From California to New York.

By Stacey Leasca
Updated March 09, 2020
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Cinco de Mayo may just be the Mexican holiday Americans love most.

In case the name didn’t give it away, the celebration occurs on May 5 each year, and no, it is not Mexico’s Independence Day. Rather, it honors the date when the Mexican army declared victory over the French at the Battle of Puebla during the Franco-Mexican War in 1862, History explains. It was then that an army of just 2,000 mostly indigenous Mexicans beat more than 6,000 Frenchman back and away from the city.

Though Cinco de Mayo has remained just a minor holiday in Mexico, it has become a major cause for celebration in the United States, thanks to Chicano activists in the 1960s, who raised awareness of the holiday after personally identifying with the victory of indigenous Mexicans over Europeans, History notes.

Honoring this great culture today cannot be done by eating at Chipotle and drinking a Corona beer. No, it deserves your full, undivided celebration. Here are five places where Cinco de Mayo is a full-out holiday that you can join, too.

San Diego Old Town, California

Lowriders with modified hydraulic suspension system, which can ride very low or even jump at the flip of a switch, on Cinco de Mayo, a Mexican-American holiday.
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San Diego’s Old Town will soon be completely transformed in honor of Cinco de Mayo. Over the weekend of May 2 and May 3, Old Town will host a celebration that includes live music, entertainment, plenty of delicious bites, and even an exhibition of lowrider cars. Nearby restaurants will also offer plenty of drink and food specials during the weekend and over the actual date itself, so make sure to check in on the event’s website before visiting.

New York City, New York

Brooklyn's Mexican community marches down 5th Avenue in the Sunset Park neighborhood during a Cinco de Mayo parade on May 7, 2017 in Brooklyn, New York. The holiday, which commemorates a Mexican military victory over the French, has taken on an importance in the Mexican American communities across the United States that it does not have in Mexico itself.
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Revelers will celebrate this year’s Cinco de Mayo holiday all over New York City. That includes a Cinco de Mayo street fair near Grand Central Terminal, as well as festivities at restaurants like Cascabel Taqueria in the Upper East Side. For those looking to go a bit bigger for their Cinco de Mayo party, there is also the option of boarding the Latin Boat Party Cruise. There, guests can enjoy drinks, food, two dance floors, and music all night long.

Albuquerque, New Mexico

The National Hispanic Cultural Center is located in the South Valley of Albuquerque, on Avenida César Chávez and 4th St. and features a variety of architecture including modern buildings stylized as Mayan pyramids.
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If there’s one place travelers should go to honor Mexican-American culture, it’s Albuquerque, home to the National Hispanic Cultural Center. At the center, guests can take in exclusive exhibitions, watch live performances, and participate in educational workshops. Those in town on May 5 can even head over to the center to take part in salsa dancing lessons for just $5.

San Antonio, Texas

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More than 64 percent of people living in San Antonio, Texas self-identify as Latino or Hispanic, making it a prime destination to honor the Cinco de Mayo traditions. To make the most of a visit over the holiday, head to the Historic Market Square, where vendors sell crafts, food, and other Mexican goods all year long. Visit the square on May 3 and 4 to take part in the party and pick up a few treats before leaving.

Puebla, Mexico

A woman in Mexican costume poses as part of a reenactment of the Battle of Puebla. In the battle of Puebla, Mexican troops defeated the French army on 5 May 1862 - Cinco de Mayo. The battle of Puebla was the most important Mexican victory at the beginning of the French intervention in Mexico.
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If you’re going to go big for Cinco de Mayo, you may as well go to the birthplace of it all in Puebla, Mexico. While visiting, guests should head to the town’s historic center, which happens to be a UNESCO World Heritage site and will be filled with vendors for the holiday. Also make sure to get out early for the parade, which snakes through the streets with some 20,000 participants. And, if you’re really feeling up to it, you could always join in. Book a stay at the Quinta Real Puebla, a hotel set inside a 16th-century former convent that comes with its own unique historical background. But be warned: It will set out fast for the dates, so act quickly.