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.

cinco-de-mayo-multilingual-chicagophoto: Courtesy of Multilingual Chicago

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. 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 four locations (two in 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 7 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. They’re $1.60 each or three for $4.

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 ($7) 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.

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. Get pulses racing at Chicago Día del Niño Family Festival. The two-mile free fitness walk, held April 22 begins at the National Museum of Mexican Art (1852 W. 19th St.) and ends at UIC Pavilion (525 S. Racine). Rewards yourself afterwards with games, art displays, performances and wellness activities for young and old from 11 a.m.-3 p.m.

photo: Lincoln Park Zoo

8. If you think tearing into a piñata is fun, wait until you see a tiger do it. Lincoln Park Zoo (2200 N. Cannon Dr., 312-742-2000) invites you to make an edible piñata for your favorite zoo animal and then watch them tear it up. This event is $5 and takes place on May 6 & 7, 1:30 p.m.-3:30 p.m.

9. We’re sending you back to the National Museum of Mexican Art (1852 W. 19th St., 312-738-1503) on May 6 for Listo Para el Museo: Toddler Program where parents with toddlers will explore the galleries and art studio for age-appropriate fun with art. This event is $10 per child.

10. Satisfy your sweet tooth at one of Bombon Bakery’s four locations in 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.

11. Let The Kids’ Table (2864 N. Lincoln Ave., Lakeview) keep the kids occupied for the night while you have your own adult-only Cinco celebration. On May 6 from 6 p.m.-9 p.m., kids can make their quesadillas, guacamole with homemade chips and faux strawberry margaritas. They’ll follow that up with a showing of Lilo & Stitch 2, Stitch has a Glitch.


12. 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 5 (2237 W. North Ave., Wicker Park) or May 6 (2864 N. Lincoln Ave., Lakeview) from 6 p.m.-7:30 p.m. Families will make veggie tacos, guacamole and homemade chips, margaritas and dark chocolate pepita clusters.

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