Mexico City with Kids

If you are thinking about a visit to Mexico with your outdoorsy family, Mexico City with kids may not come to mind right away. How could one of the biggest cities in the world have anything to offer for adventurous, outdoor-loving families?

While an outdoorsy family may shoot for discovering the natural beauty and adventure of Mexico’s beaches, volcanoes, and jungles, Mexico City has so much to offer for traveling families who love the outdoors. 

In our years of travel, my husband and I never chose to linger in cities. We prefer quieter places and more nature than what we tend to see in cities. Last summer we took our first international trip as a family, and traveled around Mexico for about three weeks. Our travel style has always meant having a loose idea of where we want to go, but not many set plans other than our first couple of days to get oriented. 

We flew into Mexico City and it was truly a gem of a city, even for non-city people. We ended up bookending our trip in the city and spending about 12 days total there. Here’s my take on Mexico City for outdoorsy families.

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A family sits in front of a fountain.

Why Mexico City with Kids

Direct and Easy Flights from Many Locations

Mexico City can be a great destination for a quick trip and for your first international trip with kids. For our readers in the United States, many of you probably have direct flights to Mexico City if you are near a major airport. From Denver, our flight was direct and a little more than 3 hours. This felt super do-able with young children in the mix.

If three or more hours on an airplane with kids sounds intimidating, you are not alone! There is so much helpful information available about flying with babies and toddlers. My personal experience is that less is more when it comes to toys and entertainment. The excitement of flying is almost always enough. But I still like to pack a pencil bag for each child with things like wiki sticks, Indestructible books, small cars and a water reveal coloring book.

And as with all adventuring with kids, more is more when it comes to special snacks!

Mexico City is an Affordable Destination

To start, our flight to Mexico City was very affordable. And if you are tempted to buy the flight with no checked bags included to save money, but are doubtful that you can travel this way with kids, I am here to tell you you can! Save a bit by adding a checked bag for just one of the adults. We traveled for three weeks with one large backpack and then spent that baggage money on lodging, food, and fun.

Flying directly to Mexico City as your final destination is often more affordable than flying into one of the popular beach destinations. Once you have planned your arrival, you will find that there is a wide range of lodging options for various budgets. This goes for food as well. Mexico City is a food-lovers paradise, with some of the best food in the world. However, you can also choose pizza, torta sandwiches, and street tacos whether for the wallet or the reality of mealtime with kids.

One more thing that makes Mexico City super affordable for outdoorsy families is the availability of free ways to be outside in beautiful outdoor spaces.

There really is something for everyone

Mexico City has great food, tons of museums, so much history, great outdoor spaces, and bigger excursions not too far away. It may sound cliche, but it really does feel like it has something for everyone.

Where to Stay for Beautiful Outdoor Spaces in Mexico City

Although I am talking about Mexico City in this post, it is a huge, sprawling city and my family really only experienced little corners. We stayed in some neighborhoods that felt perfect for us being outdoor-lovers in a city.

These three neighborhoods have huge trees and lots of plant life, nice wide sidewalks, and lots of quiet. Plus all three are close to Mexico City’s equivalent of Central Park, Chapultepec Park.

Condessa

We spent six nights in Condessa, and it was our favorite neighborhood to walk around in, and where we found parks and playgrounds that we visited over and over. This is also closest to Chapultepec Park, and seemed slightly more affordable than Roma and Coyoacan.

Walking in the Condessa neighborhood of Mexico City.

Roma

Roma was where we wrapped up our three weeks in Mexico. This is Condessa’s neighbor, and we stayed here for five nights. It was a bit of a longer walk to Chapultepec, and to the beloved parks we had found while staying in Condessa but still had the quiet and tree-lined streets that felt like an oasis in the city.

Coyoacan

Coyoacan is in the same area as Roma and Condessa. It was in the line up when we were deciding where to stay but we did not end up staying in this neighborhood. It is an artsy area and seems to have many beautiful outdoors spaces.

Getting Around Mexico City for Outdoorsy Families

Walking Around the City

Walking was our main form of transportation around Mexico City and it was made easier by staying in neighborhoods that were pleasant to walk in and close to Chapultepec Park, where we spent time almost every day.

We did not bring a stroller on our trip. We carried our 16 month old in the Ergo, and our 3-almost 4- year old walked. A Trail Magik Kid Carrier would have come in handy for him a couple of times.

Using an Ergo Baby Omni 360 carrier to carry our 16-month-old in Mexico City.

Biking Around the city

Every Sunday tourists and locals can enjoy Mexico City’s cicolovia, where an area of the city closes to cars and is only open to pedestrians, including bicyclists. Tourists can check into renting bikes from the city’s bike-sharing system EcoBici, borrow a bike along the route, or find a bike shop near the route to rent from.

As there is generally a lot of vehicles on the streets in Mexico City, taking advantage of this Sunday car-free time for a ride might be the most relaxing and safest way to enjoy biking in Mexico City with kids.

Hop-On-Hop-Off-Busses

Hop-on-hop-off busses are double decker busses that offer transportation to points of interest around the city. Riders can sit on the top level, which is completely open-air. This is such a fun way to get good views of the big trees, interesting buildings, and buzzing life of the city. And bonus if your child is shouting ‘Hola!’ to everyone below (as our 4-year-old was) and gets some responses!

Spending Time Outside in Mexico City

Safety

While I never once felt unsafe in Mexico City in the areas we stayed and frequented, the same safety precautions should be taken as in any large city. This includes:

  • Visiting ATMs in daylight.
  • Splitting your cash and cards up. Some stay in your lodging, some on you in a money belt, and small bills accessible to avoid digging in a money belt to buy a churro or pay bus fare.
  • Knowing your walking route as best you can before you go.
  • Discussing a plan beforehand for who is going to have eyes on which kids each day or activity.
  • Having a meeting spot when visiting busy areas in case family gets separated.
  • Being extra aware of your surroundings if you are walking at night.

