Top 10 kid-friendly activities in and around Mérida

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Carlos Rosado van der Gracht
Carlos Rosado van der Gracht
Born in Mérida, Carlos Rosado van der Gracht is a Mexican/Canadian blogger, photographer and adventure expedition leader. He holds degrees in multimedia, philosophy and translation from universities in Mexico, Canada and Norway. Sign up for the Yucatán Roundup, a free newsletter, which delivers the week's top headlines every Monday.

Yucatán is known for its safety, fantastic historical attractions, cultural events and its fantastic food — for all ages. 

The “teleferico” at Mérida’s El Centenario Zoo and Park. Photo: Carlos Rosado van der Gracht / Yucatán Magazine

But as a parent, I am well aware that dragging my 9-year-old into the sun for a day to explore the ruins on the Ruta Puuc may not work out as I would hope.

Fortunately, Yucatán has no shortage of activities the whole family can enjoy.

The following list is in no particular order, but all are fairly low impact and can be fun for everyone in tow. We have contained this list in greater Mérida to make things easier, but check back soon for ideas which are a little more far afield. 

Day trip to Progreso

Beaches in Progreso have been consistently busy over the past few days, but not really “packed”. Photo: Carlos Rosado van der Gracht / Yucatán Magazine

Due to its proximity to Mérida, Progreso is by far Yucatán’s most popular beach. The port city boasts a large number of restaurants (not just seafood) which are sure to be a hit with your little one. Eladio’s is a particularly good choice for children given its location right on the beach, showers and extensive menu. The city also has several attractions that are great for children, especially along its boardwalk. 

See El Centenario

Built in 1910 to commemorate the centennial of Mexico’s independence, El Centenario is one of Mérida’s most popular attractions for children. Photo: Carlos Rosado van der Gracht / Yucatán Magazine

Although El Centenario is known primarily as a zoo housing all sorts of exotic animals, the park also features several other activities. One of the most popular is its trenecito, or miniature train that carries passengers around the park’s grounds for just a peso per person. 

Explore Yucatán’s Jurassic Park

The Sendero Jurasico is in Chicxulub, near the epicenter of where the meteor that killed the dinosaurs made an impact with Earth. Photo: Carlos Rosado van der Gracht / Yucatán Magazine

Just a few minutes from Progreso, Chicxulub’s Sendero Jurasico offers visitors the opportunity to walk a roughly one-kilometer path lined with large dinosaur figures and great photo opportunities. The dinosaurs are not animatronic but are still quite fun to look at and interact with. Entrance to the park comes at a cost of 200 pesos (roughly 10 USD) per person. 

Think about Pink Flamingos at Celestún 

Pink Flamingos are Yucatán’s most emblematic avian species and attract hundreds of tourists every day during the summer season. Photo: Carlos Rosado van der Gracht / Yucatán Magazine

Celestún is known for its fantastic beaches and mangroves, but more than anything else it is famous for its large population of pink flamingos. Tours to see these exotic birds depart from just outside the community, with the cost depending on the length of the tour and how many people will be coming along. Several other birds and animals such as crocodiles can also be seen, but don’t worry, the tours are perfectly safe. 

Learn about the Maya at Xcambó or Mayapán

Archaeological sites are great for children, but just make sure to bring enough water and sunblock. Photo: Carlos Rosado van der Gracht / Yucatán Magazine

Yucatán is full of archaeological sites, but extremely large and crowded sites such as Chichén Itzá often prove a little too overwhelming for smaller children. Fortunately, smaller sites like Xcambó and Mayapán are also open to the public and offer adults and children alike the opportunity to learn about the Maya in a less hectic environment. At about 50-80 pesos, tickets to these sites are also much less expensive than those at Chichén Itzá, which currently cost over 500 pesos per person.

Discover Paseo de Montejo the easy way

The Paseo de Montejo is enjoyable during any time of day, but is especially pleasant early in the morning or in the evenings. Photo: Carlos Rosado van der Gracht / Yucatán Magazine

Mérida’s Paseo de Montejo is one of the city’s main tourist attractions and is lined with magnificent mansions, museums and restaurants. But as children are notoriously disdainful of long hauls, a leisurely walk down the famous boulevard may be out of the question. Fortunately, carriages both electric and horse-drawn are there to make this outing a lot easier. The cost for either option is 400 pesos, and each carriage comfortably seats up to four people. 

Cycle along the Bici-Ruta

Cycling in Mérida has recently become much easier, thanks to the city’s extensive new bike lane network. Photo: Carlos Rosado van der Gracht / Yucatán Magazine

Another great way to experience the Paseo de Montejo is on a bicycle, especially on Sundays when traffic is closed to motor vehicles. There are several shops and types of bikes for rent, including tandem bicycles and tricycles, as well. Prices vary, but are usually more than reasonable. If your little one gets cranky or a little too hot, consider getting them an ice cream from one of the several vendors lining the avenue. 

Play at Parque de las Américas

There is always something going on at El Parque de Las Américas, but things really get going once the sun starts to descend. Photo: Carlos Rosado van der Gracht / Yucatán Magazine

In the elegant García Gineres neighborhood, Parque de Las Américas has something for everyone. There are plenty of games for kids, as well as bouncy castles and food stands to choose from. The park is divided into four sections made up of an amphitheater, which hosts events in the evenings (especially on weekends), the José Martí library and park, the kids’ park and the impressive neo-Mayan fountain. 

Give back by donating to a local children’s charity

Their faces filtered to protect their privacy, youngsters at Fundación Emanuel de Mérida A.C., a children’s shelter, are entertained by crew from Bulldog Solar, which donated solar panels to the organization. Photo: Courtesy

Giving back to the community by donating toys, clothing or other necessities to children’s charities is a great way to spend a day helping foster empathy in kids. Consider having a talk with your children about what they think kids in Yucatán need the most and then consider taking them out to the market to pick up a few items and then donating them to one of the many reputable children’s charities in the city — such as Estancia Infantil Nueva Vida or the local Salvation Army. 

Story time at the Mérida English Library

The Mérida English Library is a great place to spend time, especially when the sun is at its highest. Photo: Carlos Rosado van der Gracht / Yucatán Magazine

The Mérida English Library has a wide selection of books in English for children, so you are sure to find something your kids will enjoy. If you are feeling more ambitious, you may also want to consider picking up a book in Spanish and get started on learning a second language. The library also hosts a wide range of events, many of which are great for children. Make sure to check out their upcoming events on their website

There are of course many more kid-friendly options in Yucatán. Some other popular activities include exploring cenotes, visiting traditional city markets, and exposing your kids to new foods in one of Mérida’s many great Yucatecan restaurants. Send your suggestions to me at carlos.rosado@rooftcatmedia.com.

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