Chicago is known for it’s distinct and diverse ethnic neighborhoods. One of the city’s more popular and exciting places to explore is Chinatown. Did you know that it is actually the second largest Chinatown in the country? Located just a few minutes south of the loop, Chicago’s Chinatown can easily be reached by the CTA Red Line train. Or for a fun alternative, you can take a Water Taxi (yup, a taxi boat!).
I spent the day exploring the area and checking out some of the sights. Most striking is the unique Chinese architecture that greets your arrival. Directly across from the Chinatown Gate is the impressive Nine Dragon Wall modeled after the most sophisticated wall in BeiHai park in Beijing. Look closely to see if you can spot all 500 dragons signifying good fortune.
If shopping is on your agenda, rest assured that Chinatown has you covered. Dotted throughout the neighborhood are small shops specializing in traditional crafts, teas, jewelery, herbs, clothing, souvenirs and the list goes on. Browsing all of the unique offerings can take half a day alone!
After all of that shopping, take time to relax in tranquil Ping Tom Park. Although it can be a little tricky to find, it’s secluded spot along the Chicago River is well worth the hunt. The expansive green space makes for a great urban retreat from busy downtown Chicago. And if you go in the mornings, chances are you’ll bump into a few tai-chi practitioners.
But no trip to Chinatown would be complete without sampling some of the amazing cuisine. There are endless options available, sure to please any palate. Fresh seafood, delicious barbecue, or bite size dim sum. Am I making you hungry? I stopped in to Hing Kee restaurant, located in Chinatown Square Mall. What drew me in to the restaurant was the open air kitchen that allows you to watch as the chef crafts handmade noodles. It really is something to see. He made it look so effortless. Not so easy, was trying to eat with chopsticks. I gave it my all, but eventually switched over to a fork. Despite my chopsticks fiasco, the food was excellent and watching them make the noodles provided some great lunchtime entertainment.