We’ve traveled to Mexico with kids many times before but we’ve always wanted to visit Mexico City. To be honest, we always asked ourselves, “Is Mexico City safe?” With the safety reputation of Mexico City having improved significantly in recent years, we decided to give it a go and we are glad we did!
Mexico City (CDMX) is a vibrant city with an amazing history, world-class attractions and friendly locals. Here are some of the top things to do in Mexico City with kids:
5 Day Itinerary for Mexico City with Kids
- Things to do in Mexico City with Kids
- Is Mexico City Safe?
- Where to Stay in Mexico City with Kids
- Where to Eat in Mexico City with Kids
- Summary – Mexico City with Kids
- More Mexico with Kids
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Things to do in Mexico City with Kids
Day 1 – Xochimilco
Our first day in Mexico City with kids was a Monday, which meant most of the museums in town were closed for the day. It was the perfect day to make the journey to Xochimilco.
A trip out to Xochimilco with kids is a great way to have a fun and relaxing day in the CDMX suburbs and on the water in the famous Mexico City canals.
How to get to Xochimilco from Mexico City
We waited until 9am to avoid the Mexico City rush hour, then we took the L2 Metro from the Hidalgo station to the Tasquena station where we transferred to the TL1 light rail line to the Xochimilco station. The subway was still pretty crowded, but it wasn’t too bad. The kids were able to stand and hold onto a bar for stability most of the way.
Self-guided Xochimilco Tour
Our first stop in Xochimilco was the large local market. We love walking through local markets in Mexico and enjoying the hectic energy in the air. Mercado de Xochimilco has everything you could need on offer; fruits, veggies, meat, fish, clothes, toys, etc. The fruit and vegetable displays are works of art!
The Xochimilco market is home to many restaurants, so we stopped at one for an early lunch. We ordered cheese quesadillas for the kids, while we split orders of delicious salsa verde, mole enchiladas and carne asadas.
From there, we walked to the Salitre Pier to rent a boat for a trip down the famous Xochimilco canals, which are like the canals of Venice, but with a vibrant Mexican flare. Much of the land Mexico City was settled on was originally a lake and these canals are remnants of that era.
We rented a private Xochimilco boat for an hour for 350 pesos (~$18usd), which was negotiated down from the original asking price of 500 pesos. Each Xochimilco boat is painted in vibrant colors, has a table along the middle and a roof overhead for sun protection. As in Venice, these large boats are powered by a man with a long stick.
There is a very festive atmosphere on the water in Xochimilco, thanks in large part to the ever-present music from the floating mariachi bands, who will attach their boat to yours to perform a song (for some pesos of course).
Xochimilco is also a floating market with many vendors offering tourist trinkets, snacks, drinks, jewelry etc. The vendors got to be a bit much at times, but it didn’t ruin the experience.
Most visitors to Xochimilco have a self-catered picnic on the boat with food and drink purchased at the market beforehand. We had already eaten at the Xochimilco market, so we just sat back and enjoyed taking in this unique experience in Mexico City for families.
The Xochimilco canals was quite likely our kids favorite thing to do in Mexico City. They said they wished we had rented the Xochimilco boat for 5 hours instead of 1.
The kids liked the colorful Xochimilco boat, the fun mariachi bands, the ducks, the dogs & cats along shore and even the (very creepy) dolls on the Island of the Dolls.
Although the kids complained the ride was too short, we felt an hour on the Mexico City canals was just about right. Given our trip was mainly sightseeing in Mexico City with kids (and not having an onboard party like the locals), any longer would have been too much.
If you are wondering how to see the Xochimilco canals without spending an hour on the subway, there are many great Xochimilco tours available on GetYourGuide. As a bonus many of these tours bundle in other attractions which are outside central CDMX.
We highly recommend Xochimilco as one of the top things to do in Mexico City with kids!
Day 2 – Mexico City Historic Center
Museo de Arte Popular
We had many museums on our list of things to do in Mexico City with our kids. We began our second day in Mexico City with kids by walking to the Museo de Arte Popular and got there shortly after it opened at 10am.
The very first exhibit we saw in the Museo de Arte Popular was AMAZING! The building has an atrium which rises to the top of the building 4 stories above.
In the atrium were a collection of very large sculptures of amazing mythological creatures with the most vibrant colors you could imagine. We were blown away at the talent of the artists and the kids had so much fun debating which of these fantastical creatures was their favorite.
