Cinco de Mayo is here, and there’s no better time than the present to plan a trip for authentic tacos and a little celebration. While May 5th is often seen as the perfect excuse to drink tequila, Cinco De Mayo was deemed a holiday to commemorate the Mexican Army’s surprising victory over the French at the Battle of Puebla, which took place on May 5, 1862.
So make this year’s Cinco de Mayo a time to celebrate history and have a good time. These five cities won’t let anyone down.
For one of the largest Cinco de Mayo parties in the US, look no further than Los Angeles, home of Fiesta Broadway, a multi-day event that boasts a parade with more than 500,000 people. This is no average party, with hours of live music and Mexican folks tales, authentic street food, and carnival games for people of all ages. The city also gets covered in Mexican flags, not surprising for a state that is home to nearly 15 million Latinos. Consider staying at The Historic Mayfair Hotel, centrally located in the city — bordering Downtown LA, Westlake, Silver Lake, and Echo Park.
Mexico’s neighbor, Texas, also doesn’t disappoint on May 5. In fact, San Antonio has Cinco de Mayo festivities every month, with May’s being the biggest and brightest. Head to San Antonio’s Market Square, the focal part of the party, which is filled with Folklorico dancing, live music, and some darn good Tex-Mex. The square along usually draws 30,000 to 50,000 people, so join the masses and order a mean margarita.
The city that never sleeps also knows how to throw a great Cinco de Mayo parade. Head to Central Park for an annual parade that is filled with colorful floats, traditional dancers, and mariachi music. With seemingly a million different restaurants to choose from, New York is also a one-stop shop for authentic Mexican cuisine—just see all of these options for some delicious Mexican fare! Many bars also host a pub crawl for those who want to (and legally can) imbibe on the fifth.
How could anyone leave out the place where it all started? If looking for the true Cinco de Mayo experience, then Puebla is the place to go. A parade that hosts over 20,000 participants is one of the main attractions on May 5, but celebrations start in mid-April, continue for an entire month and include world-renowned concerts, Puebla state fairs, and carnival rides. Best yet: it’s affordable to fly to Mexico City, and Puebla is only a two-hour car ride away.
5. Denver, CO
The wild, wild West is yet another hotspot for Cinco de Mayo celebrations. Denver’s Celebrate Culture Festival, located at Central Civic Park, is a two-day family-friendly party with parades, chili cook-offs, talent contests, and — yes — even Chihuahua races. The festival is a reflection of The Mile High City’s growing Latino population, and more than 400,000 people are expected to show this year. To be in the middle of it all, stay in downtown Denver at The Westin, which is less than a mile from the park.