Sometimes as families we get into a fix as to which destination will cater to kids of different ages in equal measure. Well, Mexico is your answer. With its spread of magical landscape and mysterious Mayan ruins, jaw-dropping ocean vista, and endless water activities to explore all the sea treasures, museums and plazas, adventure, and water parks – Mexico really has it all. Endowed with 9,330 km of curvy coastline, it’s no wonder that lovers of the sun, sand, and surf are smitten by Mexico. If the east is caressed by the Caribbean Sea and the Gulf of Mexico, the south hugs the Pacific Ocean. To find the best family vacation spots in Mexico, we have dove headfirst to all the salient tourist spots on all its coasts. Let’s have a look!
1. Riviera Maya
You will need a large vacation bag to pack in Riviera Maya. It is one of the best family vacation spots in Mexico that are all inclusive – abundant nature, culture, and adventure! Stretched out like a dreamy slice of paradise on the Caribbean coastline of Mexico, Riviera Maya is known for its lush tropical forest, turquoise crystalline water, and large coconut palm-fringed sugar-sandy beaches.
Riviera Maya is a region with cities like Playa del Carmen, Akumal, Tulum, etc. The region is often confused with Cancun due to its proximity. But Cancun is a big major city lying to the north of Riviera Maya. Besides swimming in a cenote, a bevy of beach activities, and Mayan ruin-hopping, what makes Riviera Maya a hit with the kids is its sheer number of zoos, eco-parks, and museums that will please all ages. Planning a child-centric itinerary is an absolute cakewalk here!
What to Do Here
After the kids have had their fill of waterparks at any of the all-inclusive kid-friendly resorts of Riviera Maya, which we agree are there in plenty, stoke their adventure appetite with a visit to Xplor Park, an adventure park located inside the forest of Playa del Carmen. Boasting two seven-zip-line-circuits, a unique hammock splash ziplining experience, and a newly added Underground Expedition, Xplor Park will keep your kids’ adrenaline flowing for the day.
For nature-lovers with a soft spot for rescued animals, drop by Akumal Monkey Sanctuary. Aside from interacting with the primates in their natural habitat, kids can also experience an actual Mayan home, enjoy an ATV ride in the jungle, swim in a cenote or underground river, and do souvenir shopping of indigenous crafts.
For another adventure outing, take them to Xel-Há Park, an aquatic adventure theme park. Here bigger kids can choose to snorkel, power snorkel, scuba dive. They can also swim with marine animals like dolphins or manatees, or just swing and dive into the water for that ultimate burst of thrill. The little kiddos can also join in the regalia with Xel-Há Park’s Children’s World. They can play on ropes, wade in pools, make their way through a crocodile tunnel, and enjoy water slides. Another outdoor theme park at Riviera Maya is Xcaret in Playa del Carmen. Kids can go parasailing, swim with nurse sharks, or feed stingrays in a controlled environment. But different activities have different age restrictions, so always check according to your kids’ age.
For days you want to take a chill pill, explore other family-friendly attractions here. Experience the optical illusion amusement park at Xenses Park with different sense-themed activities. Pet a crocodile in Croco Cun Zoo, marvel at 200 different marine species at L’ Aquarium, get traditional healing from a shaman on a Temazcal Natura Tour or spend an evening with Cirque du Soleil Joya.
2. Puerto Vallarta
Another one of the best family vacation spots in Mexico is this delightful little Mexican city between the Pacific Ocean and Sierra Madre mountains, Puerto Vallarta. Travelers come here mostly to enjoy its laidback life full of old-school local charm. It is not a surprise here to listen to a mariachi band as you take a walk on the promenade at Malecon.
Where to Stay
The city is family-friendly and you get accommodations of all kinds here. For an all-inclusive beachfront resort experience, pick a stay at the Marina Vallarta with its mega-resorts, pools, and golf courses. Move to the central part of the city or the El Centro if you like to be in the thick of all action. With its main square, Plaza de Armas, and a plethora of dining and shopping options, it will keep your family enticed for long. For excellent nightlife, pick a stay at the Romantic Zone or Zona Romantica, just across the river from El Centro. Though the name hints at couples-only, you will find experiential stays for the families as well.