Next, we went to the top floor of and made our way through the exhibits to the bottom. The Museo de Arte Popular is jam-packed with amazing Mexican art.
Most of the art at Museo de Arte Popular is sculptures, which kids like way better than boring paintings. The Mexican art is so colorful and creative that it will captivate the whole family.
Museo de Arte Popular is one of the best family-friendly museums we have ever been to anywhere in the world. If you are traveling to Mexico City with kids, this is one of the top Mexico City activities to do. It gives your kids a huge dose of culture, but they’ll be having too much fun to notice!
We recommend keeping a close eye on your kids in the Museo de Arte Popular. Museum workers watched us very closely to make sure the kids didn’t get too close to any of the exhibits (and I don’t blame them!).
Next we walked north a block to the giant Mexico City park Alameda Central. Full of trees, artwork and park benches, Alameda Central is a popular gathering place for locals.
In a place as massive as Mexico City, it was nice to spend a little time amongst towering trees. We were able to let the kids run a little bit, but due to our Mexico City safety concerns, we kept them closer than we usually would. We accomplished this with an epic game of Red Light, Green Light.
At the east end of Alameda Central is the imposing, yet beautiful Palacio de Bellas Artes. If you’ve done any research on Mexico City, you will recognize this distinctive building, with its golden-orange domed roof. The colors of the roof are even more impressive in person with the hot Mexican sun illuminating it.
We didn’t go inside Palacio de Bellas Artes as we had no intention of taking the kids to another museum today. We simply walked around it slowly, taking in the atmosphere and the beautiful architecture.
It was nearing lunch and the kids were starting to get a bit crazy, so we let them burn off some energy putting on ‘shows’ on some of the elevated platforms in the area.
Zocalo & Cathedral
Continuing along 5 de Mayo, we soon came to the next cluster of Mexico City attractions, beginning with Zocalo, one of the largest city plazas in the world.
Zocalo is empty except for a single, massive Mexican flag flying proudly in the middle. The plaza is surrounded by important, yet beautiful buildings, including the Mexico City Metropolitan Cathedral and the Presidential Palace.
We took off our hats and entered the Cathedral for a quick visit. This enormous church is quite dark inside, but elaborately decorated. There was a mass in session during our visit and a large area of the Cathedral was blocked off, so we kept our visit reasonably short.
Continuing a short ways north, we arrived at the Templo Mayor archaeological site. Templo Mayor was the center of the Aztec universe, but sadly today there is not much left of it as it was largely destroyed by the Spanish in 1521 to make room for the Cathedral.
Much of the remaining Templo Mayor archaeological ruins can be viewed for free from viewing areas along the street. We had originally planned to go into the museum to see the ruins up close, but the free viewing areas were so good, we didn’t feel the need to go in.
We hear the Templo Mayor museum is excellent, but again, we felt the kids wouldn’t put up with a second (and significantly more boring) museum.
Next we visited Palacio Nacional, home to the office of the President of Mexico. The primary reason Mexico City tourists flock here is to see the amazing Diego Rivera murals.
Palacio Nacional is a free Mexico City attraction, but you need to bring ID.
Walking through the National Palace was an enjoyable experience, with beautiful architecture and lovely gardens. The Diego Rivera murals themselves were amazing, especially the one which wraps itself around the staircase leading up to the remaining murals.
The Diego Riviera murals depict the history of Mexico from ancient times to the present. As is typical of Mexican artwork, these masterpieces are very colorful and highly entertaining, with scenes ranging from violent confrontations to showcasing the good of the people.
For anyone on a Mexico City family vacation, the Diego Riviera murals are definitely worth a visit. This was not our kids favorite thing to do in Mexico City, but they entertained themselves by running up and down the largely long, empty corridors away from the murals.
El Moro Churros
After a long day of walking, we treated ourselves to some piping hot, freshly cooked churros at El Moro, a Mexico City institution since 1935.
Churos are a great way to get kids excited about Mexican food. We ordered 4 large churros with a side of chocolate and condensed milk. Our churros were gone faster than a cow that fell into a lake of piranhas; we simply could not help ourselves!!
Mercado de San Juan
Despite visiting Mexico with our kids several times, our kids can still be finicky about Mexican food. We worry that our kids don’t eat as much as they do back home, so we like to supplement with fruits and veggies.
It was surprisingly difficult to find fresh produce around central Mexico City; although there are candy stands on every street corner.
