Things to Do in Chinatown with the Family

NYC’s Chinatown is one of the most family-friendly spots in the city. If you’re looking for a great way to experience the cultural, authentic Asian vibe of Chinatown while bringing the kids along to enjoy the ride, there are a number of opportunities, such as the Mid-Autumn Moon Festival, the Pearl River Mart, and the Yunhong Chopsticks Shop, to name just a few great spots to explore. Here’s a list of things to do in Chinatown with the family.

Annual Events and Festivities

Starting with the annual Lunar New Year Parade and the Mid-Autumn Moon Festival, there are plenty of special festive events in the city to see. But there are also plenty of Chinese cultural attractions that you can visit any time of year. The Perl River Mart, a speciality store with Chinese wares such as teas, snacks, lanterns, parasols, and toys, this is an excellent kid-friendly spot within the city. Kids will love the huge Chinese dragons hanging down from the ceiling, or the 2-story water fountain contained right in the store itself.

Eateries in Chinatown

Fay Da Bakery is just a short way down on Mott Street, where you can purchase Chinese cookies and cakes, sweet roast pork, egg custard, and steamed buns filled with coconut cream. This is an excellent spot for kids who happen to have a sweet tooth — or even picky eaters, who might find something sour or salty as well.

The Yunhong Chopsticks Shop features hundreds of chopsticks stacked right along the walls in an ornamental style. It’s best to be careful in there, since the store is quite small. But you can quickly select a pair of authentic Chinese chopsticks to add to your collection.

The Aji Ichiban candy shop is a great spot in Chinatown for any kid to see. You will find sweets and goodies such as preserved fruits, flavored lollipops and gummies, and green tea flavored candies.

Speciality Tea Parlors and Ice Cream Shops

The Nom Wah Tea Parlor is another excellent family-friendly choice. Opened in 1920 when it first began, the tea parlor is one of the most popular dim sum places in the whole area. Be sure to check this one out: the staff is friendly and patient and will provide highchairs if you need them.

The Chinatown Ice Cream Factory is one feature in this part of the city you won’t want to miss. There are plenty of different flavors, ranging from green tea, lychee, and red bean, but you might want to just stick to plain vanilla for the less adventurous members of the family. The shop is family owned and has been around since the 80s.

Playgrounds and Bubble Tea Shops

Finally, be sure to stop by Hester Street Playground and Vivi Bubble Tea as part of your list of things to do in Chinatown with the family. Hester Street Playground is split off in two areas for kids of all different ages, including slides, swings, a sand pit, and playhouses for younger kids, and a climbing rope, corkscrew slide, bridge, and sprinklers for big kids.

The Vivi Bubble Tea shop is a great place to finish up your day’s adventure with a quick cup of bubble tea to provide a sweet, refreshing treat.


No matter what ages your family falls into, you’ll be sure to find plenty of fun and family-friendly attractions around NYC’s Chinatown during your visit. Be sure to allow plenty of time during the day — you’ll be sure to come back to your room exhausted from your colorful, cultural adventures!


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Things to Do in Chinatown During the Day

Chinatown in NYC is one of the most bustling, vibrant parts of the city. If you’re hoping to add a truly dynamic and memorable experience to your trip to the Big Apple, taking a trip to Chinatown should definitely be on your to-do list. With one of the most densely populated areas of Chinese immigrants in the entire United States, Chinatown is a genuinely New York-inspired story, providing a window into the past. Chatham square is a popular starting place, where you can sample the beginning of your trip to the area. Here’s a quick list of things to do in Chinatown during the day.

Museums and Restaurants

At 215 Centre St., the Museum of Chinese in America is a cultural wonder. Providing a truly Chinese-American experience, it has quickly become one of the most well-known spots in Chinatown since its creation in 1980. Providing a permanent museum space to tell the history of the Chinese in the U.S., the museum features a redesigned industrial area designed by Maya Lin. Its exhibitions are both interactive and extremely well-polished. Admission is free on the first Thursday of each month.

At 37 Mott St., Aji Ichiban, aka “Munchies Paradise,” is a place you won’t want to miss. The store has a number of different sweets which you can see through clear containers, showing haw-flavored candy and flan-filled marshmallows, among other unique treats. The store sells lychee milk candies, and pickled plum snacks. There are also Japanese rice crackers and wasabi peas available. The store features an open tasting policy so you can try before you buy.

Specialty Cuisine and Dim Sum

The Nom Wah Tea Parlor is one of the most popular dim sum houses in Chinatown. It opened in 1920, and saw the ugliness of the Tong gang wars, but the tea shop and bakery were renowned for their moon cakes and almond cookies. The Choy family ran the shop for more than 30 years, but then, in 2010, Wally Tang, who inherited the shop from its previous owners, sold it to Wilson Tang, who now owns it. Now, you can receive a mouthwatering entree of dim sum which is cooked fresh to order at a very reasonable price.

At Xi’an’s Famous Foods, you’ll get to experience Chinese cuisine that was part of the ancient capital city of Xi’an on the Silk Road. The restaurant features spice noodles and burgers flavored with cumin and special Chinese seasonings. The decor features antique accents such as porcelain statues from the Ming dynasty and framed photos of regular customers.

Antiques and Novelties

To finish up the list of things to do in Chinatown during the day, try a trip to Ting’s Gift Shop at 18 Pell Street. The small store features traditional Chinese ornaments and trinkets, and has been around since 1957. The store has a truly classic feel to it, so if you’d like to find authentic Chinese chopsticks, a bamboo backscratcher, or other unique odds and ends, give Ting’s a try.


No matter where you end up in NYC’s Chinatown, there’s no shortage of sights to see during the day. Any trip to this dynamic part of the city is sure to provide a number of wonderful memories you can share with your family for years to come.

