Kid-tested travel It takes a determined traveler to take on Mexico City with kids— one of the most populated cities in the world. The good news is that Mexico City offers a rich lineup of activities for kids.
We make an annual trek to Mexico City with our boys, Benjamin, 4, and Yehuda, 2, to visit their grandparents.
Top on our list is the stellar children’s museum, Papalote—Museo del Niño, in Mexico City’s central park, Chapultepec. My boys love the bubble room at Papalote (which means "kite"). Benjamin, who happily recalls, "I got messy," says his favorite bubble station was the one in which he stood on a platform while other kids lifted a giant ring to put him inside a bubble.
My kids also enjoyed the giant hamster wheel, the sandbox, the emergency vehicle station with tricycles and the Jardin Maya (Mayan Garden), which includes an archeological dig, a model Mayan home, tour guides and art project station where they made stamps with Mayan hieroglyphics.
The park also is home to a zoo, amusement park, aquarium, lake with rowboat rentals and a castle.
The weather in Mexico City is generally dry (think Chicago last summer) and the high altitude can take a toll on those of us not acclimated to the thin air.
Eating can be challenge, too. Our neighbors, Stefanie and Larry White, who visited Mexico City with their three kids, vowed not to dine at a chain or hotel restaurant. They discovered wonderful authentic dishes at local restaurants, but there was a price to pay: Everyone in the family got sick.
"When we felt bad we just laid low and stayed in the hotel room," Stefanie says. "We drank lots of Gatorade and brought adult and child versions of Imodium. The bug was short lived and I think the sickness might have even been heat related."
My family sampled the food in so many ways. It’s always fun to walk through the colorful outdoor neighborhood produce markets and sample the vendors’ tropical fruit and vegetables.
One of my favorite restaurants is Zak’s. For authentic churros (a Spanish fried pastry) and Mexican-style hot chocolate we go to El Morro. My kids loved La Michoacana gelati in lime, mandarin and mango flavors.
For ideas about activities, I buy the English Reforma newspaper, hawked at newsstands and traffic stops.
The threat of physical illness is not the only hurdle parents need to be prepared for when visiting Mexico City. There’s also the abject poverty.
Adults and children sell stuff or beg at tourist attractions and traffic stops. Last spring, my kids were too young to understand. But I know that in the future, they will ask why those children need to beg when we have so much.
But international travel teaches kids that the planet is a place of variety and the world is broad. Going there brings Mexico’s traditions alive.
I’m already planning our next trip. I want to take the kids to see the traditional horseback riders at Rancho Del Charro Javier Rojo Gomez in Chapultepec, where the Asociacion National de Charros holds its exhibitions and competitions.
Dina Weinstein is the mother of two boys and lives in Chicago’s Hyde Park neighborhood.
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