The Dragon Boat Festival in Chinatown is one of the city's best-kept secrets. It is also one of the most family-friendly neighborhood festivals enjoyed by kids-and adults-of all ages.
The vibrant colors of the dragon boats and the fast-paced races can easily provide a day's worth of entertainment, not to mention the food stalls, artists, acrobats and musical acts. And if you need a break from the festivities, Ping Tom Memorial Park's fenced-in playground is a stone's throw from the dragon boat races.
While the Chinese Dragon Boat Festival dates back more than 2,000 years and honors poet Qu Yuan, this year marks the 10th year Chicago has hosted dragon boat races to support local literacy programs.
If you want to explore Chinatown before or after the races, enjoying a refreshing cup of bubble tea is both fun and economical. Bubble tea originated in Taiwan and has become popular across this country. It is either milk or fruit based and includes tapioca balls, tea and ice, all blended together and served with a large straw. Contrary to popular belief, the name doesn't come from the tapioca balls, but from the bubbles that form when the mixture is shaken.
Joy Yee's Noodle Shop (2139 S. China Place) is a trendy spot for bubble tea. Across the street from Chinatown Square, on Archer and Wentworth, is St. Alp's Teahouse (2131 S. Archer Ave.), on the ground floor of Phoenix Restaurant. In the older part of Chinatown, Ten Ren Tea & Ginseng (2247 S. Wentworth Ave.) is located south of the Chinatown gate.
A day at the races has never been so fun.