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Philadelphia Chinatown
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The best Chinatowns in the USA

Experience vibrant Chinese culture in these Chinatowns in the USA

Scott Snowden
Edited by
Scott Snowden
Written by
Sarah Medina
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Much more than a go-to destination for dim sum or dumplings, Chinatowns in the USA are vibrant neighborhoods where historic communities preserve their Asian heritage and identity. Residents of Chinatowns around the country are able to maintain their rich culture, resulting in an enduring presence in these cities. From street vendors and unique specialty shops to architecture and educational heritage centers, visitors to these city centers can take a deep dive into local Chinese culture. As we welcome the Year of the Rabbit, get familiar with these Chinatowns across the country and celebrate the Lunar New Year by supporting Chinatown businesses.

RECOMMENDED: The 51 coolest neighborhoods in the world 

Best Chinatowns in America

One of the oldest and most established Chinatowns in the United States (it was established way back in 1848), SF's Chinatown is full of culture and attractions, from arts organizations like the Chinese Cultural Center and the annual Chinese New Year festival to the famous Golden Gate Fortune Cookie Factory and modern watering holes like China Live. It's also one of the most walkable (read: flattest) neighborhoods in a city filled with hills. Start at the Dragon Gate, then peruse Grant Avenue, the neighborhood’s main thoroughfare, for just a taste of the varied shops, bakeries, bars and restaurants you can find here. 

Walk through the area south of Broome and east of Lafayette Streets that make up Chinatown in NYC and it might feel like you’ve been transported to another continent. Mott and Grand Street are chock-full of stands selling exotic foods such as live eels, square watermelons and hairy rambutans while Canal Street draws you in with some of the best shops for jewelry and gifts. As a major part of NYC’s food culture, you’ll find excellent restaurants in Chinatown representing the cuisine of virtually every province of mainland China and Hong Kong, plus Indonesian, Malaysian, Thai and Vietnamese eateries. 

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Officially known as the Chinatown-International District of Seattle or the I.D. for short, Seattle's Chinatown is actually a blend of Chinese, Japanese, Filipino and Vietnamese residents after being settled in the 1860s. Peruse King Street to see the majority of the neighborhood, but don't forget to veer north to Uwajimaya Supermarket, a massive Asian grocery and specialty store with a food court, where you can find affordable and varied food choices. Also of note: Mike's Noodle House has authentic wontons, noodles and congee and Yummy House Bakery serves treats such as cream puffs, sesame balls and custard buns.

Though small in terms of area, the list of things to do in L.A.'s Chinatown runs long enough to fill an afternoon. Of course, you’ll find the tastiest dim sum west of the San Gabriel Valley, but there are also grocery stores that stock those hard-to-find ingredients, under-the-radar art galleries, cultural festivals, dimly lit dive bars and a culinary scene that’s abuzz. Most of the major attractions are along Hill Street and Broadway, north of Cesar Chavez Avenue—but a bustling scene has also blossomed just off an industrial stretch of Spring Street near the river, so make sure to leave plenty of time to explore all corners. 

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Established in 1912 within the neighborhood of Armor Square, Chicago's Chinatown is one of the older Chinese-American communities in the nation. Today, the area attracts visitors from throughout the city, for its rich culture, delicious cuisine and some of the best karaoke bars in Chicago. Take a walk through Chinatown Square Plaza and you'll spot Peking ducks hanging in windows, fancy tea houses and shops selling imported sweets. Stroll down Wentworth Avenue to walk beneath the Chinatown Gateway and grab a treat from a few of the best bakeries in Chicago.

Honolulu's Chinatown has seen many iterations since Chinese immigrants first started to settle there in 1870. It's been destroyed by fire (twice!), became a red light district in the early 20th century, and is now an arts and theater district with a historic designation. Plus, the state's proximity to Asia makes it a melting pot for all Asian cultures. Browse modern stores like Roberta Oaks, a pioneer in a neighborhood that’s now known for its trendy boutiques and popular restaurants—you're sure to find a knick-knack to take back home with you. 

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Downtown Boston has one of the oldest (established in the 1890s) and largest Chinatowns in the country (behind SF and NYC) as well as the distinction of being the only historic Chinatown in New England. Founded by Chinese immigrants who left California, the neighborhood is currently a dense mix of restaurants, shops and new luxury apartment buildings as well as plenty of authentic Chinese restaurants, regional specialties, and hole-in-the-wall dumpling spots to peruse once you pass through the lion-flanked gates.

Cantonese immigrants started to settle near the wharves of Philadelphia as early as the mid-1800s, but it wasn't until the 1960s, when a larger wave of Chinese families moved to the area, that Philadelphia's Chinatown truly became a vibrant community. At just six square blocks, the neighborhood is small but easily found via the Friendship Arch at 10th Street, built by Chinese artisans. Appealing for its Asian grocery stores, porcelain, china and herb shops, and especially restaurants—like most Chinatowns in the U.S. you'll find a range of cuisine options from across Asia. We like Sang Kee Peking Duck House and the wontons at Four Rivers.

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