From its postcard-perfect beaches to its pre-Columbian archeological sites, there are so many reasons for families to vacation in Mexico – and so many unique things to do.
Does your kid dream of becoming a marine biologist? Try a family snorkeling trip in Puerto Morelos or watch humpback and gray whales from a tour boat in Los Cabos. For future Indiana Joneses, there’s Merida with its Mayan ruins.
Here are our five favorite Mexico vacation spots for families:
1. Merida: Best place for exploring Mayan ruins
The Spanish colonial architecture in Merida is as colorful as a box of crayons and the city’s tree-lined Plaza Grande is its vibrant heart. Each Sunday, the sound of mariachi and marimba bands attract visitors to the Merida en Domingo festivities. Streets are closed to traffic during this cherished Sunday tradition of music, dance and merriment.
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Located on the Yucatan Peninsula, Merida is close to one of the world’s largest Mayan populations and their legacy can be explored at the interactive El Gran Museo Del Mundo Maya. A rich collection of artifacts and high-tech multimedia exhibits help to weave the past into the present. The famed Mayan ruins of Chichen Itza and Uxmal are easily visited as day trips from Merida, along with many other lesser-known archeological sites of interest.
The Lucas de Gálvez Market is a joyfully chaotic ode to Mexican commerce. Vendors sell everything from precious crafts to dime store souvenirs. Street food was practically invented in Mexico and you’ll find plenty of zesty options to nibble as well.
The weather in Merida can be steamy. Thankfully, deep sinkholes called cenotes dot the city’s outskirts, presenting refreshing swimming options. For a seaside day trip, the beaches of Progreso are under an hour away.
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Best place for families to stay in Merida: Walking distance from Merida’s top attractions, El Palacito Secreto is a luxury boutique hotel that welcomes all ages. A gorgeous pool, bountiful breakfast and shady interior gardens make it a great choice for families.
2. Los Cabos: Best place for marine life viewing
At the southernmost tip of Baja California, Los Cabos includes the cities of Cabo San Lucas and San Jose del Cabo, plus the tourist corridor that runs between the two. With a dramatic shoreline, sapphire-colored water and cruise-fueled tourist infrastructure, it’s no wonder this area is considered one of the best places to visit in Mexico for families.
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Cabo’s beaches have remained relatively unspoiled even as tourism has mushroomed. And while many beaches here are not suitable for swimming because of rough surf and strong undertow, families can head to popular Medano Beach, where the gentle water is safe and the soft sand feels great on bare feet.
Los Cabos is a migratory stop for Pacific whales, some who come to birth their calves in the warm water. Whale watching season usually peaks from late December until late March, drawing animal lovers from across the globe. Book a boat tour from one of numerous local companies and you’re likely to see humpback and gray whales frolicking, plus schools of mothers and their adorable calves.
A glass-bottom water taxi is a great way to see a colorful assortment of marine animals any time of year. The scenery-studded journey presents magnificent views of the famous natural arch and Land’s End.
Best place for families to stay in Los Cabos: Newly opened Villa La Valencia Beach Resort and Spa is an all-inclusive hotel with Los Cabos’ longest lazy river, a kid’s club with a fully trained staff, poolside taco bar and spacious suites with up to four bedrooms.
3. Puebla: Best place for families with teens or tweens
An inland city 85 miles southeast of Mexico City, Puebla is home to numerous institutions of higher learning. It’s one of the best cities in Mexico for families with teens or tweens because of the youthful infusion of energy that all those students bring.
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The Zócalo is Puebla’s leafy public square. Here you can stroll, people-watch and listen to an impromptu concert as you soak in local life. Ride La Estrella, a massive Ferris wheel, for sky-high views of the cityscape. Channel your inner Willy Wonka and head to Calle de los Dulces (“Street of Candies”), a bustling street lined with scores of sweet shops. Sample sugary delights like Puebla’s famous sweet potato-based camotes and irresistible tortitas de Santa Clara, a delicate shortbread cookie topped with pumpkin-flavored icing.
Best place for families to stay in Puebla: In the center of Puebla, Hotel Palacio San Leonardo is a restored historic structure with 21st century service. Guest rooms come with practical amenities for families like complimentary cribs and cable TV. An outdoor pool and onsite restaurant elevate the guest experience.
4. Puerto Vallarta: Best place for a beach vacation
Popular Puerto Vallarta is a seaside resort surrounded by verdant hills. Its breezy beaches attract visitors from around the world, while its accepting attitude has helped to make it popular with the LGBTQ+ community, including LGBTQ+ families. Kids especially love Puerta Vallarta’s Aquaventuras Park, a giant water park with waterslides, a zip line and pools.
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Between swims in Banderas Bay, take time to walk or cycle the waterfront promenade. It’s lined with shops, restaurants and contemporary sculptures big enough for kids to climb on.
Local is the catchword at Olas Altas Farmers’ Market, held seasonally each Saturday at Lazaro Cardenas Park in the Romantic Zone. Everything sold is grown, baked, or made by vendors who live within 50 miles. Watch weavers and basket makers in action as you’re serenaded by live musicians.
Best places for families to stay in Puerto Vallarta: Situated on 10 oceanfront acres, Velas Vallarta is an all-inclusive resort with an in-house, all-female mariachi band and a sea turtle conservation program. At the kid’s club, little ones can enjoy face painting and treasure hunts, freeing parents to relax by the water or at the spa.
5. Puerto Morelos: Best place for family snorkeling
Drive a few dozen miles south of touristy Cancun and you’ll arrive at Puerto Morelos and the start of Mexico’s Riviera Maya. This coastal strip is quickly developing but it retains enough of its low-key flavor to feel authentic. Puerto Morelos is a still-sleepy fishing village with a tilted lighthouse that locals joke is their version of the Leaning Tower of Pisa. Stroll the pier, shop for a hammock at the open-air market and let the kids romp in the sunny playground.
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The area’s Mesoamerican Barrier Reef is the second largest reef in the world. There’s excellent snorkeling very close to the shore, perfect for novices. At Croco Cun Zoo, you won’t just view animals, you may touch, hold and feed a variety of reptiles and mammals. An English-speaking guide accompanies you to help curate a personalized experience.
Best places for families to stay in Puerto Morelos: A short walk or easy bike ride from the village, Grand Residences Riviera Cancun has multiple swimming pools, spacious suites with private terraces and exceptional service. The multilingual staff at the kid’s club teach youngsters Mayan games and piñata making. Delicious dining is the cherry on top.
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