Visiting a large city often gives opportunities to experience several different cultures. Larger cities are more likely to contain entire neighborhoods that are home to people from many different origins, and simply visiting one of these neighborhoods is often enough to gain a basic understanding of the food, lifestyle and customs of a different country without even having to leave America. Chicago is one such city. If you’re planning a trip to Chicago, be sure to stop by one of these neighborhoods to try a new food, or do some shopping. They also make a unique destination for student tour groups, as many students will be excited to learn a little bit about a new place and people group.
Like many larger cities in the United States, Chicago has a Chinatown. This neighborhood was founded around the 1860’s as many immigrants fled the west coast seeking refuge from the growing anti-Asian sentiments that were taking place. Today Chicago’s Chinatown remains one of the most active Chinatowns in the United States, and visitors will enjoy getting a glimpse into oriental culture. Several gateways and arches are built in traditional Asian style, and even some of the signs and storefronts are in Mandarin. Shops sell traditional teas, medicines and herbs, and of course there are many restaurants that serve popular Chinese foods such as Dim Sum, Beijing Duck and spicy Cantonese dishes. If your group wishes, tours are offered and groups can hear a bit more about the history of Chinatown, as well as view the architecture and get an insiders tip on the best restaurants.
Italian culture also makes an appearance in Chicago. The West side has a Little Italy, and the South side includes a neighborhood nicknamed Heart of Italy. Both feature various Italian restaurants, grocers and shopping destinations, and if the dates line up with your visit, Heart of Italy is home to Festa Pasta Vino. This yearly food and wine festival features parades, performances and various other attractions that celebrate Italian heritage.
Several other neighborhoods offer a cultural experience. Lawrence Avenue is sometimes nicknamed Little Seoul for its Korean influences and Greektown, while only one street, is a good place to go for some Mediterranean fare. Locals will tell you that Devon Avenue is the place to go for the best Indian cuisine, and of course there are various other areas that offer Persian, Swedish, Thai, Middle Eastern food, and more. La Villita is a neighborhood with a strong Hispanic population and in addition to numerous Mexican restaurants, it is also a popular shopping destination. La Villita is also host to the annual Mexican Independence Day Parade, which attracts nearly one million viewers every year.
These are just a few of the place that your group may want to visit. Learning about new cultures and traditions is a fun way to spend part of your visit, and when you visit one of these neighborhoods you can do so without ever having to leave America. Whether on a personal vacation or a school trip, you will be glad you visited, so consider taking a day to try a new food, shop or simply take in the atmosphere of one of these neighborhoods.