Cinco de Mayo may make visions of margaritas dance in your head. But tell that salted glass to hang tight. This year, you’re all about kid-friendly fun. The holiday — a celebration of the Mexican army’s 1862 victory over France at the Battle of Puebla during the Franco-Mexican War — is a chance to sneak culture into your family’s schedule in bright and bubbly ways. Read on for ideas on hanging with bebé this Cinco.

photo: National Museum of Mexican Art courtesy of Gozamos via Flickr

1. See a colorful new world unfold at National Museum of Mexican Art (1852 W. 19th St., Pilsen). The 10,00-piece permanent collection spans ancient Mexico to the present day, and is one of the largest in the country. They have two community engagement opportunities May 5: A Ready for the Museum tour which helps parents explore with their 18-36 month olds and an Art Workshop for ages 7-12. Entry to the museum is always free.

dulcelandia-cinco-de-mayo-3photo: Dulcelandia

2. If a kid in a candy shop is something to remember, what about a kid in a Mexican candy shop? Dulcelandia Candy is the largest distributor of Mexican candy in the Midwest and its three locations (Little Village, Brighton Park and Logan Square) are well worth a visit. The colorful selection of sweets will make you wish that coconut and mango suckers were a food group.

3. Colorful floats and Mexican music are just two reasons to check out the Cinco de Mayo Parade, held at Cermak Road and Damen to Marshall, in Little Village on May 6 at noon. Local businesses, schools and organizations are known to join in the festive procession. Grab a burrito from a street vendor and get lost in upbeat Mariachi melodies.

4. Indulge in a chewy churro from Rick Bayless’ restaurant, XOCO (449 N. Clark St., 312-334-3688). Tell your kiddo it’s a donut’s distant cousin, and he’ll be sold.

photo: Mindy’s Hot Chocolate

5. No matter the temperature, hot chocolate is always a treat. Our favorite take on the steamy sensation comes from Wicker Park hot spot Mindy’s Hot Chocolate (1747 N. Damen Ave., 773-489-1747). The Mexican hot chocolate is a rich, flavorful melange of dark chocolate, milk, fresh cinnamon and cayenne — all topped with housemade marshmallows. If you’re in the western ‘burbs, Le Chocolat (127-129 S. Washington St., Naperville) also does an amazing Mexicocoa.

photo: Maxwell Street Market

6. Hola, shoppers. Maxwell Street Market (800 S. Des Plaines St.) is a historic outdoor bazaar filled with vendors that sell jewelry and crafts inspired by Mexico. Food and performers are also on hand at the free South Loop event, held every Sunday from 7 a.m.-3 p.m. Go hungry because you’ll find delicious churros and loads of authentic Mexican food vendors.

7. Head to North Riverside Park Mall’s Center Court to dance, win prizes and celebrate Cinco de Mayo with performances by Orejones, Luis Alfredo Mariachi Singer, Mexican Folkloric Dancers and Dora the Explorer on May 6, 1 p.m.-5 p.m..

8. Satisfy your sweet tooth at one of Bombon Bakery’s four locations (West Loop, Pilsen, Little Village and Chicago Lawn). The neighborhood bakery is known for its traditional dessert tres leches cake, a vanilla sponge cake soaked in three types of milk with hints of rum, sweet vanilla, cream and cinnamon. They give it their own twist with variations like pina colada, java beans and Mexican chocolate.

photo: The Kids’ Table

9. Let The Kids’ Table (2337 W. North Ave., Wicker Park) keep the kids occupied for the night while you have your own adult-only Cinco celebration. On May 5 from 6 p.m.-9 p.m., kids can make their own Nachos and Mexican Wedding Cookies and top off the festivities by crafting a sombrero.

10. If you prefer to get in on the cooking fun with the kids, hit up The Kids’ Table for a family Cinco Fiesta on May 4 (2237 W. North Ave., Wicker Park) or May 5 (2864 N. Lincoln Ave., Lakeview). Families will make Enchilada Pizza, Guacamole & Homemade Tortilla Chips & Coconut Horchata.

photo: FRÍO Gelato

11. Fiesta at FRÍO Gelato! This Argentine gelato shop is getting into the Cinco de Mayo spirit with several festive, limited-edition flavors. Available at both the Evanston and Lakeview locations, standout offerings include: Tequila and Lime, Mexican Hot Chocolate, Horchata and Palto (Avocado).

Happy Cinco de Mayo!

Do you have ideas on how to celebrate Cinco de Mayo with kids? Let us know in the Comments section below.


— Maria Chambers Kristen Kuchar

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