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The best attractions and things to do in Chinatown

Play a game of mahjong, see ancient jade art and find more fun things to do in Chinatown
Won Kow in Chinatown
Photograph: Courtesy CC/WIkimedia Commons/Daniel Schwen
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Once you're done enjoying the best restaurants in Chinatown, it's worth sticking around the area to explore nearby attractions. Learn more about the neighborhood's rich culture by visiting the exhibitions on display at the Heritage Museum of Asian Art. Spend an afternoon in one of Chicago's most beautiful parks at Ping Tom Memorial Park, where you can admire the view or rent a kayak and float along the river. No trip to the neighborhood is complete without a stop in Chinatown Square, where you'll discover statues depicting the 12 Chinese zodiac animals. Find more amazing things to do among some of the best attractions in Chinatown.

RECOMMENDED: Our complete guide to Chinatown

The best things to do in Chinatown

Museums, Natural history

Chicago Chinese Cultural Institute

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Offering immersive experiences, Chinese language classes and tours of Chinatown, the Chicago Chinese Cultural Institute strives to foster a community between the U.S. and China. A diverse selection of programs—including dumpling-making dinners, Chinatown food tours and tai chi classes—allows anyone to experience a foreign culture without leaving the city.

Chicago Chinatown library night
Photograph: CC/Flickr/Smart Chicago Collaborative
Attractions, Libraries, archives and foundations

Chicago Public Library, Chinatown Branch

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This South Side Chicago Public Library branch is unlike any other in the city system. The 16,000-square-foot interior is split across two floors and features a feng shui-influenced design, as well as striking views of the Chicago skyline. The branch also includes Chinese language materials and a mural by CJ Hungerman entitled “Universal Transverse Immigration Proclamation,” an ode to the neighborhood’s history and character.

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Chinatown Square
Photograph: Martha Williams
Attractions, Public spaces

Chinatown Square

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Serving as the neighborhood's hub, Chinatown Square features a two-level mall housing a variety of local businesses, including restaurants, beauty shops and candy vendors. The design of the area was inspired by Chinese Imperial Court and features statues representing each of the 12 Chinese zodiac animals.

Museums, Art and design

Heritage Museum of Asian Art

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The nonprofit Heritage Museum of Asian Art showcases a variety of different Asian artforms, with a collection assembled by art dealer Jeffrey Moy. Inside the Chinatown institution, visitors will find jade and pottery that dates back to the Neolithic period, porcelain, snuff bottles, textiles and more. There are also exhibitions devoted to ojime beads (part of a small toggled cord that was attached to kimonos) and Chinese puzzle balls, which date back to the 1700s.

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Chinese-American Museum of Chicago
Photograph: Martha Williams
Museums, History

Chinese-American Museum of Chicago

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Located near the heart of Chinatown, the Chinese-American Museum of Chicago hosts a small collection of exhibits that allows visitors to learn more about Chinese culture. The museum's permanent exhibit explores the journey taken by Chinese immigrants traveling to the Midwest, including stories submitted by individuals currently residing in Chicago's Chinatown.

Attractions, Parks and gardens

Ping Tom Memorial Park

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Originally a railroad yard, Ping Tom Memorial Park is named for the Chinatown resident who was the leading force behind the creation of this community space. Thanks to its location directly next to the Chicago River, the park is a popular spot for kayaking. The most recent addition to the park is a state of the art fieldhouse, which houses a gymnasium, fitness center and an indoor pool. Get there by water taxi in the warmer months.

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Attractions, Religious buildings and sites

Pui Tak Center

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As the first piece of traditional Chinese architecture to be built in the area, the Pui Tak Center is a cornerstone of Chinatown's community. The building was restored in 2010 after being purchased by the Chinese Christian Union Church, which offers ESL classes and immigration services to area residents.

Sun Yat-Sen Park
Photograph: Martha Williams
Attractions, Parks and gardens

Sun Yat-Sen Park

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On a nice day, you'll find a bunch of older men playing mahjong in this small park, located directly to the south of Chinatown. The area is named for Chinese revolutionary Sun Yat-Sen, who helped overthrow the country's ruling dynasty and acted as China's first provisional president. Visitors will discover a bust of Yat-Sen located near the center of the park.

More to explore

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