There’s no getting around that your list of things to do in Mexico City with kids should include famous museums and historic sites. After your visit, what comes home with you may be more than market-bought souvenirs.
When my daughter studied Mesoamerican history, there’s no doubt our multiple visits to Mexico City helped her ace the subject. She’d walked on the remains of the Templo Mayor Aztec temple and seen Piedra del Sol in person, not just in pictures.
The contributions our travels have made to her schoolwork comprehension are becoming more apparent as she gets older.
So in between bites of glorious tacos al pastor and churros (or perhaps even a grasshopper), bring history textbooks to life for your kids in this cultural center. Mix in some shopping, chocolate (it’s delicious), and even a theme park, too. It is fun, and we’ve always felt safe by staying on the beaten path.
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1. La Ciudadela Market
Visiting this artisan marketplace in the southwest corner of Mexico City’s historical center is an absolute delight. You can spend quite a bit of time browsing the aisles full of arts and crafts that give you another reason to admire the talents of local artisans.
La Ciudadela is easily one of the best things to do in Mexico City with your children. Some of the more interesting crafts to buy here include the alebrijes, which are sculptures of traditional mythical creatures.
Local board games, pots, and baskets are also available for purchase to spruce up your home and keep your kids entertained. My daughter picked up painted skulls to bring home for a Dia de Los Muertos celebration at her school.
Food and drinks can be purchased from nearby vendors if you or your family are feeling peckish during your visit.
2. Chapultepec Park
Bosque de Chapultepec is one of the biggest city parks in the western hemisphere and boasts many beautiful sights.
Chapultepec Castle can be found within this forested area, and you should spend some time seeing the exhibitions inside. It’s the only castle in North America that actually house royalty, among other things.
The zoo is free and worth a quick walkthrough only if you have extra time. You’ll also have fun pedaling on the Chapultepec Lake in a paddleboat.
The walkways in Chapultepec Park are a great place for getting out in nature with the family. You’re more than welcome to lounge on the grass in the open areas here too if you’d like to relax away from the bustling city streets.
Seeing Bosque de Chapultepec is a must-do in Mexico City with kids. While you can pack water and snacks for your visit, there are usually multiple vendors along the park’s major walkways that sell everything from giant cotton candy to toys.
One of the reasons why we stay at Four Seasons Mexico City is because it’s only a few blocks away from Chapultepec Park.
Xochimilco was named a UNESCO World Heritage Site back in 1987. The community adheres strongly to their traditions and respect for the natural waterways found here.
Over the years, this lovely area has solidified itself as one of the best Mexico City tourist attractions and is often referred to as the Venice of Mexico City.
If you’d like to visit Xochimilco with the family, I suggest planning time for a trip through the canals on traditional trajinera boats. Boatmen paddle these boats with oars.
Throughout your ride, you may come across mariachis players and local bands playing music to liven up the evening. Tours can also be organized through this iconic area.
There are many different routes that you can take through the waterways. Consult the tour operator or trajinera boatmen beforehand and tell them where you’d like to go. Visiting these canals is one of the best Mexico City with kids activities and can be loads of fun.
Exploring Teotihuacan with the family is tons of fun and a day trip that I highly recommend.
Teotihuacan is an ancient Aztec city located about a 45-minute drive northeast of Mexico City. This complex is made up of many step pyramids and temples and named a UNESCO World Heritage site due to its cultural importance and otherworldly beauty.
To this day, researchers are still discovering the secrets of the Aztecs, who were incredibly advanced for their time.
Some of the more famous buildings found in these ruins include the Temple of Quetzalcoatl and the Pyramid of the Sun and the Pyramid of the Moon. These structures were placed according to intricate geometric patterns that the Aztecs were famous for.
While you can climb up the Pyramids of the Sun and Moon, they are quite steep and not recommended for smaller children. There are some small platform-like pyramid structures they can climb up.
Bring water, sunscreen, hats, and sunglasses. There is almost no shade in this complex and it can get quite hot.
We like to pair a visit here with lunch at the nearby La Gruta restaurant. While the food isn’t the best you’ll have in Mexico City, the kids will think it’s pretty neat to dine inside of a huge cave (bring a sweater as it can get cold on the bottom level).
A wide selection of tours can take you through these city complexes with professional guides available to answer your questions.