Our worries about Mexican food for our kids were solved with a visit to Mercado de San Juan, as recommended by our Airbnb host. We were able to buy mangoes, bananas, cantaloupe, cucumbers and avocados, which kept us well stocked for the remainder of our time in Mexico City with our kids.
If you’d like to see many of these attractions with a guide, you can book a family-friendly private 3-hour walking tour of Mexico City.
Day 3 – Teotihuacan Pyramids with Kids
Built nearly 2,000 years ago, the Teotihuacan Pyramids are home to many of the most architecturally significant Mesoamerican pyramids built in the Americas. It’s really easy to get to the Teotihuacan Pyramids from CDMX by public transportation or on a guided tour.
How to Get to Teotihuacan Pyramids by Bus from Mexico City
We prefer the adventure of doing things on our own, so we took the bus to the Teotihuacan Pyramids with our kids.
It was a short metro ride to the North Bus Terminal. Taking the metro is super-convenient as it lets you off right across the street from the bus terminal; just simply walk under the road via the metro tunnel.
Once in the CDMX North Bus Terminal, turn left and walk all the way to the end. You can buy your tickets from “Autobuses Teotihuacan“, which is the second last bus company before the “Sala 8” sign.
You can buy one-way or round-trip bus tickets to the CDMX pyramids at this counter. The departure ticket is for a specified time, while the return ticket is good for any bus ride back. Adult return tickets were 104 pesos (~$5.50USD), while the kids tickets are half price.
The bus ride through the outskirts of Mexico City was very interesting and offers a glimpse of life here which most visitors don’t get to see. Of particular interest were the Mexico City communities which are built up the sides of steep mountains. These concrete dwellings are painted in many bright colors, which look wonderful when grouped together.
Exploring the Teotihuacan Pyramids Complex
The bus let us off here at the south-west corner of the complex. After buying our Teotihuacan Pyramids tickets, we walked through the parking lot to a retail complex selling all kinds of souvenirs and snacks.
Before long, we were in the Teotihuacan Pyramids complex itself walking north along the main pathway to the Pyramid of the Sun.
It was a surprisingly long walk to the main Teotihuacan pyramid (around 1 mile / 1.5km) but it was enjoyable.
There are minor temple ruins all along the way which keep it interesting. Every so often, a row of stairs cuts across the main path which you need to climb up and over.
There are tunnels that run under the stairs, which our kids loved to crouch down and walk through to the other side. The tunnels were reasonably short and large enough that a parent could get into if need be.
Climb the Pyramid of the Sun with Kids
We stopped for a well-deserved lunch at the base of the Pyramid of the Sun.
Once we were all fueled up, we started our climb up the Pyramid of the Sun. The 248 stairs are in good repair and are much safer than those we encountered while visiting the Mayan ruins of Coba. There are safety ropes to hold on to if required, which our kids used at our request for an extra measure of safety.
The climb up the Pyramid of the Sun is split into several small sections of stairs. These lead to landing areas where you can stop, rest and enjoy the views of this amazing Teotihuacan Pyramids complex. Some of the landing areas are actually pathways which circumnavigate the pyramid, which our kids loved to run around.
It only took us 15-20 minutes to climb to the top of the Pyramid of the Sun with our kids. It was actually pretty easy and our kids were able to climb the whole way up themselves.
The top of the Pyramid of the Sun is quite large, allowing for a lot of people to enjoy the views at one time. The views from the top of the Pyramid of the Sun are incredible and well worth the effort.
Our daughter was able to climb back down herself, but for safety reasons we carried our 3 year old son most of the way down.
Here’s another family’s experience visiting Teotihuacan with kids.
We elected not to walk the rest of the way to the Temple of the Moon for a few reasons. It looked like you could only climb halfway up, and at the time of day we were there, the view of the Pyramid of the Sun would be completely backlit, making it hard to take good pictures.
The kids were doing well energy and mood-wise, that we didn’t want to push them too hard. So we enjoyed a leisurely walk back to the bus stop, with the kids making sure to go back through all the tunnels they enjoyed on the way.
Climbing the Pyramid of the Sun at the Teotihuacan Pyramids was a real highlight of our Mexico City family vacation.
Day 4 – Bosque de Chapultepec with Kids
We spent our fourth day in Mexico City with our kids in Bosque de Chapultepec, Mexico City’s greatest city park.
Upon leaving the Chapultepec metro station, we entered the Bosque de Chapultepec park and immediately felt a wave of relaxation. Mexico City can be a pretty intense place and to suddenly be surrounded by tall, green leafy trees along with relative calm and quiet is so good for the soul.
