Sunday is May 5th, which is also known as Cinco de Mayo. While most people mark the day with beer, tequila and other celebratory Mexican-inspired beverages, there are actually loads of family-friendly ways to partake in Cinco de Mayo right here in Chicago.
But, first, let's begin with the true significance of Cinco de Mayo. The holiday commemorates the Mexican army's unlikely victory over the French army at the Battle of Puebla on May 5, 1862. Overtime, it has evolved into a celebration of Mexican culture, cuisine and music across the United States.
And, now, here are five family-friendly ways to celebrate Cinco de Mayo in Chicago:
1) EAT: Food plays an important, often starring role in holiday celebrations, and that is certainly the case with Cinco de Mayo. In Chicago, our typical go-to Mexican restaurant is the ultra-casual, very fast and delicious Flaco's Tacos, with two locations in Streeterville and the South Loop - and one to open in Wrigleyville in June. If you don't mind having to wait a bit for your meal, you can never go wrong with Rick Bayless' Frontera Grill in River North. I'm never phased by the hour-plus wait if it means I can indulge in Fontera Grill's amazing, super authentic Mexican dishes. If you're near Pilsen, you may also want to brave the crowds for the neighborhood's popular Neuvo Leon restaurant. And, while you're in Pilsen, be sure to grab a churro (or more...) at Xocoatl where you can choose from fillings like vanilla, chocolate, apple or even nutella.
2) SHOP: My husband and I have always been drawn to Mexican art, and we love to browse for new items to adorn our home at Artesnias D'Mexico in Pilsen. Soccer fans also should be sure to stop in Ochoa Sporting Goods in Pilsen, which has a a great selection of soccer jerseys and gear, and also happens to be the first Hispanic-owned soccer store to open in the U.S. My sons love to stop into the delightful Mexican candy store, Dulcelandia del Sol west on Irving Park Road. They always get a kick out of the rows and rows of pinatas, and the clown-heads suckers made out of chocolate covered marshmallows.
3) VISIT: Any day is a good day to visit the National Museum of Mexican Art in Chicago's Pilsen neighborhood. The museum, situated in Harrison Parkjust off of 18th Street, promotes the art and cultural of Mexico and its people around the world. On Cinco de Mayo, you and your family can enjoy one of their Family Sunday programs that run from 12 - 2 p.m. On tap for this Sunday is pastel painting. To register for the program, call 312.433.3950.
4) CELEBRATE: Anyone who wants to make Cinco de Mayo a three-day celebration should head to the Cinco de Mayo Festival at 26th Street and Kostner in Chicago's Little Village neighborhood. The event kicks off Friday night (6 - 11 p.m.) and continues on Saturday and Sunday (2 - 11 p.m. both days). The event offers authentic foods, live music, arts and crafts, and even children's activities. In case you prefer to dine at a restaurant instead of just at the festival, my family enjoys Mi Terra in Little Village. Just be sure to time your meal to coincide with one of the mariachi band's performances.
5) READ: National Geographic books and magazines are known for enabling readers to experiences to people, places and things through the powerfulphotos that grace its pages. So, it's not surprising that National Geographic offers an easy way to transport adults and kids alike to a Cinco de Mayo celebration in Holidays Around the World: Celebrate Cinco de Mayo: with Fiestas, Music, and Dance. The book takes us to a various Cinco de Mayo celebrations across the country, opening our eyes to the holiday traditions, parades, festivals, music and more that are enjoyed be people in different cities from coast to coast.
With so many ways to celebrate Cinco de Mayo in Chicago, I'm glad May 5th falls on a Sunday this year. It's the perfect excuse to extend the celebration and make it last all weekend long.
How do you plan to celebrate Cinco de Mayo with your family? What places would you add to the list? Please share your stories and suggestions in the comments below.