With their significant Hispanic populations, you’d tend to think that most of the celebrations for Hispanic Heritage Month (which runs from September 15 to October 15) will occur around major cities on the East or West Coasts. The truth that lies under the radar is that there are many other great cities across the US that have vibrant Hispanic populations that have great events, exhibits, parades, and parties that also shine brightly with Hispanic pride. If you’re scratching your head wondering where these cities are, then scratch no more — here’s our list of some lesser-known cities that will help you embrace Hispanic culture and history…without the hefty travel cost to a larger (and more expensive) city.
Did someone say Pueblo chilies? Well, the famous pepper that grows in the region is only part of the great contributions this little city makes to Hispanic heritage celebrations. With its tightly-knit community of Mexicans, Cubans, and Puerto Ricans (who account for almost half of its population), this Colorado city brings on epic festivities through the annual Chile & Frijoles Festival presented by Loaf ‘N Jug. Visitors have the chance to sample music‚ arts and crafts‚ and of course, mouth-watering food cook-offs that star Pueblo chilies.
Salt Lake City, Utah
Over the past decade, Salt Lake City has made its name as a hip breeding ground for the arts and music, which make Hispanic celebrations here all the more exciting and colorful. While you may still be doubtful about its Hispanic cred, you can rest assured that with about 25% of the population identifying as Hispanic or Latino, you’re going to get an authentic experience as much as anywhere else. The Hispanic Heritage Parade and Street Festival, Festival Latino Utah, and Mega Peruvian Festival are just a few celebrations where you can learn about various cultures while also letting your hair down.
Charlotte, North Carolina
The Hola Charlotte Festival can be a real eye-opener for those not familiar with the city’s rich Hispanic influence. Drawing from the city’s strong Mexican, Puerto Rican, Dominican, Cuban, Colombian, and Ecuadorian presence, you can you take part in this massive street party in uptown Charlotte, which features food stalls and street vendors, as well as lots of music and cultural performances. When in town, you can also enjoy other Hispanic events like the Festival Latinoamericano and El Grito Festival (for Mexican Independence Day).
Arlington’s Hispanic community — the largest in the Metro D.C. area — is involved in many activities and events to promote Hispanic culture and heritage throughout the year. The county offers a little bit of something for everyone, whether you’re a culture vulture (dance in the streets at the Latino American Festival) or a history buff (enjoy a visit to the United Spanish War Veterans Memorial on Memorial Avenue). You’ll also love all the flavors from Latin America at the many restaurants that serve up tasty treats from Peru, Bolivia, and El Salvador, to name just a few.
Trenton, New Jersey
Trenton is home to a sizeable community of Puerto Ricans, Cubans, and Dominicans, which makes Columbus Day parades colorful events filled with pomp and pageantry. When in town, don’t forget to scout out the city’s neighborhood restaurants that offer up authentic cuisine from all over Latin America. Another interesting stop to make is the Galeria Casa Cultura — the city’s first Latino art gallery and cultural center.
You can’t miss out on Philly’s historic Centro de Oro neighborhood, where you can chow down on some out-of-this-world Puerto Rican, Dominican, and Mexican dishes, and where you can also attend the annual Feria del Barrio festival that celebrates Latino arts and culture. Don’t forget to check out the Philadelphia Latino Flim Festival for some interesting exhibits and retrospectives as well.
Know of any other unexpected cities where you can celebrate Hispanic history and culture? Share them with us in the comments!