Although I’m sure there can be trouble in the park, it felt safe in Bosque de Chapultepec. We were able to let the kids run and blow off some steam. This was a big treat for them as we had kept them pretty close on the trip so far.
After crossing the bridge leading into the main section of the park, we stopped to admire the strong, white pillars of Altar a la Patria which commemorates the six teenaged boys who died defending the Castillo de Chapultepec from invading US forces in 1852.
Castillo de Chapultepec
Castillo de Chapultepec was built in 1785 for the Viceroy of New Spain and subsequently served as the official residence of the President of Mexico until it became a museum in 1939.
All visitors to Castillo de Chapultepec must go through a security check prior to entering the grounds. If our level of relaxation had increased from a 1 to a 5 upon entering the park, it was now a 9. Ahhh… no worries in the world up here!
The walk to the Chapultepec Castle is long and slightly uphill, but anyone in reasonable shape can do it. The pathway is beautifully landscaped and offers nice views of Mexico City below. Our kids walked the whole way, but they were pretty slow given the slight uphill.
Castillo de Chapultepec is a really fun thing to do with kids in Mexico City. It’s pretty amazing; I mean it’s a real castle… in Mexico! Crazy!
Our kids loved the freedom to run around the beautiful gardens, while we enjoyed the amazing views of the Mexico City below.
The interior of the Chapultepec Castle is a museum, which was pretty boring for our little guy, but our 5 year old daughter had fun looking at all the stuff that belonged to the Queen (she thinks every castle has a Queen…).
Eating in Bosque de Chapultepec
Afterwards it was time for lunch and we walked west towards the lakes of Bosque de Chapultepec. We found a series of outdoor restaurants in the area immediately east of the lakes.
It’s nice to take a break of giving Mexican food for the kids, so we picked a restaurant that had hot dogs for the kids. We were pleasantly surprised at the quality of the Mexican food we ordered too!
After lunch, we sat by the lake and treated ourselves to some brightly colored ice cream from a nearby vendor.
We spent the remainder of our afternoon in Bosque de Chapultepec with kids by taking a leisurely stroll through the pathways south of the lakes.
Bosque de Chapultepec is such a beautiful park, we were just happy to do nothing let the kids run or walk at their own pace – something they rarely get to do while traveling.
We even stumbled across a beautiful two story, golden carousel near here. Our daughter loves carousels, so we stopped for a fun ride.
Bosque de Chapultepec is a great place to visit in Mexico City with children!
Day 5 – Papalote Museo del Ninos
On our final day, we planned on doing one of the most fun things to do in Mexico City for kids.
The Children’s Museum (Papalote Museo del Ninos), which is located in Section II (the middle section) of Bosque de Chapultepec. We thought it would be a good idea to take the metro to the Chapultepec metro station and take a leisurely walk through Section I (the eastern section) of the park to the Mexico City Children’s Museum, but it wasn’t.
Despite our challenges getting to the Children’s Museum, we did have a fun discovery on our way there.
The Bosque de Chapultepec walking path we wanted to take was blocked off by heavily armed military personnel. We tried to find another route, but it would have added significant time to our walk.
After some debate, we decided to go ask one of the guards, and to our surprise he told us we could go through (after going through airport style security that is!)
As it turns out, we entered the grounds of Los Pinos, which until very recently (Dec 2018) was the home of the President of Mexico. The grounds of Los Pinos are now open to the public, but there was obviously something important going on based on the amount of heavily armed military there.
Don’t get me wrong, this was an amazing experience on our Mexico City family vacation. The grounds of Los Pinos were beautiful, there were busts of all the former Mexican presidents along the way and all the military personnel were very friendly to us.
It was simply a little unsettling at first not knowing what we were walking into, but it turned out to be one of those amazing travel experiences you only get when you are out exploring on foot.
Papalote Museo del Nino – Children’s Museum
Papalote Museo del Nino was one of the best kid friendly things to do in Mexico City – it was a ton of fun.
Our kids appeared to be the only foreigners at Papalote Museo del Nino, but the local kids welcomed them into the fun with no issues.
Papalote Museo del Nino is really so big and colorful, and is filled with hands-on things to do for the kids.
There’s a section on the human body which includes a giant stomach to jump around in, a big esophagus to crawl through, giant teeth to brush, and much more. There’s a section about local wildlife and a section about life at home.
