-amphitheater with an elevated stage (the beginning of a #BringLiveMusicToHialeah movement, perhaps?), and perfectly manicured grounds. 
City of Hialeah Garden of the Arts, 1700-1798 W. 76 St., Hialeah;

8. Catch a Show at Milander Center for Arts & Entertainment 
After undergoing a major face-lift in 2013, Milander Center for Arts & Entertainment (formerly Milander Auditorium) has become a cultural epicenter. One of the few art galleries the area, Milander has hosted several exhibits and concerts. Among them are the Women’s History Month showcase, in partnership with the Miami Urban Contemporary Experience and the Celia Cruz Legacy Project; Javier Cortada’s “Clima” exhibit, highlighting climate change; PAMM’s Inside|Out Art Walk (which most recently hosted the Dark Flashlight Tour); and performances by Florida Grand Opera. Art and music abound here, but if you’d rather throw your own pachanga at Milander, you can rent out one of the banquet halls or the one-and-only rooftop terrace in Hialeah.
Milander Center for Arts & Entertainment, 4800 Palm Ave., Hialeah; 305-827-0681;

7. Party at Las Tabernas de Wancho 
Yes, there’s nightlife in Hialeah, and Las Tabernas de Wancho is where it’s at. Located on the top floor of a five-story building right off the Palmetto Expressway, “el quintopiso mas rumbero en Miami,” or “the most lit fifth floor you’ll find in Miami” — an honor bestowed by New Times — is the place to be in the City of Progress. The club features three rooms, each offering its own music genre. La Rumbateka plays mostly merengue and bachata; Club 5 “Blue Room,” the most recent addition, is where you’ll find the younger crowd getting turnt to hip-hop, reggaeton, and techno; and then there’s “La Fonda Paisa” Tropical Crossover. Reminiscent of the pueblo of Antioquia, this is where the true Colombianos party it up. Each room comes equipped with a disco ball and bottle service. 
Las Tabernas de Wancho, 2100 W. 76th St., Hialeah; 305-822-7833;

6. Place a Bet at Hialeah Park Racing & Casino
One of the oldest recreational facilities in South Florida, Hialeah Park Racing & Casino is a local institution. Opened in 1922 by aviation pioneer Glenn Curtis and Missouri cattleman James H. Bright, the park was a greyhound racetrack, operated by the Miami Kennel Club. In 1925, the Miami Jockey Club launched thoroughbred racing. Fast-forward several years and flocks of flamingos later, and the rest is history. In its glory days, Hialeah Park was visited by Winston Churchill, Harry S Truman, Frank Sinatra, Elizabeth Taylor, and Princess Grace of Monaco, to name a few political figures and Hollywood legends. Though the park was officially added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1979, it remained dormant for many years. Hialeah Park saw a rebirth in 2009, when the park reopened for horse races. Slot machines were eventually installed, and in 2013, Hialeah Park unveiled a casino. Last year, Hialeah Park’s outdoor stage and seating area — the Fountain Terrace — debuted, drawing musical artists such as Willy Chirino, Jo Mersa Marley, and Danay Suarez to the stage.
Hialeah Park Racing & Casino, 100 E. 32nd St., Hialeah; 305-885-8000;

5. Pig Out at Chico’s Restaurant 
Chico’s has been hooking Hialeah up with tasty — and cheap — Cuban grub for almost 40 years. Open 24 hours a day, this mainstay always has your fix of huevos fritos y arroz blanco (fried eggs and white rice), pan con bistec (steak sandwiches), masas de puerco (fried pork chunks), and postres such as boniatillo (sweet potato pudding), flan de queso (cheese flan), and arroz con leche (rice pudding). But Chico’s serves more than just Cuban comfort food. Like Calle Ocho’s Versailles, this eatery also functions as the city’s political hot spot, hosting visits from politicians such as former governor Jeb Bush. Politics aside, when you want an authentic taste of Hialeah, Chico’s is your go-to.
Chico’s Restaurant, 4070 W. 12th St., Hialeah; 305-556-8907;

4. Browse the Stacks at Ricky’s Records 
At a time when music is downloaded on the internet rather than purchased at a brick-and-mortar store, Ricky’s Records has stood tall for nearly 50 years. Ricky’s is the place to go when you want to find old-school classics — from Latin to pop to freestyle — on CD, English- and Spanish-language films on DVD, and even cassettes. Music and movies aside, Ricky’s sells sheet music, musical instruments, and equipment, and it’s still an official Ticketmaster outlet. 
Ricky’s Records, 4040 Palm Ave., Hialeah; 305-823-5931.

3. Play Hard at Amelia Earhart Park
Perhaps the most impressive feature of Amelia Earhart Park is not the 515 acres on which it stands, but the park’s 90-acre freshwater lake. Home to the Miami Watersports Complex, the park boasts extreme watersports galore in this aquatic oasis, including wakeboarding, waterskiing, and kneeboarding. Back on land, there’s the park’s beginner, intermediate, and advanced biking trails; the Bill Graham Farm Village petting zoo, stocked with cows and goats; Tom Sawyer’s Play Island playground; and even a general store. But the landmark here is the pair of giant hills that peak over East 65th Street — it’s a thing of beauty.
Amelia Earhart Park, 401 E. 65th St., Hialeah; 305-685-8389;

2. Stock Up on Hipster Gear at Flamingo Plaza
Flamingo Plaza has been the spot for thrift shopping since 1956 — way before hipsters decided thrift shopping was cool. Status aside, this east Hialeah shopping plaza is fashionista gold. Find Velcro slip-ons at Red, White & Blue Thrift Store, vintage jewelry at Community Family Thrift Store, or a Grateful Dead tour T-shirt at New York Thrift Store. The possibilities are seemingly endless.
Flamingo Plaza, 901 E. Tenth Ave., Hialeah.

1. Visit the Leah Arts District 
If the Leah Arts District were a presidential candidate, its slogan would be “Make Hialeah Cool Again.” Unlike the human candidates, though, the Leah Arts District is actually following through on its promises. Launched in 2015, the arts district began as a way to provide “local artists with affordable live/work spaces, while promoting art and culture within the city of Hialeah.” So far, the district has done just that, this past summer launching a series of free events, including the second-annual #HialeahNOW Block Party, the screening of Amor Crónico for Movie Night in the Leah, and the Leah Summer Series Sunset Wrap Party. Events aside, the Leah Arts District will welcome Unbranded, the city’s first brewery and taproom, next year. Talk about progress.
Leah Arts District, 1450 E. 11th Ave., Hialeah;

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