With sandy beaches, colourful markets and plenty of family-friendly attractions, there’s a huge amount to keep children entertained in Mexico. Our mini guide will help to make travelling in Mexico with kids fun, exciting and (relatively) stress-free.
If you’re intending to travel on public transport, you should be prepared for some very long journeys. Taking an internal flight may be worthwhile for the time and stress it saves. Be sure to pack some activities and locally themed books (on the Aztecs or Frida Kahlo, for example), to help stave off boredom on a long trip.
Children under the age of 18 can enter the country either with their own passport or on the passport of a parent with whom they are travelling. There is one caveat: if they are not accompanied by both parents, they will need written consent from whichever parent is absent.
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While many Mexican dishes are not especially spicy in themselves, they are often served with fiery salsas which can be a problem for kids who are not used to them. Watch out too for tamarind- and mango-based sweets; they are often loaded with chillies. Tortillas and tamales are a good bet for fussy eaters and egg dishes, avocados and fresh fruit are readily available.
The intensity of the sun across the country means it’s vital to use sun protection while travelling in Mexico. Keep children away from the sun in the middle of the day and encourage them to play in the shade instead. Always use protective clothing and apply sunscreen of at least SPF 30, taking care not to forget necks, ears and shoulders, which often bear the brunt of the sun. Body suits or T-shirts are good choices for the beach.
The Papalote Museo del Niño offers fantastic hands-on experiences for all ages, while The Aztec and Maya exhibits at the Museo Nacional de Antropología bring the region’s pre-Columbian history to life. Older children will enjoy learning how money works at the Museo Interactivo de Economía or exploring the universe at Universum Museo de las Ciencias.
Flamingos, quetzals and parrots are just a few of the colourful bird species to be found in Mexico. Older kids will enjoy whale-watching off Baja California, but if several hours on a boat is likely to prove too much for your little ones, the aquarium in Mexico City is an excellent substitute.
Whale spotting in the Sea of Cortes in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico © HTurner/Shutterstock
There are plenty of family-friendly resorts along the Riviera Maya (and they're a good option if you fancy some downtime while the kids enjoy some organised activities), but if you’re after something that allows for more interaction with the locals, Tulum is a fun place to stay, as is Puerto Vallarta on the Pacific Coast.
Many restaurants serve a comida corrida (known in smarter places as the menu del día or menu turístico), usually consisting of three or four courses for around US$5–8. A typical comida consists of soup followed by a rice dish or perhaps a plate of pasta, beans or guacamole, then a meat or fish main course, followed by fruit, flan (a crème caramel concoction) or rice pudding. In general, restaurants welcome children and are happy to adapt dishes to suit less adventurous tastes.
Markets are a great place to pick up toys and wrestler costumes, try street food and sweets, and experience Mexico’s vibrant culture. The floating gardens of Xochimilco in Mexico City will appeal to kids of all ages – take in the carnival atmosphere while being punted around the canals and serenaded by mariachi bands.
Mexicans dote on children – so prepare them to expect more than the usual amount of hugs and kisses, even from new acquaintances.
Top image © Romrodphoto/Shutterstock