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11 Unexpected Cities Where You Can Celebrate Hispanic Culture in the US

Written by Dhinesh Manuel

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.

Columbus, Ohio

Many Hispanic Heritage Month celebrations take place in Ohio’s capital city, Columbus. Some of the events include quinceañeras, art exhibits, and festivals featuring Latin cuisine. But, it’s worth it to take cheap flights in October just to make it for the annual Mexican Independence Day Parade. The Parade is super festive with amazing live music, performances, and dancing. Indeed, Columbus is known for its large Hispanic population and its diversity. Columbus is home to the fifth-largest Hispanic community in the country, with over 100,000 residents identifying as Latino.

Pueblo, Colorado

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. 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 20% of the population identifying as Hispanic or Latino, you’re going to get an authentic experience as much as anywhere else. The 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

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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 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, Virginia

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.

You may also like: 7 Hispanic Heritage Museums in the US You Need to Visit

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.

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

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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.

Chicago, Illinois

The Hispanic population in the Windy City is over five times the national average and Hispanic-owned businesses have become a major part of Chicago’s economy. Hispanic Heritage Month events in Chicago include art exhibits, film festivals, dance performances, concerts to celebrate Mexican composers, and symphony orchestra performances. Be sure to visit Paseo Boricua, a street in Humboldt Park with outdoor markets that feature Latin American food, cultural artifacts, and a variety of Spanish-language publications.

Long Beach, California

In addition to being a popular tourist destination, Long Beach also celebrates Hispanic Heritage Month by hosting many events. They include the Baja Splash Cultural Event at the Aquarium of the Pacific, as well as lectures and exhibits at the Museum of Latin American. Long Beach also hosts tons of different festivals throughout the rest of the year dedicated to celebrating diversity, art, music, and more. This city is also considered one of the best in the US for people looking to learn Spanish with over 10 Spanish tutoring centers and offers unique opportunities for learning the language.

New Orleans, Louisiana

Carnival takes place in New Orleans all year long. In addition to the festivities that take place during Hispanic Heritage Month, there are also tons of Mardi Gras parades and celebrations, which showcase Latin culture and heritage through decorated floats. You’ll also be able to treat yourself to traditional foods and live music festivals. That’s not all; New Orleans is home to the Barrio Latino district, a culturally rich area that is known as one of the best places in America for authentic Latin food.

St. Augustine, Florida

Florida’s oldest city is known for its Spanish architecture and strong Hispanic roots. Hispanic Heritage Month in St. Augustine includes festivals, concerts, dance performances, and art exhibits. For example, there’s an annual Las Noches de Fiesta that takes place to celebrate the traditions of Latin America with live music, dancing, and entertainment. If you plan to visit St. Augustine, be sure to check out Unidos En La Música, a Latin American music festival that has dance workshops, games, authentic food, cultural exhibitions, and much more.

Know of any other unexpected cities where you can celebrate Hispanic history and culture? Share them with us in the comments!

About the author

Dhinesh Manuel

Socialite, philanthropist, costumed crime fighter by wait...that's bad ...

Musician, writer, travel junkie, dog lover, and database of useless information. I love to learn about new cultures, experience new cuisines, meet new people, and have a few laughs along the way!

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