Mexico with Kids
So, you want to go to Mexico? You’re in for a treat. The culture is vibrant, the history is rich and the landscape is beautiful. Enjoy all it has to offer, with your children as young explorers alongside you.
Here, we focus on the eastern part of Mexico – the Yucatan Peninsula – which is comprised of three states: Quintana Roo, Yucatan and Campeche.
In a few weeks, our family will actually hop down there ourselves for our second go-around the country. We’ll join the Family World School Summit hosted by our friends over at Project World School (travelers unite!) and stay afterwards because, well, of course.
Here is a list of 10 things to do with kids (and us big kids too) in Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula.
This part of Mexico borders two bodies of water – the Caribbean Sea and the Gulf of Mexico, so beaches and Vitamin D aplenty. There is no shortage of white sand, beautiful blue water or your typical beach activities like snorkeling and scuba diving. On the mainland, there is Lago Bacalar – or the Lake of the Seven Colors which if true to rumor has the same look and feel as the Caribbean.
How could you not want to jump into sinkholes rumored to once have been used for sacrifices back in ancient Mayan civilization? Well, maybe that’s not the reason you want to explore them, but have no doubt these cold water pools – filled with history and adventure – are thrilling and impressionable for the whole family.
03. Traditional Dance + Dress
Our daughter is particularly excited about this and for good reason. The traditional dress of the Mexican culture is bright, flowing and filled with intricate designs. (I see embroidery projects in our near future.) Its music is equally unique and enchanting. Our goal is to seek these out off the beaten path – to find where they weave into daily Mexican life.
04. Authentic Mexican Food
Coming from the US, there is no shortage of Mexican restaurants around. We get to experience the delicious flavors of this cuisine regularly. But we all know how different it is to taste food prepared in its native land, not to mention freshly picked, growing local to where you stand. It’ll be exciting to dive in and test our way through the differences. And if we’re so inclined, try a cooking classes as well.
05. Small Towns
Small towns, like Valladolid, Progreso and Izamal, dot the Yucatan and are a great way to take in local culture. There is much to explore in village life – stores, cafes, churches, alleyways, parks, people going about their business, little details often overlooked. These places are perfect to slow down, take your time and follow the lead of your children – wherever they make take you – to help them become more invested in the experience.
When I was younger, I had this t-shirt with a slogan printed, “I Wanna Iguana.” I don’t actually want one any longer, but I do want to see them – for me and for my daughter. With lizards and colorful birds everywhere, there’ll luckily be no shortage of wildlife spotting. We could do without seeing a scorpion again this time around though. And as for other wildlife, there are numerous family-friendly reserves to experience and support the preservation of larger animals, such as monkeys, puma, anteaters, and deer.
07. Sian Ka’an Bio-Reserve
One such reserve, Sian Ka’an, literally translates to the “Origin of the Sky” in the Mayan language. This UNESCO site, located along the Caribbean protects tropicals forests and a barrier reef, offering you a glimpse into the Mexican wilderness. You can explore by foot or by car, but this may be a great opportunity to hop on a boat and take in the setting via waterways.
08. Mayan Ruins
Visiting the Mayan ruins is like stepping back in time to another world. There are numerous sites around the Yucatan Peninsula for experiencing these ruins, including arguably the most well known, Chichen Itza, the seaside ruins in Tulum, the hands-on, inland Coba ruins, the UNESCO Uxmal, the jungle located Chacchoben. Take your pick and enjoy. Not sure this is the right fit for your child? Couple a ruin visit as part of larger excursion – with the beach or the jungle or via bike rental.
09. Cultural Hubs
Start looking into all that Merida has to offer for families and you’ll know you’ve found a main Yucatan cultural center. With museums, festivals, parks, zoos, Sunday fairs, carriage rides, there is no shortage of cultural things to do. Similarly, the cobblestoned Campeche, further southwest into Mexico, offers an urban experience coupled with fewer tourists and more UNESCO sites.
10. Language Immersion
There is nothing like immersion to actually grasp a language, or to even just be further exposed to it. When visiting counties with a different native tongue, there are endless opportunities to introduce vocabulary, to test out conversational skills and one of my favorite, to reach beyond language and find ways to connect with others when we’re at a loss for words.
Enjoy all Mexico has to offer and let us know how your adventure went.
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