Next time you're in the Miami area and you want to visit a place off the beaten path, make a stop by Maximo Gomez Park, or more popularly known as Domino Park. It is one of the most popular meeting places in Little Havana. If you stop by at anytime of day you will find a park filled with locals and retirees playing dominoes or chess.
The park itself is serene and well-maintained. Maximo Gomez Park is named after a famous Cuban revolutionary who fought against Spanish oppression in late nineteenth century Cuba.
This predominantly Cuban district is located on the corner of Calle Ocho and 15th-avenue in the heart of Little Havana. Most of the people you will see in Domino Park have been coming to this area for years and the heated political debates that take place are entertainment themselves. The feelings towards politics in Cuba are passionate and loudly expressed.
Chess is also played frequently in the park, however since the staple of play in the park is dominos. The park received its nickname, Domino Park, for that very reason. Before the park was completed in 1976, the locals that now play dominoes in the park used to play on the corner of 15th Avenue. Then the City of Miami allotted $115,000 to build the park's magnificent architecture.
THere is a lot to see in this small park. There are two barrel-tile-roofed pavilions, a matching storage shed which houses the bathroom facilities. There is also the mainstay of the park: tables set perfectly to an angle to the street corner. The arrangement of the tables and pavilions is the key to the park's architecture, and it serves two purposes here, both important: to open out onto the street corner is essentially Cuban, suggestive of Havana, and it is also an effective way to squeeze a lot of domino players into a tiny space.
Everyone is welcome in Domino Park, be sure to make it a stop on your next tour of Miami's fabulous Little Havana district.