What to Do
Besides its beaches, you will get a host of other activities to bond with your family in Puerto Vallarta. Its beauty unfurls from the top of the mountains, all the way to its spotless beaches and you can savor it all by hiking, biking, snorkeling, surfing, and even sky diving. You just have to choose your own adventure here! Whisk your kids away on a pirate-themed ride aboard an authentic Spanish galleon on one of the Pirate Ship Vallarta tours. The cruise offers a myriad of activities like face painting and treasure hunt along with a tribe pirate show.
If you have kids aged ten and above, don’t miss out on adventurous excursions like a sea safari combined with horseback riding. You will get to explore the dazzling water of Banderas Bay and go all the way up to the mountain on horseback. Parents with toddlers can opt for fun chocolate-making workshops at ChocoMuseo.
Reserve lazy evenings to stroll through the streets at Old Town for an experience of Mexican culture in its colorful buildings and scrumptious fares at street-side food carts. Climb up Vallarta’s iconic El faro Lighthouse to catch a panoramic view of the city. Puerto Vallarta is also ideal for day trips to other smaller beach towns like Yelapa, Mismaloya, Bucerias, and Sayulita. All great places to stay or visit.
Next door to Riviera Maya, lie the throbbing heart of the Mexican Caribbean and the gleaming gem of Yucatan peninsula, Cancun. Though they are located quite close by, there is a distinct flavor difference between these two. Every year millions of city-weary tourists rejuvenate with Cancun’s gorgeous beaches, calm and gentle water, a charming colonial town brimming with character, and the all-encompassing exquisite Mayan history. It’s one of the best family vacation spots in Mexico.
Cancun was the first city in this region to be developed as a tourist hotspot – so a vacationing family will be left wanting nothing here. You can avail yourself of all kinds of family accommodations here – premium, party properties, eco-resorts. And all-inclusive resorts offer a tonne of on-site activities to explore the land and water, restaurants with international cuisines, waterparks, gorgeous beach access, and a lot of nighttime entertainment. But what lies outside of a hotel’s doorstep for an immersive Cancun experience?
What to Do
Let’s begin with the obvious. Given how close it is to Riviera Maya, you can always do Xcaret as a day trip or drive down 19 miles from Cancun city center to Croco Cun Zoo. If you are looking for a water park in Cancun, try out Al Ritmo or Ventura. Al Ritmo has water rides for all ages where children can have fun and frolic while parents chill under the umbrella and keep an eye on them. Ventura Park in Hotel Zone is Cancun’s only adventure park with a small roller coaster, go-karting, water rides, zip lines, and gaming.
Other family-friendly attractions in Cancun include Dolphin Discovery where you can meet and greet with the marine mammal, know more about local sea life at Interactive Aquarium, experience local life at Parque las Palapas, Cancun’s main park, or go for some crazy pirate fun with Jolly Roger Pirate Show, also in Hotel Zone.
Another popular destination for a day trip is Isla Mujeres, just 15 minutes ferry ride away from the mainland. Of course, adults will adore the laidback island vibe, gourmet dining, the beach, and the sunbathing, but kids also have a lovely treat just for them! Visit the Turtle Conservation Farm to see baby sea turtles and learn about their conservation effort.
For an adventure-filled family vacation, another city within the Riviera Maya region that deserves a special mention is Tulum. This stylish coastal town is great for an upscale vacation all year round given its warm sunny weather that doesn’t dip below 60, even during the winter months. The vibe is hippie and relaxed with plenty of Mayan ruins and pristine white beaches and blue waters to keep your exploring soul busy and satiated. It is a great place for nature lovers as Tulum is the only official sustainable tourist zone in this part of Mexico.
You can enjoy an amazing array of wildlife at the Sian Ka’an Biosphere Reserve, one of the world’s topmost ecotourism destinations. You will get a choice of family-friendly accommodations like luxury boutique hotels and all-villa properties peppered around the shoreline. The service is friendly, simple, and laid back and lacks the sharpness and luxury of a Cancun resort.
What to Do
Tulum boasts of several of the coolest beaches in the Yucatan peninsula and it will be a sin not to swim in the crystal clear Caribbean water. Though a word of caution: the currents are often strong, so a little supervision will go a long way! Facing the Caribbean Sea sits the pre-Colombian Mayan ruins of Tulum, which are a must-visit. Don’t forget to spot the sunbathing iguanas on the Mayan structures. That’s quite a sight to behold!