5. The Templo Mayor
The Templo Mayor served as a major temple and gathering complex for the Aztec city of Tenochtitlan before the Spanish arrived. It’s one of the largest ancient structures found in Central America from the Mesoamerican period.
It’s one of the Mexico City attractions that you absolutely can’t miss whether you’re visiting with children or not.
The temple itself was dedicated to the goddess of the Earth, Tlaltecuhtli. Interesting monoliths and intricately carved sculptures can be found throughout the building. Some of these sculptures depict the Moon goddess Coyolxuahqui.
Archeologists estimate that the original temple complex was built back in 1427 by the city’s ruler at the time. Each new king focused on making it larger and grander than before. And, there were some pretty gory sacrifices on this site.
If you’re unsure of what to do in Mexico City with kids, put Templo Mayor on your list. It’s in the Zocalo city center (more on what else there is to do here below), so not out of your way or hard to find. And, it doesn’t take too long to tour if attention spans are running low.
6. Centro Historico
When the Spanish conquistadors arrived in Central America they were met with resistance from the local Aztec population. At the time, a large Aztec settlement was found on Lake Texcoco. This settlement was the seat of the Aztec empire and was surrounded by fortresses and reached by the many canals passing through it.
In the 16th century, the conquistadors succeeded in conquering all of Mexico. They drained Lake Texcoco and built Centro Historico over the ruins of the Aztec city. This great city square has stood since then and is the perfect blend of past and present.
Many locals see Centro Historico as the main historic center in all of Mexico City. It’s not surprising as many buildings have stood strong there for more than five centuries. Some of the famous structures here include The Mexico City Metropolitan Cathedral and the Palacio Nacional.
Be sure to bring a camera while walking through the Centro Historico city square, the buildings here are breathtaking. This will make for an awesome show and tell once your kids are back home and at school.
Tip: During the Christmas season, there is an ice skating rink and other family-friendly festivities to enjoy here. They also have Dia de Los Muertos displays as well.
The enchanting neighborhood of Coyoacan is full of vibrant and charming locations. The cobblestone streets running through the area add an old-world feel. Colonial churches, bustling markets, and historical locations are peppered throughout Coyoacan.
The neighborhood’s main plaza is located in a lush park with paths to walk through and gardens to enjoy. Directly in the center of the park is the neighborhood’s namesake, a large fountain with sculptures of coyotes.
The house of the famous Frida Kahlo is located a short walk from the plaza. Since her passing, the house has been converted into a museum commemorating her life. Many gorgeous arts and crafts can be found there as well.
There are many quirky and artistic sights to see in the many plazas found within Coyoacan. It’s easily one of the best things to do in Mexico City with kids while traveling between attractions.
8. Palacio de Bellas Artes
The palace of fine arts is an impressive structure and the prominent cultural center of Mexico City. Its spacious interior is often used to host large music, dance, and theatre events throughout the year.
The enormous murals hanging from its ceiling are truly unique to the history and traditions of Mexico.
Many famous artists have their work on display in the Palacio De Bellas Artes, such as Diego Rivera, Manuel Rodriguez Lozano, and Rufino Tamayo. The museum holds many interesting and important exhibitions, sculptures, and paintings.
Be sure to visit the palace of fine arts if you’d like to explore some of the finer cultural icons with kids in Mexico City.
9. Carcamo de Dolores
Nestled in the Chapultepec Park, Carcamo de Dolores is one of the park’s best-kept secrets. This large spring was originally used as the main source of freshwater for Mexico City a few centuries back until other freshwater methods were procured.
A large fountain and decorated pump building are located in the center of the spring. In 1951, the renowned artist Diego Rivera paid homage to the area by painting a mural inside the building. This mural was named El Agua Origen De La Vida.
The park area surrounding the spring is quite lovely and perfect for a relaxing walk with the family. Recently, a sound system has been installed in the area, allowing you to listen to running water’s peaceful sound while admiring the murals.
10. The National Museum Of Anthropology
The National Museum of Anthropology in Mexico City is the largest and most visited museum in all of the country. The building houses many important relics and artifacts from Mexico’s pre-colonial history.
Some of the more famous exhibitions within the museum include the Piedra del Sol (Stone of the Sun) and the Xochipilli statue. The statue commemorates the ancient Aztec god of art, beauty, and dance.
