Things to Do in Mexico City With Kids

May 7, 2019

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Throughout the month of May, we’re exploring Mexico at The Points Guy, so check back regularly for flight and hotel reviews, features and deals from our neighbor to the south.

“You took your kid to Mexico City?” I heard the same question over and over again after our four-day weekend in, yes, Mexico City. Put away your notions about the largest city in the Western Hemisphere and learn what I discovered: Mexico City is a terrific getaway for families. Here are my favorite things to do in Mexico City with kids.

An early Sunday morning shot of Mexico City
An early Sunday morning shot of Mexico City’s impressive Cathedral.

Climb to the Top of the Sun

Some landmarks are great from a historical standpoint but let’s face it: They can be booooring to your average kid. The pyramids of Teotihuacan are anything but! Our small group tour provided a fulfilling climb to the top of the Pyramid of the Sun. I chose Urban Adventures for our tour because the small group size — ours was six tourists and three guides — made me feel safer as another set of eyes was on my daughter, so I could focus on getting up that pyramid. Urban Adventures accepts kids as young as 6 on its tours in Mexico City. The company is listed on Expedia so Urban Adventures tours should be bookable via the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal. (An all-day tour combining Mexico City’s markets and the Pyramid of the Sun costs $84 per adult and $67 per child.)

Pyramids of the Sun and Moon on the Avenue of the Dead, Teotihuacan ancient historic cultural city, old ruins of Aztec civilization, Mexico, North America, world travel
Pyramids of the Sun and Moon on the Avenue of the Dead in the Teotihuacan ancient historic cultural city features old ruins of Aztec civilization in Mexico.

Explore Cultural Treasures

Mexico City has a world-class anthropology museum that is well organized and clearly laid out in a way that’s easy to understand. The cultural treasures are beyond belief — Aztec, Maya, Toltec, oh my! — but what I found even better were the individual gardens outside each room demonstrating how the statues and artifacts looked in context. The museum is open Tuesday through Sunday from 10am–5pm and admission is 75 pesos (about $4). Note that Mexican citizens get in free on Sundays so it will be more crowded than Tuesday –Saturday.

National Museum of Anthroplogy, Mexico City. (Photo by Posztos / Shutterstock)
National Museum of Anthropology, Mexico City. (Photo by Posztos / Shutterstock)

The highlight for us actually took place right outside the museum: Twice an hour indigenous Totonac dancers “fly” on a pole over 20 meters high while playing handmade instruments and singing. It’s not to be missed.

Learn About History Through Chocolate

Yes, the anthropology museum is world class, but did you know that in ancient times chocolate was used both as currency and in sacred rituals? Learn all about it at the Mucho Mundo Chocolate museum. Even better, register for one of the reasonably priced weekend classes with your kids and make chocolate the traditional way on a “metate” or grinding stone. Classes are in Spanish, but the staff does speak some English, so your high school Spanish should be plenty to get by. And, yes, there’s a cafe and gift shop with homemade chocolate — and you can get adventurous with chocolate-covered bugs if you like. The Chocolate Museum is open 11am–5pm daily; admission is 75 pesos (about $4) for adults and 50 pesos (about $3) for kids 5–12.

Mucho Mundo Chocolate Museum (Photo courtesy of Mucho Mundo Chocolate Museum / Facebook)

Eat a Skull

If you’ve seen the movie “Coco,” you already know that Dia de los Muertos, or Day of the Dead, is more a celebration than a day of mourning. In October, Mexico City Dia de los Muertos decorations rival those of New York at Christmastime — it really has to be seen to be believed. Skeletons and skulls aren’t at all morbid in Mexico, they’re seen partying, playing guitars, dancing and even made into candy.

For an immersion into Dia de los Muertos sweets, you can’t do better than Dulceria de Celaya, the classic candy shop on Avenida Cinco de Mayo. The shop’s been around since 1874 and counted Frida Kahlo among its fans. Try the coconut-stuffed limes — Frida’s fave.

Photo by Dia Adams
Photo by Dia Adams

Savor a Foodie Paradise 

From the high cuisine of Dulce Patria in Polanco to the oil drum-grilled sweet corn on the street, we didn’t eat a bite we didn’t want more of. We grazed on an ear of corn and some mini bananas before lunch and tacos for two at the Coyoacan market. Our only challenge was deciding what kind of fruit smoothie to drink, so we just ordered a bunch of them to sample. My daughter was a fan of the strawberry (fresa) while I preferred the hibiscus flower (jamaica). Dessert was coffee and stuffed churros at a bench at the main square. We snacked and enjoyed a front-row seat at the most vibrant show in town — ordinary citizens going about their business.

