The Five Best Places to Celebrate Cinco de Mayo in the United States

Discover the 5 best places in America to celebrate Cinco de Mayo, the festival of Mexico. From street parades to chihuahua races, these cities have it all.

Hopper Editors - Oct. 26, 2017

What originally began as a celebration of Mexican army’s unlikely victory over the French at the Battle of Puebla on May 5, 1862, when the French military nearly doubled the size of Mexico’s, is now a celebration of the culture and history of Mexico itself. In fact, there are more Cinco de Mayo celebrations in the United States than in Mexico – while most large cities in the States have their own parades and festivities, only one state in Mexico, Puebla, celebrates the victory. And what’s not to celebrate? These parades and parties all feature brightly colored traditional dress, festive music and dancing, excellent Mexican food and even Chihuahua races and green chili cook-offs. For the five best cities in the United States to celebrate Cinco de Mayo, just clock this list.

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5. Chicago fires up the barbacoa on the fifth of May

Photo by uBookworm/Flickr.

Now heading into its fifth year, Chicago’s three-day Cinco De Mayo festival has blossomed into one of the biggest celebrations in the Midwest. Held largely in the Little Village neighborhood, the heart of Chicago’s Mexican community, Cinco de Mayo kicks off with a parade filled with music, dancing, men on horses, tumblers, large bands and colorful Mexican dresses while vendors on the side hawk traditional foods, flags and novelty items. During this time, Little Village positively explodes in color, music and, of course, food and drink. Chicagoans pour into restaurants like Nuevo Leon, Cuernavaca, Tacos Palas and Taqueria La Justicia to try their specific spins on authentic tacos, carnitas, barbacoa and mole; the Cinco de Mayo Pub Crawl is a great way to explore the local drinking holes.

See 6 tips, like when to book your ticket, from the Hopper research team that can save travelers hundreds on their flights to Chicago.

4. Denver celebrates Mexican culture during Cinco de Mayo

More than 400,000 people attend Denver’s Cinco de Mayo "Celebrate Culture" Festival to get a touch of Mexican spirit, whether it be from dancing the Mariachi, Cumba, Salsa, Norteno and any number of other Latin genres being played from the three stages at Civic Center Park, or admiring Mexican folk art and handcrafted goods around their vendors. More than 350 vendors set up shop, serving tacos, enchiladas, burritos and more, and the culinary excitement peaks at the Green Chili Bowl Cook-off, which features 15 local restaurants competing for first place. Festival-goers can also enjoy a taco eating contest, chihuahua races, and a ton of other family friendly activities. For a unique and utterly Mexican cap off to the day, Mezcal serves up authentic and time-tested cuisine matched only by its strong margaritas in its folk art-clad dining room.

3. Los Angeles knows how to throw a huge party

Demographically, the Hispanic and Latino community make up 57.5% of the population of Los Angeles, which means that it comes to no surprise that the biggest Cinco de Mayo party in the world is in L.A. It may, however, strike some as surprising that the biggest Cinco de Mayo party in the world does not actually take place on Cinco de Mayo. The Fiesta Broadway takes place on the last Sunday in April, kicking off with a huge parade that draws an estimated half a million people. Dancers in bright, color-shocked ruffled skirts and tasseled hats twirl down the streets while vendors stand by selling tacos, cotton candy, watermelons, mango, confetti, aguas and more along 24 square blocks of downtown Los Angeles. Elsewhere, the corner of Olvera Street and La Plaza, is a historic district that boasts buildings that were built when Los Angeles was still part of Mexico, boasting beautiful pueblas and stunning decorations while Whittier Narrows Regional Park draws a stunning crowd on Cinco de Mayo to celebrate with musicians and tons of other festivities.

See 5 tips, like when to book your ticket, from the Hopper research team that can save travelers hundreds on their flights to Los Angeles.

2. Sun and fun in Phoenix during Cinco de Mayo

Cinco de Mayo is celebrated all over Phoenix on the auspicious day – the official Cinco de Mayo Phoenix festival is one of the largest multicultural festivals in Arizona, featuring Lucha Libre, Ballet Folklorico, live music and carnival rides while the Si Se Puede Foundation holds their own at the Chandler Downtown Public LIbrary Courtyard, with Chihuahua Races and the crowning of a festival King and Queen. Afterwards, hit the beach at Sandbar Mexican Grill and enjoy a margarita and some Adobo pork tacos on their huge patio, complete with sand, firepit, pool and cabanas.

1. Visit the largest Mexican marketplace north of Rio Grande for Cinco de Mayo in San Antonio

San Antonio’s colonial past can be traced in much of its architecture dotted through the city, but the biggest reminder of that is Cinco de Mayo in Historic Market Square in la Villita, where the festivities seem to run all year. The market and surrounding streets celebrate the culture through restaurants, a farmer’ market, a museum, and stalls selling silver, sombreros and vanilla extract and an artisans bazaar and has become the largest Mexican marketplace north of the Rio Grande. Every month, Market Square has at least one event wherein live entertainers and local families dress in festive clothes and soak up the arts and food, all culminating in the most important date on the Mexican calendar.

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