Want to multiply the fun?
Many U.S. cities are home to several cultures, each with it's own festivals, neighborhoods and cultural highlights. You can explore two, three or even more cultures in one fun trip. Here are some of the best!
Our nation's Capitol celebrates our many cultures spectacularly, with museums and annual festivals free to all. At the summer Smithsonian Folklife Festival (pictured), skilled artists representing world and U.S. cultures perform and teach right on the National Mall. Year-round, the Smithsonian Museums tell the rich and complex story of our nation's people. Great annual festivals include the National Cherry Blossom Festival, the DC Jazz Festival, the Dragon Boat Race, Fiesta DC, Adams Morgan Day and more.
Am I in heaven, sings an old Jazz song, or am I in Miami?
It's a city so filled with sunshine, enthusiasm and excitement, folks from all over the world have settled and helped create a bit of cultural paradise. Here, Cuban, Haitian, Jewish, Asian and Native American communities intersect and intertwine, with festivals and neighborhoods to discover each. (Oh, yes ... and there's a great beach, too.)
If "small Southern town" isn't on your list of where to look for a diverse multinational milieu, let Clarkston, GA open your eyes. This "Ellis Island of the South" has welcomed more refugees per capita than any other U.S. community, and now nearly half their residents hail from over 50 countries. Their annual Culture Fest celebrates this eclectic mix, also reflected year-round in international restaurants, businesses and gathering places. While you're in the neighborhood, check out nearby Atlanta, wonderfully diverse in a big-city way -- with a host of exciting neighborhoods and festivals to explore.
San Diego, California
Sunny San Diego is a cultural mecca not to be overlooked. Balboa Park, a breathtaking cultural district with 17 grand museums, also includes the charming and unique International Cottages, which introduce visitors to 32 worldwide cultures. The city's Hispanic heritage is showcased in Old Town, the city's original downtown restored to its mid-1800's charm, while modern Mexican American life thrives in the bustling Barrio Logan. The Pan-Asian Convoy District lets you explore several cultures at once, including Japanese, Chinese, Vietnamese, Thai, and more, while a Little Italy area adds to the fun. If you can, be sure to schedule a visit to catch one of the many great area festivals, including such popular favorites as Brazil Day and the Filipino American Fest.
Chicago is big city excitement, nestled on a lake in the heartland, with a heart big enough for everybody. Black culture is particularly strong and vibrant, helping to create national leaders in politics, arts and education. Popular neighborhoods include Mexican, Italian, Chinese, Swedish and Greek, each with its own museum, restaurants and community centers. Annual festivals include jazz, gospel, world food and more.
Chinese, Indigenous, Nordic, Black, Irish, Mexican, Vietnamese, Iranian, African, Jewish, Brazilian and Hmong are only some of the many cultures celebrated in Seattle's more than 100 annual festivals. Nestled between ocean, mountains and forest, this is a city that knows how to celebrate its many cultures. Seattle Center Festal, in cooperation with area community groups, hosts 24 cultural festivals a year. Northwest Folklife throws one big annual festival, each year featuring a different local culture (also online this year). Year-round and in-person, check out the vibrant International District and El Centro de la Raza,
The Center for People of all Races.
New York, NY
The Big Apple has long been among the world's most exciting and diverse cities, with over 600 languages spoken there. Home to such acclaimed institutions as the Dance Theatre of Harlem, the Metropolitan Opera, and the Museo del Barrio, it offers endless cultural richness. Its neighborhoods include Jewish, Chinese, Italian, Puerto Rican, Greek, Brazilian, Russian and more. Don't-miss places to see include the Statue of Liberty, the Ellis Island National Museum of Immigration and the Tenement Museum. Good thing this city never sleeps; you simply won't have time.
New Orleans, Louisiana
The beauty and genius of New Orleans lies in fusion, the dynamic melding over centuries of the predominant African and French cultures, with added splashes of Spanish, Italian, Haitian, Jewish, German, Latino and Vietnamese. That potent mix gave birth to jazz, Mardi Gras, parade funerals, stunning architecture, and a lively, welcoming community. Several neighborhoods today retain their unique cultural traditions of origin, even while contributing to the dynamic melded whole. And, of course, the world-famous festivals are among the nation's best.
Hamtramck , Michigan
Distinctive difference is a fond Hamtramck tradition. Settled by German farmers and built by Polish auto workers, the city has resisted annexation by Detroit for decades -- even as the latter grew and surrounded it. Today, newcomers from Bangladesh, Yemen, and other Middle Eastern and South Asian countries continue the tradition of an active, diverse and unique community. To sense the vitality, check out the vibrant street art, the annual World Music Fest, or the annual Polish Festival. Then slip over the line into big city Detroit, which is enjoying a recent renaissance of its own. Don't miss Detroit's Motown Museum, the Arab American Museum, Mexicantown, Greektown, and more!