Exploring World Cultures in Chicago: Head on Down to Chinatown

Written by: Marcie Wolbeck

Cultural Care Au Pair is teaming up with NPN to take you and your family on international adventures without leaving the city limits! We encourage Chicago-area families to take advantage of the many diverse neighborhoods and cultures right here in our hometown.  In this post, we invite you to travel to the south side of the city to experience Chinatown!

Greeted by the Nine Dragon Wall and the Chinatown Gate, you and your children will be excited to learn more about Chinese culture as soon as you arrive in Chinatown.  Located on Cermak and Wentworth Avenues, Chinatown is packed with Chinese cultural institutions, restaurants, gift shops, grocery stores and medicine stores. Be sure to visit Chinatown Square, a two-level retail building with shops and restaurants. While there, you can also visit the Pan Asian Cultural Center and see the 12 bronze zodiac figures around it. You can explore the Ping Tom Memorial Park, which features a large bridge, walled garden, plaza and Pagoda Style Pavilion.

The Chinese-American Museum of Chicago (238 W 23rd St.) also offers a variety of exhibits to teach your family about Chinese-American culture. Some current exhibits include “Traditional Chinese Festivals: A Celebration of Culture,” “My Chinatown: Stories from Within” and “Great Wall to Great Lakes.”

When the family gets hungry, stop by Joy Yee’s Noodle Shop in Chinatown. The massive menu features dozens of options for Pan Asian cuisine.  The meal options seem endless: lemon grass shrimp, chicken pho noodle soup, basil tofu … the list keeps going. The kids will be sure to love the fruity bubble teas. Try flavors like kiwi strawberry freeze or chocolate mint tapioca.

When you get home, don’t stop the fun. Thanks to Activity Village, your family can make a “Great Wall of Friendship” craft – your own the Great Wall of China. This activity will help get your children thinking about what their friends and family mean to them while also offering the opportunity to talk about The Great Wall of China and its historical significance.


Friendship cards (templates online)
Mini cereal boxes
Colored paper or paint


Have the children draw and write about their best friends on the cards. Cut out the cards. Wrap a mini cereal box in colored paper (or paint the box). Stick the cards to the box. Use the boxes to build a wall.

Your family will be sure to have a great time exploring Chinatown and embracing Chinese culture with these activities. We are fortunate to have this culturally rich neighborhood right in our own backyard. Be sure to check out the Chicago Chinatown Special Events Calendar to find out what special festivals are taking place this time of year.  Annual highlights include Dragon Boat Races and the Chinatown Summer Festival.


Posted on October 13, 2014 at 12:11 PM