The museum holds many other interesting pieces with information plaques on the relics themselves. When in Mexico City with our daughter, we always visit the National Museum of Anthropology.
Not only is it one of the most iconic places to visit in Mexico City, but some of the famous relics inside have already appeared in her textbooks. If you think your kids might be interested, brush up on Aztec rituals to perhaps blow their minds. I promise they will remember what a chocmool is when you are standing among the most famous in the museum and tell them their bowls held human hearts.
We’ve been to nearly every famous museum in the world and this is toward the top of our list of favorites.
11. Basílica de Santa Maria de Guadalupe
The basilica was originally constructed way back in 1695 by the Spanish settlers. Visitors have claimed that the building is a must-see regardless of religious affiliation due to its beauty and grandeur.
It’s absolutely free to enter and explore the basilica as well as its museums and reliquaries.
The unique layout of the building’s interior allows visitors to explore at their own leisure without interrupting worship and mass.
12. Museo de Arte Popular
This particular museum holds many interesting pieces and oddities on display for you to admire during your visit. Most of the handcrafted items found here were created by folk artists from all across Mexico.
The Museo de Arte Popular has a 1920’s art deco vibe to it that really adds to the atmosphere.
Some of the more interesting exhibitions to be found here include intricate glasswork and decorated pottery. You can also find unique alebrijes on display here, these are painted animal carvings that are traditionally crafted in Oaxaca.
The whole family is sure to enjoy a trip to this museum of oddities. There are colorful art pieces to be found around every corner.
13. Roma Norte-Condesa
This neighborhood in Mexico City has many trendy cafes and restaurants located short distances from each other. It’s the perfect place to go if you’re looking for things to do in Mexico City with kids at night. Dining out in Roma Norte-Condesa is a pleasurable experience as many of the places to eat here offer authentic Mexican cuisine.
There are loads of gorgeous parks and plazas found in the neighborhood if you’d like to spend time exploring. Visiting Roma Norte-Condesa is perfect for foodies and those looking to experience a fantastic part of Mexico City.
Many festivals, activities, and community events are held in the plazas of Roma Norte-Condesa throughout the year as well. Be sure to ask the locals if any events are lined up during the course of your visit and take part in the festivities.
14. Museo Soumaya
Museo Soumaya is one of Mexico City’s most visited museums and houses many exhibitions of fine art and sculptures with some being hundreds of years old. There are works of art found inside from renowned artists such as Salvador Dali and August Rodin.
Entrance into the museum is free at all times due to an investment by Mexican philanthropist, Carlos Slim. Add this awesome destination as a stop on your travels through Mexico City and see how amazed your kids are at the wonders inside.
Kidzania is a kid-sized city or theme park for ages 1–14 where they can have fun with trying various adult careers. They are responsible for managing businesses, putting out (fake) fires, banking, cooking, and then some.
My daughter also enjoyed making some crafts and the bus that transported kids around the city. You can read more about our day at KidZania Mexico City.
KidZania actually started in Mexico City where there are two locations, Santa Fe and Cuicuilco. You’ll now find locations open worldwide.
Last Thoughts on Mexico City with Kids
Mexico City has been around for many centuries and throughout this time has established itself as a cultural hotspot. While exploring its many streets you’re sure to come across something inspiring and interesting to experience and a whole lot of discoveries for the little ones.
Just be sure to stay on the well-beaten path and in parts of town on this list or recommended by your hotel concierge or tour company.
We find that December during winter break is an excellent time to visit Mexico City with kids as the days can still be sunny, but are not too hot.
We also use the cars provided by Four Seasons or Uber for getting around instead of taxis, which I also would recommend. You can refer to our full list of tips for Mexico City travel.
Visiting this iconic city is fun for the whole family and you’re sure to find activities that suit your particular wants and budget.
Katie Dillon is the managing editor of La Jolla Mom. She helps readers plan San Diego vacations through her hotel expertise (that stems from living in a Four Seasons hotel) and local connections. Readers have access to exclusive discounts on theme park tickets (like Disneyland and San Diego Zoo) and perks at luxury hotels worldwide through her. She also shares insider tips for visiting major cities worldwide like Hong Kong, London, Paris, and Shanghai that her family has either lived in or visits regularly (or both).
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