To give your kids a cultural experience that only a city such as Chicago could offer, there’s no better neighborhood than Chinatown.
The neighborhood compacts so much into just a few blocks, which bodes well for the explorer at heart. Parents who want a plan for the most family-friendly day in Chinatown will want to keep these tips in mind.
Start with the food.
It’s Chinatown, which means you have to eat. Heaps of steaming, mouthwatering, authentic food awaits you at every turn. Anything in the Lao family of restaurants has been acclaimed by many as the top Chinese food in Chicago, and these restaurants offer plenty of simpler options for picky eaters. Joy Yee’s Noodles is the perfect choice for kids as well with its wide array of noodle dishes. For those seeking a little history with their meal, check out Won Kow, which has been in business for more than 90 years and is the oldest restaurant in Chinatown.
Get some bubble tea to go.
Make sure to have kids sample some bubble tea, sold at any eatery in Chinatown. Fruity flavors like mango and strawberry are perfect for the little ones who love bursting the “bubbles” in their mouths, and almond and coffee flavors will be a fave among the adults in your group.
Take a walk through history.
Chinatown has a ton of history, and the richness of the past is displayed on every corner. Just walking outside, you’ll see the famous Chinatown Gate, and directly across the street is the lucky Nine Dragon Wall. After passing through the gate, you’ll see the historic Pui Tak Center Building, a great example of Chinese architecture. As you’re perusing the Chinatown Square, check out the Chinatown Square Zodiac statues and the Chinatown mural, which depicts the history and society of Chinese immigrants in America. If the weather is nice, be sure to have a little playtime at Sun Yat Sen Park, where you can engage in a game of Chinese Chess, or Ping Tom Memorial Park, which sits along the Chicago River.
Experience the traditions.
A cultural experience would be unfulfilled without a little history and art. Make sure to check out the Chinese-American Museum of Chicago, which has rotating exhibits detailing Chinese culture, as well as the Chicago Chinese Cultural Institute, where you can experience food tours and kid-friendly cultural traditions such as kite-making and paper-cutting crafts.
Top it off with a souvenir.
Now, normally kids wouldn’t be into the whole shopping aspect of Chinatown. But the little shops that lace the streets of the neighborhood offer more than just a place where parents have to harshly whisper “don’t touch that” 15 times an hour. Go in and out of shops filled to the brim with Hello Kitty novelties, colorful kimonos (they come in child sizes too), tasty Asian candies and souvenir samurai swords. If you’re looking for a one-stop-shop, check out Giftland, which has plenty of little trinkets for kiddos to take home.