The sights, sounds and colors of Mexico excite kids, and Mexicans love children, who are part and parcel of most aspects of life here. There are many child-friendly attractions and activities for kids of all ages, and with very few exceptions, children are welcomed at all accommodations and at almost any cafe or restaurant.
Best Regions for Kids
- Yucatán Peninsula
Cancún, the Riviera Maya and nearby islands are geared to giving vacationers fun. The area is full of great beaches offering every imaginable aquatic activity, hotels designed to make life easy and attractions from jungle zip-lines to swimming in cenotes (sinkholes). Other parts of the peninsula are great if your kids will enjoy exploring Maya ruins.
- Central Pacific Coast
The Pacific coast offers all conceivable types of fun in, on and under the ocean and lagoons. There's a vast range of places to base yourself, from sophisticated Puerto Vallarta to easygoing Zihuatanejo and countless smaller spots.
- Mexico City
The capital keeps kids happy with a world-class aquarium, a hands-on children’s museum, a first-rate zoo, dedicated kids entertainment and activities, and parks and plazas full of space and fun.
Mexico for Kids
Inexpensive Mexican snacks such as quesadillas, burritos and tacos, or steaming corn cobs straight from a street cart, are good options for introducing kids to local flavors. In many cities and towns there are plenty of budget places serving up familiar international fare. Fresh fruit is abundant and cheap.
Beach hotels and cabañas (cabins) countrywide are geared to families. Family rooms and accommodations with kitchens are widely available, and most hotels will put an extra bed or two in a room at little extra charge. Renting an apartment can also work out great value, as you'll be able to self-cater.
Major international rental firms should all be able to provide cars with child seats. Also worth considering is travelling by bus – the deluxe, executive and first class services all are very comfortable with toilets on board, and extras such as drinks, snacks, wi-fi and movies screened onboard – a good distraction on long journeys.
Health & Safety
Children are more easily affected than adults by heat, disrupted sleep patterns, changes in altitude and foreign food. Take care that they don’t drink tap water, be careful to avoid sunburn, cover them up against insect bites and ensure you replace fluids if a child gets diarrhea.
Don’t hesitate to go to a doctor if you think it may be necessary. In general, privately run hospitals and clinics in Mexico offer better facilities and care than public ones. Adequate travel insurance will cover the cost of private medical care.
On & in the Water
- Learn to surf Kids as young as five can take classes at many spots with gentler waves along the Pacific coast, including Mazatlán, Sayulita, Ixtapa, Puerto Escondido and San Agustinillo.
- Spot turtles, dolphins and whales Boat trips head out from many places along the Pacific coast and in the Baja Peninsula.
- Snorkel tropical seas Many beaches on the Caribbean coast and islands, and some on the Pacific, provide calm waters and colorful marine life for beginners.
- Ride a gondola Cruise ancient Aztec canals at Xochimilco in Mexico City.
- Uyo Ochel Maya Float down centuries-old, Maya-built canals through mangrove swamps filled with flowers and tropical fish.
- Creel A fine base for exploring the wonders of Copper Canyon, with horseback rides, waterfall walks, lakeside boating, dramatic zip-lines, indigenous villages, and a world-famous train ride.
- Selvática Award-winning zip-line circuit through the jungle near Puerto Morelos, with its own cenote (sinkhole) for swimming.
- Cobá This jungle-surrounded ancient Maya site near Tulum has pyramids, a zip-line and bicycles for pedaling around the network of trails.
- Cuajimoloyas Horseback riding, mountain biking, hiking and a spectacular 1km zip-line in the mountains near Oaxaca.
- Cable car Enjoy the views from the teleférico in Durango, Orizaba, Taxco and Zacatecas.
- Acuario Inbursa This world-class mega-aquarium in Mexico City wows kids with manta rays, piranhas and crocodiles, while the Soumaya and Jumex museums just across the road will entertain the parents.
- Baja whale-watching See massive gray whales and their calves off the coasts of the Baja Peninsula – usually requires several hours in a boat, so best for older kids.
- Zoomat The zoo at Tuxtla Gutiérrez has 180 species, all from the state of Chiapas, including several types of big cat.
- Playa Escobilla See thousands of turtles crawl out of the ocean in a single night to lay eggs on this Oaxaca beach.
- Crococun Interactive zoo in Puerto Morelos with crocodiles and wild monkeys.
- Reserva de la Biosfera Santuario Mariposa Monarca Be wowed by millions of fluttering monarch butterflies in this forest reserve, accessible on horseback or by foot.
- Museo Nacional de Antropología The carvings, statues and skulls inside Mexico's best museum are a huge hit with kids.
- Papalote Museo del Niño There are two of these fun, hands-on children’s museums – one in Mexico City, one in Cuernavaca. Good for kids up to about 11.
- La Esquina: Museo del Juguete Popular Mexicano Stunning museum in San Miguel de Allende where kids can see what toys were like before the digital revolution.
- Museo Nacional del Títere The national puppet museum in Huamantla displays dolls and marionettes from all around the world.
- Museo Amparo There are often free art workshops for children on Saturday and Sunday at this Puebla museum loaded with pre-Hispanic artifacts.
- Voladores This indigenous Totonac rite involves men (fliers) climbing up a 30m-high pole then casting themselves off backward, attached only by ropes. Performed regularly at El Tajín, in Papantla and at Mexico City's Museo Nacional de Antropología.
- Folk dance Highly colorful, entertaining shows are given regularly by the Ballet Folklórico de México in Mexico City and Guelaguetza groups in Oaxaca, and at Mérida's Parque Santa Lucía.
- Encendido de Catedral Every Saturday night, Morelia lights up with fireworks over its magnificent cathedral, lively music and cheering crowds.
- Ferrocarril Chihuahua Pacífico Discover your inner child on one of the world’s most incredible rail journeys.
- Bear in mind that few kids like traveling all the time. They’re usually happier if they can settle into a place for a while, make friends and do some of the things they like doing back home.
- See a doctor about vaccinations at least one month – preferably two – before your trip.
- It’s a good idea to book accommodations for at least the first couple of nights.
- Diapers (nappies) and sunscreen are widely available, but you may not easily find wet wipes, other creams, baby foods or familiar medicines outside larger cities and tourist towns.
- For all-round information and advice, check out Lonely Planet’s Travel with Children.
Documents for Under-18 Travelers
Carrying notarized written permission from a parent or guardian is required by Mexican law for Mexican minors (under-18s, including those with dual nationality) or foreign minors residing in Mexico, if departing from Mexico without a parent or legal guardian. There have been cases of other minors being asked to show consent forms, especially when leaving Mexico by land borders, even though the law does not require them to do so. The US embassy in Mexico therefore advises all minors traveling without both parents to carry notarized consent letters. Check with a Mexican consulate well in advance of travel on what needs to be done.
Need to Know
- Babysitting Child-minding services are easily arranged by most resorts and numerous hotels.
- Transport Under-13s travel half-price on many long-distance buses, and if they’re small enough to sit on your lap, they usually go for free.