Cinco de Mayo commemorates the Mexican army’s triumph over the French at the Battle of Puebla on May 5th, 1862, and what better way to honor this historical occasion than with a refreshing margarita and mouthwatering tacos? To help you fully embrace the festivities, we’ve rounded up the top places to celebrate Cinco de Mayo throughout the United States.
Los Angeles, California
Add some sunny vibes and celebrate Cinco de Mayo in Los Angeles, California. Street fairs, fantastic music, and festivals sweep the streets during this time of year. Some of the best tacos and tamales are likely to be served at Fiesta Broadway, where you can watch cultural performances in the heart of downtown L.A. Lucha VaVoom and the Micheleda Music Festival are also great events to consider. While the Cinco de Mayo Half Marathon is an excellent option for adventurous folks.
San Antonio, Texas
A city known for puffy tacos must also know a thing or two about Cinco de Mayo, and San Antonio certainly knows how to turn the party up with some of the best food and street festivals around. One example is Fiesta de los Reyes at Market Square, where you’ll find plenty of music and tasty Mexican food. And if you love crafts and decorations, then the Historic Market Square may be right up your alley. At the same time, the Mexican Cultural Institute in the downtown area offers exhibits and events that are all about Mexican heritage. San Antonio also offers many fine dining options for those seeking a more upscale celebration, which ranges from traditional Tex-Mex to modern fusion dishes.
Denver may not immediately come to mind when one thinks of Cinco de Mayo, but the city definitely springs to life during this time of year. For starters, the food and drink specials are unmatched, with places like Tamayo and La Loma serving up authentic Mexican fare. One of the main attractions in the area is the annual parade, which marches from Civic Center Park to the Santa Fe Arts District. Expect floats, dancing, and Mexican music as you cheer and applaud the performers around you. It doesn’t stop there though, as a two-day festival in Civic Center Park highlights live music, food vendors, and exhibits. And while you’re in Denver, be sure to check out the Denver Botanic Gardens and the Denver Zoo since the weather is warming up.
San Francisco, California
The Golden Gate Bridge and Alcatraz aren’t the only cool spots in San Francisco. The city knows how to throw one heck of an awesome Cinco de Mayo party, primarily evidenced by its Cinco de Mayo Festival in the Mission District. The festivities usually last from 10:00 am to 6:00 pm (though times may vary) and features cultural performances, art, music, and meals that pay homage to Mexican cultures. Other celebratory spots include a lively Farmers Market inside the Ferry Building Marketplace, the Mexican Museum, and the 24th Street Fair for a vibrant parade.
Chicago may be nicknamed as the “Windy City,” but it’s also known for its lively and colorful Cinco de Mayo celebrations. One example of this is the Cinco de Mayo Festival in Little Village, where you’ll be entertained by a parade, music, dancing, and plenty of food vendors. Or, if you’ve got an adventurous pep in your step, check out the Cinco de Miler Run or a Cinco de Mayo cruise for a stellar view of the city. For a more educational approach to the festivities, make your way to the National Museum of Mexican Art in Harrison Park to view unique textiles, paintings, and photography. Finally, when you’ve worked up an appetite, enjoy some of the best Mexican food, like burritos at Taqueria El Asadero or birria tacos at Birrieria Zaragoza.
In Phoenix, Cinco de Mayo is a festive celebration that typically includes parades, music, dancing, and traditional Mexican cuisine. One of the biggest celebrations occurs in downtown Phoenix, where the Cinco de Mayo Phoenix Festival draws thousands of visitors every year. The festival is a culmination of folkloric dance performances, family activities, and freestyle wrestling. And when hunger strikes, be sure to order a taco, burrito, or a few tamales from one of the food vendors. There are also craft booths, a car show, and a carnival with rides and games. Another popular event is the annual Chihuahua Races, which takes place at Turf Paradise, a local horse racing track. The races feature small dogs competing for prizes in a series of heats, which is nothing short of adorable to watch in person. Weekend bar crawls are also favored among locals and tourists to keep the party going all night.
With a big city like Houston, it’s no surprise that it goes big regarding Cinco de Mayo celebrations. The Festival de Mayo and the Cinco de Mayo Parade are two of the most popular events. The annual Festival de Mayo takes place at Traders Village, a giant flea market and entertainment venue in the city. Food and craft vendors, rides, games, and live music are all abundant within the festival, so there’s plenty to do for the whole day. On the other hand, the Cinco de Mayo Parade takes place in the downtown area and features floats, marching bands, and colorful costumes — a celebratory reminder of the importance of diversity and cultural traditions. The party continues to the restaurant and bar scene, as traditional Mexican fare and festive cocktails are served alongside live music performances.
Las Vegas, Nevada
Las Vegas is known for its exciting nightlife, apparent within the Cinco de Mayo festivities. Fremont Street is the place to be, as it offers live music, traditional foods and drinks, and street vendors. Speaking of which, the annual Great Vegas Taco Fest within Fremont Street showcases taco vendors from across the city, offering a diverse range of traditional and modern taco creations. Bonus: there’s also a margarita bar. The annual Fiesta de Mayo near the Boulder Station Hotel & Casino is another top spot in the city, as food and craft vendors and dance performances offer plenty to do for tourists and locals alike. Of course, this wouldn’t be a trip to Sin City without exploring the wide variety of cultural landmarks and attractions. These include the Neon Museum, the High Roller, and the Adventuredome Indoor Theme Park.
With the weather in the 80s around this time of year, Austin is the perfect city to spend a memorable Cinco de Mayo. Whether you’re a visitor or a local, the Cinco de Mayo Fiesta is an absolute must, which takes place in East Austin. Expect traditional Mexican dishes, art, and music by Magnifico 7, Chris Castaneda Band, and Jorge Tamayo & Friends. The Pecan Street Festival is another popular event to mark on your calendar, as craft artisans, 50+ bands, and food concessions sweep the area with a whole day of fun. (Bonus: there’s also free admission.) And for those who love to drink, there are many Cinco de Mayo bar crawls to choose from, as well as restaurants serving up tasty tacos, burritos, and tamales.
San Diego, California
You’ll always have things to do in San Diego — especially during Cinco de Mayo. To start with, the food and drinks are some of the best around. Make a beeline for the tacos, tamales, and margaritas, though, in all honesty, whatever you order is likely to taste amazing. Some of the best places to go include Casa de Reyes, Tacos El Gordo, and El Patron. For events, one of the can’t-miss ones is the annual Old Town Fiesta Cinco de Mayo, located in historic Old Town San Diego. This is typically an all-day event and features local artisans selling arts and crafts, live music, gourmet meals, and dance performances (bonus: it’s also free to attend). Need more options? Head to the Museum of Us to learn about the U.S.– Mexico Border or visit Chicano Park, which showcases the city’s rich Mexican-American heritage.
A word of caution – these celebrations can get rowdy, so start knocking back the margaritas early so you can drown out the noise of irresponsible people. Remember, it’s all about having a good time and celebrating Mexican culture, so grab a cerveza and let the good times roll!