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What to do in Chinatown when the Sun Goes Down

Chinatown in NYC is still somewhat off the grid in terms of tourist attractions around New York. A number of nightclubs and restaurants in this part of town are relatively unknown. But as more tourists come to NYC, they see how much the unique culture of this area has to offer. If you’re looking for things to do in Chinatown when the sun goes down, here’s a quick list to get you started on your nightly adventures. 

A Unique Blend of Asian and American Cultures 

Chinatown truly comes to life after hours. You’ll get a fully authentic experience when you head into this part of the city, and any of the locals you interact with will likely be multilingual. It doesn’t hurt to speak Chinese when you head into Chinatown, but more than likely you’ll be able to find someone who can point you in the right direction if you get lost. 

A Variety of Entertainment and Nightclub Offerings 

Nightlife in Chinatown is becoming more and more varied, as more nightclubs and restaurants start to pop up. You’ll find open mic bars, Asian-themed comedy, karaoke bars, DJs, and all-night eating establishments with unique Asian food. Offering a truly unique nightlife experience, Chinatown is one area of NYC that comes to life after hours. 

Bars and Nightclubs

The Asia Roma restaurant in Chinatown offers a number of unusual drinks and nightly food dishes, such as pasta featuring a unique Asian feel. The “zen martini” is one of the club’s highlights, using Absolut Citron combined with green tea. The nightclub also offers a lounge and karaoke bar. To get to the Asia Roma, look for a blue neon sign pointing karaoke lovers to its familiar lounge area downstairs in the basement. Down here, a number of young partygoers can be found belting out karaoke songs such as those by Billy Idol and Tina Turner. However, if you’re not so tuned into this type of nightly partygoing, head upstairs to try a specialty cocktail instead. 

The Silk Road Mocha Cafe, at 30 Mott ST., Offers the Five Points Variety Hour every Friday evening. This is a unique blend of Asian music, poetry, hip hop, and spontaneity. It’s definitely not a family show, though, so be sure to leave the little ones at home when venturing out for your nightly adventures. 

Another great place to hit up for things to do in Chinatown when the sun goes down is the 88 Palace, which is decorated in the usual dim sum way, with acrylic, gaudy chandelier and dragon-shaped wall ornaments, as well as a spray-painted ornamental area that is so gold it will hurt your eyes. There’s a unique blend of romanticism about the place, which is offset by the restaurant’s dimmed lights, pulsing bass, and peculiar tracksuits. 

It will cost you about $10-30 to get in, but this is typical for most of the other clubs in NYC’s Chinatown, and the surrounding area. It’s a fairly large set up as the club owner describes, with a number of top security, bar setup, sound engineers, and so on. The stacked talent bills are what bring in younger diners and club-goers, who are eager to get a taste of the experimental, genre-bending flavor of 88 Palace. 


No matter what your budget may be, you’ll find a variety of nightly offerings for after-hours entertainment in Chinatown. If you’re taking a tour of NYC, this is one area of the city you don’t want to miss. 

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History of Chinatown

Chinatown in New York is considered one of the largest and most culturally-rich Chinatowns in the entire country. The area has one of the biggest Chinese populations on the entire western hemisphere. Consisting of more than 2 whole miles of homes, shops, restaurants, cultural attractions, museums, and candy stores, Chinatown provides home to more than 150,000 individuals. It is a highly popular tourist area as well, and the history of Chinatown is one of the richest in the US.

The Early Years of Chinatown

Chinatown officially came into being in the middle of the 1700s, when Chinese sailors and traders began to come to the US. There were small numbers who remained in New York and began to populate the area, getting married and settling down. Then, in the middle of the 19th century, Chinese arrived in larger masses.

Chinese immigrants tended to move to NYC’s Chinatown to stay with their families or find work for sailors and traders. The miners, lured by the promise of gold in California, were hired to build the Central Pacific Railroad, which they could send back home to their families.

Looking for Jobs Elsewhere

Jobs didn’t stay thriving for Chinese workers however, so they had to look elsewhere. The tobacco fields and textile factories offered new opportunities, and Chinese workers were hired because they could work longer for less pay. The Chinese Exclusion Act, implemented in 1882, was meant to stop more Chinese immigrants coming over for freedom instead of work, but immigrants continued to flow in anyway.

The gold mines of the California Gold Rush didn’t yield much for these immigrants, however, leading mob violence to become more widespread and discrimination to drive the Chinese population into larger cities, where there were more job opportunities.

Housing Structure and Government

Chinese immigrants had to generally stay together in terms of housing, as racial discrimination was rampant. This led to the general segmented population of Chinatown’s structure, with the area being self-supporting. There were social services, jobs, protection services, and economic services provided within an internal unit of government, rather than outside support. Many Chinese had to live with five to fifteen people in one 2-room apartment for the latter part of the nineteenth century.

Chinatown’s government was entirely self-supporting, in fact; they arranged legal matters, opened businesses, and mediated disputes. However, there were still many disputes between Chinese immigrants who held different beliefs, such as the Hip Sing Tons and the On Leong.

Chinatown Today

If you visit the area today, knowing the history of Chinatown is a good idea, so you’ll have some background of the area and frame of reference as you visit each building and attraction. These buildings are often packed tightly together, with rent being some of the highest in the city, and the buildings themselves being extremely historically-rich; they are still the same foundations that were built in the 18th and 19th centuries.

Today, Chinatown is still tightly packed, but it is experiencing rapid growth thanks to tourism and an influx of interest in Chinatown’s culture and history. The area provides residents and visitors both plenty of restaurant and dining experiences, as well as unique novelty stores, candy shops and ice cream shops, and even playgrounds and outdoor kids’ areas.

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