Mexico City is the kind of place one needs to explore one neighborhood at a time, leisurely, and with a certain degree of awareness of one's surroundings. Visiting with kids poses its unique challenges. For instance, picking the right area to stay in is key, since going from one side of the city to the other can take hours and will certainly try your patience (and your driving skills, if you choose to do so!) My recommendation is to stay close to Polanco, Chapultepec, Condesa, Roma and/or the historical city's center. However, there are plenty of nice neighborhoods worth visiting in the southern side of CDMX (as it's also known), such as San Angel, Coyoacán, Tlalpan, and Xochimilco.
I spent a whole summer in Mexico City helping get my mother's 40-year-old house ready to go up for sale. There truly wasn’t a lot of time to spend leisurely with an infinite amount of things to sort through, organize and toss out, but with two preschoolers at home (my sister's and my own), we made it a point to schedule at least one outing a week during our time there. These are some of the things we were able to do in and around the city.
Blvd. Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra #386 Ampliación Granada, 11500 Miguel Hidalgo, CDMX
Tel. +52 (55) 53 95 4586
This relatively new aquarium (it opened in 2014) is the largest in Mexico, and the only one in Mexico City. Located in the push Polanco neighborhood, it houses 1.6 million liters of ocean water distributed throughout five stories, four of them underground. Visitors start at the lowest level and slowly make their way up through 48 different exhibits that include big tanks with several types of sharks and stingrays; a glass tunnel that makes visitors feel like they are underwater; a whole section dedicated to jellyfish; interactive and educational areas; plenty of photo opportunities; and even a fun penguin display, just to mention a few of the more than 300 different marine species showcased.
GOOD TO KNOW:
A complete visit takes about an hour, depending on your walking pace
It’s best to buy tickets online the day before going and avoid the long lines to get in, especially during holidays and school breaks, when waiting times can be 2-3 hours!
There’s a small cafeteria stand where you can purchase snacks and beverages during your visit
If you still have time and energy after your visit, cross the street to Museo Soumaya -- there's no entrance fee and they offer free art activities for kids
Hours: Monday to Sunday, 10 a.m. – 6 p.m.
Tickets: $215 pesos (about $10 USD) / children under 3 y/o get free admission
Parking: Park in Plaza Carso or Pabellón Polanco (discounts may apply)
PARQUE ECOLOGICO DE LORETO Y PEÑA POBRE
Av. San Fernando #765, Col. Peña Pobre Tlalpan, 14060, CDMX
An oasis of greenery and tranquility in the south of the city, close to the center of Tlalpan. Located at what used to be the first paper factory in Mexico, it became an important ecological site after the factory closed due to environmental concerns in 1987. Apart from the beautiful grounds and different cafés available, the park offers plenty of interactive children’s activities and workshops that promote a sustainable culture.
GOOD TO KNOW:
There's no fee to access the park but workshops and activities are offered for a small fee - usually of about $100 pesos
El Laboratorio de Mamá Tierra gives kids a chance to build their own toys using recycled materials (highly recommended)
Hours: Tuesday to Sunday, 8 a.m. – 6 p.m.
Tickets: No entrance fee
Parking: Parking available on site (about $25 pesos)
Av. México 5843, Col. La Noria Xochimilco, 16030 CDMX
Tel. +52 55 5555 1221
Located in Xochimilco, at Mexico City’s southern edge, the Dolores Olmedo Museum is housed in an antique stone structure, or hacienda, originally dating from the XVI century. Surrounded by beautifully landscaped gardens where peacocks roam at ease, the museum houses the world’s most important collections of works by Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo.
GOOD TO KNOW:
Concerts, recitals, dance programs, crafts fairs, and other weekend events are included in the price of admission
Visitors can also enjoy plastic arts workshops for both adults and children
Hours: Tuesday to Sunday, 10 a.m. – 6 p.m.
Tickets: No entrance fee on Tuesdays / $100 pesos for adults ($50 pesos for Mexicans) / children under 6 years old pay $5 pesos
Parking: Street parking available
Blvd. Capitán Carlos Camacho Espíritu Km 16.5, Oasis, 72960 Puebla Tel: +52 (222) 2817000
Two hours outside of Mexico City, in the outskirts of the city of Puebla, you’ll find this amazing place where giraffes, elephants, rhinos, zebras and many other wild animals roam free. Visitors can tour the park riding one of the African Safari buses, or use their own vehicle to cruise slowly through the different exhibits. Once the safari ride is over, there are other areas to visit on foot, as well as restaurants, animal shows, and activities like zip lines and trampolines.
GOOD TO KNOW:
Plan for a full day visit -- you won't run out of things to do!
Bring comfortable shoes, a hat for the sun, and plenty of water to drink
You can take a bus from Puebla to visit the park. Check their site for schedules and details
Hours: Open every day of the year, 10 a.m. – 6 p.m.
Tickets: $295 pesos for adults / $280 pesos for children
Parking: Parking available on site
Av. San Jeronimo #477 Col. Alvaro Obregon, Tizapan San Angel
This enclosed park in the south of the city is a good option to go for a quick walk with the kids in a city where public parks aren’t hyper abundant. It’s clean, well maintained and safe enough to let the little ones run, explore and play for an hour or two. It has two separate playgrounds for different ages, a sandpit, an outdoor gym, and a small aviary. Older kids can also use the basketball, volleyball, and tennis courts.
GOOD TO KNOW:
On weekends the park runs a children’s train
The last monumental work of Diego Rivera, El espejo de la Estrella, is here
Hours: Monday to Friday, 9 a.m. – 5 p.m.; Saturday and Sunday, 9 a.m. – 7 p.m.
Tickets: Sold on site for $25 pesos each
Parking: Valet parking only, around $35 pesos per car