Visiting Mexico as a family: practical guide
13 November 2019
At 3 times the size of France, everything is simply bigger in Mexico. Volcanos, Mayan temples drowning in greenery, and colourful festivals are just the beginning in this country of living folklore that attracts adventurous families every year. Little Guest is giving you a few tips and secrets to take on this country of contrasts as a family: activities designed for children, family-friendly accommodations, and personalized advice… Vamos!
- Mexico in a nutshell
- Why visit?
- Our luxury hotel choices for families
- Family activities
- Beach and diving
- Nature discovery
- Before going
1 – Mexico in a nutshell
- Country: United Mexican States
- Capital: Mexico
- Government: President
- Languages: Spanish, traditional indigenous languages
- Currency: Mexican pesos (1 = €0.047)
2 – Postcard
From the north to the south, the east to the west, Mexico is a country rich with infinite possibilities.
- The north of Mexico is a vast province that also includes the famous state of Chihuahua as well as the Baja California peninsula. Less touristy than its neighbours, this region is no less marvellous, allowing pure nature to unfurl and create an atmosphere worthy of the best westerns.
- Located right on the Gulf of Mexico, in the central-eastern part of the country, even just mentioning the name Mexico will awaken your inner adventurer. Colourful buildings, mixed cuisine and pre-Columbian heritage punctuate the days in the fascinating capital.
- The Pacific coast of Mexico, dominated by Oaxaca, a city perched at 1500 m high, is far from being at rest. The city and its surrounding areas, all of which remain well preserved, offer a mixed identity of colonial and Aztec heritage. The coastline is a paradise for surfers!
- The Yucatan Peninsula, located in the south of the country along the border with Belize, is without a doubt a favourite among visitors. We can see why though, the fine sand beaches that run along the crystalline waters, Mayan ruins and incomparable natural heritage are well worth the detour. This region, which is the safest part of the country, is perfect for a family vacation. For more information, consult the UK government site, or the one of your country for reliable information.
3 – Why visit?
- For the varied scenery and rich culture. Deserts and canyons sprinkled with cacti to the north, paradisiacal beaches touching the Caribbean Sea to the south, while throughout the country impressive volcanos and colourful cities that seem like they’re out of a Frida Kahlo painting will dazzle you.
- For the Mexican festivals and hospitality. True to the Latin tradition, even simple markets are festivals of colour, sound, and flavour. Whether it’s the famous Day of the Dead celebration, or to the rhythm of Mariachis or Marimbas, Mexico is a country of indulgence! From Ferias to Piñatas, there’s something for all ages!
- Without a shadow of a doubt, children are kings in Mexico, always ready with an enthusiastic welcome. It’s impossible to count all the cultural parks and activities designed for families, as well as the restaurants that bend over backwards to cater to young guests’ taste buds. The hotels are no exception and offer high-end services for children.
4 – Our luxury hotel choices for families
Paradisus Playa Del Carmen La Esmeralda *****
Right on the south-east coast of Mexico in the heart of the aptly named Riviera Maya, bordered by the crystalline waters of the Caribbean Sea, nestled in a peaceful bay, the Paradisus Playa del Carmen La Esmeralda hotel welcomes demanding families looking for a refined, exotic experience. This 5-star all-inclusive establishment is cradled in a resort atmosphere with a sublime private beach that stretches to the Playa del Carmen fishing village, which is barely 3 Km away. Bonus: children love the 5 slides at the giant water park!
Family Selection At Grand Palladium Costa Mujeres Resort & Spa *****
Cancun is a city full of life and excitement that pampers families! A family-friendly vacation village a little ways away from all the excitement of the city, the Grand Palladium Costa Mujeres Resort welcomes families and children with open arms with the family-friendly concept, “family section”, which offers free access to the kids-club starting at 1 year old. In a contemporary atmosphere filled with eye-popping colours, children and adults alike will love the nearby sea, the hotel’s numerous pools, the 10 restaurants, as well as the relaxing and athletic activities. An amazing change of scenery!
Paradisus Los Cabos Resort *****
Located to the far south of the Baja California Peninsula, the Paradisus Los Cabos Resort is an all-inclusive luxury resort situated on a paradisiacal beach, not far from the Finisterra coast and its picturesque landscapes.
Known for its elegant suites with breath-taking views of the Sea of Cortez and its customized concierge service for families, this 5-star establishment offers prestigious facilities including the YHI Spa and its superb restaurants,
including the exclusive Gastro Bar by Martin Berasategui, the world renown chef. The well-pampered children will remember the Kids-club and its various activities long after the trip is over. The free babysitting service will certainly please the parents as well!
