Once you’ve moved abroad it makes sense to see as much of your host country as possible. It’s cheaper to drive (like we have for many of our explorations) than to fly from the Midwestern United States. Even flights within Mexico have the advantage of being shorter and cheaper. When you are paying for four fares, cost definitely matters. Even so, I want to see all the awesome places in Mexico. Yes, we travel Mexico with kids!
Do you want to travel with kids to Mexico? There are so many awesome places to travel in Mexico. Here are 15 awesome places in Mexico I really want to visit while I’m an expat here.
The Seven Illuminaries (Las Siete Luminarias – done!)
Los Siete Illuminarias is high on my list. It took over 2 months to finally arrange a trip and it was worth it! This place is a crater in the ground and you have to walk through a pitch black tunnel to see it. They are located near Valle de Santiago and are difficult to find. I highly recommend visiting if you are in central Mexico (Queretaro, San Miguel).
Does more need to be said? It’s Mexico City, formerly Distrito Federal. It’s the largest city in Mexico and the capital. It would be extremely silly to live in central Mexico for any length of time and not hop on a bus for a weekend visit, at the minimum.
The Pyramids in Mexico City (Pyramid of the Sun)
While I’m in Mexico City, the pyramids are a must see. My husband already climbed the Pyramid of the Sun and is really excited to take us all to Mexico City for a weekend. However, he suggested we wait until Autumn. Climbing the pyramids in the middle of summer is HOT. We still haven’t made the trip, but I know that we will get there sometime soon!
I really want to visit Cancun. The ocean is calmer there than Puerto Vallarta and I think it will be worth the flight. Scratch that. I know it’ll be worth the flight to see that area of Mexico. We do have a trip planned to see Cancun, Tulum, and Chichen Itza. I’m bouncing up and down with excitement!
Update, April, 2018: I have a few things to say about Cancun and it deserves its own post. Until that gets written, I will say that Cancun wasn’t exactly what I expected.
Chichén Itzá (done!)
Chichén Itzá is pretty darn famous. While I expect the site to be overrun with tourists at around 1.4 million visitors a year, I think it’s a must-see. It’ll be on the list of things to see while we are in Cancun. There is so much educational and cultural value to exploring sites like this and seeing them firsthand.
Update, April 2018: We took the kids to Chichén Itzá at the end of March and it lived up to my expectations. I’m really glad we were able to make this trip a reality!
Tulum has beautiful, white sand beaches, with beautiful clear, aqua water. What more could you want? Mayan ruins? Yep, it has those, too! It’s a little less touristy than Cancun and Riviera Maya, but is only a few hours away. You can do a day trip to Chichen Itza, but even if you don’t, there are Mayan ruins in Coba, too. If that isn’t enough, the entire Yucatan peninsula is dotted with cenotes and there are several close to Tulum.
Update, April, 2018: We went to Tulum right after we visited Chichen Itza. We were able to see the Mayan ruins at Tulum and squeeze in a trip to the Mayan ruins in Coba, too. In fact, Coba ruins are my current favorite. I’m not sure if it’s because we rented pedicabs or because we could climb the big pyramid there, but both were big hits with our kids, too.
Mérida came highly recommended as beautiful and safe city. It is the capitol of the state of Yucatan and has a lot of Mayan influence. It’s nickname is “The White City,” though the origin is not completely clear. There are also a lot of activities to do from a base in Merida.
Puerto Vallarta (done!)
I’ve wanted to visit Puerto Vallarta for quite some time and we made that happen as our first vacation as Mexico residents. While it wasn’t exactly what I expected (the pacific isn’t a calm ocean), it was still a wonderful area and I loved it. Due to the age and swimming abilities of my kids, we spent most of our time in one of our Airbnb’s 5 pools. Of those, 3 were infinity pools and I spent a lot of time staring at the sand and ocean from my spot in the pool. The Malecon was fantastic and oh, so touristy. We also didn’t make it Los Muertos Beach, but that means we have another reason to return.
Guadalajara (done, but only one day!)
My husband has done a fair amount of traveling for work and knew right away he wanted to take us all to Guadalajara. Our first opportunity came as a halfway point stop on our drive to Puerto Vallarta. Our less than 24 hour stay included getting lost and stopped by the police, going to Michin Aquarium, and enjoying the centro’s main square. I’ll visit again in a heartbeat. There is a lot to do and see in Guadalajara.
Oh, be still my heart, for the long wait to see Guanajuato City in the state of Guanajuato. It’s said to be a beautiful and colorful city and I cannot wait! A visit there just hasn’t worked out for us yet.
San Miguel de Allende (done!)
Ever since hearing about San Miguel de Allende, I wanted to visit. I was not disappointed. My first visit came pretty quickly after our move and hearing so much English had a comforting effect on me. I love San Miguel. It’s a wonderful place to visit. It’s colorful, bright, and there are many shops and churches to visit. I can’t wait for my next trip!
El Arco de Cabo San Lucas (Cabo)
Yes, Cabo! It has a reputation of a party place, but it is also family friendly. A visit to the famous arch, El Arco, is a must see. It’s where the Pacific meets the Sea of Cortez. Seasonally, you can also go whale watching. I do hope to do that some day!
The Copper Canyon (Chihuahua)
There’s a TRAIN RIDE through the Copper Canyon! That right there is reason enough to visit, but if you need another reason, Copper Canyon is bigger than the Grand Canyon in the US. It looks like it will be an incredible ride with incredible views!
Food in each area of Mexico has its own distinct flair and Oaxaca’s cuisine is internationally known. Besides wanting to try some of the area’s unique grub, Oaxaca has wonderful sights to see. I want to visit the ancient city of Monte Alban, try Oaxacan mole, and see some of the state’s many museums. There’s a tree called El Árbol del Tule and it’s the stoutest tree in the world.
More Mayan ruins, located in the state of Chiapis. Palenque was a Mayan city state. It isn’t as big as Chichen Itza, but it’s considered to be the finest example of Mayan architecture. It’s also estimated that 1000 structures are still hidden by the jungle. Amazing!
Explore Mexico with Kids
As you can probably tell, Mexico is a large country with so many beautiful sites to offer than just beautiful beaches. Flights between cities are often pretty reasonable, so I hope more people will explore more areas than just the resort towns! Grab your family and explore!
Where’s your favorite place to visit in Mexico? Which places are on your wish list?