February 20, 2020
Travel DaddyGO When You Can!

10 Things To Do In MEXICO CITY (With Kids)

Mexico City was a blast! We arrived devoid of any expectations and left with an appreciation for this modern metropolis. As parents, it is a challenge to find travel destinations that provide things to do with kids in tow. Mexico City proved to be very underrated and a solid family vacation choice . This vibrant city is filled with culture, great weather, amazing food and friendly locals ready to show you Mexico at its finest.

As the vacation neared its end, my 6 year old politely asks “Daddy, do we have to leave already?” His Mom needed no further validation that her pick for spring break was a definite win. Without further ado, here are 10 things to do in Mexico City (with kids) when you visit…

1. Teotihuacán

What is the Big Deal?

A mere 1-hour drive outside Mexico City, this UNESCO World Heritage Site is a must-see for families. The 32 square mile compound boasts three prominent pyramids.

Travel Daddy Advice

The largest – the Pyramid of the Sun, will be a challenge to ascend especially with younger children. Even if they can withstand the heat and altitude, the single-file lines can be ridiculously long and can easily consume an hour to get to the pyramid. I would recommend going earlier in the morning before the tour buses arrive en masse. Also, pack a few bottles of water since there are barely any foliage or overhead structures to shield you from the punishing sunrays.

Especially for Kids

There will be a ton of local vendors trying to sell handmade crafts and tapestry. These items are truly beautiful and unique for the cost. I would rather spend $15 on an Aztec themed shawl than some mass produced general store brand. Among the more popular items are the lifelike whistles that are hand-carved in the fashion and sound of animals. We bought a Jaguar and Owl whistle, and my son expressed his joy in ‘sounding like the animals, Daddy’.

Just for Adults

The highpoint for me was the mid-point stop where we went to a local gift shop and restaurant just within walking distance of the pyramids. There we got a personalized lesson on the importance of Obsidian to the community and a special Mexican drink called pulque. I also sampled the best tequila I ever had and ate escamoles for the first time.

Getting There

We opted to book through our hotel (JW Marriott Polanco) in an air-conditioned SUV, and a very knowledgeable tour guide Mr. Manuel. He had a pleasant demeanor and was very good with our kid. He even taught me the proper way to ascend/descend pyramid stairs. The 7-8 hour tour cost us $185 and included a tour of the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe.

2. Temple Mayor

What is the Big Deal?

Another UNESCO World Heritage Site nestled in the heart of Centro Historico and adjacent to the Zócalo in Mexico City. This archeological site was the main temple of the Mexica people for what was Tenochtitlan- before it became modern day Mexico City.

Travel Daddy Advice

Go any time since crowds are not that bad. Apply sunscreen and bring bottled water. Be prepared to leave your backpack at the security checkpoint.

Especially for Kids

There’s a very impressive multi-level museum at the rear. Unless your kids are of a certain age, don’t expect them to show huge interest in the ruins. It further validates my opinion that Mexico City has some of the best natural history museums in the world!

Just for Adults

If history is your thing then you can spend hours here. If not, you will marvel at the architectural accomplishments of man minus power tools. It was eye opening for sure. As an additional bonus, we walked by the filming of Bad Boys for Life.

Getting There

It’ll cost you 75 Pesos or $4.16 U.S. for entry to a UNESCO site and a once in a lifetime experience. Kids under 13 are free, and it’s open from Tuesday to Sunday/ 9AM-5PM. Several attractions within the immediate area are great for tourists and taking photographs.

3. Museo Nacional de Antropologia

Museo Nacional de Antropologia exterior Mexico City
Dante being a punk – not wanting to take a photo with his Daddy…

What is the Big Deal?

Museo Nacional de Antropologia entrance

My favorite museum of all, this is the largest and most visited of all the museums. The equivalent would be the Smithsonian Natural History museum, of which I can easily say it rivals.

Travel Daddy Advice

Skip the zoo and spend more time here, since there was so much to see and ingest, that we only got through 75% of all the exhibits, due to a whiny 6 year old.

Especially for Kids

giant waterfall at Museo Nacional de Antropologia

There’s a giant waterfall in the courtyard that most kids gravitate towards. I do not recommend going into the water, nor is it healthy, and the police or guards will also enforce the rules if stupidity prevails. Aside from the waterfall, the museum has tons of historical artifacts – some exposed- and your greatest challenge will be to prevent your minion from tampering. Maybe that’s why a lot of locals had their kids on leashes.