Eating Outdoors

Mexico City offers outdoor seating almost everywhere, it seems. From upscale restaurants to street food booths, enjoying meals and snacks outside is a great way for outdoorsy families to enjoy the city.

Ordering street food in Mexico City.

Parks and Playgrounds

Mexico City, and Mexico in general, really blew me away with its kid-friendly spaces. We played on jungle gyms next to a smoothie bar in an underpass, took swinging breaks on bus stop swings, and even found climbers in the airport.

Playing on a jungle gym in an underpass in Mexico City.

There were a few parks that we visited many times in the Condessa area. These were Parque Espania, and Parque Mexico. Both were fully fenced in, generally clean, and had a variety of equipment for kids of different ages and abilities. Both were shaded by huge trees, had water features in another area of the park, and were surrounded by restaurants and fresh-squeezed juice stands.

Enjoying fresh-squeezed OJ at Parque Espania.

Parque Mexico is bigger and had some beautiful walking paths and multiple water features. On Sundays, the park fills up with musicians and vendors offering extra fun like 10-peso turns on a trampoline.

Chapultepec Park

Chapultepec Park, or Bosque de Chapultepec, was our main go-to in Mexico City and part of what kept us in the city longer than we have ever stayed in a foreign city. This park is more than twice the size of Central Park and broken into four sections with tons to do. If you are an outdoor-loving family, this park will feel like an oasis in the city.

Part of Chapultepec Park and downtown Mexico City from Chapultepec Castle.

One of our favorite things about Chapultepec was that if we went early, around 8 a.m., the large car-free avenues were nearly empty for a couple hours and we felt completely safe letting our kids walk and explore freely without hand-holding, or run around some of the wide open areas. As mountain kids that are used to roaming, this felt really comforting for all of us.

Other than strolling around the park and enjoying the plethora of playgrounds, foods, and trinket stands, our favorite activities in the park were:

  • The Botanical Gardens
  • Chapultepec Zoo
  • The Tram tour
  • The Carousel
  • Papolote Children’s Museum
  • Chapultepec Castle

Mexico City Historic Center

To visit the Historic Center of Mexico City, we used the hop-on-hop-off bus. This way, we were out in the open air seeing the sights instead of on a bus or in a taxi. And we could hop off at any stop on our route and hop back on when the next bus came to head to the next stop we were interested in.

Despite using the bus, we ended up walking around quite a bit in this area. This was one of the most important times for my husband and I to communicate who was with which child, as it was so much busier than in Condessa, Roma, or Chapultepec and hand-holding was a requirement the entire time.

The best open space we found was in the Zocolo, where the boys could run around with us and we got a break from the sidewalks packed with pedestrians.

Walking at the Zocolo in Mexico City.

Outdoor Adventures Near Mexico City

While there are so many beautiful outdoor spaces in Mexico City, there are also some bigger excursions a bit out of the city. While we intended to do both of these during our second stretch in the city, we opted for relaxed park days, a smaller temple downtown, and wandering instead because we had traveled around for three weeks and wanted a break from transportation.

However, if you can build these in at a time when your family is up for slightly longer rides, you are definitely in for some unique adventure.

Xochimilco Canals

These canals at the south end of Mexico City are remnants by waterways that were built by the Aztecs. Now they are filled with boats carrying travelers, vendors, and mariachi bands. Though I had read about the festive atmosphere, I also had my husband’s take on this excursion as he had done it on a previous trip.

If you are looking for a quiet and nature, this is not the adventure for you. If you are looking for lively, loud, and colorful, go for it! There are many tour companies that can organize your day in the canals, but going with one is not a requirement, as you can buy tickets for the boat ride if you can get yourself there.

Teotihuacan

Teotihuacan is a sprawling archaeological site north of Mexico City. Here you will find an ancient city, explore temples, and climb pyramids. There are many ways to experience Teotihuacan. You can organize your trip with a tour company, take an early-morning hot air balloon ride over the site, or wander at your own pace on a self-guided walk through the site.

Why Choose Mexico City with Kids?

Despite our tendency to get out of cities as quickly as possible, Mexico City with kids felt fairly easy and really enjoyable. The flights were straightforward and affordable, lodging options are plentiful no matter your style or budget, essentials like diapers are available at every corner store, there are foods to meet the tastes of even the pickiest eaters, and activities to excite the outdoor-loving family.

We loved seeing how kids don’t get hung up on language barriers when making friends with other kids at parks, and getting to experience so many conversations with Mexicans that never would have started if we didn’t have two little kids in tow.

Whether it was from strolling the neighborhood streets under massive trees, exploring Chapultepec Park, or watching the city go by from the top of a hop-on-hop-off bus, Mexico City gave us family memories to last a lifetime.

A young boy with a green shirt stands in front of a fountain

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Mexico City with Kids

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  • Cece Romanyshyn is a Colorado native currently living in Baker City, Oregon with her husband and two sons. She grew up camping and skiing with her family, and kept adventuring through adulthood. She has enjoyed camping, hiking, skiing, and boating in the western United States, hiking in Ecuador, DIY safaris in East Africa, boating on the rivers of Southeast Asia, and exploring nature and culture during Peace Corps service in Mozambique. She loves connecting with her little family on all sorts of adventures from daily walks and river play to ski days to camping road trips, boating, and hut trips. With the confidence, joy, and well-being brought about in these spaces, time outside together has become a parenting power tool for her.

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