Plan a trip to Mexico to experience the original Cinco de Mayo party in Puebla, or travel to Los Angeles, California, or San Antonio, Texas in the U.S. to see Cinco de Mayo 2019 festivals flowing with traditional dance, mariachi music and scrumptious Cinco de Mayo food! Not to be confused with Mexico’s Independence Day in September, Cinco de Mayo (fifth of May in Spanish) commemorates the 1862 victory of the Mexican Army over the French. The Battle of Puebla took place on May 5, 1862, and while the historic city of Puebla in southeast Mexico is the only city that marks the day with an epic festival, cities across the U.S. have embraced the opportunity to celebrate Mexican culture and heritage.
1. Celebrate Cinco de Mayo 2019 at a UNESCO World Heritage Site | Puebla, Mexico
If not for the city of Puebla and the heroic acts of General Ignacio Zaragoza, who helped defend the city from the French, Cinco de Mayo wouldn’t exist. That’s why travelers can find Cinco de Mayo festivities in Puebla the entire month of May. Watch a military parade on Boulevard Cinco de Mayo and see traditional dances in the Zócalo de Puebla, or town square. Foodies head straight to Puebla Convention Center to taste delectable Mexican recipes at the International Mole Festival. The annual Cinco de Mayo parade attracts more than 20,000 visitors who also attend a reenactment of the Battle of Puebla on the original battleground.
Top things to do during Cinco de Mayo 2019 in Puebla
- Museo Amparo
- Capilla del Rosario
- Zócalo de Puebla
- International Museum of the Baroque (Museo Internacional del Barroco)
- Fuertes de Loreto y Guadalupe
Chiles en nogada
Must-try Cinco de Mayo food in Puebla
- Chalupa: fried, thick corn tortillas topped with salsa, shredded meat, chopped onion and sometimes queso fresco (creamy, white cheese).
- Mole poblano: a thick Mexican chili flavored with chocolate and traditionally ladled on chicken.
- Chiles en nogada: made from red, white and green foods to honor the Mexican flag, chiles en nogada is a poblano pepper stuffed with picadillo (ground beef, tomato sauce, raisins and other ingredients) and dipped in egg batter. The whole pepper is deep fried and smothered in a rich walnut sauce, pomegranate seeds and parsley.
- Lamb barbacoa: lamb smoked underground in banana leaves.
Check In to El Sueno Hotel & Spa, Step Out to Zócalo de Puebla
Celebrate Cinco de Mayo 2019 at a hotel or resort in Puebla
2. Join the biggest Cinco de Mayo party in the world | Los Angeles, California
With the Hispanic and Latino community contributing to more than 50 percent of the population, L.A. takes Cinco de Mayo celebrations to new heights. Jump in the action with more than 500,000 people who gather in 24 square blocks of downtown Los Angeles to watch colorful parades, throw confetti and eat tacos! Travelers love to visit the corner of Olvera Street and LA Plaza de Cultura y Artes to see architecture and pueblos reminiscent of historic Mexico. Another popular place to celebrate Cinco de Mayo in L.A. is at Whittier Narrows Park and Whittier Narrows Recreation Area, where traditional musicians play live music amidst tons of fun activities.
*Los Angeles celebrates Cinco de Mayo on the last Sunday in April. The event is called Fiesta Broadway.
Fun things to do in Los Angeles for Cinco de Mayo
- Santa Monica
- Disneyland Resort
- Universal Studios Hollywood
- Griffith Park and Griffith Observatory
Carne asada tacos
Best Cinco de Mayo food at Fiesta Broadway in L.A.
- Carne asada tacos: pork or beef marinated in smoky flavors and traditionally served in a warm tortilla topped with onions and fresh salsa.
- Guacamole: flavorful dip or topping made from fresh avocado, red onion, garlic and lemon juice.
- Pozole: soup made with hominy (pozole) and meat (traditionally pork) and seasoned with chile peppers, onion, garlic, radishes, avocado, salsa (or lime) and shredded lettuce.
Check In to Millennium Biltmore Los Angeles, Step Out to Olvera Street
Join a Cinco de Mayo party near other hotels and resorts in Los Angeles
3. Pick up a sombrero for Cinco de Mayo in Market Square | San Antonio, Texas
San Antonio’s Market Square is open year ‘round, but when Cinco de Mayo rolls around, the marketplace lights up with a parade, festive clothing and plenty of Cinco de Mayo food. Spend a day browsing through the outdoor plaza that spans for three blocks and features silver shops, a museum, a farmers’ market … and enough sombreros (wide-brimmed Mexican hats) for the entire family!