Just for Adults

History, history, history. I was amazed at seeing the excavated fossils, ruins, and tools of ancient civilizations. I found it very informative and a trip highlight, how they transported massive sections of pyramids and temples into the museum for viewing.

Getting There

It’s situated neatly within Chapultepec Park, and a 10 minute walk from our hotel in Polanco. It cost 75 pesos per person and is open from Tuesday to Sunday from 9AM-7PM, and FREE for children under 13.

4. Xochimilco

boats or trajineras in canal at Xochimilco
Image by Albert Dezetter from Pixabay

What is the Big Deal?

Often referred to as the ‘Venice of Mexico’, this network of canals has a unique identity from other parts of Mexico City. There are floating gardens and the scene becomes more party-like as the sun descends.

Travel Daddy Advice

Hop on a Trajinera- a gondola like boat that mozies along the canal. Make sure your kids are 5 and over for access.

Especially for Kids

It’s water AND boats- what kid doesn’t like that?

Just for Adults

It’s water and boats and alcohol- what adult doesn’t like that?

Getting There

Simply use your hotel concierge for great rates, info and reservations. Reputable tour companies offer a guided $90 U.S. fare for adults/$45 for kids.

5. Papalote Museo del Niño

Papalote Museo del Niño exterior Mexico city

What is the Big Deal?

This one-of-a kind children’s museum is educational and interactive. It was designed with the intent of children living out imagined roles of adulthood in society. A child wants to be a Doctor… why not?

Travel Daddy Advice

You’ll need at least one dedicated activity towards your kid(s) for the duration of the vacation, so as to mitigate their incessant whining.

Especially for Kids

It’s a KIDS’ Museum!

This activity is on everyone’s list of 10 things to do with kids in Mexico City. However- if you’ve got older kids nearing their teenage years- this is definitely not the place for them.

Just for Adults

Some mental reprieve from constant nagging, requests and parenthood.

Getting There

It’s located in the Chapultepec Park in the heart of Mexico City- just ask your concierge. The museum is open 7 days a week: Mon-Fri 9AM-6PM; Sat & Sun 10AM-7PM. You can find the various entrance fees here. For currency conversion to $U.S., just divide by 18 for an estimate.

6. Bosque de Chapultepec

Bosque de Chapultepec lake

What is the Big Deal?

This large park within Mexico City is larger than Central Park in New York City, and is home to the zoo, museums, and monuments. Similar to Central Park, you can find people strolling, picnicking and playing games at any given time. It’s not as lush or beautiful as Vancouver’s Stanley Park, but it has a lot more to offer in terms of activities.

Travel Daddy Advice

If you stay in Polanco or any of the neighboring areas, it is almost impossible to avoid the park’s presence. It appeared to be safe (at least) during daylight, and although the grass is sparse in some areas, it was generally clean.

Especially for Kids

man and child at Bosque de Chapultepec exterior
Bosque de Chapultepec entrance
giraffe at zoo in mexico city

It is a BIG park, but Section 1 – the oldest and most visited part- boasts the most activity. There you will find a small lake, the Zoo, museums, and other things of interest for kids.

Just for Adults

beautiful Korean white woman in front of pabellano coreano
 pabellano coreano Bosque de Chapultepec mexico city

The air is clean and the atmosphere somewhat serene. It is somewhat of an immediate escape from the bustle and traffic of Mexico City.

Getting There

Just get out and walk. You decide what you want to do. It’s that simple!

7. Stroll through Centro Historico & Zocalo

beautiful woman in zocalo mexico city

What is the Big Deal?

mexico city cathedral exterior
mexico city cathedral interior
mexico city cathedral gold altar

The Zocalo is the main square in Mexico City, within stone’s throw of three major tourism sites: Templo Mayor, the Metro Cathedral, and the National Palace. The square is similar to public courtyards found in Europe and serves as a hub for tourists, visitors, vendors and street performers. Centro Historico is the larger area, a great place to do some street photography.

Travel Daddy Advice

street between colonial buildings and national palace in mexico city

Even if you don’t travel with kids, this is one of the must-see items for 1st time visitors to Mexico City. I highly recommend bringing a camera, but be sure to guard your valuables. There was an uber creepy dude in the cathedral trying to “get to know us”.

Especially for Kids

van gogh impersonator mexico city
I added some special ‘sorcery’ in my photo edit… can you spot them?
street performer mexico city

There are so many things happening at once, from local dancers to superhero costume-wearing peddlers, there is something for everyone in this area. My son even got an ice cream cone as ransom, while I took photographs.