If you are traveling with kids aged 12 and above, rent a bike to explore the city of Tulum. You will chance upon many hidden spots by the sea where you can relax with your family and make a picnic out of it. Tulum is dotted with dozens of cenotes or underwater sinkholes. In fact, Mayans used them as sacred wells for communicating with their Gods. Swimming in one of them is pure magic which should be experienced by both kids and adults. You can always rent swimming gears at more developed cenotes where you will find restaurants and changing rooms too.
And if your personal hero is Indiana Jones, don’t miss out on visiting the Coba Archeological Site. You might get a chance to emulate his thrilling adventurous exploration as you reach this Mayan site inside the jungle located between two lagoons. Try climbing the steep Mayan pyramid of Nohoch Mul, the highest in Yucatan. There are a lot of exciting day trip options also available. Swimming with turtles in Akumal and visiting the Mayan ruins of Chichen Itza are some. Waterparks and adventure parks like Xel’ Ha, Xplor Park, and Xcaret Park can also be done as day trips from Tulum.
Mazatlan is a coastal city that is lovingly called the ‘Pearl of Pacific’. With its boundless beauty of golden sandy beaches, deep blue water, incredible landscape, and rich marine and terrestrial wildlife, this Pacific port city is a surfer’s paradise, throws the biggest party in the country, and a huge hub of water sports of all kinds. Mazatlan is also safe to travel to with your family. Popular tourist spots like the Centro Historica and Zona Dorada are continuously monitored by tourist police. For activities to deepen your Mazatlan experience, the city offers plenty of options to keep the kids hooked! It’s certainly one of the best family vacation spots in Mexico.
What to Do Here
At Acuario Mazatlan, Mexico’s biggest aquarium, your kids get a unique lesson in marine biology with a dose of adventure. Here they can swim with the sharks, watch a sea lion or a seal show. Or observe a large variety of fish and other aquatic life spread across fifty fish tanks.
Located on the southern tip of the Baja California Peninsula, tucked neatly between the Pacific Ocean and the Gulf of California, Cabo San Lucas is a hidden gem amongst all the best family with teens beach vacation spots in Mexico. Though on the surface level, Cabo might come across as a party destination or just a beach town aiming at just adults but look into its fold of fun things and several activities will spill out that the kids will adore for sure.
The mantra of Cabo is pretty straightforward. Relax, swim, and take a break to bite into some authentic Mexican culture in between! You will get a range of staying options here. Large roomy resorts with pools and on-site restaurants to more intimate boutique properties are here. Marina and the Downtown areas are preferred by families. They are the closest to all kid-friendly activities and several dining and shopping options are also available in the area. Pick any activity to match your travel theme or your child’s favorite and you will be all set.
What to Do
For a day in the sun, nothing can beat taking your brood to Cannery Beach. You actually go to a series of three beaches. Its easy accessibility (as the entrance is right at the marina), smaller waves (little kids feel safe here), and the best snorkeling opportunity make it suitable for a family. Plonk on the soft sands, buy some beach toys for the kids and some beer and snacks for yourself. Then just laze around watching the waves. Cabo is famous for spotting Humpback whales and Gray whales, so a whale-watching should make it to the itinerary.
Teens will have a tonne of fun when it comes to kayaking at El Arco. Or they can go exploring the picturesque Baja landscape atop an ATV at Wild Canyon. To snorkel with colorful fishes and playful sea lions, visit Cabo Pulmo National Park on an eco-tour. You will be stunned to see the gorgeous underwater coral gardens. Looking to discover more of Baja California Sur beauty? Embark on a road trip from Cabo. Explore the estuary and historic town center of San Jose del Cabo, perfect for a day trip.
Mexico loves kids. It is pretty evident in the gamut of family-friendly attractions. There are bunch of them at all the best family vacation spots in Mexico to captivate a child’s fancy. Home to a spectacular bonhomie between nature and culture, the country is no less of a colorful learning experience for a child. So slap on some sunscreen, put on a sun hat, and sharpen your tongue for lapping up some spicy Mexican fare because Mexico is where the fun resides!