Street tacos in Mexico are unlike any other (and much cheaper). (Photo via Shutterstock)
Street tacos in Mexico are unlike any other (and much cheaper). (Photo via Shutterstock)

Safety in Mexico City

Of course, Mexico is still a developing country in some ways and you’ll see quickly you’re not in Kansas anymore. However, I found security concerns to be manageable as long as you stay in tourist areas — for one thing, tourist police are everywhere. I felt no less safe in Mexico City than I have in Manhattan or any other huge city. The US State Department puts Mexico City in Category 2: Exercise increased caution. This is the same level of warning the State Department puts on much of Europe, including all of Spain, to give you some perspective, though always check the current status before planning your trip.

Where to Stay in Mexico City

I’m writing this guide with families in mind, so will only mention properties that allow four people in a standard room via an online booking. This takes two of my favorites, the W Mexico City and Las Alcobas, out of contention. Mexico City is known for luxury hotel award values, both on cash rates (especially on weekends) and on points. However, I didn’t see great values using points on rooms for four (even at somewhere like the St. Regis that offers two queen beds in the room). I don’t question occupancy limits overseas without contacting the hotel first. It’s not worth showing up and being turned away. That said, some properties not listed might let four or more in a room if you send a nicely worded email to the manager.

The Hampton Inn Centro Historico has long been a family favorite in Mexico City. The 18th-century building has a lovely stained glass ceiling. It has suites that sleep four, but for as much 52,000 points a night for a premium award, so I wouldn’t recommend using points. Room rates are often around $130/night, which for more than 500 square feet in a great location could be a good deal. With the Go More promotion, you could earn double Hilton Honors points on your stays.

Hampton Inn Centro Historico. (Photo courtesy of Hilton Hotels)
Hampton Inn Centro Historico. (Photo courtesy of Hilton Hotels)

IHG is well represented: 17 properties in the city that will sleep four, most varying between 15,000 and 20,000 IHG Rewards Club points/night. Cash rates for most are under $100/night, so using points might not be a great value unless you’re getting the fourth night free with the IHG Rewards Club Premier Credit Card. Based on location, I’d choose the Holiday Inn & Suites Zona Rosa or the Holiday Inn Express Reforma because the Reforma location is convenient to most tourist attractions.

Marriott properties are almost all better values with cash versus points, but there are some good options. The Le Méridien Mexico City is in a good location and offers 516-square-foot suites as its base-level room, so you’ll have plenty of space to spread out. It’s a Category 4 hotel, but I see cash rates around $100/night. Other solid choices are the Sheraton Maria Isabel and the Four Points by Sheraton Colonia Roma. The Four Points is a Category 2, so is a value both using points and cash. You can top up your Marriott Bonvoy balances with the Marriott Bonvoy family of cobranded credit cards.

Hyatt has five properties in Mexico City now that the Small Luxury Hotels of the World partnership is live. However, only one, the Hacienda Pena Pobre, offers some larger two-floor suites available online for a family of four. The suites look lovely and are more than 1,100 square feet, but often under $300 per night. Sadly, these would not be bookable at the same 15k points per night rate as standard rooms.

Duplex Suite at the Hacienda Pena Pobre (Image courtesy of hotel)

I’m not sure why the Hyatt House Santa Fe wouldn’t sleep four in a two queen suite, but it won’t let me book online for four people, so I would definitely contact the property first. The World of Hyatt Credit Card could be a good fit if you go the Hyatt route.

Hacienda Pena Pobre. (Photo courtesy of Hacienda Pena Pobre)
Hacienda Pena Pobre. (Photo courtesy of Hacienda Pena Pobre)

If you’d rather go the Airbnb route (and I wholeheartedly endorse this idea) TPG has compiled a fun highlights list of Mexico City Airbnbs.

Courtesy Airbnb
Courtesy Airbnb

Bottom Line

Mexico City might not come to mind when you are thinking of family-friendly destinations, but it truly should. Between the cultural attractions, inviting culture and amazing food, Mexico City is an easy and inviting choice for a long weekend holiday. Best of all, there are a ton of things to do in Mexico City with kids.

Looking to enjoy other vacation destinations in Mexico? Here are some ideas:

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