5 – Cuisine
If you’re looking to excite your taste buds, Mexico is a wonderful gourmet destination! Drawing on an exceptional richness, Mexican cuisine has been recognized as part of the UNESCO world heritage since 2010.
Everyone will tell you that you can’t miss the typical snacks like quesadillas, burritos and tacos, or even ears of smoked corn that you can find almost anywhere and eaten on the go! Children love this simple, delicious finger food. The sopa de lima (which is like chicken soup) and the salbutes (lightly fried tortillas filled with poultry and vegetables) are great options for young children.
- In the north, Los Tamarinos, offers innovative fusion cuisine that brings together Mediterranean cooking with Mexican flavours. Every now and then, the chef will allow guests to visit his garden and teach them about how to make oils infused with chilies from the garden. A creative and educational experience for your little ones. The stuffed clams, called chocolatos due to the caramel colour of their shells, will certainly please salt lovers. Itinerary
- In Cancun, the Jolly Roger Pirate Show has everything children want. The entire family boards a barque to enjoy a historical 4-hour dinner show, filled with numerous skits starring costumed pirates! Go there more for the experience than for the food, but we can bet that your children will remember the experience for a long time. Itinerary
- Playa del Carmen is overflowing with wonderful spots ready to welcome children for lunch or dinner. La Panaderia is a hidden gem as it has its own kids-club dedicated to children. Games, cake decorating, and other crafts make this spot an absolute must for families! A few streets down, the Chiltepin Marisquillos allows children to take a dip between dishes in the private pool on their terrace! Meanwhile, mom and dad can enjoy fresh seafood or a delicious hamburger.
6 – Family activities
- To immerse yourself in the culture, don’t forget to visit the Mayan archaeological sites that are all over the Yucatan peninsula. Tulum, a veritable fortress on the edge of the sea or Chichen Itza, whose pyramid is considered one of the wonders of the world, is worth visiting! You’ll have to gather the courage to climb the 365 steps to reach the site! As educational as it is impressive, these stone ruins will thrill young explorers and their parents as they discover the life and architectural talents of these ancient people.
- To bring together learning and leisure, the Choco-Story Museum, in addition to a visit to the Uxmal archaeological site, foodie travellers can learn about the important role chocolate played in the Mayan culture. It’s the perfect opportunity to collect some delicious souvenirs!
- The Venice of Mexico… does that name mean anything to you? Discover the calm canals of Xochimilco, the remains of a vast water transport network constructed by the Aztecs in southern Mexico. We already know that your group will be overflowing with excitement when they see the Trajineras, the colourful boats that take you on a lovely cruise. Right next to you, other boats let you snack as you sail across the water or enjoy the upbeat rhythm of the Mariachi music. Especially on the weekend, the ambiance is extremely festive. Location
- Imagine 2,400 m of dizzying ziplines in the gorgeous surroundings of the famous Copper Canyon. Finally, a park that brings together thrills and never-ending, unforgettable scenery! Beloved by families, especially teenagers, the Parque de Aventura Barrancas del Cobre allows visitors to challenge themselves and test out via ferrata, abseiling and climbing.
- Wander around the markets and immerse yourself in the authentic atmosphere that surrounds you: foodies can get their fill of tortillas and milkshakes, children will dream of the little knick-knacks and artisanal toys (little cars, masks) they find, those who love decor will be happy to collect the traditional braided baskets and everyone will be amazed by the piñatas, popular works of art in the image of Spiderman or Dora the Explorer! Little Guest recommends checking out the Merida market, located in the Yucatan region, and the Coyoacan market in the region of Mexico.
- Finally, for art lovers, and because there’s no age requirement to love beautiful things, the Casa Azul Frida Kahlo will certainly please everyone. Parents love walking through the home-workshop of the mythical artist couple (Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera) while children will be completely absorbed in the bright colours on the walls and the hypnotic combination of blue and orange. The garden is perfect for a refreshing pause under the tree’s foliage. Looking for a cultural adventure for the family? Read our article about the best museums to visit as a family.
7 – Beach and diving
With nearly 10,143 km of coastline, Mexico is a sea centric country. Between the Pacific Ocean, the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean Sea, the country of the Mayans has everything you’re looking for, from La Paz to Cancun without forgetting Acapulco, you’ll find numerous beaches that are just as beautiful as they are legendary. The flora and fauna of the seabed is amazing: Commander Cousteau even described them as the aquarium of the world!
