Touring Mexico City with Kids in Tow
I learned so much from my recent visit to Mexico City, like for example, 4 days is not enough.
Unfortunately, that’s how long I was there, though thanks to the hospitality of the Secretary of Tourism of Mexico City, I got to see a lot in that short period of time!
One thing I realized right away is that Mexico City is massive! Over 8 million people live in a city that was once much smaller, built on an island on Lake Texcoco by the Aztecs in 1325, and was known as Tenochtitlan. Mexico City is also way more cosmopolitan than some imagine. At certain instances during my visit it felt as if I was driving down the Champs Élysées (along Paseo de La Reforma), walking past cafés in a trendy neighborhood in Madrid (along Colonia Roma), or taking a stroll near NYC’s Central Park (along Bosque de Chapultepec,also known as Mexico’s “lungs”).
Another thing I learned quickly is that a visit to Mexico City is a perfect way to immerse yourself and your family (great for family travelers!) in the Spanish language and culture, as most of the places I visited that would be ideal for those traveling with little ones had a lot to offer – except for English language displays, exhibits, and/or events.
It’s something to consider for sure, but I would say that there’s great opportunity there to make the most out of your visit.
Some of my absolute favorite stops when traveling with kids in tow were:
Kidzania – This fun, educational environment welcomes kids and their families through different areas of learning. Children check in and have to find an occupation of their choosing, whether it be a fireman, a DJ, a scientist, etc. They “work” and earn money, which they have to pay taxes on, but can also use to purchase snacks or participate in other activities. They can also save their earnings for future visit. This is truly a world for children, and though there are spots for the parents (such as a salon), for the most part this is about the kids and pretty much every child I saw there was loving it! There are several Kidzania locations around the world, and there are currently plans to open one in the US soon.
Papalote Museo del Niño – I really enjoyed this children’s museum. Everything from math, to science, to physics and more, is covered here and exhibits are set up in colorful, fun ways that appeal to the young visitors they target. Only thing is none of the displays were in English or any other language but Spanish, but in many cases they don’t need to be, not in order for children to play and get the hang of what different museum sections are all about. As someone who is working on getting her children to embrace the Spanish language more, I thought this place would be perfect.
Granja del Tio Pepe – Is a farm that aims to teach children about the basics of animal care, farming, and the important roles that all of it plays in our daily lives. Children are given tours, explained the purpose of each animal (from ducks, bunnies, cows, and more) in the farm is, and how they are of use to us, the consumers. Owner Tio Pepe, is charismatic, energetic, and super fun, and the farm itself is easy to navigate. It even has an events section. Again, no English or any other language other than Spanish.
The truth is, when I travel with my children, I don’t generally stop into children’s museums or science centers, unless there is a really, really special exhibit that we should check out. However, I can see myself stopping in a couple of these spots with my kids in tow simply for the cultural immersion opportunity – to put them in a situation where they are engaging in activities they would enjoy, while also taking in the Spanish language. If you find that opportunity appealing as well, then its something to definitely consider.
But, if you would rather just hang out and walk around Mexico City, I want you to know that it is not only perfectly safe, but also a lot of fun to do.
Mexico City has great public transportation, from reliable, safe taxis to buses and a metro system. Driving in Mexico City is kind of a pain as there is a lot of traffic, so depending on your comfort level, I would really use public transit or walk, as often as possible. Your hotel can assist you with getting a cab should you need it. Drivers are generally very helpful and happy to provide you information on places to check out while in town.
Other spots that you really shouldn’t miss is the Palacio de Bellas Artes, a performing arts center with larger than life art exhibits and paintings from some of the most important cultural figures of Mexico. This place took my breath away a little, I so loved walking through it!
Right outside the center is an open market where you can taste street food or buy gifts and tokens to remember your trip by. This is a fun area to walk through. The day of my visit, locals were out dancing and just enjoying the day with their family and friends. Something else I loved about Mexico City: that you aren’t grouped with tourists and separated from the real community of local residents. They are all together, sometimes more locals than not, really helping to make you feel like you are in it. The Historic District in general is a blast, so much going on all the time.
The trick to experiencing Mexico City is to let go of whatever inhibitions you may have and get out there. I felt completely at ease roaming around the streets and observing the locals. It’s a wonderful city, full of opportunities to learn and explore, as long as you don’t let your insecurities get in the way of your sense of adventure.
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