Top things to do in San Antonio during Cinco de Mayo
- San Antonio River Walk
- The Alamo
- San Fernando Cathedral
- Pearl Parkway and Pearl Farmers Market
- San Antonio Museum of Art and the McNay Art Museum
Best Cinco de Mayo food and drink in San Antonio
- Enchiladas: shredded chicken, pork or beef rolled in a soft corn tortilla and topped with zesty red or spicy green sauce.
- Frijoles: pinto beans simmered in flavorful peppers, onions, garlic and Mexican spices, traditionally served with warm tortillas.
- Margarita: a tangy tequila-based cocktail made with orange liqueur and lime juice and served in a glass with a salted rim.
Check In to El Tropicano Riverwalk, Step Out to Market Square
Discover the best places to stay during Cinco de Mayo 2019 in San Antonio
4. Let out a spirited scream for Cinco de Mayo West Side | Saint Paul, Minnesota
Celebrating a Mexican holiday on the Canadian border might seem a little odd, but Saint Paul has long been known for its annual Cinco de Mayo party. The event is marked with a morning parade on Cesar Chavez Street, which is followed by a car and truck show, a 5K run, a jalapeno eating contest and the ever-popular El Grito (the scream) competition, when participants reenact the “Mexican war cry,” or call to arms, that triggered the Mexican War of Independence.
Top things to do in Saint Paul after May 5
- Minnesota History Center
- Cathedral of St. Paul
- Science Museum of Minnesota
- Summit Avenue
- Como Park Zoo and Conservatory
Tres leches cake
Traditional Cinco de Mayo food to try in Saint Paul
- Tamales: traditional “meat pie” made with masa (cornmeal dough) that is stuffed with shredded pork, or various other fillings, and steamed inside a corn husk or banana leaf.
- Fresh salsa: dip or topping made with freshly-chopped tomato, onion, cilantro, garlic and jalapeno pepper.
- Tres leches cake: sponge or butter cake soaked in evaporated milk, condensed milk and heavy cream.
Check In to Holiday Inn St. Paul Downtown, Step Out to Minnesota History Center
Join the 2019 Cinco de Mayo celebration from a hotels or guest house in Saint Paul
5. Cheer on Chihuahua dogs at Celebrate Culture | Denver, Colorado
One day is not enough time to celebrate Cinco de Mayo in Denver, and nearly half a million people show up on May 5 and 6 annually to keep the party going. Cinco de Mayo festivities take place at Civic Center Park and include a parade and carnival rides. The highlights of the Cinco de Mayo party, however, are the Chihuahua races, taco eating contest, green chili cook-off and lowrider automobile show. Dozens of musicians also perform live during the two-day event called Celebrate Culture.
Top attractions to see during Cinco de Mayo in Denver
Best Mexican food to try for Cinco de Mayo in Denver
- Chile rellenos: poblano peppers stuffed with various cheeses and meats. The stuffed pepper is dipped in batter and deep fried then smothered with tangy red sauce.
- Tostada: meaning “toasted,” a tostada is a flat tortilla that is fried, or toasted, until crisp and then traditionally topped with refried beans, lettuce, salsa and queso fresca.
- Churro: fried-dough pastry topped with cinnamon and sugar.
Check In to Patterson Inn, Step Out to Civic Center Park
Discover more places to stay during Cinco de Mayo 2019 in Denver
6. Eat award-winning tacos & watch professional wrestling | Phoenix, Arizona
The Cinco de Mayo Phoenix Festival 2019 takes place from noon to 10 p.m. in Downtown Phoenix near the Phoenix Convention Center. This family-friendly day includes local entertainment, a kid zone and even lucha libre – or professional wrestling – matches! Snack on traditional Cinco de Mayo food and enter contests to win vacations and prizes donated by exhibitors. The event also features baile folklorico (Mexican folklore dance) and carnival rides. Head to Chandler Public Library, about 30 minutes away, to enjoy Chihuahua races and the crowning of the Cinco de Mayo Festival King and Queen.
Top 5 things to do in Phoenix while celebrating Cinco de Mayo 2019
- Camelback Mountain
- Papago Park, Scottsdale
- Phoenix Zoo and Desert Botanical Garden
- Phoenix Art Museum
- South Mountain Park and Preserve
Adobo pork tacos
Mexican flan (crème caramel)
Can’t-miss food and dessert at Cinco de Mayo Phoenix Festival
- Adobo pork tacos: shredded pork marinated in adobo (spicy, vinegar-based sauce) and served with warm flour or corn tortillas.
- Flautas: made with shredded meat rolled in a corn tortilla and deep fried.
- Mexican flan (crème caramel): custard dessert with a thin layer of caramel sauce.
- Horchata: a creamy rice-based drink sweetened with vanilla and cinnamon.