- While the seacoast is fresh and lively, the pacific coast is just as invigorating! It’s the perfect chance to learn how to master the waves! Children older than 5 can take beginner surfing classes at numerous nearby spots, as long as you choose beaches where the waves aren’t too large. Mazatlán, Puerto Escondido et San Agustinillo are perfect for learning to surf. The sandy and rocky bays at Playa Carizalillo makes it popular among beginners, not to mention how beautiful it is! Location
- Protected from the massive amount of tourism, the little fine sand crescent Playa Puerto Angelito is perfect for families looking for a peaceful getaway. Waves and currents are very rare there. Small local restaurants, beach chairs, and washrooms are the cherry on top of this lovely beach. The handful of rocks that dot the shoreline simply make it more picturesque. Location
- Puerto Angel… a name like that promises a heavenly experience. A lovely fishing harbour nestled in the state of Oaxaca, the Puerto Angel beach invites guests to relax while admiring the never-ending dance of boats and fishermen. Certain fishermen even offer to take you out on their boat between swims to see turtles swimming in the middle of the sea. Location
- Playa El Niño is the perfect family-friendly spot in Cancun and its surrounding areas. A little way away from the larger seaside resorts, you’ll find a friendly atmosphere where families can enjoy the softness of living. Both popular and colourful, the beach has prepared for guests’ needs (shower, toilets). Bonus: the beach is monitored and Blue Flag certified. A little (or very) hungry? It’s the perfect time to discover Mexican finger food. Tacos, fried meat croquettes, a variety of fruits, and crushed ice can be found along the beach. Location
- Along the famous Riviera Maya, right by the Playa del Carmen resort, visitors are spoilt for choice. If you’re looking to sip a cocktail at a stylish beach club, Mamita Beach is the place to be, whereas Akumal is better if peaceful lagoons are more your speed. Advice for intellectuals! To bring together the discovery of local heritage and taking a dip in the pool, the Playa Ruinas de Tulum is an absolute must-see. As the only Mayan temple built along the water, these majestic ruins are overflowing with charm! Location
- Nearby, lovers of sea life shouldn’t miss out on taking time to experience the magic of a family diving session. In that area, Little Guest highly recommends the coral reefs in Puerto Morelos or Cozumel. If your children still want more, make a stop at the Xel-Ha aquatic park. A converted natural reserve where you can discover marvels with just a mask and some flippers. Looking for the best diving spots in the world? Read our article on the subject
8 – nature discovery
- Sea turtles are inseparable from Mexico and its exceptional waters. The Isla Mujeres Turtle Farm protects the turtles. The employees at this unique farm passionately teach visitors about how and why they protect these animals, who are especially susceptible to the dangers of aquatic life. Location
- Lovers of the great outdoors should lace up their tennis shoes and check out the Sian Ka’an Biosphere Reserve, a natural park registered as a UNESCO national heritage site full of birds, crocodiles, and manatees. This 525,000-hectare ecological park, which is home to forests, lagoons, wetlands, and coral reefs, is the largest nature reserve in all of Mexico. Led by a guide, the boat trip through the mangroves cannot be missed. Location
- Ecologically responsible tourists of all ages will love the Celestún Biosphere Reserve. There, nature reveals various shades of red: died by the roots of the red mangroves, the waters in the lagoons take on an astonishing vermillion colour. But the cherry on top are the pink flamingos that have a colony there. The morning is the best time to see these elegant birds as they eat their breakfast. Don’t forget your binoculars! Location
9 – Climate
- Mexico is loved by travellers for its wonderful climate, which is hot and sunny for the majority of the year. From one end of the Tropic of Cancer to the other, you’ll find a temperate climate to the north and a tropical climate to the south, with nearly constant temperatures. As in any tropical country, there is a dry season and a rainy season (between June and mid-October). During the rainy seasons, storms, which are short but intense, usually happen late afternoon.
10 – Before going
- Exotic travel means updated vaccinations! A good source of information, the Institut Pasteur‘s site explains everything you need to know before you go.
- The tropical sun can be treacherous for the whole family. UV rays are fierce and sunscreen with a high SPF (50 SPF+) is an absolute must for travellers young and old. Be sure to not forget hats, sunglasses, and anti-UV clothing for your children. Our article about organic sun protection for babies, as well as our list of best sunglasses for children, will surely help you make an informed choice.
- To make sure you don’t forget anything, mom and dad can consult our travel checklists for babies between 1 day to 3 years, toddlers from 3 to 6 years and children from 6 to 12 years: pyjamas, toys, first aid, bug repellent, bathing suit, floaties, and even after-sun treatment… Everything is there!
Mylène, 28 years old, art and travel lover, from Strasbourg, France