Just for Adults

national palace and Old Portal de Mercaderes in zocalo mexico city
zocalo in Mexico City

Here can be a great time and a high point for your trip, but keep your wits about you. If I were a petty criminal, this would serve as a target rich opportunity for pickpocketing, small theft and scams.

Getting There

Hail an official city cab and say the words “Zocalo”.

8. Cafebrería El Péndulo

bookstore and restaurant in one

What is the Big Deal?

violinist in lobby

A very quaint and unassuming bookstore in Polanco, with the added bonus of a full-scale breakfast menu, amazing kid-friendly staff, and musicians performing classical music as you eat.

Travel Daddy Advice

half-eaten breakfast

This was recommended as 1 of 3 must-try breakfast places by our concierge. We weren’t disappointed and their pastries and coffee is top notch.

Especially for Kids

kid with restaurant servers

The staff loved my son and matched his high-energy playfulness. They even threatened to put him to work, making him don a waiter’s apron with service tray and all. He had a blast.

Just for Adults

beautiful woman in library

If I lived in Mexico City, I’d be there every weekend. The bookstore had a wide range of genres (all in Spanish), and we even purchased a children’s book in Spanish to get my son’s polyglot juices flowing.

Getting There

Same like most places- Catch a cab to Polanco or have your concierge do it.

9. Basilica de Santa Maria de Guadalupe

our lady of Guadalupe original piece
Myth or Miracle?

What is the Big Deal?

Catholicism is a big deal in Mexico, and Latin America by extension; whatever your beliefs are, the cultural and historical aspect of Spanish influence can’t be neglected. This compound, which includes a church, basilica and a shrine, is home to a special cloak. Legend has it that the image of the Virgin Mary appeared on the cloak in a miraculous event.

Travel Daddy Advice

Basilica de Santa Maria de Guadalupe

It’s one of the most visited religious sites in the world, with great architecture. Having an appreciation for others’ beliefs and culture is a great way to expand your horizons and learn as you travel. I definitely recommend going if your schedule permits, but with a tour guide.

Especially for Kids

Exposing your kid(s) to learning about other people of the world, can only help foster their mental and social growth. 

Just for Adults

old Basilica de Santa Maria de Guadalupe
Capuchin Nuns' Temple

If you’re Catholic- then it’s a must-see; if you’re not- then take in the architecture and history lesson.

Getting There

We went on the tail end of our Pyramid tour, and Mr. Manuel was a great guide in explaining everything to us. It’s such a popular destination that you should have no issues getting transport.

10. El Bazar Sabado de San Angel

El Bazar Sabado de San Angel
El Bazar Sabado de San Angel
El Bazar Sabado de San Angel

What is the Big Deal?

Every Saturday from 9AM-6PM, the cobblestone streets of San Angel fill up with credible Mexican artists selling paintings and artwork. This bazaar feels like a step back in time with its colonial architecture. This is a Mexico City must-see, especially if social media is your thing.

Travel Daddy Advice

El Bazar Sabado de San Angel

If you want to score amazing art at a reasonable price, or eat at one of the nearby restaurants with a nostalgic feel- San Angel’s Saturday Bazaar is the place for you!

Especially for Kids

kid with cotton candy

My son had his first cotton candy experience here, and I swear his mother was going to pass out. It’s a great place for kids to see colorful art, and the walk is more manageable on their little feet.

Just for Adults

El Bazar Sabado de San Angel
san angel cathedral courtyard in mexico city
historic street in san angel mexico city

The artwork is AMAZING! I have not seen so much talented artists congregate in one area in my entire life. The whole neighborhood comes alive in a feeling that can only describe if you visit. It definitely has a European feel to it. I get chills thinking Frida Khalo once walked the same streets.

Getting There

Take a taxi to San Angel. Not a fan of mass transport systems like public buses, trains, etc. unless you speak the language well enough to manage a conversation if needed.

Conclusion

So there you have it- 10 things to do in Mexico City with kids. Even if you’re single or no kids in tow, you’ll find that almost activity on this list can be enjoyed by adults as well. Remember, Go When You Can!

Helpful Links and Resources: https://www.inah.gob.mx/

https://www.visitmexico.com/en/main-destinations/mexico-city/xochimilco

https://papalote.org.mx/

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Our_Lady_of_Guadalupe

http://mexico-city-spanish.com/san-angel-saturday-bazaar-art-show.aspx

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