Cinco de Mayo spent south of the border seems ideal for kids to celebrate, but visiting Mexico isn’t necessary when you live in or near Los Angeles. Instead, revel during this traditional holiday commemorating the anniversary of the modestly armed Mexican military’s 1862 victory in Puebla, Mexico over the mighty French forces during the Franco-Mexican War. These days, this annual fete is meant for mariachi madness, lots of piñata action, gobs of tasty treats and a slew of fun-filled festivals sure to engage the entire family. Enticed? Then go grab your children to partake of the pleasures of May 5, SoCal style.
Fiesta Broadway Cinco de Mayo
Downtown Los Angeles
Broadway and W. 1st St.
Los Angeles, CA 90012
Downtown Los Angeles turns into the world’s largest Cinco de Mayo celebration and the largest Latino event in the nation with 24 square blocks blocked off to traffic to make way for this massive fiesta’s merriment, including stalls selling everything from food to folk ware. The colorful atmosphere draws half a million revelers of all ages who spend hours being entertained by all sorts of treasures and fun activities. For instance, in the past, State Farm Insurance put up batting cages for instant practice sessions and Home Depot operated a booth for teaching kids how to make wooden toys. Meanwhile, global entertainers make beautiful music all day long with this year’s roster including Gilberto Gless, Pepe Aguilar, Angelica Maria and Amachos.
El Gran Baile de Cinco
The Gilmore Adobe
6301 W. 3rd St.
Los Angeles, CA 90036
This special evening may be more about kids and less for kids, but children are the focal point of El Gran Baile. Even the venue is special. The historical Gilmore Adobe, circa 1852, is a private residence located in the original farmers’ market compound. Called Celebrate the Art of Children, this benefit is designed to serve the Para Los Ninos (PLN) charity, an organization supporting the educational and social well being of children and families. Of paramount interest during this multi-faceted get-together is a silent auction to bid on works by the young talents who take part in this school dedicated to Latino youth.
Cinco de Mayo Olvera Street Festival
125 Paseo de la Plaza
Los Angeles, CA 90012
Kids, get ready to punch at a bunch of prize-filled pinatas on Olvera Street during a two-day celebration at the Paseo de la Plaza. This storied town square, located in downtown Los Angeles, is devoted to all things Mexico every day but particularly during Cinco de Mayo weekend. The entire area becomes a full-on fiesta with street performers, all sorts of Mexican food, stalls selling fun stuff made south of the border and a variety of musical acts that create a memorable weekend for the whole family.
El Coyote Cinco de Mayo
El Coyote Mexican Cafe
7312 Beverly Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90036
Treat the kids to virgin margaritas for washing down yummy Mexican fare in the exuberant environment that is El Coyote, Hollywood’s oldest family restaurant of this sort dating back to 1931. An uplifting mood definitely fits the order of the day at this festive eatery as joyous servers wearing traditional full-skirted dresses bring out heaps upon heaps of traditional treats. Meanwhile, a mariachi band plays in the background on May 5, putting everyone in the spirit. While there, be sure to try the special El Coyote pizza, made with beans and ranchero salsa — sort of like nachos but so much better.
Related: Best Fajitas In Los Angeles
Cinco de Mayo at Calle Tacos
6508 Hollywood Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90028
Mobile food trucks have been all the rage for younger diners in the City of Angels for the past couple of years. However, on Cinco de Mayo 2013, these moving feasts can be difficult to pin down. So why not try one of the best serving Mexican fare that has now taken up permanent residence? Calle Tacos evolved from a road-worthy go-to for good Mexican food to being a solid brick-and-mortar establishment thanks to the help of a garage door that leads directly from Hollywood Boulevard to inside the actual vehicle. Once there, get ready to munch on warm chips, globs of great guacamole and sensational homemade salsa, the latter being this establishment’s biggest claim to fame.
Related: Best Guacamole In Los Angeles
Los Angeles freelance travel writer Jane Lasky, contributes to publications such as Travel + Leisure, Vogue and Esquire. Her weekly sojourning column ran in 40 newspapers for 20 years. Jane is anything but an accidental tourist. Check out her articles on Examiner.com.