Chinese New Year with Kids, Exploring Chinatown


Happy Year of the Monkey from a Dragon and a Rat! We spent some time exploring Chinatown here in Chicago, so in this post I will share the places we loved exploring in Chinatown square. The plaza has two levels and normally fully accessible, however the elevator to the second level is currently not working, just a note for those needing accessibility, such as myself.


We started by running around the square searching for our birth year and zodiac animals. It’s always fun to read our characteristic traits, don’t they always seem so spot on? Well the positive attributes at least do!

We shopped around at AJ Housewares and Gifts which is packed with merchandise, not an inch to spare! It is a tight squeeze, walk sideways through the aisles and watch where you step! There is so much to see, lucky envelopes, bamboo plants, lanterns, a fantastic aisle of plates, tea sets and bowls, cute cookie cutters, a variety of kitchen supplies, and trinkets galore!


Lucky children for our doorway. These were inspiration for the characters A-Fu and Da-Fu in Grace Lin's "Where the Mountain Meets the Moon"
Wishing Lantern, you make a wish and send it up to the heavens
A small paper dragon to play with. It even comes with a pearl!
Lucky red envelopes come with all sorts of characters. These also double as unique classroom Valentines!

We then strolled over to my favorite  candy/snack shop Aji Itchiban. There you can find a large variety of Asian candy, chocolate, gummy sweets and snacks such as dried vegetables, dried fruit and dried fish. A bit pricy but as a once in a while treat for the sake of exploring culture, I think it’s fine and well worth it.


They have little sample bowls for each product, which is so wonderful if you cannot read Chinese on the packaging!


Clockwise from left: Pina Colada chewing gum, Botan a chewy citrus flavored gummy wrapped with rice paper, Choco! My favorite! Tiny chocolate bites packed with big chocolate flavor, Green Tea Kit Kat (YUM), Center: Sweet Potato Kit Kat
Cutest Chocolate Lolipop!
We love eating seaweed, we love Hello Kitty, 3 cheers for Hello Kitty seaweed!
See these cool rocks, they are chocolate! Penelope enjoyed tricking her friends into thinking she was eating a handful of rocks lol.

Then off to dinner at Ming Hin! We had  Pea tendrils with garlic, which I could seriously eat myself as an entree because it is so good, Chicken and corn soup a kid favorite, Egg drop soup with mushrooms, Beef with noodles, and Egg rolls, all were wonderful. The guys had spicy dishes so we didn’t try their’s, but Penelope and I were happy with our meal.


Ran into some positive wall art “Be Yourself”


Then Penelope ran upstairs with her uncle, to explore the shops on the second level. She loves going up and down the stairs in the pagoda. On our way to the car we ran into a guy in a Yeti costume, ah city life is never dull! He was friendly and was being followed by a photographer as performance art, but Penelope was all “stay away from me you hairy monster” I would be too if I were 7. Then home sweet home. An all around thumbs up for the evening.

Climb the stairs for a great birds eye view!

This weekend there are two Lunar New Year parades happening:

Saturday February 13
Argyle Chinese New Year Parade 1:00pm Location: Uptown,
1121 W. Argyle parade starting point.
Parade goes from Argyle to Sheridan, Sheridan to Ainslie, Ainslie to Broadway, then back to Argyle. Smaller than the Chinatown celebration but no less exciting, you can go explore the shops and restaurant in this vibrant Vietnamese and Chinese community.

Sunday February 14, 2016
Chinatown Lunar New Year Parade 2/14/16 Chinatown Lunar New Year Parade celebrating the Year of the Monkey. “The parade begins at 1 pm at 24th and Wentworth featuring dragon and lion dances, floats, marching bands, special groups, performers and the Chinatown Chamber of Commerce’s Miss Friendship Ambassadors. Before the parade, dine at one of the many restaurants in the neighborhood. Experience dim sum at Cai, Phoenix, Triple Crown, MingHin Cuisine or Won Kow. Or try some regional dishes at Xi’an, Lao Sze Chuan, Yan Bang Cai Sichuan, Qing Xiang Yuan Dumpling or Lee Wing Wah. Don’t forget specialty drinks from Kung Fu Tea, Saint’s Alp Teahouse or Joy Yee. There are so many places to choose from! Before you leave, be sure to stop at one of over 60 shops, groceries and herbal stores to purchase jewelry, clothing, snacks, herbal products, gifts, books and grocery items to make your own meals at home!”

AND on February 21, 2016 A wonderful lantern festival at Navy Pier in the Crystal Gardens. Location: 600 East Grand Ave.
Time: 12p.m.-3p.m.
“A cultural celebration for all ages. Join us for a lively afternoon of music, dance, colorful costumes, food and local vendors”

Have fun!

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