The United States is a cultural melting pot, representing nations from all across the world. As a result of such diversity, the United States has experienced the beautiful rebirth of international communities on domestic soil. Chinatowns are one of the most well known examples of these communities, places where visitors can experience cultural immersion without leaving American soil.

Chinatowns are essentially cities within a city – bustling town centers full of adventure, distinctive signage, street vendors and specialty shops. They also feature authentic Chinese food and restaurants. In fact, Chinatown restaurants are considered to be the birthplace of Westernized Chinese cuisine and buffets.

Whether your interest in Chinatowns was enhanced by the 1974 movie classic “Chinatown” starring Jack Nicholson or something else entirely, we invite you to join us as we explore our favorite Chinatowns across America:

San Francisco

Chinatown Street in San Francisco

If you have yet to explore a Chinatown, San Francisco is a great place to start. As the largest Chinatown outside of Asia and the oldest in North America, San Francisco’s Chinatown is a hub of good food, great shopping and fun attractions. Both residents and tourists enjoy exploring the district’s many herbal shops, temples, pagoda roofs and dragon parades. According to the San Francisco Planning Department, Chinatown is “the most densely populated urban area west of Manhattan,” with 15,000 residents living within 20 square blocks.


Chicago Chinatown With Sears Tower

Ranked one of the best Chinatowns in America, there is much to see and do in Chicago’s Chinatown. Located on the South Side of Chicago in Armour Square, visitors to the area can easily access the the open-air market and street vendors in the area.  If you find the streets are still tricky to navigate, you can sign up for one many walking tours. Afterward, take a lunch break at Lao Sze Chuan, a popular Chinatown eatery serving Szechuan specialties alongside traditional Chinese dishes.


Boston Chinatown Gate

If you can believe it, Boston’s Chinatown was actually built upon a landfill. Don’t worry – you won’t find any smelly remains. Today, two stone lions, symbols of prosperity and wealth, grace the entrance of Boston’s Chinatown. The district is home to Chinese-Americans who live, work and play on the streets of Boston.

Craving authentic Chinese cuisine? Boston’s Chinatown boasts hundreds of authentic Chinese restaurants.

New York

New York City Chinatown

One of the more famous districts on our list, New York’s Chinatown is a bustling neighborhood of shops, restaurants and attractions. Historically, the area has also served as an important cultural destination for Chinese immigrants who have settled in New York to create a new life. To really experience a taste of Chinese culture, plan your trip around the Mid-Autumn Moon Festival, taking place Sunday, September 7. 

Chinatowns across America are rich with history, culture and cuisine. There’s so much to see and we’d love to hear about your experiences. Share your favorite Chinatown in the comment section below!