Chicago's long and diverse immigrant history makes its neighborhoods a beautiful cultural tapestry. If you’re looking for Chicago destinations rich in history, art, and culture, Pilsen should be high on your list. This neighborhood on the city’s Southwest side may be small, but it’s densely packed with must-sees. Take a trip filled with beauty and learning by visiting a few attractions our students recommend in Pilsen.
16th Street Murals
Public art is a huge fixture in Pilsen. Colorfully painted murals line the streets, igniting passersby to stop and stare in amazement. Our students were so inspired by these artistic creations, they decided to make their own murals when they returned from their trip.
Activity: Take note from Bennett Day students, and help your kids make their own mural! Discuss what influenced their designs and their interpretations of the 16th Street Murals.
Pilsen is home to many Latino communities, and offers some of the best Mexican-inspired food in the Chicagoland area. El Milagro is delightfully authentic, offering home cooked, traditional cuisine at an affordable price. The speedy service and delicious taste leads many to think that this is the best taco joint that the entire West Side has to offer.
Activity: Try a traditional Mexican dish your family may have never had before. Whether that be cow tongue or hot chiles, your child will gain a greater appreciation of cultural cuisine. Dining is also an incredible opportunity to build vocabulary in multiple languages. Ask your child to use the most precise words they can to describe the taste, texture, and smell of their dishes. Introduce them to new culinary words to expand their sensory vocabulary in English. Try the same activity in Spanish!
The National Museum of Mexican Art— 1852 W. 19th Street
This incredible cultural art museum is one of our Chicago favorites! Museum-goers experience "3,000 years of creativity from both sides of the border, connecting museum visitors to the diversity of Mexican culture." The NMMA's vibrant collection of Pre-Cuauhtémoc, ephemera, textiles, folk art, prints and drawings, photography, and paintings and sculptures will delight visitors of all ages. The museum also invites patrons to join in on the fun with an incredible diversity of art classes and camps for children, teens, and adults alike. Sign up for a summer class for your child, your family, or even yourself!
Activity: Participate in a family "visual thinking" activity. Ask your child to find a work that pops out to them for any reason whatsoever. Look closely and silently at the work for a minute or two. Then use the following simple questions to spark an open-ended visual thinking discussion:
- What do you see here? Encourage your child to point as many details that they observe in the work.
- Follow-up with, what do you see that makes you say that? This simple questions encourages observers to back up their statements with what they see in the work.
- Finally ask, what more can we find? This continues the conversation and encourages viewers to look even deeper. Propose pieces that your child may not have mentioned.
Then flip the script and let your child ask YOU the questions!
Pilsen Community Books
The walls inside Pilsen Community Books are completely lined with floor-to-ceiling bookshelves, with sliding ladders that harken back to vintage eras. New and gently-used books are bought and sold at an incredibly fair price, and your purchase will support literacy efforts in Chicago Public Schools.
Activity: Support the Pilsen community and purchase books for you and your kids to take home. Nothing is better than a good summer read!
2nd Fridays Gallery Night
The Chicago Arts District is comprised of creative spaces for Pilsen artists and makers. Every second Friday of the month, these artists open up their galleries, studios, and maker spaces for the public to enjoy new exhibitions. There are variety of creative mediums, such as paintings, photography, film and fashion.
Activity: Take a tour around the block and ask your kids to pick their favorite artists and explain why they like that certain type of art using as many precise sensory words as possible. Is it the appearance? The texture? The meaning of a piece that grabs them most? Discuss as a family what tools, art supplies, and skills might have been necessary for the artist to create their work.
In keeping with Chicago's tradition of incredible Summer street festivals, Pilsen Fest is a delight for the entire family every August! The fest takes place in 2019 from August 17 – 18. This outdoor festival features renowned musical acts and seeks to "celebrate and embrace diversity, solidarity, and unity."
Activity: Check out the dedicated Kid's Corner art activities! Use the festival's many musical performances as an opportunity to introduce your child to genres of Spanish music. Can they identify which genre they are listening to?
As Chicagoans, we know the warm weather won’t be around for long, so it’s important to make the most of the season by exploring our beautiful, bustling city!