Pilsen is known for its vibrant, youthful spirit. This diverse neighborhood is a hub for the Mexican American community in Chicago, and features offbeat vintage shops, quaint cafes and restaurants serving authentic Mexican cuisine, not to mention a thriving art scene waiting to be explored.
National Museum of Mexican Art1852 W. 19th St., 312-738-1503, nationalmuseumofmexicanart.org
Home to one of the country's largest Mexican art collections, the National Museum of Mexican Art features more than 7,000 seminal pieces from ancient Mexico to the present. Groups will be immersed in the rich culture and immaculate art pieces that span 3,000 years of creativity. Many of the museum's pieces and exhibitions have traveled to other institutions around the world, showcasing the quality of the collections. The museum is always free and open to the public Tuesday through Sunday, 10 a.m.-5 p.m.
Chicago Arts District1945 S. Halsted St., 312-738-8000, chicagoartsdistrict.org
A neighborhood establishment since 2002, the Chicago Arts District (CAD) is a community for artists and gallerists to create and showcase their work. The CAD encompasses a number of contiguous blocks of work spaces, galleries, lofts, studios and exhibition spaces. On the second Friday of every month, the 30-plus galleries open and invite the public to view new and exiting exhibitions. The Pilsen East Artists' Open House takes place at the end of September, allowing people to view the works of professional artists in their studios and speak to them about their work.
Groups can take a walking tour of Pilsen's bold murals, which can be found on buildings, railway overpasses, the front of homes and wrapped around train platforms. Head to the Pink Line 18th Street station to see Francisco Mendoza's and the Gallery 37 student untitled murals, many of which symbolize and tell stories about the neighborhood. Or groups can make their way over to Casa Aztlan (1831 S. Racine Ave.) to see an ongoing mural project honoring the Aztecs and modern Latino figures.
Authentic, Delicious Food
Pilsen's strong diversity contributes to its great dining scene. The neighborhood is filled with independent coffee houses and eateries serving up everything from contemporary American fare to authentic Mexican dishes. No matter what time of day it is, Fogata Village Restaurant serves up true meals of Mexico, from chilaquiles con huevo for breakfast to enchiladas with mole sauce at dinner (1820 S. Ashland Ave., 312-850-1702).
Enjoy a meal in the welcoming dining room at Nightwood (2119 S. Halsted St., 312-526-3385). This farm-to-table restaurant creates incredible, bold dishes. The hand-written menu changes every day and features ingredients from local farmers' markets and shops. Another great spot is Dusek's, a beer-focused restaurant offering delicious food and beer pairings in historic Thalia Hall (1227 W 18th St., 312-526-3851). For something sweet, head to Kristoffer's Café & Bakery, where groups can enjoy some of the best Tres Leches in the city (1733 S. Halsted St., 312-829-4150).
Benito Juarez Park2150 S. Laflin Ave., 773-534-7030
Take some time to wander through this large open park. Here, groups will find fifteen statues of historical figures sprinkled throughout, including ones of Emilio Zapata and Benito Juarez himself.