Mexico in spring isn't just for college students looking for a party. In fact, if you want a perfect place to go with your family this spring, Mexico is a great destination. Why not consider Mérida, Tulum or Oaxaca for your family’s next vacation?
Mérida, located on the Yucatan Peninsula, is the ideal base for a family looking for adventure combined with relaxation. The city gives you easy access to Gulf Coast beaches (discover Celestun, perfect for a flamingo tour, for example). You can take in a number of archaeological sites all within a day's reach of Mérida: Mayapan, Uxmal, Dzibilchaltun, Chichén Itzá, even Ek Balam.
Other stunning towns are also within the realm of possibility for day trips: The beautiful colonial city of Campeche (a 4-hour drive); Izamal, known as the Yellow City, is just thirty minutes outside of Mérida; and Valladolid, just a one-hour forty-five minute drive away. If you're visiting with small children, perhaps a trip to Animaya, the city's free safari zoo park situated in Ciudad Caucel, could be a fun way to spend the day. It even has a splash park for kids. A word of caution: The zoo is not open on Mondays.
With all these great day trips available, it would be easy to forget that Mérida itself is a stunningly beautiful destination in its own right. Stay in Centro Histórico de Mérida and stroll around its atmospheric streets and plazas, taking in the sight of vibrantly painted colonial homes. Also, take a free walking tour of the city, and maybe visit the main cemetery for a different view. Then check out Lucas de Galvez Market and enjoy all it has to offer.
On a Sunday morning, much of Centro is turned over to the “biciruta,” where bicycles reign supreme. Rent a family bike on Paseo de Montejo and join the locals in this fun activity. Or if you aren't into cycling, head out to the main square on a Friday evening at 8:00 pm to see a re-enactment of the ancient Mayan game of “pelota.” The plazas will be buzzing with activity at this time as local vendors sell their wares and food stands pop up all over the place. The city is renowned for its free cultural activities, so it is well worth doing some research to see what's happening when you're in town.
Mérida has no shortage of amazing restaurants. From traditional Yucatecan food to sushi, you can find almost anything. Apoala on Santa Lucia offers an interesting fusion of Mexican cuisines. It's a great restaurant, and they're very welcoming to families. Since it's on a plaza, the kids can explore if they struggle to sit still for long!
If you're looking for an incredible Mexican beach experience, skip Cancun and head farther south to Tulum, where the beaches are simply perfect – with cool white sand and vibrant blue waters.
Tulum is a fast-growing destination and it’s perfectly possible to party there, but that isn't the main vibe. People heading to Tulum tend to be more interested in eco-tourism and good food than a party atmosphere.
Apart from exploring the beaches, you can visit Tulum’s own archaeological site just outside of town. Also, there’s Gran Cenote (child friendly), the Sian Ka'an biosphere, and the Muyil Ruins – which rarely appear on visitors’ radar despite having an amazing jungle setting. A little farther away is the Cobá ruins complex and nearby cenotes, or underwater caves and caverns. These include Choo-Ha, which is safe for small children.
Take a stroll along the main road to find plenty of restaurant options. Pizza Manglar serves tasty pizza (just off the main road on the way out of town) and El Camello is very popular for good ceviche – tourists AND locals. There are plenty of taco options too, if you prefer something more local. For trendy eating options, try out any of the multitude of beachside restaurants and bars.
If you're looking for something a little different, why not head inland to Oaxaca? This stunning city, surrounded by mountains, makes a perfect destination for families seeking culture and history. Walking around the city, you’ll notice the vibrant colors, not only of the buildings, but also the street art and the local wares being sold by vendors. Did you know that many “traditional” Mexican souvenirs are actually Oaxacan in origin?
The markets in the center of Oaxaca are something truly special and should not be missed. Mercado 20 de Noviembre is an artisanal and food market. Head to “BBQ Alley” for a market entirely dedicated to grilling meats. Here you can choose your meat, and have it grilled and brought to the table while others offer you salsa and fresh tortillas. For the more intrepid palette, try chapulines (grasshoppers), a local snack sold by weight in Mercado Benito Jaurez. Native to the region are: Quesillo, a delicious cheese, mezcal, a smoky tasting local alcoholic drink made from the agave plant, and chocolate. All are available to try in good quantities as you explore the markets.
Take a day trip to Hierve al Agua, a petrified waterfall in the mountains. There you can swim and hike while marveling at the stunning views before grabbing fresh coconut water and a bite to eat.
And don’t forget to dedicate a day to Monté Alban, an Aztec ruin a half-hour drive from the city. Take along drinking water and hats, as it gets surprisingly hot up there, and explore the ruins to your heart's content.
Enjoy any or all of these fabulous spots for your family’s next spring getaway!
All content provided in this blog is supplied by Cassie Pearse and is for informational purposes only. Barclays makes no representations as to the accuracy or completeness of any information contained in the blog or found by following any link within this blog.
Image credit: Shutterstock and Cassie Pearse
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