Yucatán with kids: How to spend 6 days here with little ones

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Maggie Cale
Maggie Cale
Maggie Cale was born in the United States and has lived most of her life in Pennsylvania. She has a social work degree from Penn State University and finished her career in Washington, D.C. working with families. She moved to Yucatán in 2017 and has worked part-time ghostwriting for bloggers. She lives in Itzimná with her two dogs.
With some planning, your trip to Yucatán can keep a 4-year-old entertained. Photo: Lindsay Cale

My family was recently here for six fun-filled days — with a 4-year-old. Fresh from the excitement, here are my recommendations for anyone preparing to visit Yucatán with kids in tow, even small ones.

Accommodations 

It can be through Airbnb, a friend, or a reliable rental agency, but renting a house with a pool, backyard, and kitchen is the way to go if you don’t have room to play host. Having a comfortable place to spend downtime is important and it provides a base to regroup and refresh. In the case of the toddler, it provides a place for downtime. Look for a home with a full laundry room. It was still pretty hot and the mosquitos were crazed so having air conditioning throughout the house — not just the bedroom — was a huge bonus, as well.

First Night 

You have to love that one flight a day from Houston, and theirs was delayed, of course. So there was more time to get their accommodations ready and I stocked their fridge with cold drinks and all the fixings for arrachera tacos, sides of rice and beans, and plenty of tortillas and sauces from 100% Arrachero. We also had all types of arts and crafts, pool toys, puzzles, books, and Play-Doh for my 4-year-old granddaughter to enjoy any downtime. 

On Calle 47 and 56, Baretto has java, pastries, and big sandwiches on sourdough bread. Photo: Lee Steele / Yucatán Magazine

Second Day 

It’s great when visitors wake up in Mérida on a tranquil Sunday morning. Breakfast on Paseo de Montejo while watching the Bici Ruta is a unique welcome to the city. Lots of busy people to see, street vendors for shopping, and plenty of dogs to see, which is the toddler’s favorites. Breakfast was at Baretto Espresso Bar with great coffee and amazing pastries but the best was the meal consisting of big sandwiches on sourdough bread. The afternoon was spent with pool time, naps for the toddler, and dinner at home with local friends. Chiles en Nogada was in season and a local friend made them for this friendly dinner. Late at night, we prepared for Monday on the road to sightsee.

With some planning, your trip to Yucatán can keep a 4-year-old entertained. Photos: Lindsay Cale

Third Day

We hired a driver/guide (Alejandro Pinto Tolosa) and headed out for non-tourist cenotes. We packed drinks, snacks, towels, suntan lotion, floaties, and cameras. The toddler’s parents had her watch many videos of cenotes before arriving and she named them “cave pools.” Our driver was knowledgeable about all the local history and spoke English. The ride was about an hour to the first cenote but hearing the history as we went was a good peek into Yucatán culture. The cenotes in Homún were absolutely gorgeous and there are many to choose from. Our driver matched our day with exactly what we had hoped for, cenotes without a crowd. The cenotes were 50 pesos per person to enter. The tour took six hours total including drive time. This was perfect since it was geared toward a toddler’s tolerance level. An hour back to Mérida and a light lunch at Volta Cafe took us right into an afternoon nap and pool time. We went to Miyabi Restaurant for a 6 o’clock dinner and they loved the sushi and fried ice cream for dessert. The fish in the ponds were very entertaining for the 4-year-old and the huge tree with twinkling lights lent to such a pleasing atmosphere. 

Pig Beach, Progreso. Photo: Abraham Bojórquez / Yucatán Magazine

Fourth Day

We decided to take it slowly, starting with a delicious breakfast at Ch’e’en Cocina Yucateca. The restaurant is a true tribute to Yucatecan food. The freshly squeezed orangeade, fluffy hot cakes, omelets, and chilaquiles were amazing to start the day. We rented a car for the next few days from David Rivero Soberanis, which was delivered to my home and picked up at my home, no extra charge. We headed to Pig Beach, which did not disappoint. The pigs are fun to see and we were able to hold a baby pig and get some great photos. The next stop was Progreso beach to have fun in the sun. We had lunch on the beach at Crabsters Seafood and Grill with a nice mix of tacos, salads, and burgers. We headed back home to the house for the toddler to nap and for everyone to cool off with time in the pool. The adults planned a late dinner at Olivia Enoteca for a special quiet dinner. Meatballs appetizers and a platter of prosciutto sliced thin were followed by pasta carbonara, lasagna fritta, and creamy tortellini. The tiramisu ended their night with a perfect sweet bite. My toddler granddaughter and I headed to the store for snacks, French fries, and hot dogs and we planned for a night by the pool and some Netflix.  

Mercado de Pan in Mérida. Photo: Maggie Cale

Fifth Day

A visit to Mercado de Pan for breakfast pastries with a pool of Nutella, a pistachio-cream-filled croissant, and a bun topped with freshly toasted coconut. All of their daily bread is made from a sourdough base with the multi-grain at the top of my list of favorites. Then we went on a carriage ride down Paseo Montejo. The 4-year-old was all dressed up like Belle in a dress that was purchased in a little side street store. She was entertained by all the sights along the way. We headed home for a swim and toddler nap. It was an extended nap so the other adults went downtown for a walk and local gelato. Dinner was with local friends at La Exquina, on the Paseo de Montejo, with a view to see all of the carriages at night while we enjoyed cocktails and arrachera nachos.

Dulce Ch’uhuk in Mercado Chen Bech has sweet candies, mazapán de pepita, which are sculpted into fall/Halloween-type shapes. Photo: Maggie Cale / Yucatán Magazine

Sixth Day

The final day always involves lots of packing and organizing but we made the best of it with breakfast at the Chen Bech Market, at Dulce Ch’uhuk. They have a nice variety of breakfast items with waffles and pancakes, Mexican eggs with chaya and beans, and a side salad. Finish it off with homemade bakery items like chocolate chip banana bread and carrot cake. Back to the house for some swim time, naps, and tacos and tortas from Wayan’e. The variety of tacos available here is amazing and always tasty. You can also take along a plastic container and have them fill it with your favorite taco filling and let them provide tortillas and sauces. We ended the day with a night walk on Paseo de Montejo and pizza at Pizza Neo. The New York City-style crust and variety of specialty pizzas were the way to my granddaughter’s heart.

Build in downtime for a successful trip to Mexico with your toddler. Photo: Lindsay Cale

My family agreed, a week is just not enough time to enjoy all the delicious foods in Yucatán, visit all the sights and relax at the beach. They will be back for a longer visit. 

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