See how Asian Americans & Pacific Islanders are honored officially every May but celebrated nationwide all year long.
Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) cultures are vibrant and important strands in the tapestry of the United States. AAPI Heritage Month is observed every May with events paying homage to these special cultures. Many cities have areas with large AAPI populations, with many stores, restaurants and residents continuing to share their background with the world and light up with celebrations throughout May. With numerous institutions providing interactive learning opportunities, people can be inspired by these traditions year-round and especially during AAPI Heritage Month events. This is only a sampling of the amazing things that visitors can experience.
Pacific Islanders of the USA
The United States is fortunate to include Pacific islands in its mix of stunning and diverse lands. The people of Hawaii, Guam, American Samoa and the Northern Mariana Islands honor their heritage in their foods, clothing, music and everyday life. Each destination has a culture waiting to be explored with historic sites, institutions and festivals ensuring their customs live on.
The islands of Hawaii are brimming with opportunities to experience natural beauty and the islands’ past. Hawaiians put on festivals in all seasons to honor their ancestors and welcome visitors to view and participate. In Honolulu, tour the Bishop Museum’s exhibits highlighting native Hawaiian traditions followed by a trip to the royal residence of Hawaii’s last remaining monarch, Iolani Palace. On the island territory of Guam, taste local cuisine and shop for authentic handicrafts at the Chamorro Village market before heading to see well preserved artifacts and displays at the Guam Museum.
In the Northern Mariana Islands, celebrations at tourist spots like Ritidian Beach and Tumon Bay pay homage in colorful fashion, while the petroglyphs in Kalabera Cave continue to amaze visitors. The South Pacific islands of American Samoa are home to unmatched natural beauty like the National Marine Sanctuary and the National Park of American Samoa, but visit the capital city of Pago Pago and its Jean P. Haydon Museum for history and events dedicated to the territory followed by a trip to Fagatoga Market for fresh, local seafood in authentic dishes.
Traditional dancers of the Chamorro Village in Guam
West Cost: Memorable AAPI Experiences
Since the mid-19th Century, immigrants from across the Pacific have planted roots from California to Washington. Enjoy cultural dishes, music and festivities in these lively spots. San Francisco’s Chinatown is the oldest of its kind in the Western Hemisphere. Walk its shop-lined streets before getting lost among the Asian Art Museum’s 18,000 masterpieces, then learn about the Chinese immigrant experience at the Chinese Historical Society of America Museum. The Los Angeles area is home to countless cultural attractions and experiences throughout its Chinatown, Little Tokyo and Koreatown. Los Angeles’ Chinese American Museum, Japanese American National Museum, Korean American National Museum and the exciting culinary offerings of the area’s vibrant Middle Eastern grocery stores and markets barely scratch the surface. Head north to Seattle, Washington, for more celebration and art at the Seattle Asian Art Museum and the enlightening Wing Luke Museum with its pan-Asian exhibits.
In front of the Asian Art Museum in San Francisco, California
East Coast: Diverse AAPI Institutions
Like the West Coast, the East Coast of the USA is also home to year-round AAPI celebrations and sites of historical significance. Baltimore, Maryland’s, and Washington D.C.’s Chinatowns are full of historic sites and culinary delights. The New York City area hosts the largest Chinese population outside of Asia and the Museum of Chinese in America is the perfect first stop before making your way through all 12 Chinatowns scattered throughout NYC’s five boroughs. Other can’t-miss institutions with AAPI celebrations in the state include the India Heritage Museum in Macedon and the Asia Society and Museum in Manhattan. Head south to visit the Asian American Center in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, which explores the people, culture and history of Asian Americans. In Delray Beach, Florida, stroll through six beautiful Japanese-inspired gardens and catch Japanese cultural festivities at Morikami Museum and Japanese Gardens.
Visitors to the Morikami Museum and Japanese Gardens in Delray Beach, Florida
Everywhere in Between: AAPI Activities in Surprising Spots
Celebrations and institutions honoring Asian American and Pacific Islander heritage can be found all throughout the USA. In addition to several other cities and towns, you’ll find vibrant districts in Chicago, New Orleans, Detroit, Cleveland and Houston. Dearborn, Michigan, is home to one of the largest Arab American communities in the country and is teeming with authentic restaurants, museums and events that honor their heritage. Take a deep dive into Asian art and beliefs at The Lentz Center for Asian Culture in Lincoln, Nebraska, and the Crow Museum of Asian Art in Dallas, Texas. Chicago’s Devon Avenue features an international marketplace brimming with lively Indian, Bangladeshi, Southeast Asian, Middle Eastern and Pakistani restaurants and shops. Learn about the Chinese experience in the south at the Mississippi Delta Chinese Heritage Museum in Cleveland, Mississippi. Finally, the Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Center, a migratory museum, will put on celebrations at destinations around the USA.
Visitors at the entrance of Chicago’s Chinatown neighborhood
More experiences nearby