The upstairs of Papalote Museo del Nino is another huge area with lots of crafts and activities for the kids, and outside are interpretive gardens.
Given this is one of the most fun things to do in Mexico City for kids, we spent a lot of time there. We enjoyed lunch at their food fair, which had a good mix of Mexican food and some American fast food chains.
The kids loved the Mexico City Children’s Museum and were really upset when it was time to go. We were there so long, we abandoned our plans to go to the Museo Nacional de Antropología, but that’s ok. The Papalote Museo del Nino was one of the best things to do in Mexico City for kids!
Is Mexico City Safe?
Of all the places we’ve visited with our kids, we were most worried about visiting Mexico City – we kept wondering, “Is Mexico City Safe to visit with kids?”
When we’d tell people we were going to Mexico City with our kids, most people hesitated, then said something polite like, “Oh… that’ll be fun”, but we could tell they what they were really thinking… “YOU’RE CRAZY!”
Mexico City is one of the world’s largest cities, so of course there will be sketchy people and sketchy places, but that is true of all major cities. We fet they have put a big effort into making Mexico City safe for tourists.
In general, we felt safe in Mexico City with our kids, especially in the historic city center.
Mexico City Safety Tips
Here few Mexico City safety tips from our family vacation to CDMX:
- Keep your kids close to you at all times. Most of the local parents keep their children on harness leashes.
- When walking in Mexico City with your kidst, try to stay within the touristy areas as they are well policed and feel quite safe.
- If the Mexico City subway is extremely busy, women and children can ride in one of the front cars that is strictly for women and children. We used this service on one occasion when we took the subway too close to rush hour. The CDMX women made extra sure our kids were safe and not getting squished on the packed subway!
Where to Stay in Mexico City with Kids
When you are looking for a place to stay in Mexico City with your family, we suggest staying in areas that are often frequented by tourists as they are generally quite safe.
Finding a kid-friendly Mexico City hotel anywhere within the historic town center is a good choice. For example, the area between the Alameda Central and Zocalo.
Other options are the trendy, upscale neighborhoods of La Condesa and Polanco. They are close to the Bosque de Chapultepec and are an easy metro or Uber ride to the center.
We stayed in a simple, but really nice Mexico City Airbnb apartment just a few minutes walking distance from Alameda Central. Though we enjoyed it’s proximity to the subway station, it was located just a few blocks outside of the relative safety zone of central CDMX and the park next door was full of prostitutes.
Staying in a Airbnb is a great option for a trip to Mexico City with kids, but learn from our lesson and try to find a place to stay in Mexico City with your family in the safer neighborhoods suggested above.
Where to Eat in Mexico City with Kids
Mexican food is one of our favorite ethnic cuisines and is one of the main reasons we continue to come back to Mexico. Our kids like some Mexican food, but not always so we often needed to find places which had some kid-friendly options.
Other times we’d get take-out and cook the kids a more familiar meal back at the Airbnb. Here are some of the Mexico City restaurants we really enjoyed:
- Cafe La Pagoda: We stumbled across this family-friendly Mexico City restaurant in the heart of the historic center on our way from Alemeda Central to Zocalo. It was packed with locals, which is always a good sign. The kids gobbled up their scrambled eggs with ham and cheese, while we devoured our enchiladas.
- El Kioskito: We loved the take-away tacos from this local’s restaurant near Alameda Central so much we ate here 3 times in 5 days!
- El Moro: Most churros you see are cooked hours earlier, but you can get them piping hot at this kid-friendly Mexico City restaurant. El Moro knows a thing or two about making churros – they’ve been doing it for nearly 80 years!
- Mercado de San Juan: Fruit and vegetables are surprisingly hard to find in Mexico City. There are no supermarkets in the historic center and the Mexico City convenience stores (OXXO & 7-11) do not carry any produce. Mercado de San Juan is a fun shopping experience and has an excellent selection of produce. The mangoes we bought here are the best we’d have anywhere in the world!
If you are a little scared by the food & water in Mexico, take the time to read our food safety tips from our many visits to Mexico.
Summary – Mexico City with Kids
Despite our initial concerns about Mexico City safety for tourists, we are so glad we decided to visit Mexico City with our kids. It’s one of the world’s biggest cities, so it will have it’s share of big city problems, but we felt reasonably safe in Mexico City with our kids.
There were so many fun things to do in Mexico City with kids that it’s hard to pick our favorite. We hope you enjoy your Mexico City family vacation as much as we did!
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