Let’s be honest with ourselves. To college coeds, Cinco de Mayo is just another excuse to black out on a random night of the week and wake up the next morning with tequila stains on that festive red, white and green ensemble you’re somehow still wearing, hopefully in your own bed (or, maybe not so hopefully).

But when nothing more than the utterance of something ending in “-day” gets the keg pumping and the handle passing, why not make Cinco de Mayo a special occasion for a change? We are Angelenos after all, and our great city boasts some of the best festivities for this age-old holiday. So break out of that campus routine, and celebrate like the Mexican you become one day a year.

Let’s backtrack a bit. In Los Angeles, Cinco de Mayo doesn’t start on Cinco de Mayo, it starts on Dos de Mayo. From May 2 to May 4, 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. each day, head over to Olvera Street, one of the oldest and most historical streets in the city, to celebrate in a more traditional fashion. This street fair takes the commemoration of the Mexican victory over French forces seriously, in a family-friendly way.

There will be free educational and cultural workshops, including learning to make piñatas and Mexican flags, as well as coloring and storytelling for the little tykes. Bust a move with traditional folkloric music and dance, test your hand at the piñata breaking station and feast your eyes on a display of traditional Mexican dresses.

On May 3, get yourself to Griffith Park for the Viva El Cinco! Family festival. The Autry National Center hosts this celebration, which includes mariachis, skillful charros and lively ballet folklorico. Entrance is free with museum admission, so take a break from the sun and check out the puppet performances and puppet-making demonstrations. The event takes place from 11 a.m.-5 p.m.

Looking for some nighttime fun? Drive down to Long Beach and enjoy a few laughs at the Laugh Factory’s special Cinco de Mayo show, from 8 p.m. to 9:30 pm. General admission runs $15 a seat.

OK, OK, I know what you’re thinking. All these festivals may feature traditional Mexican celebratory fare, but what about celebrating in the traditional way we all know and love, a.k.a. eating tacos and getting drunk? Pretty much every Mexican and Mexican-themed restaurant throughout the city is sure to have some specials this evening.

El Carmen (8138 W. Third St., Los Angeles) is a safe bet, as is Cabo Cantina (8301 W. Sunset Blvd. and 11829 Wilshire Blvd., Los Angeles). If you’re searching for that frat party feel with better food and drink and a slightly older crowd (or not, how good is that fake?), try the one on Wilshire. Their outdoor terrace is usually packed to the brim on any given night of the week due to their can’t-be-beat happy hour, so if you want to be part of the fun, get there early. Fred’s Mexican Cafe (119 E. Colorado Blvd., Pasadena) is hosting a Cinco de Mayo Fiesta with mariachis, prizes, giveaways and Cinco de Mayo drink specials from 4 p.m.–2 a.m.

While hopefully one of these suggestions peaks your interest, there’s always the tried and true Cinco de Mayo plan of attack. The ingredients? You, some friends and a bottle of Cuervo. Enjoy, and try to keep the next-day mystery tequila stains to a minimum.